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Penguins take Game 1 vs. Sharks on Bonino’s late goal

PITTSBURGH – Nick Bonino’s goal with 2:33 left in third period gave the Pittsburgh Penguins a 3-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.

Kris Letang’s pass form the corner found Bonino in front of Martin Jones (38 saves), and he knocked the puck past the Sharks’ goalie for his fourth of the playoffs at 17:27.

But it wasn’t over yet. Ben Lovejoy took a hooking penalty against Patrick Marleau that gave the best power play in the playoffs a chance to tie the game with Jones pulled. But the Penguins killed it, and skated off to victory.

Pittsburgh took a 1-0 series lead, with Game 2 set for Wednesday.

The Sharks were dominated in the first period by the home team. 

The Penguins took a 1-0 lead on a goal by one of their Eastern Conference Final heroes, rookie Bryan Rust, his sixth of the playoffs.

Chris Kunitz started the play with a nice touch pass down ice. Rust flew through the neutral zone into the attacking zone, and tried to find Evgeni Malkin with a pass that instead found defenseman Justin Schultz. He fired the puck off of the hand of Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic, who had no idea where it was. Neither did Martin Jones, who came out to challenge the shot. The puck bounced through Melker Karlsson of the Sharks to Rust, who buried it for the 1-0 lead.

Another rookie made it 2-0 just 1 minute and 2 seconds later, thanks to a dynamic setup from the Penguins’ captain.

Sidney Crosby skated down left wing and was shadowed by defenseman Justin Braun. Crosby slammed on the breaks, spun around and sent a perfect pass across the ice to forward Conor Sheary, who snapped a shot over the right shoulder of Jones for the 2-0 lead, helped by a large Swedish barge named Patric Hornqvist passing in front of the Sharks’ goalie.

The Penguins finished the period with a 15-4 shot advantage.

San Jose finally got on the board thanks to its NHL-best power play, with Ian Cole in the box for hooking.

Brent Burns walked a tightrope in keeping the puck from leaving the zone. He fed to Jonas Donskoi, who found Tomas Hertl to Matt Murray’s right. Hertl moved in and banked the puck off the goalie’s stick and through his 5-hole to cut the lead to 2-1 at 3:02.

That calmed the Sharks, and the game, down considerably. Then, with 1:48 left in the period, Patrick Marleau put up the first Stanley Cup Final point of his 18-year career.

Logan Couture got the play going by passing back to Burns at the point. He fired, and Murray made the save; but the rebound trickled to Marleau, who quickly moved in back of the net and wrapped the puck between Murray’s skate and the post to his right.

His fifth of the playoffs. His first in the Stanley Cup Final, after 1,576 games without a Stanley Cup Final appearance. 

Marleau would later take a two-minute penalty for a hit to the head of Bryan Rust that the NHL might further penalize.

Overall, an impressive effort from the Penguins, who held off a revitalized Sharks team until Bonino's heroics. 

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