Nick Bonino, who ironically was a sixth-round selection (173rd overall) by San Jose in the 2007 NHL Draft, scored the tiebreaking goal with 2:33 remaining in regulation to lift the Penguins over the Sharks by a score of 3-2, in Game 1 of the 2016 Stanley Cup Final.
"It's one of those shots that wasn't my hardest shot by any means, but just found a way to kind of flip it over him," said Bonino. "Great pass from Tanger."
Prior to Bonino's heroics, Penguins' rookies Bryan Rust and Conor Sheary got Pittsburgh off to a hot start, scoring 62 seconds apart to spot the Penguins a 2-0 lead in the first period.
It marked just the second time that the opening two goals of the Stanley Cup Final were scored by rookies. Rust and Sheary also became the first pair of rookie teammates to score in the same game of the Stanley Cup Final since 2009, when Justin Abdelkader and Jonathan Ericsson of the Red Wings did so in Game 2 vs. PIT.
Rust, who scored for the third straight game (4-0—4), set a Penguins rookie record with his sixth goal of the postseason, surpassing the mark set by Michel Briere in 1970 (5).
Penguins goaltender Matt Murray (24 SV) earned his 12th victory of the postseason, tied for the second-most wins by a rookie netminder in one playoff year.
Bonino recorded his second game-winning goal of the playoffs (19 GP) after posting zero such tallies during the regular season (63 GP). In Game 6 of the Second Round vs. WSH, he became the eighth player in Penguins history to score a series-clinching goal in overtime.
Five of Bonino’s 12 career playoff goals have stood as winners (including three in overtime). He has eight such goals during the regular season (with only one in overtime).
Carl Hagelin (0-1—1) provided an assist on Bonino’s goal. The “HBK Line” of Hagelin (5-8—13), Bonino (4-12—16) and Phil Kessel (9-9—18) has combined for 18-29—47 this postseason.
"I think overall we have to use our speed to be successful in the series," said Hagelin.
Sharks defenseman Brent Burns collected assists on both of his team’s goals, giving him 6-16—22 this postseason (19 GP). Sharks forward Patrick Marleau, who has appeared in 1,411 regular-season games (all w/ SJS), scored while making his Stanley Cup Final debut – in the city where he was drafted No. 2 overall in 1997.
Sharks goaltender Martin Jones made 38 saves, including 17 in the third period. The Sharks allowed 40-plus shots on goal in regulation for just the second time in 2015-16 (regular season and playoffs).
The Penguins became the first Eastern Conference team to win Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final since 2006 (CAR). Since the Final went to the best-of-seven format in 1939, the team that has won Game 1 has gone on to capture the Stanley Cup 77.6% of the time (59 of 76 series) – including each of the past four years.
Game 2 will be played on Wednesday in Pittsburgh.
By Staff of TheDailySportsHerald.com and news services