On the brink: Pens silence Sharks, now one win away from Stanley Cup

41 Comments

SAN JOSE — The Sharks haven’t quite faded to black yet.

But they’re close.

On a night when Metallica provided a surge of energy by performing the national anthem, the home team failed to respond in kind, mustering just a single goal in a 3-1 loss to Pittsburgh in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final.

Evgeni Malkin‘s second-period goal, his first of the series, proved the game winner, while Melker Karlsson scored the lone marker for San Jose.

Ian Cole and Eric Fehr also netted for the Penguins, who got a pair of assists from Phil Kessel, now the team’s leading scorer — and legitimate Conn Smythe favorite — with 21 points in 22 games.

With the win, the Penguins took a commanding 3-1 series lead, and can now capture their first championship in seven years on Thursday night at Consol.

With the loss, San Jose found itself in in serious trouble.

Fair or not, the face of that trouble is the captain, Joe Pavelski. He had another difficult night on Monday, and remains pointless in this series — a stunning development for a guy that had 38 goals during the regular season, and 13 during the playoffs.

Pavelski’s struggles were also compounded by Malkin’s big night.

Like Pavelski, Malkin entered Game 4 having failed to register a single point. The big Russian looked a frustrated player and clearly had more to give — which is exactly what his head coach, Mike Sullivan, said prior to tonight.

Unlike Pavelski, Malkin finally broke through. He finished with two points tonight, two shots and a hit in what was easily his best game of the final.

Looking ahead, the storylines for both teams are pretty simple.

The Sharks now face the unenviable task of trying to do something only one other team in NHL history has — rally from 3-1 down to win a cup final.

That team? The 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs, who actually came from 0-3 down against the Red Wings to win it all.

So all San Jose has to do… is something that hasn’t been done in 74 years.

As for the the Penguins, they get their own chance at history. The club’s three previous Stanley Cups were all won on the road — in Minnesota in ’91, in Chicago in ’92 and in Detroit in ’09.

Now they get a chance to hoist Lord Stanley’s Mug in front of the Pittsburgh faithful.