The San Jose Sharks, playing in the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in their 25-year history, dropped Game 1 to the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 at Consul Energy Center in Pittsburgh.
Nick Bonino scored the winner for Pittsburgh with just over 2 minutes left in the third period.
On the game-winner, Brent Burns lost his stick and couldn’t prevent Kris Letang from finding Bonino in front of the net with Paul Martin defending the slot. Bonino flipped it through Martin Jones at 17:27 of the final frame.
The Sharks went to the power play with 2:09 to go, but couldn’t tie it up.
Tomas Hertl got the Sharks on the board about 3 minutes into the second period and Patrick Marleau added the equalizer late in the period.
Rookie Bryan Rust opened the scoring in the first period for Pittsburgh against Jones, and Conor Sheary added a second tally about a minute later, as the Penguins took an early 2-0 lead.
The Penguins had the Sharks on their heels for virtually the entire opening frame, outshooting San Jose 15-4 and scoring a pair.
The first came at 12:46 of the first. On a rush, Justin Schultz’s shot from the high slot hit the glove of Marc-Edouard Vlasic, and Rust was there to smack in the loose puck.
Just one minute and two seconds later, the Penguins upped their cushion. Sidney Crosby tracked down a loose puck in the corner ahead of Justin Braun, calmly played the puck off his backhand and whipped a cross-ice pass to Sheary. Another rookie, Sheary whizzed a wrist shot past Jones’ far shoulder.
It was evident early in the second, though, that San Jose had regrouped, as Marleau and Joe Pavelski both had good looks at the net. They broke through on an early power play courtesy of Hertl, who curled in a pass from down low off of Olli Maatta at 3:02.
Pittsburgh withstood a continual push from the Sharks for much of the second period until Marleau’s late score. After Couture outworked Maatta deep in the offensive zone and pushed the puck to the point to Burns, Marleau secured Burns’ rebound and wrapped it around at 18:12.
Burns had two assists, and made a strong defensive play with about three minutes left in the first, backchecking hard and lifting up Carl Hagelin’s stick on a breakaway.
The Penguins outshot the Sharks 41-26.
Game 2 is Wednesday in Pittsburgh, then the Sharks return home to San Jose for Game 3 Saturday and Game 4 next Monday.