Not many teams in Stanley Cup Finals history have rallied from a 2-0 hole, and that’s the challenge facing the San Jose Sharks heading into Game 3 against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night. But the Shark Tank will be jumping in San Jose because it’s the first time in franchise history the team has hosted a Stanley Cup game. And the Sharks are favored in online sports betting odds to win Game 3.
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San Jose could easily be leading this series 2-0. The Sharks scored late in Game 1 in Pittsburgh on Monday to tie it at 2-2. However, Nick Bonino scored the winner for the Pens with 2:33 left. The Penguins threw 41 shots overall at Sharks goalie Martin Jones, the most he has faced in a regulation game during the playoffs.
In Wednesday’s Game 2, the Sharks again scored late to tie the game but lost 2-1 in overtime. Sidney Crosby’s faceoff win helped set up Conor Sheary’s perfectly placed wrist shot 2:35 into overtime. Phil Kessel gave the Penguins an early lead at 8:20 of the second period for a 1-0 advantage. It was his 10th goal of the postseason. Pittsburgh neutralized the Sharks’ offense for the majority of the game until San Jose tied it at 1-1 with 4:05 remaining in regulation on Justin Braun’s goal.
On the winning play and just before heading to the dot to the right of Jones, Crosby told Sheary to line up on the wall and then look for a soft spot in the San Jose defense. Crosby explained that he was going to win the draw back to defenseman Kris Letang and then Letang was going to give Sheary a pass in the middle of the ice, where the San Jose Sharks weren’t likely to expect him to be. That’s exactly what happened. Sheary, 23, became the fifth rookie to score an overtime goal in the Cup Final and the first to do so in 30 years. The last was by center Brian Skrudland of the Montreal Canadiens in 1986. The Sharks are 0-4 in overtime games this postseason.
San Jose’s Logan Couture was asked after the game about how Crosby manages to win those draws so cleanly. Couture registered an assist in Game 2 and is on a four-game point streak. He has eight goals and 26 points in 20 playoff contests
“He cheats,” Couture said. “He gets away with it. He’s Sidney Crosby. … He times them, and yet they don’t kick him out for some reason, probably because of who he is.”
The winner in Game 2 started with another offensive zone faceoff win from Crosby — this time against Joel Ward. Crosby was dominant in the faceoff circle during Game 2, winning 71 percent (17 of 24) of the time, including a 69 percent success rate in the offensive zone. The only player to consistently have success against him was Joe Pavelski, who won 60 percent against Crosby in the Sharks’ defensive zone. Pavelski won seven of 10 faceoffs against Crosby overall. The Sharks will have the final line change in Game 3 so coach Peter DeBoer likely will get Pavelski out there as often as possible against Crosby.
This series is far from over. The Sharks have had success on home ice at SAP Center in San Jose, where they are 7-1 in the playoffs. After losing 2-1 in overtime to the Los Angeles Kings in Game 3 of the first round, San Jose has won seven straight at home.
Usually home teams get more power-play opportunities as well. The Sharks only had one power play Wednesday — which spanned the last part of the second period and the first part of the third — and couldn’t leverage it into anything. In the Stanley Cup Final, just 10 percent of the teams who have fallen behind 2-0 have rallied to win. Pittsburgh is now a -500 favorite on betting lines to win the series.
Expert Betting Prediction
I do think the Sharks will get at least four power-play chances in Game 3 and will convert at least one. Take San Jose on NHL odds and go under the total.