PENGUINS 3 – SHARKS 2 (SO)
7:08 PIT Patric Hornqvist (24)
ASSISTS: Daniel Winnik (23), Ian Cole (7), 1-0 PIT
8:04 PIT PPG Chris Kunitz (17)
ASSISTS: Sidney Crosby (54), Derrick Pouliot (5), 2-0 PIT
6:44 SJS Ben Smith (7)
ASSISTS: Justin Braun (22), Barclay Goodrow (8), 2 – 1 PIT
15:38 SJS PPG Logan Couture (25)
ASSISTS: Patrick Marleau (36), Brent Burns (40), 2 – 2
It was a gut check weekend for the Pittsburgh Penguins and they found a way shorthanded tonight vs the San Jose Sharks to cap off a four point weekend.
The Penguins 3-2 shootout win on shootout goals from Sidney Crosby, David Perron, was highlighted by the Penguins killing off a Sharks 4-on-3 advantage for the final 3:49 of overtime as Patric Hornqvist was given a double minor for high-sticking Sharks defenseman Brent Burns, just 1:11 into overtime. The Sharks failed to score on the lengthy advantage and the loss was costly for San Jose who were hanging to slim playoff hopes to begin with.
San Jose’s need for the win even had the Penguins coaching staff worried that the Sharks would pull the goalie and opt for a 5-on-3 but it never happened. “We were thinking about that,” Mike Johnston said of the Sharks potentially opting for a 5-on-3.
Johnston touted the Penguins preparing well for the Sharks power play and knew what to expect. “They did an outstanding job,” Johnston said of the PK.
For the Penguins, they got a great character win.
“Could be a big turning point for our team,” Johnston said of his hockey club. “It was an important game. We were a little short-handed, we found a way.”
Whether tonight’s win means anything in the big picture in regards to this being a turning point for the Penguins, that remains to be seen, but what the two-win weekend does is the alleviate the outside pressure this hockey club was feeling.
“We needed the points. Five D out there not easy,” Sidney Crosby said of the win. “Our PK was really big there late and gave us a chance in the shootout.”
Playing with five D, Ben Lovejoy (27:44) and Paul Martin (27:25) each logged over 27 minutes, while Rob Scuderi (25:36) and Ian Cole (25:05) each played over 25 minutes. Scuderi and forward Daniel Winnik, two key cogs on the 4-on-3 kill, each had a game high 7:21 of ice time on the penalty kill.
“Rob Scuderi played one of his better games in a month,” Johnston said. “I really liked his game.”
Ian Cole who appears to be finding a comfort zone now, was really solid in the game, playing 25:05 and had 3 blocked shots. Cole posted a 57 CF%, on the ice for 32 shot attempts and 24 against. “Cole really had a solid night,” Johnston said.
The Penguins had a strong effort from just about everybody with Max Lapierre of note winning 13 of 14 faceoffs and when the Penguins needed a defensive zone draw won in the right circle, the coaching staff leaned on Lapierre.
One of the few negatives of the night was Beau Bennett whose poor wall play and inability to clear the zone led to Ben Smith’s second period goal and on Bennett’s very next shift, he had struggles again in clearing the zone on the right wall and Max Lapierre would end up taking a penalty in the defensive zone as the Sharks had lengthy zone time.
Bennett would play just 6:57 in the game.
QUICK STRIKE PENS?
Three of the last four games, the Penguins have shown a quick strike ability, a staple of previous Penguin teams.
Against St. Louis, Pittsburgh’s only two goals came in a 17 second span, Saturday afternoon vs Arizona, Pittsburgh scored three goals in a 3:54 span, tonight Pittsburgh’s only two goals (regulation/OT) were in a 56 second span.
David Perron’s late addition to the lineup meant the Penguins dressed 18 skaters and 2 goaltenders, meaning they will not qualify for the emergency salary cap exception which they were banking on to make a callup for Wednesday against Philadelphia.
NHL PLAYOFF RACE
1. Montreal Canadiens, 102 Points, 6 GR
2. Tampa Bay Lightning, 99 Points, 6 GR
3. Detroit Red Wings, 92 Points, 7 GR
1. NY Rangers, 101 Points, 7 GR
2. Pittsburgh Penguins, 95 Points, 6 GR
2. NY Islanders, 95 Points, 5 GR
1. Washington Capitals, 92 Points, 6 GR
2. Boston Bruins, 89 Points, 6 GR
3. Ottawa Senators, 86 Points, 7 GR
4. Florida Panthers, 85 Points, 6 GR