The San Jose Sharks had hoped to even up their NHL Finals series with the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 4. But the Penguins quickly shut the door on this notion, outscoring San Jose 2-0 in the first two periods before coasting to a comfortable 3-1 victory.
This final score also represents Pittsburgh’s 3-1 lead in the series, meaning they can finish off the Sharks at the Consol Energy Center this Thursday.
Will they do it? Or do the Sharks have enough fight left in them to steal a road win and send the series back to San Jose? Find out as we discuss Game 5 of the NHL Finals between the Penguins and Sharks.
GTBets.eu Moneyline for Game 5 (June 9 at 8:00pm EST)
San Jose (130)
GTBets.eu Spread for Game 5
San Jose +1.5 (-250)
Pittsburgh -1.5 (+210)
Why the Penguins will Win Game 5
For years, the headliners in Pittsburgh have been center Sidney Crosby and forward Evgeni Malkin, who’ve provided countless goals for this team. But these two haven’t had much of an impact so far, with Malkin getting his first two points last game and Crosby remaining scoreless in the series.
Instead, this has been a balanced attach that’s anchored by the defense. Game 4 was a perfect example of this as Pittsburgh’s defense held San Jose to just 24 shots against rookie goalie Matt Murray. Overall, Sharks goaltender Martin Jones has seen 35 more shots than Murray this series.
Defenders Kris Letang and Ian Cole have not only played a crucial role in shutting down San Jose’s vaunted attack, but they’ve also supplied offense too. Cole got the first goal to put Pittsburgh ahead while Letang supplied an assist. The Pens also got a goal from Malkin in the second and Eric Fehr in the third to cap off a great road win.
Pittsburgh is favored big at most sportsbooks, and the majority of analysts expect them to hoist the Stanley Cup on Thursday. It seems like they have a great chance of doing so as long as they keep getting balanced contributions from all angles.
Why the Sharks will Win Game 5
Looking at the Penguins’ lead in this series coupled with their home ice advantage in Game 5, it seems like San Jose has no chance. But you merely need to look back at the scores to see that this isn’t quite the case.
The first three games were decided by one goal, with two of these contests even going into overtime. Game 4 was the one outlier, and it was crushing for San Jose given that they lost by two goals at home.
In order to ensure that this doesn’t happen again, the Sharks need to be more aggressive. Perhaps this won’t be a problem since they’re facing elimination now. But the important thing is that they get past Pittsburgh’s defenders and send more shots at Jones.
Much of this begins with Joe Pavelski, who came into the series with 22 points and a team-high 13 goals. He’s been largely absent from the stat sheets thus far, but maybe desperation will kick his performance into gear.
Assuming Pavelski shows up, the team should follow and give San Jose a chance at sending this series back to the SAP Center.
Prediction on Sharks vs Penguins
For years Crosby and Malkin charged Pittsburgh into the playoffs, only to watch their high-scoring squads wilt against more-aggressive, defensive-minded teams. This year the Penguins are the aggressors and the team playing tough defense. San Jose is also strong on both sides of the ice, as they showed in the first three nail-biters. In Game 4, though, they were thoroughly handled in a contest that they needed to give themselves a realistic chance. Pittsburgh has the momentum, they have the home ice, and they should have the Stanley Cup by Thursday.
Score Prediction: Pittsburgh 2 – San Jose 1
Betting Advice: Bet Pittsburgh on the moneyline, but hold off on the puck line. This is, after all, a desperate Sharks team that has kept three out of four games within one goal.