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Penguins Halt Sharks 3-1 in Game 4 – Pittsburgh Penguins – PenguinPoop Blog

Penguins Halt Sharks 3-1 in Game 4

Something old, something new. Something borrowed, something blue.

You might be wondering what the heck an olde English bridal rhyme has to do with hockey.

Guess it kind of reminds me of our Penguins. A true mulligan stew of superstars, grinders, castoffs and kids. Beautifully seasoned and stirred by head chefs Jim Rutherford and Mike Sullivan into a delicious hockey team. One that stands a lone victory away from reclaiming Lord Stanley’s coveted chalice for the Steel City.

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In many ways yesterday’s 3-1 triumph over San Jose in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals symbolizes our new-look Pens. Thanks in no small part to Rutherford’s artful restoration, no longer a group that relies solely on its superstar core. Everyone, it seems, chips in.

Last night was no exception.

Longtime stalwart Evgeni Malkin led the way with an impassioned performance. Held off the score sheet for the first three games of the series, the first-time papa rose to the occasion with a key goal and assist.

“I just thought he had one of his strongest games of the playoffs at an important time for us,” Sullivan said.

Newcomer Phil Kessel contributed mightily with two clutch assists, including a dandy on Malkin’s power-play tally at 2:37 of the second period. “Geno” chipped home Kessel’s alert, cross-crease feed for what proved to be the game winner.

Reclamation project Ian Cole, who languished in the press box for a month during the regular season, continued his stunning metamorphosis from chrysalis to butterfly. The Notre Dame grad struck for the game-opening goal—his first of any kind this season—to restore the Pens’ sagging mojo. Cole logged 18:48 of typically physical, error-free defense.

“I hit a lot of posts, a lot of sticks; pucks were going to the open net and they’d get tipped wide,” the Pens’ defenseman said. “It was a weird year in that sense. It’s nice to finally get that one. I was saving a special one for a special game.”

Has anyone scored a prettier goal this postseason than Eric Fehr? Consigned to the role of fourth-line mucker, the big forward burst into the slot to take Carl Hagelin’s perfect pass and ripped the puck past Martin Jones to squelch a late San Jose push.

While we’re handing out plaudits, how about Matt Murray? The ever-cool youngster stopped 23 shots—including a breakaway attempt by Sharks sniper Patrick Marleau early in the third period—to ice his 14th playoff win. One shy of the postseason record for rookie goalies.

A perfect win? No. Our guys sat back a little too much for my taste. Especially in the third period, when they allowed San Jose to carry the play.

What’s that old saying about a prevent defense? It prevents you from winning.

A big win? Huge. The Penguins return to the cozy confines of Consol Energy Center on Thursday night with a chance to do something never accomplished in the team’s rich and storied 49-year history. Not even by Mario Lemieux and his fellow Hall-of-Famers.

Win a Stanley Cup on home ice.

“We have a team that has a lot of guys that have been to the top of the mountain so to speak,” said Matt Cullen, who won a Cup with Carolina back in 2006. “We know it’s a huge opportunity.”

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10 Comments

  1. Jim's Gravatar Jim
    June 10, 2016 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    Hey Rick,
    Wrong again I am. However as a result we witnessed one heck of a Hockey game.The most entertaining and emotionally charged game I have seen in a
    very long time. The Pen’s can hold their heads up high because last night, the Shark’s goalie beat them… Period. Not the Shark’s players in front of him. No one can watch these first 5 games and say that the Sharks can outplay the Pen’s because they simply can not do it. The second period and part of the third, the Pen’s played their best hockey of the entire season. They were scary to watch at times. In my opinion the Pen’s raised their level of play and the Sharks could not match the intensity. Jones just stole the game.
    So back to San Jose on Sunday and we do it again.
    Two quick points. 1. Don Cherry on HNIC said that Brent Burns was practicing that shot to the high side of Murray in practice yesterday…the one he scored upon. 2. To see 30- 40,000 fans outside Consol last night was incredible.Very striking visual image. I am sure many of your readers were there. I am jealous of you all ! Did they give any official count of people who were outside?

    Let’s go Pen’s.
    Cheers

  2. Jim's Gravatar Jim
    June 9, 2016 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

    Let’s Go PENS. Sweet 2016 !

  3. sandi's Gravatar sandi
    June 7, 2016 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    well written!!

    • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
      June 7, 2016 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

      Thank you, Sandi.

      GO PENS!

  4. Jim's Gravatar Jim
    June 7, 2016 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    Hey Rick,
    No team has ever came back from a 3-1 deficit to win a Cup Final since 1940 something. Is it possible ? Hypothetically yes. Mathematically NO ! We have all watched for 4 games as the larger Sharks failed to overcome the Pen’s and their rag tag bunch of players.The Sharks top 5 have forwards have scored 1 maybe 2 goals in four games ! Why? Credit the play of the Pen’s team defense and discipline to limit the amount of penalties taken in this series. To me that is the overall key to this series. Plus the play of Matt Murray and fellow newbies Rust, Sheary and Tommy K.
    I watched in amazement as Tommy K. was out hustling and outplaying Super Joe,Little Joe, and anyone else who got in his way.
    Then you have the no name defense. They beat a really good Rangers team with Nash,Stall,King Henry, and others.Then they beat the President Cup winning Capitals with Ovi, Backstrom, that other Russian, K…ov ? That was a really great team that we defeated. Then we defeated a really,really deep team in Tampa.Three really good teams and our no name d corps got the job done.Way to go guys.
    Now here we are one win away from the Ultimate prize. Cole,Lovejoy, Maatta,Dumolin,Schultz,and Daley. Totally amazing what they have done to date. A lot of GM’s in the off season will be reevaluating their Teams to copy the winning formula of our beloved Pen’s.
    I am not making short of the incredible contributions of our stars Crosby, Malkin, Kessel, Letang, MAF,…It is a total team effort. My point was simply that what people originally thought would be our Achilles heel,our no name d-corps and our Rookies actually helped carry the day to where we are now.
    Pen’s in five !!
    Cheers,

    PS:This Cup win will cement Crosby’s legacy as one of the greatest of all time !

    • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
      June 7, 2016 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

      Hey Jim,

      The play of our defense truly has been remarkable. When Trevor Daley went down, I was really worried. But Maatta stepped back in and has done a really good job.

      Same with Schultz. I’ve kept an eye on him the past few games, and he’s actually using his body a bit. Dangerous with the puck, too.

      Cole and Lovejoy have been so solid. Nobody squawked louder than me when Rutherford traded for them last year. Goodness, have they ever proved me wrong. Happily so.

      I’m sure it helps to have a coach like Mike Sullivan who shows so much faith in you.

      Agree about Sid’s legacy…and Malkin’s, too. Not that we’re entitled. Lord knows, you’ve got to earn the Cup. But winning another one with this core would just feel right, wouldn’t it?

      The fulfillment of all that promise they showed back in ’09.

      • Jim's Gravatar Jim
        June 7, 2016 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

        Your 100 % correct Rick.Feels right. To me it also shows just how hard it is for Teams to repeat as Cup winners in a cap era. 2009 and 2016 ! With the threat of serious injuries,cap concerns,and the over all parity of the NHL now, it is becoming very difficult for any team to achieve a dynasty status anymore.
        Lets go Pen’s..

      • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
        June 8, 2016 at 9:00 am | Permalink

        Hey Rick and Jim,

        Good comments.

        When I watch these games unfold, my thoughts have always been that the reason Crosby’s and Malkin’s Legacy may actually become a Legacy is that both of those players as well as Letang and Fleury have bought into the “Team” concept that Sullivan preaches. Crosby, Malkin, and Fleury more so than Letang are really comfortable laying down the bunt right now so that the team wins.

        Fleury, although the pedigree goalie on the team understands that Murray has the hot hand and is supporting his partner on this run.

        Crosby is busting his backside every shift, taking on the opponents’ best checkers night after night giving the HBK line a little more ice to work. In fact, I saw one of the talking heads on ESPN still picking Crosby as his favorite right now for the Conn Smythe despite not leading the league in play-off scoring. (That writer’s second choice was my first choice Murray).

        And let’s not forget Malkin who quietly is second on the team in points per 60 minutes but accepting a paltry 17 minutes of TOI per game as well as linemates by committee and kids at that half the time.

        How many superstars like these three, in today’s day and age would be team players like this rather, than pompous jerks?

        To me, that is why these three are about to have a legacy.

        And speaking of which, I was reading comments on another site where someone was jumping the gun a bit and musing about the number of high-priced veteran UFAs who may want to sign a little cheaper this summer to get a good run at the Cup next year.

        I couldn’t help jump in and first remind the commentor that this season wasn’t over yet, so that that particular discussion should wait a little longer. And second, although there was considerable reason to believe that may be the case, it may be a mistake to just run out and sign as many of them as the Salary Cap permitted. That the idea of team may be lost on many of those UFAs and thereby screw up the teams Chemistry.

        In my opinion, some of the best moves JR made this past trade dead line were non-moves. Unlike a couple of years back, when Shero radically changed the team make-up, bringing in hired guns, Inginla, Morrow, Murray, et al at the dead line, rather than going with the team “that brung him” Shero set the expectation of player over team. Although, JR was more than a little hampered at the trade dead line with a then percieved lack of tradable commodities as well as Cap considerations, his lack of blockbuster trades set the expectation of team first over individual and this has been the most fun Pens play-offs to watch in at least the 7 years if not longer.

        I really am hoping the proverbial fat lady is tuning up her voice. I really want the boys in black-n-gold to end this now, not just to prove you right once again Jim, but my BP may not be able to take anymore.

        • Jim's Gravatar Jim
          June 8, 2016 at 10:11 am | Permalink

          Hi Coach.
          Once again your words are filled with wisdom and much thought. Always enjoy you and Rick’s posts and together we are about to celebrate one of the GREATEST sports stories of the decade.NOBODY gave the Pens a chance to do what they are about to do.To me , this Cup Victory will surpass 2009 and even Marios wins because no one thought this would happen. Before everyone said we would win.
          If I were JR I would retire a winner and finally silence his critics….especially in Carolina once and for all.
          Let’s Go Pens

        • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
          June 8, 2016 at 10:32 am | Permalink

          Hey Other Rick,

          Outstanding stuff. Especially your observations about Sid and the other core players.

          Earlier this season, I read a piece on another blog comparing Crosby to Steve Yzerman, the linchpin of Detroit’s three Stanley Cup winners in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

          There certainly are similarities. Like Sid, Yzerman played with a unique combination of skill and grit. “Stevie Y” put up some huge numbers early in his career. Fifty-plus goals four times (including two seasons of 60 or better)…155 points in 1988-89.

          In his 11th season, at the age of 28, his output slipped a bit. Nothing drastic…still in the 80-to-90 point range. But not the Superman stats he put up early on.

          If this sounds familiar, it should. Right around the same age and stage of his career, Crosby’s experienced a similar dip in production.

          Yzerman compensated by focusing more on his defensive chores and emerged as a truly great two-way player, not to mention a leader nonpareil.

          Sid seems to be following in Yzerman’s footsteps. He’s matured so much. What an example he’s set, game in and game out. Working both ends of the ice. Battling for loose pucks. Grinding along the wall. Winning faceoffs. All the while, still making signature plays (on Sheary’s OT goal in Game 2) or scoring clutch goals (three game winners against Tampa Bay) at crucial times.

          How can you not be inspired to give your all when your superstar captain’s out there busting his tail?


            

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