TIME: Friday, 10:30 p.m. EST.
For the first time in six weeks, the Pittsburgh Penguins will take the ice coming off a win. They hope they don't have to wait nearly as long for their next victory as they visit the Pacific Division-leading San Jose Sharks.
Ric Jackman's goal with 3:12 left in overtime helped Pittsburgh snap a franchise-worst and NHL season-high 0-17-0-1 slide with a 4-3 victory in Phoenix on Wednesday.
Rookie Andy Chiodo made 28 saves for his first career win and the Penguins celebrated as if they'd won the Stanley Cup at the new Glendale Arena.
"We can all breathe now," said Ryan Malone, who scored his team-leading 19th goal to help the Penguins to their first win since Jan. 12 at Philadelphia.
"We can smile. We don't have to worry about anything."
Although 18 straight losses had never been accomplished before in the NHL, the Penguins were spared the embarrassment of going into the league record books for futility due to an overtime loss Feb. 14 in St. Louis.
Regardless, the Penguins were desperate for a win.
"It was like Game 7 out there, huh?" Pittsburgh defenseman Brooks Orpik said. "It was like we were going to drink out of the Cup next. But that's OK. That's how we feel."
The Penguins have not won consecutive games since Dec. 13-16, when they began a three-game unbeaten streak (2-0-1) by beating Columbus and Buffalo.
The Sharks moved six points in front of second-place Dallas in the Pacific with Thursday's 3-2 overtime loss in Vancouver. San Jose held a 2-1 lead late in the third period before Mattias Ohlund sent the game into overtime with 3:06 left in regulation.
Marco Sturm scores his 20th goal and Scott Thornton also tallied for the Sharks, who have picked up a point in all but one of their last six games (4-1-0-1).
STANDINGS: Penguins - 33 points, 5th place, 50 PB, Atlantic Division. Sharks - 76 points, 1st place, Pacific Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Penguins - Malone, 19 goals; Dick Tarnstrom, 24 assists and 35 points; Kelly Buchberger, 109 PIM. Sharks - Patrick Marleau, 26 goals and 45 points; Vincent Damphousse, 22 assists; Scott Parker, 91 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through Feb. 25): Penguins - Power play: 14.8 percent (43 for 290), 22nd in NHL. Penalty killing: 76.1 percent (217 for 285), 30th. Sharks - Power play: 15.3 percent (40 for 261), 20th. Penalty killing: 85.3 percent (214 for 251), 7th.
GOALTENDERS: Penguins - Jean-Sebastien Aubin (2-8-0, 0 SO, 3.25 GAA); Andy Chiodo (1-2-0, 0, 3.00). Sharks - Evgeni Nabokov (20-15-7, 7, 2.05); Vesa Toskala (10-7-4, 0, 2.07).
2002-03 SEASON SERIES: Tied, 1-1.
LAST MEETING: Dec. 12, 2002; Sharks, 5-2. At San Jose, Mario Lemieux scored a pair of goals, but that was all Pittsburgh could muster as the Sharks put up three unanswered tallies in the third period.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Penguins - 5-21-2-4 on the road; Sharks - 15-5-7-2 at home.