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ALL-TIME PLAYOFF MEETINGS
Pittsburgh and San Jose will be meeting in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time.
SERIES QUICK HITS
* The Sharks, who joined the NHL in 1991-92, are making their first Stanley Cup Final appearance in franchise history.The last team to make its debut in the Final was the Ottawa Senators in 2007. The last to win in its first appearance was the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006.
* The Penguins are making their fifth appearance in the Stanley Cup Final and are vying for their fourth championship. They captured repeat titles in 1991 and 1992, defeating the Minnesota North Stars and Chicago Blackhawks, respectively; lost to the Detroit Red Wings in 2008; and won a rematch with the Red Wings in 2009.
* The Penguins and Sharks are meeting in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time. The Penguins, however, previously have faced an NHL team from the Bay Area in the postseason – in 1970, Pittsburgh swept the Oakland Seals 4-0 in the Quarterfinals.
* The Penguins and Sharks split their two meetings during the regular season, with the road team winning each time. San Jose recorded a 3-1 victory at CONSOL Energy Center Nov. 21, highlighted by Patrick Marleau reaching the 1,000-point milestone and Paul Martin scoring a goal in his first game against the club he had represented the past five seasons. Pittsburgh returned the favor Dec. 1, posting a 5-1 win in California. The victory snapped a 0-9-3 drought at SAP Center, where the Penguins had not won since Oct. 22, 1997.
* The Sharks have had the upper hand against the Penguins in recent years, going 17-3-3 in their past 23 regular-season meetings dating to April 1, 1998.
* The Sharks, who were winless in their first eight games against the Penguins (0-6-2), recorded their milestone first victory in dramatic fashion. San Jose rallied from a three-goal deficit to defeat Pittsburgh 10-8 at Civic Arena on Jan. 13, 1996, in the highest-scoring NHL game in the past quarter-century.
* Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan began his NHL playing career with the Sharks, who were themselves competing in their inaugural season of 1991-92. Sullivan skated in 171 games over three seasons in San Jose, registering 16-21—37.
* Penguins broadcaster Bob Errey won back-to-back Stanley Cups as part of a 10-year run with Pittsburgh and later served as captain of the Sharks in 1993-94 and 1994-95, when the club pulled off first-round playoff upset wins over the Red Wings and Calgary Flames, respectively.
* Sharks assistant coach Bob Boughner played for the Penguins from 1999-01, while assistant coach and goaltending coach Johan Hedberg played for Pittsburgh for parts of three season (2000-03), backstopping the club to the Eastern Conference Final in 2001.
* Goaltenders Matt Murray (PIT) and Martin Jones (SJS) have backstopped their respective clubs to the Stanley Cup Final in each’s first year as a starter. Murray, who turned 22 on Wednesday, enters the Stanley Cup Final having won 18 of his past 22 starts (regular season and playoffs). Jones, 26, leads all goaltenders in wins (12) and shutouts (3) in the postseason.
* Penguins captain Sidney Crosby teamed with a pair of Sharks players to win the Olympic gold medal for Canada at the 2010 and 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver and Sochi, respectively. Crosby was teammates with forwards Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton in 2010 and skated alongside Marleau and defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic in 2014.
* The Penguins and Sharks boast a combined 14-5 record on home ice during the postseason (PIT: 7-3, SJS: 7-2), a winning percentage of .737. The other 14 playoff clubs collectively went 29-37 at home (.439).
PITTSBURGH PENGUINS NOTES
* Five current Penguins players were with the club in its most recent appearance in the Stanley Cup Final, a seven-game triumph over the Red Wings in 2009: goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury; defenseman Kris Letang; and forwards Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz and Evgeni Malkin. Crosby, 21, became the youngest captain in League history to raise the Cup,while Malkin captured Conn Smythe Trophy honors as playoff MVP and became the first player since Mario Lemieux (1992) to sweep the regular-season and playoff scoring titles.
* The Penguins enter the Stanley Cup Final with a 47-1 record when leading after two periods this season (9-1 in playoffs), with their lone loss coming in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
* Prior to dropping Games 4 and 5 of the Eastern Conference Final to the Lightning, the Penguins had not suffered consecutive losses of any variety since Jan. 12-15 (regular season and playoffs), a span of 54 games.
* The Penguins have not lost consecutive games at CONSOL Energy Center since Dec. 18-19. They have won 23 of their past 30 games on home ice dating to Jan. 17 (regular season and playoffs).
* Rookie Matt Murray has stepped in between the pipes to guide the Penguins to the Stanley Cup Final. He owns an 11-4 record during the playoffs (2.21 GAA, .924 SV%, 1 SO) after going 9-2 in the regular season (2.00 GAA, .930 SV%,1 SO). In the First Round vs. NYR, Murray became the second goaltender in franchise history to win each of his first three career postseason starts. The other: Les Binkley, who won his first four playoff starts in 1970. When he hit the 10-win mark following Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final, Murray became just the third NHL goaltender to reach double digits in postseason wins before hitting the mark in the regular season, joining Montreal’s Ken Dryden (1971) and Calgary’s Mike Vernon (1986).
* The line of Phil Kessel (9-9—18), Nick Bonino (3-12—15) and Carl Hagelin (5-7—12) has combined for 17-28—45 in 18 playoff games. Kessel’s nine goals are the most in a single playoff year by a Penguins player since 2009, when Crosby(15) and Malkin (14) helped Pittsburgh win the Stanley Cup. In the Second Round vs. WSH, Bonino became the eighth player in Penguins history to score a series-clinching goal in overtime and the first to do so since the 2013 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals vs. NYI (Brooks Orpik).
* The Penguins went 14-2-0 in their final 16 games of the regular season to climb into second place in the Metropolitan Division. They did so without the services of Malkin, who missed the last 15 contests of the campaign due to injury.
* Crosby ranked third in the NHL with 36-49—85 in 80 games this season. That included a League-best 27-31—58 and +22 rating during the calendar year (44 GP). He also posted two point streaks of 11-plus games in that span: Jan. 12 –Feb. 8 (12-10—22 in 11 GP) and Feb. 29 – March 20 (6-14—20). Crosby scored in a career-high seven straight games during the former (Jan. 21 – Feb. 8: 10 G), tied for the longest such run in the NHL in 2015-16.
* Crosby enters the Stanley Cup Final ranked ninth in the NHL in playoff scoring with 15 points (6-9—15) in 18 games. He notched the winning goal in Games 2, 3 and 6 in the Eastern Conference Final against Tampa Bay, joining Kevin Stevens as the only Penguins players to score three game-winning goals in one playoff series. Stevens tallied three such goals in the 1991 Patrick Division Final vs. WSH.
* Crosby also registered his 83rd and 84th career playoff assists during the Eastern Conference Final to move past Jaromir Jagr (82) and into sole possession of second place in franchise history, behind Lemieux (96).
* Kris Letang ranked third among NHL defensemen with 16-51—67 in 71 games this season to establish career highs in all three scoring categories. He and Crosby also shared the League lead with a +22 rating after the calendar turned to 2016.
* Mike Sullivan went 33-16-5 after taking over as Pittsburgh’s head coach Dec. 12. When the Penguins last won the Stanley Cup, in 2008-09, Dan Bylsma took over behind the bench in mid-February and guided the team to an 18-3-4 regular-season record en route to its championship run.
* Forward Bryan Rust notched both Pittsburgh goals in its 2-1 win over Tampa Bay in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final. Rust registered his second career multi-goal game in the postseason, both of which have come in series-clinching wins (also Game 5 of FR vs. NYR: 2-1—3). Rust is just the second rookie in NHL history to record multiple goals in two series-clinching wins within a single postseason. The other: Chicago’s Jeremy Roenick in 1990.
SAN JOSE SHARKS NOTES
* The Sharks are in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the 11th time in the past 12 seasons and the 18th time in their 24 NHL seasons. San Jose’s 11 playoff appearances since 2003-04 rank second to Detroit (12-for-12) for the most in that span.
* San Jose entered play on Jan. 9 with a record of 18-18-2, ranking sixth in the Pacific Division, 13th in the Western Conference and 27th in the NHL. The Sharks went 28-12-4 thereafter, leaping to third in the Pacific, sixth in the West and 11th in the NHL by season’s end.
* The Sharks had three players place among the top 11 scorers in the NHL: Joe Thornton (t-4th, 19-63—82); Joe Pavelski (t-6th, 38-40—78) and Brent Burns (11th, 27-48—75). The only other club to boast a trio of 70-point scorerswas the Capitals (Evgeny Kuznetsov, 20-57—77; Alex Ovechkin, 50-21—71; Nicklas Backstrom, 20-50—70). Thornton ranked second in the League in assists (63), tallied his highest point total since 2009-10 (89) and his highest goal total since 2010-11 (21). He recorded at least one point in each of San Jose’s final 33 wins of the regular season.
* The Sharks set a franchise record for road wins (28-10-3) during the regular season. Their 28 road wins led the League and tied for the second-most in NHL history, trailing only the Red Wings’ 31 such victories in 2005-06.
* Forward Logan Couture returned to the lineup Dec. 30 after missing 30 of San Jose’s first 35 games due to injury. With Couture in the lineup the Sharks were 32-15-5 in the regular season, vs. 14-15-1 without him.
* Couture leads the NHL in playoff scoring entering the Stanley Cup Final with 8-16—24 (18 GP). Some statistical highlights of his postseason:
o Surpassed Igor Larionov’s single-year franchise record for points set in 1994 (5-13—18 in 14 GP)
o Posted 6-5—11 in the Second Round vs. NSH (7 GP), setting a Sharks record for points in one postseason series
o Became just the third player in NHL history to record three or more points in three series-clinching wins within a single postseason, joining Jari Kurri (1985) and Wayne Gretzky (1985, 1988 and 1993)
* Brent Burns rewrote the Sharks’ record book during the regular season, setting single-season marks for goals (27), assists (48) and points (75) by a defenseman as well as shots on goal (353). Burns leads all NHL defensemen in playoff scoring, tallying 6-14—20 in 18 games.
* Pavelski leads the NHL with 13 playoff goals entering the Stanley Cup Final, a Sharks record for a single postseason. He also has a League-leading four game-winning goals during the playoffs and a share of the lead for power-play goals, with Stanley Cup Final opponent Phil Kessel (5).
* Sharks forward Patrick Marleau will be making his Stanley Cup Final debut having played 1,411 regular-season and 165 playoff games, all with San Jose. Among players who represented one franchise their entire career, the only ones with more regular-season appearances are Nicklas Lidstrom (DET: 1,564), Alex Delvecchio (DET: 1,549), Steve Yzerman (DET: 1,514) and Shane Doan (ARI/WPG: 1,466).
* In addition to Marleau, 36, other Sharks players age 35 or older in quest of their first Stanley Cup title are 35-year-old defenseman Paul Martin (775 regular-season and 103 playoff games), the 36-year-old Thornton (1,367 regular-season and 150 playoff games), 35-year-old forward Joel Ward (596 regular-season and 71 playoff games) and 37-year-old forward Dainius Zubrus (1,293 regular-season and 101 playoff games).
* The Sharks are the first team to advance to the Stanley Cup Final after missing the playoffs the previous season since the 2011-12 New Jersey Devils. Both achieved the feat under a head coach in his first season with the club – Peter DeBoer.
* The Sharks are the third California-based club to advance to the Stanley Cup Final in the past five years (also Los Angeles in 2012 and 2014) and the fourth such club in the past 10 seasons (also Anaheim in 2007). All three California teams contesting the Final since 2007 have won the championship.
* The Sharks, who finished 11th in the overall NHL standings during the regular season, are the fourth club from outside the top 10 in the past seven seasons to advance to the Stanley Cup Final. They join the Philadelphia Flyers (18th in 2009-10, lost to Chicago), Los Angeles Kings (13th in 2011-12, defeated New Jersey) and New York Rangers (12th in 2013-14, lost to Los Angeles).