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Sharks continue to hemorrhage goals
Penguins put another 5-spot on defensively challenged SJ
1/30/18 - By Mike Lee -

After their 5-day respite for the All Star Break, the Sharks hit the ice fully rested in Pittsburgh on Tuesday night. The re-energized Sharks looked like a rested team, moving well at PPG Paints Arena, but a series of miscues cost them in what ended as a lopsided 5-2 loss to the Penguins. San Jose held a 2-1 lead late in the 2nd period, before allowing 4 unanswered goals to the defending Stanley Cup Champion Penguins.

The loss was the third consecutive game in which San Jose has surrendered 5 or more goals to their opposition. What has traditionally been a staple, defense has deserted the Sharks the past three games. The last two have been played without Joe Thornton, who has always been one of the Sharks best defensive players on offense.

Thornton's absence was more than evident in the fateful 3rd period, that saw the Sharks go into an offensive shell, that was fueled by a pair of botched plays.

Pittsburgh drew first blood in the game, when Bryan Rust scored 11:09 into the game after he raced past Justin Braun on the right wing and slipped a puck between Martin Jones's skates for his 5th goal of the season. Braun's lackadaisical effort left Jones hung out to dry as Rust powered to the front of the net unobstructed.

The Sharks used a series of Penguin penalties to take a 2-1 lead with a pair of power play goals in the 2nd period. Brent Burns fired a shot from the point that beat Matt Murray at the 10:00 minute mark. Timo Meier sat parked at the top of the crease, creating the obstruction that that interfered with Murray's line of sight on the puck.

The Penguins backed themselves into a corner late in the period when Phil Kessel took a high sticking penalty at 16:30, followed by a Kris Letang cross checking infraction 1:37 later. While not scoring on the 5-on-3, the Sharks converted right after Kessel stepped back on the ice.

Joe Pavelski tried to push a shot past Murray from the left side, but was forced to feed Tomas Hertl in the slot. A Hertl shot attempt was deflected over to the right side, where Couture gathered it and swept a shot that found a hole under Murray for his 21st goal of the season.

San Jose was rolling at this point. They finished the period having out-shot the Penguins 23-10 in the period, fueled by the four Pittsburgh minor penalties, but the final play of the period proved catastrophic.

With the clock ticking down, Burns started to skate the puck away from his own end boards, but elected to dump it back behind the net with a blind backhand. There was no Shark to receive it, but Phil Kessel swooped in and flipped a pass to the front of the net where an undefended Evgeni Malkin was there to tap it past Jones and tie the game. That goal came with 5 seconds left in the period and essentially negated all their hard work in the period.

Burns gaff looked was topped by Jones 6 minutes into the 3rd period. The Sharks goaltender gathered a puck along the end boards and tried to move it to Brendan Dillon in the right corner, but he let is roll off his stick right to Patric Hornqvist, who immediately sent it to the front of the wide open net for Malkin to punch home for the 3-2 lead.

Now trailing, the Sharks were forced to open things up defensively which in turn opened up opportunities for the Penguins. Rust tapped home his 2nd goal of the evening at 13:58 after Tom Kuhnhackl sent a blind back hand pass between his own skates to the front of the net. Rust skated down the slot to tap it home as Barclay Goodrow floated behind him on defense.

San Jose pulled Jones with 3 minutes play in a fruitless attempt to mount a comeback. The two-goal lead allowed to Penguins to spend the next 180 seconds firing pucks down the ice.

Malkin bagged an empty-netter for the hat trick with 1:!3 to play to cap the scoring.

Game Notes:

* Marc-Edouard Vlasic left the game 3 minutes into the contest after it appeared that he tweaked his knee while defending in front of his own net. The Sharks defenseman returned to start the 2nd period and finished out the game.

* Joonas Donskoi, Timo Meier, Joakim Ryan and Melker Karlsson were the only Shark skaters that did not finish with a negative plus-minus rating. Brendan Dillon had a team low -3.

* On a night when the Sharks put 42 shots on Matt Murray, only Marcus Sorensen, Joel Ward and Dylan Demelo failed to generate a shot on goal.





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Scoring
1 2 3 T
SJ 0 2 0 2
PIT 1 1 3 5
1st period - 1, PIT, Rust 5 (Sheahan, Cole), 11:09.
2nd period - 2, SJ, Burns 8 (Donskoi, Boedker), 10:00, (pp). 3, SJ, Couture 21 (Hertl, Pavelski), 18:35, (pp). 4, PIT, Malkin 24 (Kessel), 19:55.
3rd period - 5, PIT, Malkin 25 (Hornqvist), 6:01. 6, PIT, Rust 6 (Kuhnhackl, Letang), 13:58. 7, PIT, Malkin 26 (Rust, Crosby), 18:47, (en).
Penalties
1st period - Karlsson, SJ (interference), 9:22; Crosby, PIT (roughing), 9:22; Burns, SJ (interference), 15:49.
2nd period - Cole, PIT (tripping), 0:54; Schultz, PIT (interference), 9:02; Goodrow, SJ (roughing), 14:12; Kessel, PIT (high sticking), 16:30; Letang, PIT (cross checking), 18:07.
3rd period - Burns, SJ (tripping), 7:48; Letang, PIT (tripping), 8:52.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
SJ - Jones 30 26
SJ - empty net 1 0
PIT - Murray 42 40
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 13 23 6 42
PIT 11 10 10 31
Power Play Conversion
SJ 2 of 5
PIT 0 of 3
3 Stars of the Game
Matt Murray
Evgeni Malkin
Bryan Rust
Attendance
PPG Paints Arena - 18,469
Officials
Referees: Charron, Sutherland. Linesmen: Nowak, Smith.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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