The Penguins pulled off an incredible victory over the best team in the National Hockey League. San Jose entered the game with the league’s best winning percentage and lost the fewest games in regulation in the NHL. Still, Pittsburgh matched the Sharks level of play and prevailed in the end for a much-needed two points.
“I think we’ve just seen when you’re playing teams like that everyone probably raises their level a little bit,” Sidney Crosby
said. “It’s a measuring stick for us when we’re playing some top teams like that. It probably brings out the best in a lot of guys but we’ve got to find a way to maintain that level no matter who we play against and make sure we rise to that every time we step out onto the ice. Like I said before, it’s playoff time for us and we have to play with that mentality every game.”
“You play the best team in the league and that was a crucial game for us,” head coach Michel Therrien said. “That was two great hockey teams we just played back-to-back: Detroit and San Jose. Tonight we kept our focus. It was a good team effort. That’s what I liked about it. Guys really battled hard, and even when they score that goal to tie the game in the third period we never quit and I thought we even upgraded our intensity after that goal. That was a great game from everyone.”Hometown Advantage
Bill Thomas scored his first goal as a member of his hometown Penguins. Thomas took a pass from Miroslav Satan but couldn’t control the puck as he was skating towards the Sharks’ crease. Thomas settled the puck down near the goal line and attempted a centering pass. The puck deflected off of San Jose defenseman Rob Blake’s stick and through the legs of goaltender Brian Boucher.
“I tried banking it in,” Thomas said. “I knew (Jordan) Staal was up in the play too. I didn’t know exactly where, but I knew Miro gave it to me and I knew the defenseman had passed by. I had him beat so I thought maybe I had a two-on-one there so I got a little deep. I tried to handle the puck. I tried to get it back to Staal and I got fortunate it hit the guy’s stick and caught the goalie off guard.”
Thomas’ goal was crucial in the Penguins’ victory. He netted the score with only 1:34 left in the second period and enabled Pittsburgh to get to the shootout - eventually pulling off a confidence-boosting triumph.
“It went in and it was at home so everyone was happy,” Thomas said. “That’s all that matters, big win, huge win. That was a big goal I think. It was 0-0 right before the second period there I think it just kind of went in and hopefully gave the team momentum to go out for the third.”
Unfortunately for Thomas, his parents were not at Mellon Arena to witness the goal.
“I’m sure they were watching at home,” Thomas said. “It’s not a big deal. I don’t expect them to be at every game. If they want to come, they can always come. They can always watch on TV. I’m sure they were watching. My mom bought a TV so she could watch it.”The Wall
We’re trying to get a little consistency going, get a little momentum for us with some wins and climb that standing. Like I said, they are one of the best teams and we beat them so this was good. I’m happy tonight but I’m ready for the next game and get a win again. - Marc-Andre Fleury
The Penguins were able to get to a shootout thanks to the stellar play in goal by Marc-Andre Fleury
. The Pittsburgh netminder turned aside 36 shots, including 15 in the first period and kept the team in the game.
“I think both sides, there were a lot of shots tonight so that was an exciting thing for the goalies,” Fleury said. “It’s just easier to get into the game when you see pucks at the beginning and just feel it and get your focus a little easier. So it was good to have some pucks.”Shootout ConnectionSidney Crosby
gave the Penguins the lead in the shootout after connecting on his first score in a shootout this season. Crosby skated towards the net with a lot of speed. He deked the puck and then sent a wrist shot through Boucher’s five-hole.
“I pretty much decided I was going to go (five-hole) unless he really surprised me when he came out,” Crosby said. “I just watched the first couple and I thought there was some space there.”Shootout Connection II
Crosby's goal gave the Penguins the edge in the shootout. San Jose still had a chance to tie it with their final shooter – Dan Boyle. The gifted defenseman stick-handled the puck and caught Penguins netminder Marc-Andre Fleury
leaning. Boyle went to his forehand and appeared to have all net but Fleury did a split and got his toe on the puck to clinch the victory for Pittsburgh.
“I was a little nervous because I knew if I save it, we win,” Fleury said. “So I was a little nervous but I knew he has a good shot. I’ve seen him score a couple of goals high so I was kind of waiting for that and when he move across I was kind of – oh. But I just got the pads on it.”Rising Tide
Now that the Penguins have pulled off the dramatic victory, the team wants to concentrate on building on that momentum.
“We’re trying to get a little consistency going, get a little momentum for us with some wins and climb that standing,” Fleury said. “Like I said, they are one of the best teams and we beat them so this was good. I’m happy tonight but I’m ready for the next game and get a win again.”