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Stanley Cup Final Game 6 Preview: 5 keys for Sharks vs. Penguins

SAN JOSE, Calif. – The Stanley Cup will be in the building (again) as the Pittsburgh Penguins face the San Jose Sharks on Sunday night, trying to win their fourth championship.

No Tomas Hertl again for the Sharks, as he’s still out with a lower-body injury.

Here are five keys for Game 6, as the Sharks continue to push for a miraculous rally in the Stanley Cup Final.

1. Rethinking Martin Jones

The Sharks are playing in front of their fans again because of goalie Martin Jones, whose brilliant 44-save performance delivered them Game 5.

So what can the Penguins do to crack that wall in front of the San Jose goal?

“The thing you have to be better with is that second and third chance. Things that make it tough for him to get back to his crease when he plays above it,” said forward Chris Kunitz.

“We have to do better things around him. Maybe get some more screens. Get more bodies in front of him. That seems to give him problems,” he said. “If you’re one and done, and the puck’s going to the corner, that’s not going to help you. We want to hit him with shots, have them lay around the net, beating their guys for rebounds. That’s how you beat a good goalie.” 

2. Sharks Need To Lower Heat

The Sharks needed Jones in Game 5 because they gave up 46 shots to the Penguins. That was in stark contrast to their efforts in Game 4, when they limited the Penguins to just 20 shots on goal.

Unless the Sharks are going to rely on three straight masterpieces from Jones to win the Cup, they have to limit those chances.

“We got away from it last game,” said coach Peter DeBoer. “We allowed them to funnel pucks to the net. That's what they do. I thought we did a great job, probably the best game of the series where we've done a good job of denying them funneling those pucks to the net. We've got to get back to that.”

3. The Penguin Rebound

The bad news is that Matt Murray’s rough first period helped lead to the Sharks’ Game 5 win. The good news is that he’s usually at his best after a loss, as is the team in front of him.

Murray is 5-0 with a 1.76 GAA and a .935 save percentage after losses in the postseason. That included Game 4 in this series, when he had an outstanding third period from bring home the 3-1 win.

“For him to show that type of an attribute at such a young age, it usually takes players a few years to acquire that type of mental toughness where your confidence doesn't get shaken or your performance doesn't get influenced by some of the adversity that you go through throughout the course of a game or from game to game,” said coach Mike Sullivan.

4. The Counterpunch

The San Jose Sharks showed last game that they can actually get a lead on the Pittsburgh Penguins. But they also allowed the Penguins to roar back into the game with two goals in the first period, before escaping the first with a 3-2 lead.

Again, if the Sharks have the lead, they have to find a way to carry play more and keep the pressure out of their defensive zone. The Penguins have absolutely throttled them in puck possession during this series.

And finally …

5. History

The Sharks became the 15th team to force a Game 6 in the Stanley Cup Final when trailing the series 3-1 since 1939.

Six of those teams have gone on to force a Game 7.

But only one, the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs, went on to win the Cup.

So, uh, the Sharks are due?

--

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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