SJ Joe Thornton, 1 Goal, 2 Assists
SJ Brent Burns, 2 Goals
PIT Olli Maatta, 2 Goals
The Penguins squandered a 2-0 lead, losing to the San Jose Sharks 5-3 on Thursday night. San Jose dominated the final forty minutes of the game and scored four goals in the third period.
Pittsburgh was flying out of the gates in the first period, pushing the tempo and aggressive on the forecheck, fast on pucks. As Dan Bylsma would say, it was Pittsburgh Penguins type of hockey.
The Penguins got first period goals from Olli Maata and Chris Kunitz to jump out to a 2-0 lead but the game titled strongly in San Jose’s favor in the second and third period. San Jose out shot Pittsburgh 47-22 in the game and 34-12 over the final two periods. Jeff Zatkoff gave up a soft goal to Joe Thornton late in the third period that broke a 3-3 tie but hard to pin this loss on Zatkoff with how bad the Penguins were outplayed in the final forty minutes.
The Penguins are a team looked at as not being hard enough to play against and that was on display in tonight’s loss. The Sharks ratcheted up the physical play in the second period and a smaller team in the Penguins were no much despite back and fourth goals from both teams. The Sharks were credited with outhitting the Penguins 30-14.
The Penguins surely added depth with Marcel Goc and Lee Stempniak, but the moves didn’t make the Penguins bigger or tougher to play against, a glaring issue rival scouts say. Personnel wise Goc and Stempniak at not those type of players that will make it hard on the opposition. They figure to help the club, notably Goc, but not in this critical area the Penguins lack (being hard to play against) that could become a real concern come post-season time.
Watching this game it became evident that the Penguins desperately lack a physical in your face line like the Sharks have with Raffi Torres and James Shepard that can change momentum. Torres line set the physical tone in the second period for the Sharks.
The disappointing part for the Penguins was that Antti Niemi looked very shaky but the Penguins didn’t get enough shots and traffic on him after the first period.
— How well Olli Maatta thinks the game for a 19 year old defenseman is just so rare to see. Maatta had two goals on the night and you just don’t see young defensemen like him pick their spots so well in the offensive zone. On his first period goal, he looked like a power forward winger driving to the net. Maatta is up to 9 goals and 27 points on the season.
— Marcel Goc played 11:03 in his Penguins debut, picking up an assist and was 7 of 13 in the face off circle. Goc played for the most part as the Penguins 4th line center. Lee Stempniak bounced around from the third and first line. Stempniak was not very noticable. He was pointless and had no shots on goal in 15:08 of ice time.
— Sidney Crosby was a minus-5 in the loss. The first time in his career.
— Brian Gibbons could be seeing his last couple games as a regular. Gibbons started the game with Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz, but played the least amount of minutes among forwards. Gibbons had a turnover in his own zone then a blown assignment in front of the net on Brent Burns third period goal to tie the game at 3-3 just after the Penguins went up 3-2.
— With a Pittsburgh loss and Boston win, the Penguins (86 pts) and Bruins (85 pts) are just separated by one point in the race for the top seed in the East. In year’s past home-ice hasn’t really mattered but with the new wildcard system, being the second seed in the conference could mean a much tougher first round opponent.