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Missed chances the storyline in Pittsburgh
Overtime failure costs Sharks
3/29/15 - By Mike Lee -

To say this season has been frustrating is about as big an understatement as there is. Inconsistencies and missed opportunities have been the order of the day for most of the season. That was the script on Sunday night as the Sharks wrapped up their long 7-game road trip with an aggravating 3-2 loss in the shootout to the Pittsburgh Penguins. San Jose squandered a lengthy power play in overtime, which was the crack the Penguins needed to 39th loss of the season.

In fairness, the team was battling on the tail end of a lengthy road trip and were playing 30 hours after beating the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday afternoon, but with their season hanging in the balance, the Sharks can't afford to lose any more games this season.

With 6 games left in the regular season, San Jose site 6 points out of the 8th and final playoff spot. The Sharks also have two other teams sitting between them and the 8th place Calgary Flames. Time is simply running out, and the Sharks are getting closer to elimination.

So when Patrick Hornqvist cut defenseman Brent Burns with a high stick 1:11 into overtime on Sunday, the Sharks needed to pounce on the opportunity and capitalize on the impending 3:49 of 4-on-3 power play time.

Instead, they used the same approach to the power play, which Pittsburgh seemed more than prepared to handle. The Penguins killed off the power play, allowing the Sharks 5 shots on goal in the extra period, but only a Joe Thornton shot that clanked off the left post came close to ending things on the plus side for San Jose.

Pittsburgh neutralized the Sharks power play, then ended things as quickly as possible in the shootout by scoring on their first two shots, and letting Marc-Andre Fleury snuff out Melker Kalrsson and Logan Couture's attempts.

It was almost a worst case scenario for the Sharks. San Jose drew no closer to the last playoff spot with Calgary winning, and they moved ahead of Colorado in the standings, which is essentially a race for draft picks.

Things looked as if the Penguins were going to dispatch the Sharks early, after they jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the opening period. Hornqvist punched home a rebound after Alex Stalock allowed a rebound to kick out to the slot after the Penguins forward put a shot on net from 15 feet out.

Stalock was making his 2nd consecutive start after Antti Niemi fell ill on Sunday morning.

Chris Kunitz made it 2-0 after redirecting a Sydney Crosby feed past Stalock for his 17th goal of the season. Kunitz was loitering near the left corner when Crosby found him and sent a pass through the slot from the top of the right circle. Defenseman Justin Braun was caught too high on the play and was not able to get back to defend against Kunitz.

Ben Smith cut the Penguins lead in half 6:44 into the 2nd period, but redirecting a BRaun shot from the right point with the shaft of his stick. Braun uncorked a blast that was too high for Smith to get a stick blade on, to the Sharks forward extended his arms and caught a piece of the puck halfway up the shaft of the stick, redirecting it past Fleury.

Ben Lovejoy put the Sharks on the power play at 14:53 of the period after cross checking Chris Tierney. San Jose scored on the ensuing power play when Couture sent a shot just under Fleury's blocker. Couture's shot came after he slipped past the Penguins at the blueline and made a bee line for the Penguins goal. Patrick Marleau took an entry pass from Brent Burns along the left win boards, then flipped the puck to his right as Couture streaked on net.

Neither team scored in the 3rd period, which setup the fateful overtime period.

Hornqvist caught Burns in the chops, drawing blood and the double minor. Rather than utilize a more direct attack such as the one the potted Couture's goal, the Sharks relied on their more predictable perimeter passing approach, which simply killed clock and generated no serious scoring chances.





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Scoring
1 2 3 OT SO T
SJ 0 2 0 0 0 2
PIT 2 0 0 0 1 3
1st period - 1, PIT, Hornqvist 24 (Winnik, Cole), 7:08. 2, PIT, Kunitz 17 (Crosby, Pouliot), 8:04, (pp).
2nd period - 3, SJ, Smith 7 (Braun, Goodrow), 6:44. 4, SJ, Couture 25 (Marleau, Burns), 15:38, (pp).
3rd period - None.
Overtime - None.
Shootout - PIT: Perron (goal), Crosby (goal). SJ: Karlsson (miss), Couture (miss).
Penalties
1st period - Fedun, SJ (hooking), 7:41.
2nd period - Lapierre, PIT (hooking), 11:06; Lovejoy, PIT (cross checking), 14:53.
3rd period - Crosby, PIT (tripping), 7:03; Wingels, SJ (high sticking), 12:51; Spaling, PIT (holding), 16:08.
Overtime - Hornqvist, PIT (high sticking - double minor), 1:11.
 
Goaltending
Shots Saves
SJ - Stalock 33 31
PIT - Fleury 32 30
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 OT T
SJ 12 7 8 5 32
PIT 9 11 13 0 33
Power Play Conversion
SJ 1 of 6
PIT 1 of 2
3 Stars of the Game
Patrick Hornqvist
Sydney Crosby
Logan Couture
Attendance
18,620
Officials
Referees: Pollock, McCauley. Linesmen: Barton, Racicot.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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