PITTSBURGH (AP) – The opening act of San Jose’s first Stanley Cup appearance was a dud. Brent Burns and the Sharks think the sequel will be much better.
San Jose quickly fell behind during a strong first period for Pittsburgh, but the Sharks rallied in the second before Nick Bonino’s third-period goal lifted the Penguins to a 3-2 victory in Game 1 on Monday night.
Tomas Hertl and Patrick Marleau scored in the second for San Jose in the first Cup game in franchise history. Game 2 is Wednesday night in Pittsburgh.
The Sharks are 5-1 after a loss in the playoffs.
“It’s the Stanley Cup Finals,” Burns said. “If you say it’s a normal game, you’re lying. You try to keep everything normal, but you dream about it for a long time. Now, we know what we’re in for and we’ll be better.”
Burns lost his stick at the start of the winning sequence for Pittsburgh. Kris Letang took advantage, sending a pass from the corner to Bonino, who slid behind Paul Martin in the slot, settled the puck and beat Martin Jones to the blocker side.
The Sharks had a chance to tie it when Penguins defenseman Ben Lovejoy was whistled for hooking with 2:09 to play, but their top-ranked power play was unable to produce sustained pressure even with Jones on the bench for the extra attacker.
“Six-on-4, you have to take your time and make plays,” forward Logan Couture said. “(We) forced plays and forced shots. They blocked too many.”
Jones, who faced 28 shots on average through three playoff rounds, made 38 saves. San Jose also dropped Game 1 of the Western Conference finals against St. Louis, only to rebound by winning four of the next five.
“We obviously weren’t prepared,” Couture said. “It was ugly. We need to be better than that.”
Pittsburgh, playing in its fifth Stanley Cup Final, overwhelmed San Jose with its speed early on, outshooting the Sharks 15-4 in the first period. Bryan Rust and Conor Sheary scored 1:02 apart as the Penguins created turnovers and generated consistent offensive pressure on their way to a 2-0 lead after one.
“We stood around and watched a little bit and didn’t get up to speed,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. “I really liked our second period. We started playing the way we were capable of playing. The third, we didn’t play like we did in the second long enough.”
The Sharks used their power play to get back into the game.
Hertl came out from behind the net and swept a shot between the pads of Penguins goaltender Matt Murray to cut the deficit to one. Murray made 24 saves for his 12th win in 15 playoff games.
Marleau tied it in the final two minutes of the second period on a wraparound.
And while the Sharks pushed back in the second and had their chances in a back-and-forth third, Pittsburgh cashed in late for the decisive goal.
“It would’ve been nice to win, but we play seven games for a reason,” Burns said. “It was a tough first, but we were still in it at the end with a chance to win it.”
Copyright 2016 The Associated Press.