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NHL Stanley Cup Finals Game 4 Preview
Just 12 minutes away from going down 3-0 in the Stanley Cup final series, the San Jose Sharks rallied for a 3-2 overtime victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins and now find themselves a win away from pulling even in the series.
Pens Vs Sharks Game 4 Betting Lines & Analysis
By Bob Duff
Pittsburgh Penguins (+120) at San Jose Sharks (-140)
Yes it was impressive the manner in which the San Jose Sharks battled back for their 3-2 overtime victory in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final series but was it a band-aid, or will the Sharks decipher a method to compete with the Pittsburgh Penguins from the drop of the puck for the opening faceoff of Game 4 at the SAP Center, instead of chasing the game as they've done for the majority of the series?
Joonas Donskoi's Game 3 overtime tally marked the first time in the series that San Jose's held the lead. The Sharks and Penguins have been tied or within a goal of each other for 95.3 per cent of the series thus far (185:39 of 194:53).
To their credit, the Sharks continue to find ways to battle back in games, rallying from a 2-0 deficit in Game 1 and one-goal third-period disadvantages in Games 2 and 3, but they ultimately lost two of the three games, emphasizing that playing catch-up hockey is almost always losing hockey.
If that pattern continues, it bodes well for the Penguins, who outshot the Sharks 42-26 in Game 3 and own a 113-74 edge in shots on goal in the series. The Penguins have put a minimum of 30 shots on goal in 13 straight playoff games and 19 of 21 postseason games this spring.
Meanwhile, the Penguins aren't allowing teams to get shots through to their goaltenders. They blocked 38 shots in Game 3 and have held their opponents under 30 shots in seven of the last nine games.
Sharks forward Tomas Hertl (lower-body injury), a scratch for Game 3, didn't skate Sunday and seems an unlikely starter for Game 4. In his absence, San Jose coach Peter DeBoer alternated Melker Karlsson and Logan Couture in Hertl's spot on the top line alongside Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski. Pittsburgh defensemen Olli Maatta and Kris Letang did not skate Sunday but Penguins coach Mike Sullivan called it maintenance days and insisted he'd make no lineup changes for Game 4.
The Game 3 outcome marked the 13th time in 15 Stanley Cup final games that the end result was a one-goal decision. Donskoi joined Game 2 winning goal scorer Conor Sheary of the Penguins as rookies with OT goals in the series and that means history will be made this spring. The other four rookies to score an overtime winner in Stanley Cup final history all played for the team that eventually won the Cup.
Pick: The Penguins (+120)
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