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Sharks' streak continues with OT win over Pens

by Alan Robinson
PITTSBURGH -- When the San Jose Sharks first saw their 2010-11 NHL schedule, they must have looked at late-February road games against Detroit and Pittsburgh on successive nights and said, "Uh, oh."

Oh, yes.

Patrick Marleau created two goals by outworking the Penguins behind their own net, including his game-winner with four seconds left in overtime, and the San Jose Sharks beat the slumping Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 at the Consol Energy Center on Wednesday night.

Marleau put San Jose up 2-1 by scoring early in the third, but Tyler Kennedy's second of the game for Pittsburgh tied it with 50 seconds remaining.

Marleau missed a chance to win it with just over a minute left in overtime when Marc-Andre Fleury turned him away on a breakaway created by newly acquired defenseman Matt Niskanen's turnover in the neutral zone.

 But Marleau didn't fail on his second chance to win it, outfighting two Penguins for the puck to create Marc-Edouard Vlasic's wrist shot from the left circle. Fleury stopped Vlasic, but Marleau put in rebound over the goalie's right leg for his 24th goal.

"Two guys were on him (Logan Couture) and he's just mucking around there and the puck squirted out to me," Marleau said. "I was just able to get it over his pad."

"It hit the goalie and then I chipped it over to Patty," Couture said. "I knew we had a 2-on-1 at the net there, and he'd be wide open because the D-man was on me."

Couture also scored on the power play for San Jose, which won its fifth in a row – and second in as many nights against one of the NHL's top teams. The Sharks, 4-3 winners at Detroit on Tuesday, are 14-2-1 after losing six in a row.
San Jose overtook Phoenix for first place in the Pacific Division as the Coyotes lost 8-3 to Tampa Bay.

"We're motivated by standings," coach Todd McLellan said. "We understand where we are and what we need to continue to do."

Antti Niemi turned aside 24 shots for his 19th victory since Dec. 1. The Sharks have not allowed more than three goals during their 17-game run, and they certainly weren't about to against the injury-thinned Penguins. Pittsburgh hasn’t scored more than three in 11 games.

The Sharks are 7-0-1 in their last eight against Pittsburgh, which also hasn't scored more than two goals in any of those games.

Obviously, the Penguins badly miss the injured Sidney Crosby (concussion, out indefinitely) and Evgeni Malkin (knee surgery, out for the season).

Fleury made 35 saves, but Pittsburgh still dropped its seventh in nine games before going on a five-game road trip.

"He's one of the best goalies in the League for a reason," Couture said. "He plays well every night, keeps their team in it. With the stars they have out, they need a goaltender to step up. They got a lot of big saves out of him."

With the score tied at 1 in the third, Marleau skated hard into the offensive zone as the Penguins were attempting to get the puck out from behind their net. Marleau gained control and backhanded it past Fleury at 5:28.

Pittsburgh, 0-for-2 on the power play, had a chance to tie it with the man advantage when Devin Setoguchi was called for holding with 11:26 but the Penguins couldn't convert.

But, with Fleury off for an extra attacker, Kennedy tied it with 50 seconds remaining in regulation by putting in a rebound of Jordan Staal's wrist shot. Kennedy has seven goals in 11 games.

Kennedy also scored at 5:48 of the first. Deryk Engelland grabbed the puck as the Sharks were trying to wrap it around the end boards and threw it toward the net. Matt Cooke couldn't convert on a wrist shot but Kennedy scored on the rebound.

"I'm focusing on the little things, trying to stick with that," Kennedy said. "You've got to go to the cage to score goals and that's what coach (Dan Bylsma) told me and I'm trying to get there."

Kennedy played mostly on a reconfigured line with the newly acquired James Neal and Jordan Staal, who, with Crosby and Malkin out, currently is the Penguins' top center.  Neal, cheered loudly before his first game since being dealt by Dallas, couldn't score on either of his two shots but was a plus-1 while playing 20:48.

"You're obviously hesitant coming into a new team, new environment and new system," Neal said. "It was a change, and I'm excited moving forward here."

San Jose tied it on Couture's power play goal at 3:01 of the second, after the second delay in as many Penguins' home games resulting from a lighting problem. This one lasted 20 minutes at the team's new facility; an initial delay lasted six minutes leading into the second period during the Capitals-Penguins game Monday.

Setoguchi was held without a goal after scoring five in his previous two games, but set up Couture's 25th goal with a pass from behind the net that allowed Couture to snap off a shot from the left circle.

Pittsburgh played the final two periods and the overtime without defenseman Brooks Orpik, who appeared to be struck on the hand by a Marleau shot late in the first period.  Bylsma didn't offer a post-game update on his condition.

The Penguins, who traded for Neal partly because of their recent offensive struggles, have scored more than three goals only once in 15 games, during a 4-3 shootout victory over the Rangers on Feb. 1. 
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