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Crosby's shootout goal leads Penguins past West-leading Sharks

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PITTSBURGH - Sidney Crosby's hard wrist shot fooled San Jose goalie Brian Boucher for the only goal in the shootout and the Pittsburgh Penguins rode Marc-Andre Fleury's strong goaltending to a 2-1 victory over the Sharks on Wednesday night.

Crosby is one of the NHL's least-efficient scorers in shootouts, previously going 0-for-4 this season and 9-for-32 in his career, before beating Boucher about ankle-high as he skated down the slot.

Fleury turned aside 36 of 37 shots as Pittsburgh won for the third time during a four-game homestand. San Jose, coming off a 5-2 win at Boston on Tuesday night in a matchup of the two NHL conference leaders, is 1-2-2 in its last five games despite its 37-7-8 record. The Sharks are 10-1-2 against Eastern Conference teams.

The Sharks got a tying goal from Joe Pavelski at 11:07 of the third, but Fleury stopped Milan Michalek, Pavelski and Dan Boyle in the shootout. Fleury stuck out his right pad to turn aside Boyle, the Sharks' final hope after Crosby scored.

Petr Sykora and Evgeni Malkin each missed ahead of Crosby for Pittsburgh, which was playing for the first time since losing to Detroit 3-0 on Sunday.

San Jose had won four of its previous five in Pittsburgh and was 11-0-1 with a tie and five consecutive victories in its last 13 against the Penguins, outscoring them 42-24.

The first goal in a tightly played game with few penalties, few breakaways and good goaltending came from an unlikely source - Penguins forward Bill Thomas.

With the second period winding down, Miroslav Satan carried the puck into the Sharks zone and fed it to Thomas along the goal line. Thomas' bad-angle shot banked in off defenceman Rob Blake and past goalie Brian Boucher for his first goal in 22 months.

A second assist was later given to Jordan Staal, the 100th of his career.

Thomas has 10 goals in 53 career games, but had not scored in 12 games during two stints with the Penguins this season. He and Ryan Malone, now of Tampa Bay, are the only Pittsburgh-raised players to score for the Penguins.

Thomas hadn't scored since April 8, 2007, when he played for Phoenix.

Fleury preserved the lead with an excellent glove save against Michalek with 2 1/2 minutes gone in the third period. Michalek helped tie it when Pavelski put in his rebound during a flurry in front of the net at 11:07, on San Jose's 31st shot. The goal was Pavelski's 14th.

Pittsburgh had two good chances to take the lead during a late power play resulting from Ryane Clowe's hooking penalty. Malkin's shot hit the left goal post before Boucher cleared it from the crease, and the goalie then stopped Crosby's backhander on a set play during a faceoff.

San Jose's Mike Grier had a short-handed breakaway with five seconds left on the power play, but shot the puck into Fleury's pads.

The Penguins also couldn't score on a power play set up by Rob Blake's holding call 39 seconds into the extra period.

Notes: The Sharks are 3-3 in shootouts, the Penguins 4-3. ... Pittsburgh had as many shots, 11, by the end of the first period as it had in its 2-1 loss at San Jose on Oct. 28. The Penguins finished with 36. ... The Sharks didn't draw a penalty until Blake's hooking call at 8:17 of the second. Staal took Pittsburgh's first penalty, for roughing, at 4:40 of the third. ... Boucher came in with a 9-1-1 record and 1.87 goals-against average in 12 starts. He hadn't started against Pittsburgh in nearly five years. ... San Jose has been shut out only twice, the last time Dec. 18 in a 6-0 loss to Detroit.

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