(Reuters) – The San Jose Sharks have a golden opportunity to level the Stanley Cup Final series with the Penguins on home ice in Monday’s Game Four but know they have to do a better job in blunting Pittsburgh’s high-octane offense.
Though the Sharks did well to cut the deficit to 2-1 in the best-of-seven series with a 3-2 overtime win on Saturday, they did so despite being heavily outshot and outblocked.
“Historically during the year, we’ve been one of the best shot-blocking teams in the league,” Sharks coach Pete DeBoer told reporters after team practice on Sunday.
“But they (the Penguins) fire from everywhere, every angle, all over the place, then cause confusion around the net.
“We’ve got to do a better job. But does the fact that they have 30 more shots in the series bother me? Not as much as it bothers you guys (reporters).”
The Sharks have waited 25 years to reach the franchise’s first Stanley Cup Final, while the Penguins have competed for the championship five times, winning the title in 1991, 1992 and 2009.
Asked what adjustments the Sharks would make in Game Four to cope with Pittsburgh’s shot-blocking, DeBoer replied: “We’ve got to keep shooting. We’ve got to work for lanes.”
The Penguins, who have outshot the Sharks 113-74 through three games, blocked 38 shots in Saturday’s Game Three.
“There’s not much you can do,” said DeBoer. “It can’t deter us from shooting the puck. There’s no bad shots for us.
“We’re going to keep our shooting mentality and keep firing.”
Sharks goaltender Martin Jones, traded by Boston to San Jose in July last year, has been a rock for his team and recorded 40 saves in Saturday’s overtime win.
“You never know how a guy is going to handle the starting job playing every night until you throw him into it, that was the million-dollar question,” DeBoer said of Canadian international Jones.
“Even when he didn’t play well, he bounced back quickly. It didn’t bother him. I think that’s when we started to see what he was capable of.”
After Monday’s Game Four, the series shifts back to Pittsburgh for Game Five on Thursday.
(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Larry Fine)