It’s back to the drawing boards for team teal as they were held in check for the second-straight game in the Stanley Cup Finals.
The San Jose Sharks have been punched in the gut on back-to-back occasions in their first-ever trip to the Stanley Cup Final.
Following Conor Sheary’s overtime goal, team teal finds themselves in an 0-2 series hole for the first time in these playoffs as things shift to the Bay Area for the next two contests.
Over the next two days, Peter DeBoer and the rest of the Sharks will have to figure out a way to generate a more consistent attack as they’ve been frustrated by the hard-charging Pittsburgh Penguins thus far.
With San Jose having plenty of time to ponder, let’s take a look back at three takeaways from their tough Game Two defeat:
1. HBK Line Getting It Done
The line of Nick Bonino, Carl Hagelin and Phil Kessel gave San Jose fits all night long. Their speed has clearly been an advantage and they’ve continued to cause problems for anyone they’re matched up against.
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It was evident again as they combined for the first goal when they forced a giveaway in the offensive zone and capitalized with an easy tap-in for Kessel.
They could have easily found the back of the net on two other occasions when Hagelin and Kessel each rung one of the post behind Martin Jones.
2. Turnovers Continue To Haunt Sharks
San Jose continues to make life difficult for themselves with multiple giveaways in their defensive zone. Team teal has struggled early in the game with the speed and pressure Pittsburgh applies.
The Sharks defensemen aren’t making quick enough plays with the puck and the result is extended shifts in the offensive zone for the Penguins.
It’s been frustrating to watch as they can’t seem to string a couple of simple passes together and next thing you know, San Jose is under siege.
As mentioned previously, the first goal last night was a direct result of a misplay by Roman Polak and Brenden Dillon as both couldn’t get the puck off their sticks quick enough or make the right decisions.
The Sharks must find a way to get out of their own zone and through the neutral zone with much more effectiveness if they’re to claw their way back into these Finals.
3. Line Shuffle Provided a Spark
Heading into the third period, team teal registered a measly 11 shots on goal. DeBoer needed to shake things up and he decided to move Joel Ward back up alongside Joonas Donskoi and Logan Couture, while dropping Patrick Marleau into the third line center role.
The line adjustments paid off as the Sharks were able to generate some good looks and outshot the Penguins by a 9-6 margin. The trio of Couture, Ward and Donskoi were especially effective in working the puck down low and getting bodies in front on Justin Braun’s tying tally.
That line also had a couple of close calls in the waning seconds that nearly stole the game for the Sharks, but they just couldn’t find a way past Matt Murray.
Expect DeBoer to stick with those line combinations for Game 3 on Saturday night where they will need to establish their play from the onset.