SAN JOSE — To hear Patric Hornqvist explain it, the Penguins don’t need to change much from their loss to the Sharks on Thursday night.
“I think we played a hell of a game the last 55 minutes of the game,” Hornqvist said ahead of tonight’s Game 6 in San Jose. “We rolled over them. We got so many scoring chances, but we couldn’t find the puck.
“We have to play exactly the same game here tonight.”
Statistically speaking, Hornqvist’s right.
Though Pittsburgh lost 4-2, the club carried the majority of the play and out-shot the Sharks 46-22. Per war-on-ice, Pittsburgh won the Corsi battle 76-36, had 19 high quality scoring chances to San Jose’s seven, and had 23 offensive zone starts to San Jose’s 12.
So yeah, the ice was tilted.
When it wasn’t tilted, though, was in the opening five minutes, in which the teams combined to score four goals. That seemed to rattle Pens netminder Matt Murray, who ultimately allowed three goals on just seven shots in the opening frame — and the last one, Melker Karlsson‘s fluttering knuckler, held up as the eventual game-winner.
“Maybe clean up the first five minutes, learn about that,” was all Hornqvist would concede about possibly changing things up for Game 6. “Other than that, if we play like we did, I like our chances.”
Now, do keep one thing in mind.
Possession and shot metrics haven’t meant an awful lot in this series.
San Jose learned that in Game 4 when — after out-shooting Pittsburgh (24-20) for the first and only time in the final — it mustered just a single goal of offense in a 3-1 loss. And the Pens have experienced this throughout, having cumulatively out-shot San Jose 179 to 120… yet having only out-scored San Jose 12 to 11.
Still, Pittsburgh feels in control of this series, and that the Sharks are fortunate to be where they are.
“I think we played a little bit better than San Jose,” Evgeni Malkin said after Game 5. “They’re a good team, but they were a little bit lucky.”