The Sharks have been notoriously slow starters
when playing in matinee games. They set a new low water mark as they kicked off
a 4-game road trip with a stop in Pittsburgh on Sunday afternoon. The Sharks
allowed the Penguins to score 6 goals in the 1st period en route to 8-5 win.
The Sharks fought back to pull within a goal in the 3rd period, but Pittsburgh
capitalized on a late power play and empty net goal to knock off San Jose.
There are New Year's hangovers, and there are full on aneurisms, which
may be the best way to describe the 1st period of this game. Pittsburgh
obliterated San Jose with 6 goal in the opening frame, scoring on 17 shots in
Evan Rodrigues opened the blood bath with the first of his
2 goals in the period just 63 seconds into the game. Rodrigues gathered a
Marcus Pettersson pass up the left wing boards, then skated into the Sharks
zone 2-on-1 before cutting to his right and roofing a shot from the slot.
Defenseman Radim Simek was the lone defender back but his attempt at a poke
check went unsuccessful.
Penguins leading scorer Jake Guentzel scored
2 minutes later. Bryan Rust threw the puck through the slot from the right
corner to Guentzel who cranked a one-timer past James Reimer form the left dot.
Reimer got a piece of the shot but it trickled across the line for Guentzel's
16th goal of the season.
Rodrigues made it a 3-0 game at 4:11 when he
took a drop pass from Danton Heinen and skated in on Reimer undefended and
easily slipped a shot home. Sharks defenseman Jacob Middleton failed to switch
on Rodrigues, electing to stay on Heinen who curled to the slot as Rodrigues
skipped under him.
Rust got in on the act at the 6 minute mark. Kris
Letang tried to dump a puck to the front of the net from the right point, but
it deflected off Logan Couture's skate. Rust gathered it in the high slot
before sliding toward the net and lifting a shot past Reimer.
Alexander Barabanov got the Sharks on the board at 15:33 when Timo Meier sent a
puck to his linemate from the left point. Barabanov knocked the pass out of the
air as he skated toward the top of the crease, then swept home his own
deflection for his 5th tally of the season.
Pittsburgh responded when
Kasper Bjorkqvist scored his 1st goal in his first NHL game. The Penguins
rookie took a Radim Zohorna feed from behind the end line as he crashed the
net. Bjorkqvist one-timed the feed from the top of the crease, but had to take
a second hack at it to slip it underneath Reimer.
Rust added hist 2nd
goal of the period with 28 seconds left in the period. Pittsburgh missed on a
7th goal when a shot rang off the post right at the horn.
farmhand Zack Sawchenko started the 2nd period in net for San Jose. The rookie
was serving as the Sharks backup as Adin Hill was starting for the San Jose
Barracuda on a conditioning assignment after serving on the NHL Covid protocol
list the past week.
Dominik Simon took a hooking penalty at 12:31 of
the 2nd period for the game's first penalty. Brent Burns converted with a blast
from the high slot to make it a 6-2 game. The goal was the 4th of the season
for the Sharks defenseman.
The Sharks made it a game in the 3rd
period. San Jose opened the period with a Matt Nieto goal just 20 seconds in.
The forward blasted a puck from the blueline that hit the end boards and
bounced back toward the front of the net. Penguins goaltender Casey Desmith
tried to glove it, but the puck hit off his chest and bounced into his own
Erik Karlsson scored at 3:01 to make it a 6-4 game.
The Sharks defenseman just uncorked a blast from the right point that found a
seem, beating Desmith for his 9th goal of the season.
scored 68 seconds later when he banged home a Meier feed. Meier out-muscled a
Penguins defensemen, sliding a pass through the slot from the left side where
Couture slammed home the no-doubter.
The Sharks comeback bid was
squashed when Nieto took a hooking penalty with 2:52 left in regulation. The
Penguins converted when Rodrigues sent a shot from the top of the left circle,
using Guentzel as a screen, beating Sawchenko for the hat trick.
Pittsburgh added a second hat trick when Rust scored an empty net goal to cap
the game's scoring. Game Notes:
* Logan Couture played
in his 800th career NHL game.
* Zach Sawchenko made his NHL debut for
San Jose, stopping 20 of 21 shots. He would only surrender a power play goal to
* Marc-Edouard Vlasic was on the ice for 5 of the Penguins 8
goals. He finished the game with a -3. Jonathan Dahlen also was a -3.
* Evan Rodrigues and Zach Aston-Reese had 6 shots each. Bryan Rust added 5
shots. Pittsburgh out-shot San Jose 39-27.
* San Jose won 42 of 66
draws (66%), one of the few bright spots for San Jose.