Wednesday’s roundup: Penguins past could favor Sharks

Carl Steward
San Jose Mercury News

If a series comeback from 3-1 down against the Penguins is so impossible, why has it happened twice in the past five years?

Hate to put it this way, but maybe the best hope for the Sharks to pull out a miracle and win the Stanley Cup is the Penguins have been known to choke.

They’ve done it recently enough, in fact, that it still might be on the minds of some of their key players who were on the teams that did, notably Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Ketang and Ben Lovejoy.

In 2014, the Penguins gagged in a second-round playoff series against the Rangers despite roaring out to a 3-1 series advantage. After losing the series opener, the Penguins won Games 2, 3 and 4 only to drop 5, 6 and 7.

In 2011, in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, Pittsburgh won Games 3 and 4 on the road at Tampa Bay to take a 3-1 series lead, but then got smoked by an aggregate score of 13-4 the final three games. The Penguins were shut out in Game 7.

And get this: Pittsburgh had home ice advantage both times, just as they do now.

Sharks defenseman Paul Martin should remember. The veteran played on both Pittsburgh teams that coughed up seemingly insurmountable situations.

“You just have to stay positive,” said Martin following San Jose’s 3-1 Game 4 loss. “We have a lot of good leadership in the room and a lot of guys who’ve been through a lot. We believe in the guys we have, and we haven’t given our best game yet. I think everybody feels we have another level we can rely on and we believe we can get to it.”

If that happens in Game 5 tonight and it forces the Penguins into another 3,000-mile trip across the country, who knows what could happen?

San Jose just might plant a significant seed of doubt. Bad memories might start flashing back in Pittsburgh.

To be sure, Game 5s were a big problem for Pittsburgh in 2011 and 2014. The Penguins got hammered 8-2 by the Lightning in 2011 and where similarly waxed by the Rangers two years ago, 5-1.

San Jose could use a performance like one of those.

Ice chips

The Wild has hired John Anderson as an assistant on Bruce Boudreau’s staff. Anderson and Boudreau were teammates with four clubs during their playing careers, including the Maple Leafs from 1977-83.

STANLEY CUP FINALS

Pittsburgh vs. San Jose

Penguins lead 3-1

■Pittsburgh 3-2

■Pittsburgh 2-1 (OT)

■San Jose 3-2 (OT)

■Pittsburgh 3-1

Thursday: at Pittsburgh, 8 p.m. (NBC, CBC)

x-Sunday: at San Jose

x-Wednesday, June 15: at Pittsburgh

x-if necessary