The Sharks couldn’t quite climb out of an early two-goal hole as the Penguins walked away with a 3-1 victory Monday night.
While team teal competed well in the first seven minutes of the game controlling puck possession, things went downhill fast when the Penguins took a 1-0 lead at 7:36 of the first period off the stick of Ian Cole. It was the new-look Penguin’s first career Stanley Cup playoff goal off a rebound of an innocent-looking Phil Kessel shot.
Unlike Game 3, when the Sharks responded fairly well from an early deficit, the Penguins goal unleashed the floodgates on Sharks goaltender Martin Jones, who did his best to keep the Sharks in the game from there on out.
The Penguins went the rest of the opening period scoreless, but were the much better team after the goal, and that carried over to the second period.
More from Blades of Teal
- San Jose Sharks fans need this Erik Karlsson shirt from BreakingT
- Norris Trophy odds show Erik Karlsson a step above the rest
- Are you the 2021 FanSided Sports Fan of the Year?
- Korenar deserves a chance at the NHL level
- Three prospects the Sharks should consider drafting
Just 2:37 in to the second, Evgeni Malkin scored on the Penguins power-play on a nice dish from Kessel once again, with Kris Letang also notching an assist on the goal. It was Malkin’s fifth goal of the postseason and Kessel and Letang’s 11th assist each.
In the following several minutes, Justin Schultz and Tom Kuhnhackl rung shots off the iron for Pittsburgh as San Jose was fortunate to not go down three or four goals.
Clearly, San Jose came out with a better mentality for the third period and really dominated the final 20 minutes. After several failed chances, the teal clad finally got on the scoreboard when Melker Karlsson sniped one past Matt Murray while falling down.
Karlsson was put on a line with Chris Tierney and Nick Spaling for the third period – those three being a few of the lone bright spots for the Sharks in Game 4. DeBoer’s decision to mesh the three together was definitely a reason the Sharks found themselves back in the game. Tierney continues to have a great postseason and Karlsson has stepped up in the absence of Tomas Hertl.
Despite the Sharks’ continued push and a couple big scoring chances from Joe Pavelski, they failed to find the back of the net the rest of the game, and Penguins forward Eric Fehr essentially ended things with two minutes remaining, making it 3-1 as the Sharks pushed bodies forward.
It’s disappointing the Sharks dropped this one at home, putting them in a really tough spot in the series down 3-1, but how it went down was even more frustrating. The Sharks have yet to play with a lead this series, and it’s been as if they’ve waited to trail before they really start playing hard, and that was again the case tonight.
They also cannot continue to rely on guys like Justin Braun, Karlsson and Joonas Donskoi to do all the scoring in the series. The veterans and most prolific goal scorers throughout the year – that’s Pavelski, Brent Burns and Logan Couture – need to be the ones to change the dynamic of the series for the Sharks to have a chance to hoist the cup.
The Sharks and Penguins will get back at it Thursday night in Game 5 when team teal looks to stay afloat in the race for the Stanley Cup.