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Jones stands tall in Pittsburgh
Marleau scores 1000th point in 3-1 win
11/21/15 - By Mike Lee -

When the Sharks departed on their 6-game road trip a week and a day ago, they hadn't won back to back games in almost a month. They had lost 8 of their prior 11 games and were struggling to string together any semblance of consistency on the ice. The trip away from SAP Center, where the Sharks are 3-5-0, was a much needed diversion. Nine days in, San Jose is 5-0-0 after knocking off the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1 at CONSOL Energy Center on Saturday night.

Hitting the road has somehow transformed the Sharks into a team that has generated goals at key times and is playing solid defense. Their success can also be partially attributed to the solid play of their goaltender Martin Jones.

Jones leads the NHL in wins (11), ranks 5th in goals against average (2.02) for players with at least 10 appearances, and has the 6th best save percentage (.929). Those numbers are more relevant when you consider that the Sharks rank 17th in goals scored per game. In their 8 losses this season, the Sharks have surrendered 4 or more goals 6 times.

Goaltending was certainly a point of emphasis in Saturday night's game, where Jones faced 39 shots against a team that's not exactly short of goal scorers. Pittsburgh had also won 7 of their last 10 games, and threw plenty of rubber in Jones' direction. His work load included 12 or more shots in each of the three periods. A wave of shots in the last 2 minutes of the game are what defined Jones' game.

If not for a power play that netted the Penguins their only goal of the game, Jones was perfect. That goal came after Jones made a pair of saves from in tight with the Sharks short-handed. Phil Kessel punched home a rebound from the left side into a wide open net after Jones was forced to keep Evgeni Malkin contained. No mortal was going to stop Kessel's shot.

That goal was also the only black mark on a Sharks penalty kill unit that stopped 5 other Penguins power play chances. Kills have been a sore spot for the Sharks this season, and giving a high powered offense like Pittsburgh 6 chances is a recipe for disaster. San Jose weathered the storm and let their blueline counter with goal scoring of their own.

That blueline accounted for all 3 Sharks goals. Brent Burns bagged a pair and former Penguins defenseman Paul Martin scored his 1st goal of the season on the same sheet of ice that he called home for the prior 5 seasons.

Burns staked the Sharks to a 1-0 lead 7:54 into the game on a put back chance after Joel Ward bounced a shot off Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. Ward uncorked a one-time chance from the right dot after Patrick Marleau fed him the puck with a pass from the right corner. Fleury made the save on Ward's shot, but the puck kicked out to Burns who was cutting on the left side. The burly defenseman snapped the rebound into a wide open net for his 6th goal of the season.

Marleau earned the secondary assist on the goal, which gave him 1000 points in his NHL career. The Sharks forward become on the 16th player in NHL history to amass that many points with one team. The Penguins recognized Marleau, the 83rd player in league history to reach the 1000-point plateau, with a message on the center-ice big screen.

Marleau recorded his 1001st NHL point 4 minutes after Kessel tied the game by assisting on another Burns goal. Once again, Marleau made a feed out of the corner, but this time to Martin at the left point. Martin sent a pass along the blueline to Burns on the opposite side of the rink, where his linemate pumped a shot that beat Fleury with Ward cutting across the top of the crease. It wasn't clear if Ward touched the puck, but it beat Fleury regardless.

Martin got in on the scoring action with a blast of his own, although the puck took a bit of a detour before finding its way into the Penguins goal. The Sharks defenseman sent a blast form the left point that Fleury stopped when the puck hit him in the chest. The puck deflected to the left side where defenseman Ben Lovejoy was busing fending off Sharks forward Tomas Hertl. The puck hit Lovejoy in the hip and deflected past Fleury for his 1st tally as a Shark.

San Jose kept Penguins captain Sydney Crosby and Malkin at bay for much of the game. Only Crosby got his name on the score sheet with an assist on the Kessel goal.

Game Notes:

The Sharks were led by assistant coaches Steve Spott and Bob Boughner, after head coach Peter DeBoer left the team to attend to a personal matter. Sharks GM Doug Wilson announced that DeBoer would not attend the game earlier in the day through a press release.

Rookie forward Nikolay Goldobin was once again benched in the 3rd period. The youngster has been a frequent spectator late in games since his recall last week. Matt Nieto moved into Goldobin's spot on the 4th line.

The Sharks went 0-for-4 on the power play, which dropped them to 29th in the league (13.1%).

Forward Logan Couture skated in full equipment on Saturday, just 5 weeks after breaking his leg in New Jersey on October 15th.



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Scoring
1 2 3 T
SJ 1 1 1 3
PIT 0 1 0 1
1st period - 1, SJ, Burns 6 (Ward, Marleau), 7:54.
2nd period - 2, PIT, Kessel 7 (Hornqvist, Crosby), 8:38, (pp). 3, SJ, Burns 7 (Martin, Marleau), 13:06.
3rd period - 4, SJ, Martin 1 (Donskoi), 8:27.
Penalties
1st period - Karlsson, SJ (hooking), 4:14; Brown, SJ (kneeing), 12:40; Hornqvist, PIT (interference), 13:23; Kunitz, PIT (interference), 16:21.
2nd period - Pavelski, SJ (high sticking - double minor), 6:39; Martin, SJ (high sticking), 17:21.
3rd period - Perron, PIT (interference), 5:41; Burns, SJ (delay of game - puck over glass), 11:04; Perron, PIT (high sticking), 12:41.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
SJ - Jones 39 38
PIT - Fleury 29 26
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 9 9 11 29
PIT 12 15 12 39
Power Play Conversion
SJ 0 of 4
PIT 1 of 6
3 Stars of the Game
Brent Burns
Paul Martin
Patrick Marleau
Attendance
18,534
Officials
Referees: Dwyer, Rehman. Linesmen: Barton, McElman.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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