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Good luck tusk?
Sharks overcome shaky start to stun Pens
11/3/11 - By Mike Lee -


Could Thursday night's game between the Sharks and Pittsburgh Penguins been any weirder? The evening started with the presentation of a Woolley Mammoth tusk, and ended with a poke check that locked up a shootout win after an improbable comeback by the Sharks at HP Pavilion. After an atrocious start, the Sharks found a way to battle back from a two goal deficit in the 3rd period, and eventually win in the shootout 4-3.

Back to that whole tusk thing. Joe Thornton was honored before the game by his teammates and the Sharks organization for a pair of milestones. He surpassed the 1000 games played mark at the start of the recently completed 6-game road trip.

Team trainers gave him a magnum of wine. The brass gave him a silver stick and trip to an Oregon retreat. With all the obvious gifts taken, Thornton's teammates were forced to come up with something more unique. Given that, what's more unique than prehistoric fossils?

Hopefully Thornton used some of that fat contract money to build a really big man-cave at home, because the probability of his wife allowing him to set his newly acquired Mammoth tusk on the coffee table is about as likely as the Sharks coming back from a two-goal deficit in the 3rd period against a team as tough as the Penguins.

Oh wait!

At least the tusk was polished. It wasn't some oversized hairy tooth that you'd be embarrassed to hang in your man cave. Oh contraire. I'm sure Mrs. Thornton is a very nice lady, but it could fall on the baby, scratch the furniture, etc.

As for the game, it was as cool as, well, a Woolley Mammoth tusk. Well, except for the first 124 seconds.

Pittsburgh's first two scores were a combination of an unprepared team and some extremely bad luck. On Deryk Engelland tally 24 seconds into the contest, the ugly came in the form of a horrific turnover by Brent burns right in front of his own net. The unlucky came in the form of Antti Niemi losing his stick right before Engelland's shot.

Evgeni Malkin's first goal of the evening had more to do with Niemi being unprepared. At least Sharks head coach Todd McLellan felt so, pulling Niemi in favor of Thomast Greiss. That move would prove to be clutch, especially in the overtime period.

San Jose found it difficult to generate any scoring chances early, because the puck never left their own zone. The five shots they mustered on net in the opening period were hard earned shots, but they came after San Jose hook off the fog.

The Sharks appeared to be standing still most of the opening 20 minutes in comparison to the Penguins, who were sparked by their early success. Then something happened. Maybe it was a combination of Pittsburgh getting complacent, and the Shark finding their legs. In either case, the sharks figured out how to put some offensive chances together.

Two players tried to spark San Jose, both by putting their mugs on the line. First Brad Winchester dropped the gloves, followed by Ryane Clowe. Whatever it was, it worked.

Patrick Marleau's goal was a thing of beauty. Working the give-and-go, Marleau took a perfect pass from Martin Havlat and split two defenders before snapping a shot past Marc-Andre Fleury.

The sellout crowd didn't think Malkin's second goal should have counted, but they didn't have the luxury of instant replay. A lengthy review by on-ice officials didn't help matters. The arcane rule of not showing replays of opposing goals just added to the confusion in the stands.

When Pittsburgh scored that third goal, the air was sucked out of the building. Give credit to the Sharks for keeping at it. The legend that is Ryane Clowe continued to grow after his big goal. The backhand has become his specialty, which was put on display early in the 3rd period. Clowe threw Fleury a curveball in the shootout, by going forehand. Having scored his goal with a backhanded shot, it seemed logical that he would mix things up in the shootout.

Jamie McGinn made the most of his limited time on the ice, bagging his 1st goal of the season in clutch fashion. There was less than 5 minutes remaining in regulation and the Sharks had struggled to score all night.

One thing to mention is that even with the horrible start, San Jose didn't give up a single power pl ay opportunity to Pittsburgh. They did incur a couple of minor penalties, but they were all offset by countering Penguin infractions.

Maybe it was a matter of the referees just letting two strong teams battle it out without the luxury of a man-advantage. Whistles in pockets was most obvious in the overtime, when Clowe was blatantly held in the offensive zone right in front of referee Justin St Pierre. San Jose got away with a trip on Malkin at the other end of the ice moments later, so it at least appeared to have gone both ways.

Big props to Greiss, who used the poke check twice in the shootout, including on Pitsburgh's last crack. Pascal Dupuis needed to score to extend the shootout, but Griess swatted the puck away with a jab of the lumber.




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Scoring
1 2 3 OT SO T
PIT 2 1 0 0 0 3
SJ 0 1 2 0 1 4
1st period - 1, PIT, Engelland 1 (Malkin, SUllivan), 0:24. 2, PIT, Malkin 3 (SUllivan, Neal), 2:04.
2nd period - 3, SJ, Marleau 3 (Havlat, Vandermeer), 2:37. 4, PIT, Malkin 4 (Neal, Letang), 9:37.
3rd period - 5, SJ, Clowe 4 (Havlat, Boyle), 9:11. 6, SJ, McGinn 1 (Handzus, Boyle), 15:06.
Overtime - None.
Shootout - SJ: Couture (miss), Boyle (miss), Clowe (goal). PIT: Letang (miss), Malkin (miss), Dupuis (miss).
Penalties
1st period - Adams, PIT (fighting major), 18:31; Winchester, SJ (fighting major), 18:31.
2nd period - Engelland, PIT (fighting major), 0:06; Clowe, SJ (fighting major), 0:06; Orpik, PIT (interference), 13:52; Niskanen, PIT (cross checking), 16:06; Havlat, SJ (holding), 16:06
3rd period - None.
Overtime - None.
 
Goaltending
Shots Saves
PIT - Fleury 37 34
SJ - Niemi 6 4
SJ - Greiss 30 29
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 OT T
PIT 15 6 11 4 36
SJ 4 17 14 2 37
Power Play Conversion
PIT 0 of 0
SJ 0 of 1
3 Stars of the Game
Thomas Greiss
Evgeni Malkin
Ryane Clowe
Attendence
17,562
Officials
Referees: Leggo, StPierre. Linesmen: Cameron, Henderson.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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