For the first time in four days, the Penguins took to the ice – and to the road – as they travelled to San Jose to take on the Sharks. Heading into tonight’s game, the Penguins had not won a game in San Jose against the Sharks since 1997 so not only would the Penguins have a chance to break a 14 year drought but a win would also ensure that head coach Dan Bylsma had earned a win against every other team in the league (29 if you’re keeping track.) The question would be if the rested Penguins would be able to pull out the “W” against a road-weary San Jose.
The Pens would be off to fast start, scoring their first of the night just 24 seconds into the first courtesy of Deryk Engelland. Picking up on a pass from teammate Evgeni Malkin, Engelland would rifle it past Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi. Less than two minutes later, goal number two would come courtesy of Evgeni Malkin. After a bit of cycling by the Pens, Geno would send a puck toward the paint where it would deflect of the skate of the Sharks’ Brent Burns (who was battling the Pens James Neal for position in front of the net) and just like that the Pens were up 2-0. At this point, Niemi was pulled in favour of backup Thomas Griess who would play the remainder of the game. Pittsburgh would maintain the upper hand of momentum as the period wound down, outshooting the Sharks 15-4 at the end of the first twenty.
The Sharks would have a turn-about in the second period and it would be Patrick Marleau bringing the game to within a single goal. Splitting the d, Marleau would snipe a shot at Pens net-minder Marc-Andre Fleury that would trickle beneath the pads and find its way into the back of the netting. Five minutes into the period, Penguins defensemen Ben Lovejoy would head to the dressing room after falling into the boards. He was later listed with an upper-body injury and did nt return to the game. With 10:23 remaining on the clock, Evgeni Malkin would score his second of the night and the Pens third of the game when his own rebound bounced into the net off his skate. The call was made to Toronto and it was determined that, as there was no evident kicking motion, the goal was good and the Pens once again held a two goal lead. At the end of the forty, shots were even at 21.
On to the third, where the game would shift in favour of the Sharks. With just over ten minutes left in regulation, the Sharks would earn their second goal of the night courtesy of Ryan Clowe. Clowe would whip a backhander past Fleury to bring the Sharks within one goal. That one goal would come courtesy of Jamie McGinn with just under five minutes left to bring the game to a tie. Neither team would be able to bank another goal and after sixty minutes the game was headed to overtime.
The overtime period would pass quickly, with the Sharks barraging Fleury with a number of shots only to be denied. On to the shootout where Ryan Clowe would score his second of the night and the only goal of the shootout, winning the game 4-3. Alas, Pittsburgh has yet to defeat San Jose in San Jose and head coach Dan Bylsma has to wait until next year to earn the win that would have him have at least one win against every franchise in the league. However, the Penguins point earned in overtime has them tied for first in the East and the League with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Kris Letang led all skaters with 33:56 of ice time, followed by Brooks Orpik with 28:46. James Neal led all skaters with 8 shots while Kris Letang followed with 5. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 34 of the 37 shots he faced while the Penguins fired 36 at the Sharks goal tenders.
The Penguins continue to move forward without captain Sidney Crosby who’s return, while imminent, is still unknown. They also continue to be without forward Tyler Kennedy who has been cleared for practice following a couple weeks absence as the result of a concussion. Jordan Staal sat out tonight as the result of a lower body injury while it now appears that Ben Lovejoy (according the Dan Bylsma and the official website of the Penguins) has a broken wrist and no timeline has been set for his return. Lovejoy is the second defenceman out with hand injury as Zbynek Michalek is also out for at least three more weeks with a broken finger. It would appear that the injury plague has returned to Pittsburgh and as Pens fans, we can only hope its residence is temporary.
The Penguins travel to the City of Angels where they will face the LA Kings on Saturday night. Puck drop goes at 10:30pm.