PITTSBURGH (AP) - On a day that belonged to the goaltender until then, the San Jose Sharks needed to be perfect during their shootout against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Jeremy Roenick made certain they were.
Roenick scored the game-winner as all three San Jose skaters were successful in the shootout and Jonathan Cheechoo had the Sharks' only goal in regulation, leading them to a 2-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday.
Penguins goalie Ty Conklin made 36 saves in regulation and overtime, but couldn't stop Roenick, Cheechoo or Joe Pavelski on wrist shots during the shootout. Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov allowed Eric Christensen and Jarkko Ruutu to score in the shootout, but stopped Kris Letang.
Roenick is 3-for-3 on shootout attempts this season, but Cheechoo had been 0-for-3.
"By themselves they're not necessarily bad goals, but you need to get a save out of one of them," Conklin said.
The Penguins got four points out of a difficult stretch of three games in four days against the contending Canadiens, Senators and Sharks, but squandered a chance for a much better weekend by wasting a three-goal lead and losing 4-3 in overtime to Ottawa on Saturday.
"It was a big test for us to play those teams," coach Michel Therrien said. "I was afraid of this game (Sunday) because of many reasons, and we managed to get one point but we couldn't get two."
Evgeni Malkin, who began the day as the NHL's leading scorer with 82 points, went scoreless for the second successive day as Pittsburgh dropped to 9-4-4 without Sidney Crosby who hasn't played since injuring his ankle Jan. 18. Washington's Alex Ovechkin picked up a point in a 2-1 loss to New Jersey and tied Malkin for the scoring lead.
Malkin played a strong game against Ottawa despite not scoring, and Sharks coach Ron Wilson kept rotating defensemen Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Christian Ehrhoff and Douglas Murray against him.
"Just get in his face and wear him down," Wilson said of the Sharks' strategy. "They seemed to go against our top line a lot, Evgeni Malkin against Joe Thornton. That didn't scare me at all because we always have a good puck-possession game down low, so that partly negates Malkin. He can do a lot of damage."
Malkin was held to three shots, and Wilson felt Malkin wore down while playing a second demanding game in as many days.
The Sharks won their second in a row after dropping the first three games of an eight-game, 17-day trip. They ended a five-game overall losing streak by beating the Flyers 3-1 on Thursday, when Cheechoo also scored. Cheechoo has a goal in three consecutive games and four goals in five games.
"You look at the standings and you see how important it is to get every single point possible, especially on this road trip," Roenick said. "You can go from fifth to 11th in one bad week."
Against Pittsburgh, Cheechoo ended a 43-minute scoreless stretch by scoring his 18th of the season early in the third, steering the puck around defenseman Ryan Whitney in the left circle before beating Conklin on a shot inside the near post.
|San Jose Sharks center Jeremy Roenick, right, fires the puck past Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Ty Conklin to win the shootout in Pittsburgh on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2008. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
"We came out and got a lot of shots. We were able to dictate play," Cheechoo said.
The Sharks outshot the Penguins 37-21 but were 0-for-5 on the power play. They also gave Pittsburgh a chance to get back into the game when Jody Shelley, who assisted on Cheechoo's goal, was called for hooking midway through the third.
Christensen, back after missing five games with a sore shoulder, tied it by scoring from along the goal line after taking Sergei Gonchar's giveback pass from the right point.
"Shift after shift, we couldn't generate a whole lot," Christensen said. "On the power play, I was determined to shoot the puck from whatever angle I could get it on net."
The game was delayed for 25 minutes because of a Zamboni malfunction that left a trail of red hydraulic fluid on the ice. Maybe the offenses took a clue from the delay, because there were few scoring chances and not many offensive flurries until Cheechoo scored.
With a chance to rebound from Saturday's tough loss before playing six of seven on the road, the Penguins did little offensively against the Sharks, who are 10-1-0 with one tie against them in their last 12.
Notes: Pavelski is 6-for-9 in shootouts. ... San Jose outshot Pittsburgh 5-0 in overtime, with Conklin making difficult saves on slap shots by Cheechoo and Ehrhoff. ... With Mellon Arena down to one working Zamboni, the period breaks were extended by three minutes. ... San Jose played in Pittsburgh for their first time since November 2002. ... The Sharks are 19-8-3 on the road, a better record than Pittsburgh's at home (18-10-5) ... Nabokov is 4-1 against Pittsburgh. ... Cheechoo has nine points in eight games.