Three Stars: Rookie Sheary lifts Penguins in overtime in Game 2
The Pittsburgh Penguins needed a few extra minutes, 2:35 to be exact, to edge past the San Jose Sharks in overtime of Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday. The win puts the Penguins in the driver’s seat with a 2-0 lead as the series shifts to San Jose.
Here’s who stood out to us:
Conor Sheary, Pittsburgh Penguins
Two Stanley Cup Final games, two Stanley Cup Final goals for Sheary. Not bad for an undersized, undrafted freshman who started the season in the AHL. His tally in Game 2 was just the fifth overtime winner scored by a rookie in the history of the Final and the first since Brian Skrudland with the Montreal Canadiens in in 1986.
"It's surreal...an important moment," Sheary said after the game. "Most important, we got a win and we're up 2-0 right now. It's a good momentum shift for us."
And it's good for him, a player who not too long ago was admittedly overwhelmed by the experience of playing alongside Sidney Crosby.
Now this. Not too shabby for the first game-winning goal, 63 games into his NHL career.
Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins
He checks harder than anyone. He passes better than anyone. And it turns out he draws up plays better than anyone, too. After the game, Kris Letang revealed that Crosby orchestrated the events leading up to Sheary's OT goal, telling Letang not to one-time the puck off the draw but to look for the winger instead. Being smarter than everyone else is part of what make Crosby the best player in the world.
"He's inspiring for our group," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. "I know our players recognize the effort that he's putting in. You can see it in his body language. He's excited about this opportunity that we have. He's trying to make the most of it. He's doing everything in his power to help this team win right now."
Justin Schultz, Pittsburgh Penguins
The Oilers castoff followed up an impressive Game 1 showing with an even better effort in Game 2. The oft-maligned defender was on the ice for 15 shots attempts for and only five against at even-strength, using his quick feet and quicker hands to key Pittsburgh's two-way effort. He's been a revelation in these playoffs, getting more shots through to the net, and making better defensive plays with his stick. That's allowing him to soak up the minutes left open by the injury to Trevor Daley in the conference final.