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Dell corrals Penguins in 2-1 win
Netminder makes 31 saves in big Sharks win
1/20/18 - By Mike Lee -

It wasn't a Stanley Cup Championship, but the Sharks will take a regular season win over the Pittsburgh Penguins any day of the week. In the only visit of the year by San Jose's Stanley Cup Finals tormentors, the Penguins fell to a Sharks team that stifled them defensively and used a 3rd period power play goal to knock off Pittsburgh 2-1 in an action packed affair at SAP Center.

After putting starting goaltender Martin Jones on the shelf with an undisclosed lower body injury, the Sharks turned to backup Aaron Dell to defend their net against the offensively minded Penguins. Pittsburgh was also without their starting netminder Matt Murray, who returned home following the death of his father. The Penguins leaned on Casey DeSmith, who was making his 4th NHL appearance.

Both goaltenders turned in yeoman's performances. DeSmith made 34 saves, but Dell seemed to face more dangerous chances while making 31 saves on the night. The Penguins had more quality scoring chances early in the contest even though they were out-shot 14-8 in the opening period.

Pittsburgh grabbed an early lead after a Dominik Simon pass from behind the San Jose net hit a Sharks stick and deflected right to Conor Sheary for a quick shot that slipped past Dell. Sheary was in the perfect spot to collect the deflection as he cut toward the goalmouth from just outside the right post.

San Jose turned up the heat on Penguins with about 8 minutes remaining in the period. Timo Meier finally cashed in with a snipe from the left side after Joe Pavelski found him with a cross-ice pass as the Sharks rushed up ice. Meier put the puck inside the right post to beat DeSmith under the glove for his 10th tally of the season.

Both teams tried to solve the other in the 2nd period, but lockdown defense by both squads kept the scoring chances limited. DeSmith made a blind save on a Kevin Labanc chance from the doorstep after the Sharks forward found himself with the puck just 3 feet outside the crease. Dell made a clutch save with less than 15 seconds left in the period to keep things deadlocked after 40 minutes.

Jamie Oleksiak put the Sharks on the power play 1:49 into the 3rd period after he slashed Joonas Donskoi. San Jose wasted no time on the power play, when Tomas Hertl converted off a rebound 4 seconds into the power play. Pavelski rifled a shot from the right side, hitting DeSmith in the left pad. Hertl grabbed the rebound off the backhand and shifted to his forehand before slipping the puck around the left side of DeSmith for his 13th goal of the season.

The rest of the contest was a hair raising back-and-forth affair that left the sellout crowd on their feet. Each team traded scoring chances near the midway mark of the period, then the Penguins were forced to turn up the effort in order to try and score the equalizer.

The key however was the defensive clamps the Sharks slapped on the Penguins. Pittsburgh was held to 4 shots through the first 13 minutes of the final period and finished the frame with a total of 8 pucks that reached Dell.

Pittsburgh pulled DeSmith with 2 minutes to play, taunting the Sharks with the empty net. San Jose came within a hair of scoring when they controlled the puck in the Pittsburgh zone, but the Penguins skaters managed to keep a pair of shots from crossing the goal line.

Dell did the rest. The key to his evening was the absence of any rebounds. The goaltender seemed to absorb everything the Penguins threw at him, without allowing any second chances opportunities.

Game Notes:

* The Sharks signed 15-year-old Make-A-Wish recipient Hayden Bradley to a three day contract and joined the Sharks on the ice for the pre-game warm-up and took the ceremonial faceoff opposite Sydney Crosby. Bradley was born with a participated in his own post game media scrum after the game.

* Kevin Labanc may not want to see DeSmith for a while. The Sharks forward was stoned twice by the Penguins goaltender on would be goals during the game. Labanc will get another crack at the Penguins in ten days when the Sharks travel to Pennsylvania.

* Evgeni Malkin may want to rethink his decision to go after Tomas Hertl with just over three minutes to play in the game. The Penguins forward decided to cross check the Sharks forward, which ended with a few players going at it. Hertl was also sent off, but the Penguins could have used Malkin's offense as they tried to scratch out a tying goal. Hertl cheered on his team from the penalty box for most of his two minutes.


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1 2 3 T
PIT 1 0 0 1
SJ 1 0 1 2
1st period - 1, PIT, Sheary 12 (Simon, Crosby), 3:18. 2, SJ, Meier 10 (Pavelski, Burns), 17:44.
2nd period - None.
3rd period - 3, SJ, Hertl 13 (Pavelski, Burns), 1:53, (pp).
1st period - Karlsson, SJ (cross checking), 5:19; Bench, PIT (too many men), 11:23.
2nd period - Burns, SJ (tripping), 2:12; Simon, PIT (slashing), 4:55; Demelo, SJ (hooking), 6:44.
3rd period - Oleksiak, PIT (cross checking), 1:49; Malkin, PIT (cross checking), 16:46; Hertl, SJ (roughing), 16:46.
Shots Saves
PIT - Desmith 36 34
SJ - Dell 32 31
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
PIT 8 16 8 32
SJ 14 11 11 36
Power Play Conversion
PIT 0 of 3
SJ 1 of 3
3 Stars of the Game
Aaron Dell
Brent Burns
Casey DeSmith
SAP Center - 17,562
Referees: O'Halloran, Luxmore. Linesmen: Cherrey, Heyer.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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