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Pavelski returns in style as Sharks rout Penguins

by Brian Hunter /
Winning the Stanley Cup may have changed a lot of things for the Pittsburgh Penguins, but it hasn't made them any more successful playing at the Shark Tank.

Evgeni Nabokov stopped all 27 shots he faced and five different players scored as the San Jose Sharks beat the defending champs 5-0 on Saturday night.

Pittsburgh hasn't won in San Jose since Oct. 22, 1997 -- to put that in perspective, captain Sidney Crosby was 10 years old at the time. The Sharks have eight wins and a tie in their last nine meetings, and overall the Penguins are 2-14-2 in California since the start of the 1999-2000 season.

Joe Pavelski, Dan Boyle and Manny Malhotra all had a goal and an assist for the Sharks, who also received scores from Jamie McGinn and Dany Heatley.

''It had been a while, since last regular season,'' Pavelski said after returning from a lower-body injury that cost him all but two games this season. ''I was just looking to get back into it and get a few chances.''

It marked the first time in 42 regular-season games that Pittsburgh has lost two straight in regulation under coach Dan Bylsma. The Penguins continue to play without Evgeni Malkin, were also missing forward Tyler Kennedy and lost defenseman Kris Letang in the first period to what appeared to be an upper-body injury.

"It's an excuse and it's there if you want it and you can take it if you want it," forward Matt Cooke said of the injuries that have hit the team. "If we want to win hockey games right now we have to understand that this team is facing some adversity and injuries. That happens to every team, and good teams find ways around it. We have to make sure that we prepare ourselves to win games 1-0 if that's what it takes."

San Jose made life tough on Pittsburgh and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury right from the start, holding a 13-3 shots advantage in the first period and getting on the scoreboard twice.

Jed Ortmeyer forced a turnover and fed McGinn for the opening goal, scored at 3:27 after McGinn took a second-effort shot from a bad angle that found its way past Fleury. Pavelski netted a power-play goal with 3:56 left in the first, redirecting a Boyle pass.

''There's a smile on everyone's face when he is back in the lineup,'' coach Todd McLellan said. ''He means so much to our team, a very intelligent player. He brings a calmness to the ice.''

Fleury was lifted after Boyle wove through the Penguins defense and beat him on a wrist shot 1:41 into the second. Backup Brent Johnson didn't have it any better, though, as Heatley quickly made it 4-0 just 1:50 later by tipping in the rebound of a Pavelski shot after he came out of the penalty box and took a perfect feed from Joe Thornton.

''He really didn't miss a step. It looked like he missed no time at all,'' Heatley said of Pavelski. ''He should have had two goals, I stole the other one from him. He played real well tonight and we're happy to have him back.''

Malhotra's power-play goal midway through the third capped the scoring.

"They came out hard, we expected that," said Crosby, who hit the post in the second period en route to being held scoreless for a fourth consecutive game.

"For whatever reason, we didn't do a good job when we had possession of the puck of getting it back and getting a good forecheck going. The result of that is they're getting out of their zone pretty easy and going against us with a lot of speed. We didn't make it easy on ourselves in the first period and gave the momentum to start the game off."

Material from wire services and team broadcast media was used in this report.

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