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Sharks late to the New Years party
Six 1st period goals kills SJ, late comeback bid denied
1/2/2022 - By Mike Lee

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 the period.

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.

Sharks 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 goal.

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.

Logan Couture 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 the Pens.

* 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.


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1 2 3 T
SJ 1 1 3 5
PIT 6 0 2 8
1st period - 1, PIT, Rodrigues 11 (Petterson, Heinen), 1:03. 2, PIT, Guentzel 16 (Rust, Crosby), 3:12. 3, PIT, Rodrigues 12 (Heinen, Simon), 4:11. 4, PIT, Rust 3 (Letang, Dumoulin), 6:09. 5, SJ, Barabanov 5 (Meier, Vlasic), 15:33. 6, PIT, Bjorkqvist 1 (Zohorna), 16:29. 7, PIT, Rust 4 (Marino, Pettersson), 19:32.
2nd period - 8, SJ, Burns 4 (Bonino, Gregor), 14:27, (pp).
3rd period - 9, SJ, Nieto 2 (Middleton, Cogliano), 0:20. 10, SJ, Karlsson 9 (Meier, Middleton), 3:01. 11, SJ, Couture 12 (Meier), 4:09. 12, PIT, Rodrigues 13 (Letang, Rust), 17:59, (pp). 13, PIT, Rust 5 (Crosby, Letang), 19:49, (en).
1st period - None.
2nd period - Simone, PIT (hooking), 12:31; Simek, SJ (holding), 17:18.
3rd period - Simon, PIT (hooking), 7:11; Couture, SJ (hooking), 7:25; Nieto, SJ (hooking), 17:08.
Shots Saves
SJ - Reimer 17 11
SJ - Sawchenko 21 20
SJ - empty net 1 0
PIT - Desmith 27 22
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 10 7 10 27
PIT 17 8 14 39
Power Play Conversion
SJ 1 of 2
PIT 1 of 3
3 Stars of the Game
Evan Rodrigues
Bryan Rust
Zach Sawchenko
PPG Paints Arena - 18,066
Referees: #24 Graham Skilliter, #43 Mitch Dunning. Linesmen: #53 Bevan Mills #98, Dan Kelly.

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