Wingels, Niemi help Sharks edge Penguins

Eric Gilmore  - Correspondent | Tuesday, 03.10.2015 / 2:18 AM

SAN JOSE -- They needed a shootout, but the San Jose Sharks defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins for the 10th straight time in San Jose and took another big step in their Stanley Cup Playoff push with a 2-1 victory at SAP Center on Monday.

Tommy Wingels scored the deciding goal in the eighth round and Antti Niemi made 39 saves before denying seven of eight in the shootout.

"Maybe a win like that injects some life and emotion into a team because of how excited everyone was," Wingels said. "Just keep going and keep the gas pedal down. I know that's cliché to say that, but that's what we have to do now. We can't keep talking about doing different things. At this point, with 15 games left, everyone knows what we need to do to win games. That's what we have to do."

Wingels beat Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury with a backhand to the stick side. Niemi then denied forward Steve Downie to seal the victory for the Sharks (33-26-8).

San Jose has won three of its past four games. With 74 points, the Sharks pulled to within three of the third-place Calgary Flames in the Pacific Division and one of the fourth-place Los Angeles Kings.

"Huge," Niemi said of the victory. "It's playoff time almost for us now."

Fleury made 29 saves for the Penguins (38-18-10), who haven't defeated the Sharks on the road since Oct. 22, 1997.

Matt Nieto scored for the Sharks in regulation. Sidney Crosby scored for Pittsburgh, which went 2-1-1 on its four-game road trip.

"I thought it was a fairly even game," Crosby said. "We put them on their heels in the third. It's unfortunate. In a shootout, anything can happen. We played a pretty good game and we deserved better."

Melker Karlsson beat Fleury with a backhand in the third round, but Kris Letang scored to extend the shootout. Five rounds later, Wingels delivered what proved to be the game-winner.

"I think when you're sitting there, you think about what you're going to do if your number is called," Wingels said. "I wanted to get a good fake in and go backhand. I think he would have been a little bit worried about covering the five-hole after Melker's good move. So [I was] fortunate it went in."

The Sharks took a 1-0 lead into the third period, but Pittsburgh pulled even when Crosby scored his first career goal in seven games against the Sharks at 7:22. Crosby accelerated and beat Niemi to the far side with a backhand from the right circle. It was Crosby's 22nd of the season.

The Penguins outshot San Jose 13-8 in the period. With 3:35 left, Evgeni Malkin sent a shot from the high slot through traffic and David Perron swung away at the rebound before Niemi could cover the puck.

After a Sharks turnover with under two minutes left, Malkin had another shot that Niemi denied.

"I thought Nemo was terrific tonight," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "Maybe his best game this season. First saves, second saves. Those are some very gifted, skilled players that are getting some good looks. Shootout-wise he was tremendous as well."

The Penguins went on a power play with 26.3 seconds left in the third and opened overtime with a 4-on-3 man-advantage. Niemi made a spectacular pad save on a shot by Crosby from the right circle moments before the power play expired.

Penguins defenseman Derrick Pouliot hit the left post in the final seconds of overtime.

"I thought both goalies were awesome," Penguins forward Brandon Sutter said. "Niemi definitely took a lot of chances in the third and the pucks around the crease [but] we just couldn't bang them in. He stood his ground. I thought Fleury did the same thing for us. It was a pretty good goalie battle. I thought we got stronger as the game went on. Especially the last half of the game, I thought we really turned it up but we really didn't get much and we had a lot of chances."

Nieto scored at 19:03 of the first period, giving the Sharks a 1-0 lead moments after their second power play expired. Sharks forward Ben Smith stole the puck from Letang behind Pittsburgh's net and got it to Chris Tierney, who sent a pass through the crease to Nieto for a shot from the slot that beat Fleury. It was Nieto's seventh goal of the season.

"That was nice to get one at the end of the first there and come into the intermission with some momentum and confidence heading into the second," Nieto said. "Tonight was just back-and-forth hockey. They had chances, so did we. It came down to a shootout. It was a nice win."

Scoring Summary
1st Period
19:03SJS Matt Nieto (7) ASST: Chris Tierney (7), Ben Smith (6) 1 - 0 SJS
2nd Period
3rd Period
07:22PIT Sidney Crosby (22) ASST: David Perron (22), Kris Letang (41) 1 - 1 Tie
OT Period
1SJSJoe Pavelski - Missed
2PITDavid Perron - Save
3SJSLogan Couture - Save
4PITSidney Crosby - Save
5SJSMelker Karlsson - Goal
6PITKris Letang - Goal
7SJSPatrick Marleau - Save
8PITEvgeni Malkin - Save
9SJSBrent Burns - Missed
10PITChris Kunitz - Save
11SJSJoe Thornton - Missed
12PITBrandon Sutter - Save
13SJSTomas Hertl - Missed
14PITBeau Bennett - Missed
15SJSTommy Wingels - Goal
16PITSteve Downie - Save
Shootout Summary
RNDSan Jose SharksPittsburgh Penguins
1Joe PavelskiDavid Perron
2Logan CoutureSidney Crosby
3Melker KarlssonKris Letang
4Patrick MarleauEvgeni Malkin
5Brent BurnsChris Kunitz
6Joe ThorntonBrandon Sutter
7Tomas HertlBeau Bennett
8Tommy WingelsSteve Downie
Three Stars of the Game
Antti Niemi
SA: 40TOI: 65:00
GA: 1EV: 34-35
PIM: 0PP: 4-4
SV%: .975SH: 1-1
Marc-Andre Fleury
SA: 30TOI: 65:00
GA: 1EV: 24-25
PIM: 0PP: 2-2
SV%: .967SH: 3-3
Chris Tierney
G: 0Shots: 0
A: 1Hits: 0
PTS: 1PIM: 0
+/-: 1TOI: 12:09
Penalty Summary
1st Period
07:27PIT Steve Downie  Tripping against  Barclay Goodrow
17:00PIT Rob Scuderi  Cross checking against  Tommy Wingels
2nd Period
03:29SJS Joe Thornton  Roughing against  David Perron
12:07SJS Joe Pavelski  Slashing against  Sidney Crosby
14:57SJS Marc-Edouard Vlasic  Holding against  David Perron
14:57PIT David Perron  Holding against  Marc-Edouard Vlasic
3rd Period
10:47PIT Steve Downie  Holding the stick against  Marc-Edouard Vlasic
13:13PIT Chris Kunitz  Roughing against  Tomas Hertl
13:13SJS Tomas Hertl  Roughing against  Chris Kunitz
19:33SJS Tommy Wingels  Delaying Game-Puck over glass
OT Period
shots by period
Team Stats
Power Plays0/30/3
Faceoff Wins3126
Blocked Shots1727
Penalty Minutes1010
4R. ScuderiD00-13219:37
7P. MartinD0001022:03
12B. LovejoyD0002018:39
13N. SpalingC00-11012:30
14C. KunitzL0002218:00
16B. SutterC00-14013:57
17B. ComeauL0003017:45
19B. BennettR000308:37
23S. DownieR000049:28
26D. WinnikC0001011:35
28I. ColeD0000014:02
39D. PerronL0112217:50
40M. LapierreC0001010:20
51D. PouliotD0002023:26
58K. LetangD0104029:00
71E. MalkinC0004022:48
72P. HornqvistR0012019:41
87S. CrosbyC1015020:42
29M. Fleury2930.96765:00
4B. DillonD0012019:39
8J. PavelskiC00-12222:21
12P. MarleauL0002022:12
19J. ThorntonC00-12219:33
20J. ScottL000107:05
21B. SmithR011008:09
27S. HannanD0001017:06
39L. CoutureC0002021:47
41M. MuellerD0010017:19
44M. VlasicD00-12224:57
48T. HertlC0005213:55
50C. TierneyC0110012:09
57T. WingelsC0001215:32
61J. BraunD00-12025:50
68M. KarlssonC00-14015:10
83M. NietoL1012017:00
88B. BurnsD0001022:06
89B. GoodrowR000108:10
31A. Niemi3940.97565:00