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.
"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."
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.
"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."
"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."