James O'Brien

I am a contributing editor/writer/troublemaker for NBC's Pro Hockey Talk blog.

Cole gives Penguins yet another lead vs. Sharks after first period


Metallica sure seemed to set the tone for a lightning-fast (one might even say speed-metal-like) start to Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final.

There weren’t a ton of actual shots on goal, yet the action was exciting and there were plenty of close calls.

Ultimately, the Pittsburgh Penguins once again enjoyed a lead – the San Jose Sharks haven’t had to protect one yet with Game 3’s overtime goal in mind – as they ended the first period up 1-0.

An unexpected trend

The Penguins have enjoyed remarkable production from defensemen not named Kris Letang during this series. Ben Lovejoy helped produce some big points in Game 3, while an ultra-rare Ian Cole goal stood as the only tally in the first period.

It came after Brian Dumoulin somehow didn’t score the 1-0 goal; when you consider Justin Braun‘s production for San Jose, the 2016 Stanley Cup Final has been surprisingly rich in offense for lesser-known blueliners.

Understatement: goals have been rare for Cole.

Again, there were some memorable moments, such as this Marc-Edouard Vlasic interference on Sidney Crosby:

The Sharks are standing toe-to-toe with the Penguins, yet they’re still struggling to get on the board. We’ll see if that changes going forward.


Metallica rocks national anthem before Stanley Cup Final Game 4


Metallica has long been a sports arena mainstay, whether an in-house arena goes with something obvious like “Enter Sandman” or a deeper cut like “Seek and Destroy.”

For Game 4 of the 2016 Stanley Cup Final, the San Jose Sharks are going beyond the DJ to have Metallica rev up the crowd by playing the national anthem.

(Let’s take a moment to either be sad or appreciative that the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Tampa Bay Lightning, thus depriving the world of about a thousand bad “Ride the Lightning” puns.)

You can enjoy that performance by Kirk Hammett and James Hetfield in the video above and also see Hetfield explain why the Sharks could win it all in the clip below:

Want more Metallica and intro stuff? Of course you do:

WATCH LIVE: Stanley Cup Final Game 4 – Penguins at Sharks

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So far, every contest in the 2016 Stanley Cup Final has been down-to-the-wire, with two straight overtime games really driving the tension.

Game 4 presents plenty of interesting questions. Can the San Jose Sharks “hold serve” by winning both home games or will the Pittsburgh Penguins take a 3-1 lead? Which struggling stars might break through? How cool will Metallica’s national anthem end up being?

Find out the answers to those questions (and more) as NBC presents Game 4 at the Shark Tank.

You can stream all the coverage, including some lead-in fun, via the link below:


Penguins refuse to be intimidated, won’t go into a ‘defensive shell’


When the Pittsburgh Penguins are at their best, they’re playing without fear and exhibiting fearful speed.

The San Jose Sharks showed signs of adjusting to their strengths in Game 3, but the Penguins aren’t panicking as Game 4 rapidly approaches.

San Jose might be leveraging size advantages as they try to hem the Penguins in their own zone, yet that’s far from new for this team, as they told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

“Teams have been trying to out-muscle us, trying to intimidate us, for the last three months,” Ben Lovejoy said on Sunday.

“The Rangers did it. Washington did it. … We’re a team that prides ourselves on being brave.”

It’s one thing to handle hits against a bigger Sharks team. The key is for the Penguins to get back to the rapid transition game that plays to their strengths.

So, the Penguins aren’t being bullied into changing their ways, but can they adjust to the Sharks’ adjustments? We’ll find out in Game 4.

For a little more from Mike Sullivan, check out his comments to the press before tonight’s contest.

Video: Joonas Donskoi generates overtime magic for Sharks

San Jose Sharks forward Joonas Donskoi seemed like he couldn’t buy a break during certain moments of the 2016 Stanley Cup Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Much like some other Sharks players hitting multiple posts, Donskoi kept generating nice chances, yet he couldn’t quite get it done.

It almost seemed a little comical to some at times.

Donskoi kept plugging away, however, and he scored the overtime game-winner in Game 3 while also assisting on a big Joel Ward goal.

Moments like these are about making a legacy: Donskoi’s huge goal already towers over those missed shots, and that will only loom larger over time. He’s the guy who scored the first Stanley Cup Final game-winner in Sharks history, after all.

For more in the Stella Artois series, click here.

Also, here is the “Showtime: ALL ACCESS version.”