SAN JOSE — The Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the San Jose Sharks 3-1 in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final at SAP Center on Monday.
The Penguins lead the best-of-7 series 3-1 and can win the Stanley Cup for the fourth time in their history with one more victory.
Defenseman Ian Cole scored on a Phil Kessel rebound 7:36 into the game to give Pittsburgh the lead. Kessel set up Evgeni Malkin for a power-play goal 2:37 into second period to make it 2-0.
Melker Karlsson, whose interference penalty led to Malkin’s goal, redeemed himself when he scored 8:07 into the third period to cut the Penguins lead in half. Eric Fehr sealed it for Pittsburgh by scoring with 2:02 remaining.
What we learned: The Penguins rebounded from losing Game 3 with a complete team effort. Kessel continued to be the Penguins’ most consistent player and had two assists. His 10 goals and 21 points lead Pittsburgh in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
After being held off the score sheet in the first three games of the Cup Final, Malkin broke out with a goal and an assist. Rookie goaltender Matt Murray responded after giving up two questionable goals in the Game 3 loss by helping the Penguins hold on in the third period with 11 of his 23 saves.
Although the Sharks had a pretty good start, they fell behind for the fourth consecutive game and had to chase the Penguins again for the rest of the night. The Sharks have not played with a lead in the series. The only time they were ahead was after Joonas Donskoi‘s overtime goal to end Game 3.
What this means for the Penguins: They head back to Pittsburgh for Game 5 on the verge of winning the Stanley Cup for the first time since 2009.
What this means for the Sharks: They lost at SAP Center for the third time in the playoffs (8-3) and need a victory on the road to keep their Cup dreams alive.
Key moment: Although the Sharks played a solid first period, they found themselves trailing again when Cole scored the first playoff goal of his career. In fact, Cole’s goal was his first in 104 games (regular season and playoffs combined), dating to March 26, 2015, against the Carolina Hurricanes.
After taking a pass from Malkin, Kessel carried into the Sharks zone and took a bad-angle shot from the right circle. Goaltender Martin Jones made a blocker save but left a sloppy rebound in the left circle that Cole fired home for a 1-0 Pittsburgh lead.
Unsung player of the game: Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin played another strong game, again helping partner Kris Letang hold the Sharks’ top line with Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton (and multiple left wings) in check.
What’s next: The Stanley Cup will be at Consol Energy Center for Game 5 of the best-of-7 series Thursday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).