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Stanley Cup Final 2016, Game 2, The Morning After: Responding to a punch in the gut

2016 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Two Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

The narrative seemed to write itself. After losing his father in law just before game one of the Stanley Cup Final, Justin Braun would be the hero for the Sharks in game two. His goal, which tied things up in the third period and sent the game to overtime, was going to be the start of a push towards bringing home San Jose's first Cup.

Maybe that narrative was too perfect, after all. Conor Sheary scored just 155 seconds into overtime and the Sharks head back to Silicon Valley looking up at their first two-game deficit of the postseason.

Game two was a lot like game one in that the Sharks didn't play all that well but found themselves in a position to steal a win away from the Penguins with time winding down. San Jose nearly found a go-ahead goal in the final minute of regulation time and started brightly in overtime before Sidney Crosby won the last faceoff of the game.

The Sharks could be up 2-0 heading back to San Jose if the pieces had fallen into place late in the first two games of the first Stanley Cup Final in franchise history. But the difference between this 2-0 deficit and the 1-1 tie in the Western Conference Final is marked, and not just because San Jose faces a deficit.

Despite hanging around in both contests, the Sharks didn't really deserve to win either of them. San Jose's scoring chance numbers were nearly even with Pittsburgh's in game two, but the Penguins dominated so thoroughly in possession over the first 123 minutes of this series that it's hard to view those as more than a silver lining.

The Sharks managed to kill off every Penguins power play they faced in Pittsburgh, but their own lack of possession made drawing penalties of their own difficult at best. San Jose has had just three power plays through the first two games of the Final. The Sharks averaged 3.5 power plays a game after dispatching the Blues in the Conference Final.

Problems stream from just about everywhere. The Sharks struggled to carry the puck through the neutral zone and didn't react well to the aggressive style Pittsburgh used to keep point shots to a minimum. It wasn't until the third period, with the Penguins sitting on their 1-0 lead, that the Sharks managed to get off a few point shots as Pittsburgh collapsed around the goal.

It's likely the Penguins learned from that mistake and will continue to do what has worked so beautifully for them through two games of the series. The Sharks need to adapt, and quickly, or else their first appearance in the Stanley Cup Final may be a brief one.