PITTSBURGH — How have the Penguins done it?
That was essentially the question for head coach Mike Sullivan, after the Pens got outshot for the 14th time in their 20th game of the postseason. Pittsburgh beat Nashville, 5-3, in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday, despite putting just 12 shots on the Predators’ net.
So how do the Pens keep getting outshot and winning games?
“I think our team has an ability to win games different ways,” said Sullivan. “I think one of the strengths of this team is the quick strike-ability. We can be opportunistic. When we get high-quality chances, we have some people that can finish.”
He added, “Sometimes we’re going to outshoot teams, control territory. Other nights we’re going to have to defend, limit the quality of a chance, rely on our counterattack game. Some nights it’s our special teams. But I do think that this team has the ability to win games different ways.”
Not that Sullivan was satisfied with how the Penguins played in Game 1. He definitely wasn’t. But he was happy with the win.
Statistically speaking, it has been a bizarre run for these Pens. Since the 2010 playoffs, of the 17 teams that played at least 20 postseason games (i.e. teams that made deep runs), Pittsburgh has the lowest even-strength share of shot attempts (46.8%).
Last year, for comparison’s sake, the Pens won the Cup with a 51.6 percent share.
This year, the Predators are at 51.2 percent.
Of course, however a team does it, the only thing that really matters is wins and losses. And the Pens only need three more wins to become the first repeat champs of the salary-cap era.
Game 2 goes tonight at PPG Paints Arena.