For the first time since meeting in the Stanley Cup Finals, the Pittsburgh Penguins (3-1-1) faced off against the visiting San Jose Sharks (3-2-0).
The Sharks controlled the game for all but about the last 15 minutes. Down 2-0, center Evgeni Malkin began the assault against San Jose and scored. A few minutes later, center Scott Wilson scored his first goal of the season and tied the game at two goals apiece.
Finally, right winger Patric Hornqvist brought home the game and gave Pittsburgh the 3-2 win.
Prior to the goal, with only minutes left, Hornqvist led the offense. The winger wasn’t a happy camper after several calls didn’t go his team’s way, but he put all that frustration into his game and was a major force with his 2 points (1G, 1A) Thursday night.
Simply put, the Penguins were outplayed for the vast majority of the game. San Jose outshot Pittsburgh and outsmarted the team. So much so that the Sharks had an easy 2-0 lead heading into the third period.
But then something lit the Penguins’ fire. In the third period, Malkin was able to bring his team back within reach. The puck dropped on his stick after a deflection, and he snapped a wrist shot right past San Jose goaltender Martin Jones.
Wilson scored his goal after pouncing on a puck that trickled in front of the Sharks’ net. Hornqivst checked San Jose defensemen Brenden Dillon into the boards hard enough so that the puck was dislodged.
Wilson slid through the clutter and was able to snake the puck right into San Jose’s net.
The final goal came on a Pittsburgh power play. Hornqvist corralled a puck that was deflected off of Jones and a few defensemen. Once he was in position, he was able to hit the puck off the post enough to get it past the red line.
A Tale of Two Games
Though the early boxscore may not reflect it, the Penguins weren’t doing themselves any favors early in the game, giving up quick transition goals and missing key opportunities.
San Jose and, especially, its goalie, Jones, was able to control the tempo of the game until Malkin’s goal.
For the most part, after the two-goal second period, the crowd at PPG Paints Arena was relatively quiet. It wasn’t until the third period when the Penguins started to get hot that the crowd began to get loud.
Pittsburgh’s ability to quickly go from a possible second straight shutout to a statement win in a single period is what good teams do. And the fact that Pittsburgh did so without two of its most prolific players — center Sidney Crosby (concussion) and defenseman Kris Letang (upper body) — makes it all the more impressive.
The Penguins surprised just about everybody by scratching and clawing their way through the last period and coming up with the ‘W.’ And, Fleury, while he allowed a pair of soft goals, was able to hold the fort down nicely.
The netminder was able to really shut things down once his team grabbed the lead. If not for his veteran instincts, things may have turned out differently.
The Penguins’ will play their next game on the road Saturday against the Nashville Predators. The game will be played at Bridgestone Arena and is set to begin at 8:00 p.m. EDT.
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