Sharks Fall to Penguins 2-1 in OT; SJ drops second straight game

Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Marcus Pettersson (28) and goaltender Louis Domingue, right, are in the process of prevent defense against the San Jose Sharks left winger Matt Nieto (83) in the third period at SAP Center in San Jose on Sat Jan 15, 2022 (AP News photo)

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE- The San Jose Sharks lost their first overtime game of the season, falling 2-1 to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Kris Letang and Jake Guentzel scored for Pittsburgh and Louis Domingue made 40 saves for the win. Rudolfs Balcers scored for San Jose and Adin Hill made 25 saves in the loss.

For the first time in a long time, the Sharks had Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson on the same power play unit. The Sharks had three power plays Saturday, one of those a double-minor, but still could not convert against the Penguins’ top-ranked penalty kill. Most of the Sharks’ power play shots came from the first unit, but short-handed chances were given up by both units.

Sharks’ Head Coach Bob Boughner did not put too much stock in the power play’s failure to score:

“I thought our power play had some great looks. At the end of the second and the beginning of the third, we had some great looks and we had traffic and we picked the rebounds off. I think our second unit was just very average, I thought we didn’t get anything going on the second unit but, you know, we did a lot of good things, the only thing we didn’t do was score but that’s not on our power play. I think Pittsburgh’s a good team.”

Rudolfs Balcers scored the first goal of the game at 7:01. Erik Karlsson chased down the puck as it came off the boards, then spun and sent it to the net. It went right to Balcers as he arrived in front of the net and angled his stick to deflect it in. Assists went to Karlsson and Timo Meier.

The Sharks held the Penguins to one shot for the first half of the period but at 10:56, Kris Letang tied it up. Letang skated around the outside to get behind the Sharks defense, then cut across the slot to score with a backhand over Hill’s right pad. Assists went to Jake Guentzel and Teddy Blueger.

The shot count for the period was 11-4 Sharks, and San Jose also led in the face-off circle with 53% of the draws. The Sharks took the only penalty of the period, and the penalty kill allowed no shots on goal.

The Penguins got more shots through in the second, with four on net in the first half of the period. The Sharks also had more, 8, at that point. By the end of the second, it was 17-8 Sharks.

With a little more than a minute left in the period, Jake Guentzel went to the box for four minutes after drawing blood from Jonathan Dahlen with a high stick. The Sharks power play ended the period with three shots on goal and a little under three minutes remaining to start the third period.

The Sharks had that power play and another in the third period. They had six shots with the man advantage and gave up four short-handed shots. Overall, the Penguins out-shot them by just one, 14-13.

Jake Guentzel scored the game winner 37 seconds into overtime. Sidney Crosby carried the puck into the zone and across the slot. Guentzel had just arrived at the blue paint when Crosby sent the puck back to him for an easy tap-in. Assists went to Crosby and Kris Letang.

The Sharks had an excellent night in the face-off circle, winning 67% of the draws. Noah Gregor led the team in shots with seven.

The Sharks next play on Monday at home against the Los Angeles Kings at 1:00 PM PT.

Radim Simek is still out with a lower body injury, and Alexander Barabanov is on the COVID-19 list. Jacob Middleton was put on the injured reserve list after being injured in Detroit on January 4. James Reimer is off of the injured reserve list and he backed up Hill on Saturday.

2019 NHL All-Star Game Final: Metropolitan Defeats Central 10-5

Photo credit: @NHL

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE — In the 2019 NHL All-Star championship game, the Metropolitan Division defeated the Central Division 10-5 in front of a sell-out crowd at SAP Center. The teams started with goaltenders Devan Dubnyk of the Minnesota Wild and Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers. The fan-voted NHL All-Star MVP was Sidney Crosby, which won him a silver Honda SUV.

The Metropolitan Division struck first with a goal 22 seconds in from the Islanders’ Matthew Barzal. Assists went to Kris Letang and Sidney Crosby.

Philadelphia’s Claude Giroux made it 2-0 at 1:53, assisted by Washington’s John Carlson.

It was 3-0 after Pittsburgh’s Kris Letang took a no-look shot at Dubnyk and fooled him. Crosby got an assist on that one.

Columbus’s Seth Jones was awarded a penalty shot at 5:51 after Chicago’s Patrick Kane tripped him on a breakaway. He did not score and it stayed 3-0.

Shortly thereafter, a Metropolitan goal was called back after review, again keeping the score 3-0 Metropolitan.

They finally broke through for the fourth goal when New Jersey’s Kyle Palmieri scored at 8:16. Assists went to Seth Jones and Sebastian Aho.

Their fifth goal came with just over four seconds left in the first half. Crosby scored it, with an assist from Matthew Barzal.

For the second half, Braden Holtby stepped into the Metropolitan net, while Pekka Rinne came in for the Central Division.

The Central Division got their first goal of the game, which was Gabriel Landeskog’s fourth of the night, at 1:15 of the second half. Ryan O’Reilly got the assist.

Colorado added another goal for the Central Division at 3:25 when Mikko Rantanen scored his third of the night. An assist went to Roman Josi and Dallas’s Miro Heiskanen.

The Metropolitan team pushed back with their sixth of the game at 4:02 from Crosby. Barzal got another assist.

The third Central goal came from Ryan O’Reilly at 4:38, but his team gave it back at 5:35 when Carolina’s Sebastian Aho scored against Dubnyk.

The Metropolitan team added their eight goal at 5:43 courtesy of Columbus’s Cam Atkinson. The ninth goal came from Matthew Barzal, assisted by Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang.

The Central got a fourth goal at 8:30 from Mikko Rantanen, and a fifth at 8:50 from Blake Wheeler.

Cam Atkinson got a tenth into an empty net for the Metropolitan, assisted by Seth Jones.

The regular season will resume on Monday, January 28. The Sharks will next play on Saturday, February 2, when they will host the Arizona Coyotes at 7:30 PM PT.

Sharks’ Win Streak Ends With 5-1 Loss to Pens

By Mary Walsh

PITTSBURGH- The San Jose Sharks were overwhelmed Thursday, by a team they had handled very well in past meetings. The final score was 5-1 Penguins. The Sharks had their work cut out for them in Pittsburgh, as Sidney Crosby has still never scored against the Sharks, so that was and is probably on his to do list. The job got much bigger when the Sharks went down 4-0 with just over half of the game remaining. That hole was too deep for San Jose to climb out of.

Thursday morning, Pierre LeBrun offered the Sharks at Penguins game as a good alternative to the All Star Game. In the first period, the comparison was grossly inaccurate, as both teams played stifling defense. Play opened up in the second period, with one team racking up the shots, and the other piling up goals. The Sharks got credit for 24 shots in that fateful period, while the Penguins scored four goals.

Before the game, Penguins Head Coach Dan Bylsma said, of his team’s third line:

…it’s not a typical physical it’s not a shut down line, they do it with speed. All those guys have some tenacity to their game too, it’s not just speed, you can’t knock them off the puck that easily. Chris Connor, we said it when we called him up “he’s going to knock someone down every game” and against Toronto his first game, right before his goal he reversed shoulders and knocks a guy down in the offensive zone but the speed at which they play as a unit is a factor… and they’re tough to handle and they’ve been able to do that with some consistency for our group in all the games they’ve played.

That formula turned out to work well against the Sharks, not only for the line Bylsma was describing.The Sharks had a lot of shots, but they didn’t have much time to set those shots up.

Much was made of how the Penguins and the Sharks were not especially familiar with each other, but they each had players who had faced the other team more than once. The above-mentioned Chris Conner had faced the Sharks as recently as late last season, while playing for the Phoenix Coyotes. Some of the Penguins, though, had not played the Sharks before. Penguins defenseman Simon Despres, recently recalled from the AHL, looked forward to the challenge:

I know nothing about San Jose, it’s my first time playing a West[ern] team personally, so I’m excited to play them … They’re a top team in the league, it’s going to be a good challenge for the team.

Familiar with San Jose or not, the Penguins were prepared for the game.

Sharks’ Head Coach Todd McLellan didn’t make too much of the absence of Evgeni Malkin from the Penguins lineup. Before the game he pointed out that the Penguins have a lot of recent experience playing without their top scorers, and playing well.

The Sharks took two penalties in the game, and both went to John McCarthy. On the second of those, the Penguins scored their fourth goal of the game. McCarthy’s penalty minutes were not the only thing going wrong for the Sharks. There were few mistake-free players for San Jose, and the team’s overall composure was badly rattled by the early second period onslaught from Pittsburgh.

In the first period, both teams kept their opponents to the outside and most of the shots taken were hurried. One good chance came for the Penguins when Andrew Desjardins and Scott Hannan both failed to get control of the puck in the slot, Chris Conner sped in and got a shot off. Niemi stopped it. Neither team had many great chances in the first period, even on the power play.  The period ended with shots 12-7 Pittsburgh.

The second period started inauspiciously for the Sharks, with the home team scoring less than 30 seconds in. Pascal Dupuis scored the first of the game on a tip from Brooks Orpik’s shot from the point. The Sharks responded  with a good shift from the Pavelski line, but that was followed by a three-on-one rush when Despres pushed the puck past Jason Demers. Jayson Megna and Joe Vitale went the other way. Megna took the shot, scoring his third of the season.

With the score 2-0, Pittsburgh’s Matt Niskanen was called for interference on McCarthy. The Penguins stopped the Sharks from scoring on the power play, and came back with offensive pressure that exposed the Sharks yet again.  After a turnover in the Sharks’ zone, Niemi stopped a Sidney Crosby shot but Chris Kunitz picked up the rebound and made it 3-0.

San Jose’s fourth line looked like they might shift the momentum as they got in the zone and had the Penguins scrambling, until McCarthy was called for tripping Olli Maatta in front of the net. It took the Penguins 14 seconds to score on that power play. The goal went to Kunitz, from James Neal and Sidney Crosby. 4-0 Penguins.

The Sharks finally got on the board at 9:27 of the period, with a goal from Tomas Hertl, possibly off of Pittsburgh’s Derek Engellund’s stick. Shortly thereafter, Andrew Desjardins drew a penalty, giving the Sharks a power play that seemed to let them regroup. They had eight shots before the penalty expired but failed to score.

By the end of the period, Todd McLellan had replaced Joe Pavelski with Andrew Desjardins at center with Tyler Kennedy and Martin Havlat. Pavelski was moved to center John McCarthy and James Sheppard.

The second period ended with the score 4-1 Pittsburgh, and the shots 31-27 San Jose.

McLellan changed goaltenders for the third period, putting Alex Stalock in to replace Antti Niemi. The forward lines remained as they had finished the second, with Pavelski centering McCarthy and Sheppard.

The Penguins started the period in the Sharks’ zone. Four minutes later they extended their lead to 5-1, a goal from Kris Letang. It was the Penguins’ first shot of the period. They only got credit for two more, to the Sharks’ 14. The final count was 45-30.

Marc-Andre Fleury made 33 saves on 34 shots for the win. For the Sharks, Antti Niemi made 21 saves on 24 shots in the first two periods, Alex Stalock made two saves on three shots in the third. The Sharks’ power play went 0-3, their penalty kill 1-2.

It was Dan Boyle’s 900th NHL game, Tyler Kennedy’s 400th, and Sidney Crosby’s 500th.