The Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the San Jose Sharks 3-1 in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals to take a 3-1 lead in the series.
The Penguins are one victory away from their fourth Stanley Cup after winning Game 4 in San Jose 3-1 Monday night. Evgeni Malkin led the way on offense for the Pens in this potential penultimate match, scoring a goal and adding an assist. Matt Murray was nearly perfect in goal, stopping 23 of 24 San Jose shots, his lone blemish coming 8:07 into the third when San Jose’s Melker Karlsson scored his fourth of the playoffs.
The Pens quickly rebounded from Saturday’s overtime loss in Game 3, netting the first goal just 7:36 into the opening period. Ian Cole found the net for the first time this postseason, assisted by Phil Kessel and Malkin. #71 extended the Pens’ lead to 2-0 at 2:37 of the second with Kessel adding another helper.
As expected, San Jose made a push to start the third, playing like a team that sensed desperation beginning to set in. The rush yielded Karlsson’s goal at 8:07 of the period but nothing more. With just over two minutes remaining in the game Eric Fehr put the finishing touches on the Pittsburgh victory, beating Martin Jones and giving the Pens a 3-1 lead that would ultimately be the final.
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In addition to Kessel’s two assists Carl Hagelin also added an assist on Fehr’s goal, continuing the HBK line’s playoff hot streak.
Murray was again outstanding after having a few costly lapses on Saturday that ultimately led to San Jose’s victory and gave the Sharks the opportunity to even the series and create a best-of-3 battle for the Cup. Tonight however was “vintage” Murray if there can be said such a thing, the rookie netminder back to the strong play that saw him earn 13 prior playoff victories over the past two months.
The Penguins can now become the first Pittsburgh team since the 1960 Pirates to win a championship at home when the two teams take the ice at Consol Energy Center at 8 PM Thursday night.