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Aftermath: Sharks 2, Penguins 1

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

The Sharks scored the first two goals of the game and held off a late Penguins surge to defeat Pittsburgh, 2-1, at the HP Pavilion on Tuesday night. San Jose got a shorthanded goal from Joe Pavelski in the first period for a 1-0 lead. Mike Grier scored the eventual game-winner – and his first of the season – at 12:52 of the third period. Ruslan Fedotenko scored at 14:27 of the third to cut San Jose’s lead to 2-1. Pittsburgh applied some pressure in the game’s final five minutes but couldn’t overcome the early deficit. Matt Cooke was called for high-sticking with 1:49 left in the game. The penalty negated Pittsburgh’s extra attacker with a pulled goaltender. Dany Sabourin kept the Penguins in the game with his a 32-save effort.

               Ruslan Fedotenko and Sidney Crosby celebrate Pittsburgh's first goal (photo by Getty)
What Worked: Final Five Minutes
The Penguins spent the vast majority of the game’s first 55 minutes in their own zone, outshot by a 3-to-1 margin. After the final television timeout, Pittsburgh was a different team. The Penguins transition game broke through the Sharks trap and led to Fedotenko’s goal. The score energized the team and Pittsburgh kept the pressure up for the rest of the game, but couldn’t squeeze a second goal past Evgeni Nabokov.

What Didn't Work: Transition Game
The Sharks seemed content to let the Penguins get through the neutral zone, but then stood them up near the blue line. Pittsburgh’s only goal came as a result of a successful breakout, but there weren’t many others in the game. The Penguins couldn’t muster any counter or breakout attack to penetrate the trap. On times that they did, they weren’t able to cycle the puck to keep the play in the Sharks zone. San Jose frustrated the Pittsburgh all night.
This may sound like a scratched CD but Sabourin kept the Penguins in the game. He looked as good as he did against the Boston Bruins eight days ago. He kept the game close with 19 saves in the second period. He stopped a big blast by Rob Blake on an early power play. He made a diving, glove save on Dan Boyle. Devin Setoguchi drove to the net from the left corner. The Penguins collapsed around the net and Setoguchi found Boyle, who sneaked behind the Pittsburgh defense. Sabourin dove to his left and gloved Boyle’s shot. He also made a quick save on Doug Murray, who sent a slap shot on net following a faceoff win. Sabourin stayed alert on the play and had a great reaction.
There was great flow to the game. Both teams played an up-tempo style and there were very few stoppages in play. 

Tyler Kennedy won a clean faceoff in the San Jose zone and sent the puck off of the boards right onto the stick of Alex Goligoski, who swung for the fences. Kennedy shifted in front of the net and tried to re-direct the shot. It was a well executed and designed play by the Penguins to generate a quick scoring opportunity of a faceoff. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Pittsburgh try to get more scoring chances right off the draw.

Eric Godard notched his fifth fight of the season, this one with Sharks tough guy Jody Shelly. The two heavy weights are a combined 439 pounds of muscle. Godard landed the first punch with a quick right. Then Shelly landed a succession of left-handed jabs. Eventually, Shelly pulled Godard’s jersey over his eyes. The defenseless Godard took a few more shots before falling to the ice.

Ruslan Fedotenko scored the Penguins only goal, but he made his presence felt on both sides of the ice. He's been playing tremendous defense for the Penguins. He made a great diving play to break up a point-blank opportunity for the Sharks Setoguchi. Brad Lukowich’s shot from the point deflected off of Miroslav Satan’s stick. The puck appeared to go off of Patrick Marleau’s glove and right into the slot where Setoguchi was eyeing up his shot. Before he could put the puck on net, Fedotenko dove on the ice and knocked the puck away with his stick. The play may have been ruled a hand pass, therefore the dive was unnecessary. However, Fedotenko didn’t know that and deserves credit for laying out to prevent a shot.

Evgeni Malkin had the Penguins best opportunity in the first period with great stick work and pursuit. Douglas Murray pursued a gliding puck in his own zone with Malkin shadowing him. Murray attempted a cross-ice pass to Christian Ehrhoff, but Malkin stole the puck and was one-on-one with Nabokov. Malkin’s shot sailed wide left.

The Sharks scored the opening goal following a series of misplayed puck handlings by both teams. First, Malkin couldn’t handle Satan’s pass and the puck was loose in the Penguins zone. Goligoski beat Milan Michalek to the puck and poked it away from him but couldn’t get off a clean forward pass. Michaleck backtracked to intercept the errand pass and streaked past Goligoski for a breakaway. Michaleck got the puck between Dany Sabourin’s pads but the puck died in the paint. Joe Pavelski, trailing the play, had the easy slam dunk goal.

Patrick Marleau finished the night with two posts and no goals. Marleau joined a late rush to create a 3-on-2 opportunity by sneaking behind Rob Scuderi. A great pass from Joe Thornton sprang Marleau for a shot 20 feet from the net. The Sharks captain nailed the post to Sabourin’s right. Marleau hit his second post in the third period on a power play. He nailed a shot in the high slot off the pipe.

San Jose gave Pittsburgh the neutral zone, then converged on them once they penetrated the Sharks’ blue line. The tactic was particularly effective, holding the Penguins to a franchise-low 11 shots on goal. Pittsburgh registered three shots in the first period and three in the third. Pittsburgh didn’t get a shot in the third period until the 11:51 mark.

The Penguins continued their shot-blocking dominance. They led the league with 160 coming into the game. Pittsburgh was particularly impressive with three consecutive blocked shots on a power-play opportunity near the beginning of the second period. They didn’t shy away from getting in front of Sharks' shots.

Todd McLellan used defensemen Rob Blake and youngster Marc-Edouard Vlasic against the Sidney Crosby-Malkin-Pascal Dupuis/Fedotenko line.

The Penguins juggled their defensive pairings around the midway point of the game. They re-paired Brooks Orpik with Kris Letang. The duo started the season together. Rob Scuderi and Mark Eaton skated together, with Goligoski remaining with Darryl Sydor.

Cooke looks to be fully recovered from his injury. He threw his body around with some checks and absorbed a few shots as well. He hasn’t shied away from the play and saw some penalty-kill time. Cooke was a physical presence all night and played a great game, the late penalty aside.

Mike Grier gave the Sharks a 2-0 lead with his first goal of the season. Marleau went to the front of the net and both Sydor and Goligoski checked him. Grier took a pass in the high slot and sent a backhander through the traffic in front of Sabourin. The Penguins goaltender dropped to his knees but didn't find the puck through the screen.

Michel Therrien put Fedotenko on the top line with Malkin and Crosby. Fedotenko was in the right place at the right time and cashed in on Pittsburgh's only goal. He went unchecked near the top of the crease when the puck squeezed through Crosby’s stick. Fedotenko snapped the puck off the post and into the net. The goal came on Pittsburgh’s second shot of the third period at 14:27.

Pittsburgh's first goal started in its own zone with a beautiful breakout play to penetrate the Sharks’ trap. Letang retrieved the puck behind the net and laid a drop pass to Goligoski. He tapped it up to Crosby, who made a cannon pass through two Sharks to Malkin. Malkin skated the puck into the zone and the Penguins eventually capitalized on the opportunity. 

The Penguins built on the momentum after the goal for the next few shifts with some cycle work. The Kennedy-Petr Sykora-Cooke line got after it, followed again by the top line. However, Pittsburgh still only registered one shot on goal after its first goal - a low-percentage shot from Kennedy when he was nearly behind the net.
> The game marked Pittsburgh’s first regulation loss on the road this season.

> Pittsburgh dropped to 5-3-2 on the year, with a 2-1-1 mark on the road.

> San Jose opened the scoring with a shorthanded goal by Joe Pavelski at 10:12 of the first period. Mike Grier increased the lead, 2-0, at 12:52 of the third period. Fedotenko got Pittsburgh on the board at 14:27 of the third period to ruin the shutout bid.

> Malkin recorded an assist in the game. He’s recorded a point in nine of Pittsburgh's 10 games this season. Malkin has a six-game scoring streak. During that time he’s compiled 12 points (2G-10A).

> Malkin currently ranks second in the league with 15 points (3G-12A) on the season. He trails Washington’s Alexander Semin (16) by one point.

> Sidney Crosby notched an assist in the game to extend his six-game scoring streak. He’s recorded 11 points (3G-8A) in those last six games.

> Ruslan Fedotenko notched his second goal of the season while skating with Malkin and Crosby. It’s his second goal in three games.

> The Penguins were outshot, 34-11, in the game. Pittsburgh’s 11 shots tied a franchise low. The Penguins registered three shots in the first, five in the second and three in the third period.
1.Joe Pavelski, SJ
2. Joe Thornton, SJ
3. Milan Michalek, SJ
"They were coming from everywhere,
shooting and crashing the net."
- Dany Sabourin on the Sharks
Recap (AP)
  Photo Gallery
  Game Highlights 
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