By Mary Walsh
For the second time this season, the Sharks and the Penguins went to a shootout to resolve a tied score. This time, the Penguins prevailed, jumping over the New York Islanders for second place in the Metropolitan Division. The Sharks earned a single point but despite having a four on three power play for most of overtime, they could not grab the extra point that they urgently needed to keep fighting for a playoff spot. On the bright side, Al Stalock was featured in the NBC save of the game. Stalock was starting the second of back to back games, after playing Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia.
The shootout winner was scored by Pittsburgh’s David Perron. Patric Hornqvist and Chris Kunitz also scored for Pittsburgh. Marc-Andre Fleury made 30 saves on 32 shots for the win. Ben Smith and Logan Couture scored for the Sharks and Al Stalock made 31 saves on 33 shots for the Sharks.
The Sharks were without defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic, so Taylor Fedun was called up to fill the empty spot on the blue line. The Penguinswere also missing some key players. They only had five defensemen after Kris Letang sustained a concussion on Saturday.
The Sharks held their own for the first minutes of the game, but gave up two goals in a 56 second span mindway through the first period. At 7:08 of the first, Patric Hornqvist opened the scoring off his own rebound. After some tenacious play behind the net, Daniel Winnick got the puck ahead of the goal line. Hornqvist and Sidney Crosby were hovering around in front of the blue paint to make something happen. They did. Assists went to Winnick and Ian Cole.
33 seconds later, Taylor Fedun took Evgeni Malkin down with a hook. It was difficult to see why Malkin fell, but the hook was called and the Sharks went on the penalty kill. The eighth ranked Pittsburgh power play did not take long to score. In less than 30 seconds, the Penguins had the Sharks moved out of position and heavy on the right side. This gave Crosby plenty of time to draw Stalock to the left and then pass to Kunitz on Stalock’s right. Crosby’s pass went under Brenden Dillon’s stick as the Sharks defenseman attempted to help his goalie out. The goal was scored by Kunitz with assists to Crosby and Derrick Pouliot.
The Sharks stopped the bleeding for the rest of the first, and ended up outshooting the Penguins 12-9. Melker Karlsson was hit in the hand by a shot from Brent Burns late in the period but he was back on the ice for the second period.
The Sharks cut the lead in half when Barclay Goodrow controlled the puck on the half boards long enough to pass it to Justin Braun at the point. Braun took a quick shot that Ben Smith deflected past Marc-Andre Fleury’s shoulder and in. Assists went to Braun and Goodrow.
The Sharks had their first power play opportunity at 11:06 of the second when Maxim Lapierre was called for hooking. The Sharks did not get a shot on goal during the power play. They had another chance at 14:53 of the same period when Ben Lovejoy was called for cross-checking Chris Tierney. This time, Logan Couture made the most of the situation and scored at 15:38. After one failed zone entry, the Sharks regrouped quickly and Brent Burns’ neutral zone pass caught Patrick Marleau, who was able to hand it off cleanly to Couture who was moving to the net. Assists went to Marleau and Brent Burns.
At the end of the second, the Penguins had edged ahead of the Sharks on the shot clock 20-19.
The Sharks had another power play early in the third period when Crosby tripped Brent Burns in the Sharks’ zone. Brent Burns created one good chance carrying the puck into the zone and getting it in front of the net, but the Penguins’ penalty killers did not give the Sharks any room to work. The score remained tied.
The Sharks took the next penalty, a high-sticking call against Tommy Wingels at 12:51 of the third. San Jose’s penalty killers were more effective this time, clearing the puck more than once and, obviously, not allowing another goal against.
A penalty against Pittsburgh followed right on the heels of their power play, when Nick Spaling went to the box for holding. The Sharks could not take the lead with the power play and the next best scoring chance went to the Penguins’ David Perron but the buzzer sounded.
A play by Justin Braun almost ended the game early in OT but Marleau could not get his stick on it before the Penguins cleared it away from the crease and out. The Sharks came back in quickly. In a battle along the boards to keep the puck in, Hornqvist caught Brent Burns in the mouth with his stick. He did look remorseful, as he had been trying to lift Burns’ stick and not cut him in the face. In any case, Hornqvist went to the box for a four minute power play.
The Sharks started the four on three power play with a Thornton shot off the post. Pavelksi shot next, then Couture opted not to shoot. That was probably the tidiest part of the extended power play. The Penguins seemed to find their rythm and pushed the puck out a few times. One interesting hiccup came when the puck looked like it was going out but Burns kept it in with his body. Unsure whether it had been kept in, several players loitered near it as if expecting a whistle.
Sharks coach Toddd McLellan used his timeout to rest his players after the next stoppage, instead of changing his four man power play unit. The strategy did not pay off and the Penguins killed the penalty. Their fans gave them a standing ovation for their efforts. The final shot count after overtime was 33-32 Penguins.
David Perron went first in the shootout. After a careful hesitation, he beat Stalock with a backhand to give Pittsburgh the lead. Melker Karlsson shot next but lost the puck after faking a shot.
Sidney Crosby shot second for the Penguins and scored. Logan Couture shot second for the Sharks but hit the post.
Final score: 3-2 Penguins.
Logan Couture led the Sharks in shots with seven. Brent Burns led the Sharks in hits with three and ice time with 26:08. Brenden Dillon led the team with three blocked shots. The Sharks had a slight edge in the faceoff circle, winning 36 to the Penguins’ 33. Tommy Wingels had the best faceoff win percentage on the team with 60%, but he only took five faceoffs. Joe Pavelski won 9 of 16 for a win percentage of 56%. Pittsburgh’s Maxim Lapierre beat pretty much everyone most of the time, winning 93% of 14 faceoffs, against a variety of opponents.
The Sharks return home to play at 7:30 PT on Wednesday against the Colorado Avalanche.