The players for the NHL’s biggest stage are set as the Eastern Conference champion Pittsburgh Penguins prepare to face the Western Conference’s San Jose Sharks in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals on Monday, June 30.
Pittsburgh, powered by devastating forwards Phil Kessel, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, battled back from a 3-2 series deficit to eliminate the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 in Game 7 Thursday night. Right wing Ryan Rust scored both Penguins’ goals and now the franchise is headed to its fifth Cup final with hopes of a fourth title. Pittsburgh last appeared in the finals in 2009, defeating the Detroit Red Wings in seven games.
The Sharks, on the other hand, will enjoy their inaugural trip to the finals after beating back the St. Louis Blues over six games in the West finals and years of falling short. San Jose bounced the favored Blues with 11 goals in the final two games of the series with centers Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski guiding the postseason’s highest scoring attack.
The two sides split their two meetings in the regular season, with the Sharks taking the first battle 3-1 on Nov. 21 and Pittsburgh the second 5-1 on Dec. 1.
Though the Sharks may have some jitters playing in their firs Cup finals, and the Penguins might need to readjust as well since their seven years removed from their last jaunt. The best-of-seven games series will feature the NHL’s third (Pittsburgh) and fourth-ranked (San Jose) offenses, as well as two young but emerging goal keepers.
San Jose’s Martin Jones, who played behind Los Angeles Kings star Jonathan Quick for two years before joining the Sharks this season, has posted a 12-6 record and a 2.12 goals-against average with three shutouts during these playoffs.
The Penguins will turn to rookie Matt Murray, who’s also looked impressive over stretches. The 22-year-old went 11-4 in 15 postseason starts, posting a 2.22 goals-against average and .924 save percentage, though he was benched for Game 5 of the East finals after surrendering four goals in Game 4.
Claiming 104 points in the regular season compared to San Jose’s 98, the Penguins own home-ice advantage as the series runs the 2-2-1-1-1 format. Pittsburgh will host the first two games and San Jose Games 3 and 4. Should the series go longer the teams will alternate who hosts.
Currently, the games will be aired by NBC or NBC Sports in the United States. In Canada, CBC and TVA Sports will carry every game. NBC and NBC Sports will flip duties depending on the outcome of the first two games.
According to a statement from NBC Sports, if the series is tied at 1-1 then NBC will broadcast Game 3 and Game 4 goes to NBC Sports. But if either team has a 2-0 advantage, NBC Sports will carry Game 3 and NBC Game 4.
Tickets for Game 1 in Pittsburgh are available on the secondary market and at a wide range of prices. According to StubHub, the cheapest seat available is for $254 in one of CONSOL Energy Center's standing room only sections, while club seats right on the ice are going as high as $2,200 a pop.
Full 2016 Stanley Cup Finals TV Schedule
Game 1: Monday, May 30, CONSOL Energy Center at 8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, TVA Sports
Game 2: Wednesday, June 1, CONSOL Energy Center at 8 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network, CBC, TVA Sports
Game 3: Saturday, June 4, SAP Center at 8 p.m. ET, CBC, TVA Sports (NBC or NBCSN)
Game 4: Monday, June 6, SAP Center at 8 p.m. ET, CBC, TVA Sports (NBC or NBCSN)
Game 5*: Thursday, June 9, CONSOL Energy Center at 8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, TVA Sports
Game 6*: Sunday, June 12, SAP Center at 8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, TVA Sports
Game 7*: Wednesday, June 15, CONSOL Energy Center at 8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, TVA Sports
(*) If necessary