PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) – Calm down.
Everything is OK.
Just as the San Jose Sharks’ Joonas Donskoi slid an overtime game-winner above Matt Murray in a flash on Saturday night, it felt like panic set in with this mighty fanbase.
I’m here to tell you everything is going to be just fine; the Penguins still hold a 2-1 lead in the Stanley Cup Final.
Yeah, you get that? You hear that? You understand it?
The Penguins are still ahead; the Penguins are still in command, the Penguins — dare I say — got this.
And save your jinx or curse talk for someone else, as nothing someone says on the radio or writes on the Internet impacts a game in any way. That said, I’ll say it again: The Penguins got this.
There will be a parade; the only thing left to determine is what day Grant Street needs to be closed and when those Allegheny County Police horses will go marching through Downtown.
Here’s why: As the Penguins hold onto that 2-1 series lead with Game 4 on the horizon Monday night in San Jose, it felt like a crashing together of some powerful forces were the reason for the narrow Game 3 loss.
In short, the Penguins can be better — and will be as the series moves on.
First, Matt Murray (as he made 23 saves with the Penguins blocking seemingly 1,000 shots) wasn’t at his best. There were times when Murray flashed brilliance, times when he was very good in Game 3, but there is no way around the reality that two of the goals he let past him were pretty soft and the other he never saw.
Are you counting on the fact that Murray continues to struggle the way he did in Game 3? I know I’m not. Not at all. I’m counting on Murray — who has shown to be unflappable — to return to his impeccable form.
Then there was Kris Letang, who looked frazzled and confused all night, never more than in his biggest lapse that came in concert with a poor decision by Sidney Crosby.
Just before Joel Ward evened the score at 2-2 (as the Penguins had just about killed off a 4 minute penalty) Crosby carried the puck into San Jose territory.
Letang joined the rush.
Crosby should have dumped the puck deep and got out of there.
Letang should have hung back, he shouldn’t have taken such a chance. Not up a goal, not at that time, never in that situation.
It wasn’t the time to press in an attempt to get another goal as the Penguins were ahead — it was the time to play it safe.
Letang, especially, failed.
But Crosby isn’t to be absolved, either.
Are you counting on Letang to have another awful performance this series as he did in Game 3 or Crosby — who has been spectacular — to make such a terrible decision in such a moment of consequence? I know I’m not. The chances either of those happening again seem far-fetched.
Again, that’s why the Penguins are just fine.
There was also the play of Evgeni Malkin, which left a ton to be desired. At times he looked disinterested, never gaining a stride and gathering exactly no rhythm. Malkin’s play, by any measure but especially for a superstar, was subpar.
On the game-winner when there was a battle for the puck and then a close-out needed to be made before the Donskoi shot, Malkin looked pedestrian during both opportunities.
I’d like to think Malkin understands the enormity of the situation and such lapses won’t happen again.
That’s why the Penguins are just fine.
Or you could just think about it in this context: The Sharks need to win three of the next four games against the Penguins to win the Stanley Cup.
Do you see that happening?
Again, the Penguins are just fine.
Colin Dunlap is a featured columnist at CBSPittsburgh.com. He can also be heard weekdays from 5:40 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Sports Radio 93-7 “The Fan.” You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out his bio here.