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Penguins confident in their chances after Game 5 loss

PITTSBURGH – Like the rest of his teammates, Bryan Rust saw the thousands of Pittsburgh Penguins fans assembled around CONSOL Energy Center in anticipation of a Stanley Cup raising on Thursday night.

“Traffic was terrible,” he said, with a laugh. “It was disappointing that we couldn’t do it on home ice.” 

But while the Penguins were disappointed in the result, they weren’t disappointed in their effort.

“I think we played hard and well,” said Rust.

“Hockey doesn’t always go your way. Sometimes you think you deserve to win, and sometimes you think you shouldn’t,” he said. “I think we did a lot of positive things. We can clean up a few things.”

According to War On Ice, the Penguins had a score-adjusted Corsi rating of 58.1 at 5-on-5 in Game 5, to the San Jose Sharks’ 31.1. They nearly doubled them in scoring chances and had significantly more high-danger chances. In other words, despite the 4-2 loss, they carried the play, only to see goalie Martin Jones bail out his team with an epic 44-save performance.

“For long stretches of the game, I really liked our team, I really liked our performance,” said Penguins coach Mike Sullivan on Friday. “Obviously from a goal-scoring standpoint, it wasn't what we hoped for in the start of the game, but certainly I loved the way our guys responded to get right back into the hockey game and make it 2-2 right away with so much hockey to play.”

The Sharks left the first period with a 3-2 lead, and then it was the Jones show the rest of the way.

“They won the game in first five minutes. Other than that, I thought we were the better team,” said Patric Hornqvist.

So the Penguins head to San Jose for Sunday’s Game 6 with a 3-2 series lead and some confidence. The Sharks played with the lead for the first time in a game in this series, but couldn’t dictate terms to the Penguins, who stormed the offensive zone with regularity and controlled play. If the question was “what will San Jose looks like with a lead?” the answer is “pretty much what they looked like when they were tied or down a goal.”

The Penguins know they’ve been the better team for the vast majority of this series. Perhaps stripped of that “plan the parade” mentality that creeps in when you enter the arena past thousands of fans there to attend your championship party, the Penguins play a more complete game on the road, without an opening stumble.

“We have to continue to stay in the right frame of mind. This team has had success all year long, most specifically through this postseason because of their focus and their attention to detail, trying to play to our identity,” said Sullivan.  “I think when our team plays our game, I think that gives our team the best chance to win.”

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Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.

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