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Sharks Defeat Upstart Penguins, Win 3-2

by Staff Writer / San Jose Sharks
The San Jose Sharks hosted the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night in a marquee match up between two of the League’s youngest and most exciting teams. Starting in goal for the Sharks was Vesa Toskala while Marc-Andre Fleury manned the nets for Pittsburgh.
 
The two teams clashed early as Jonathan Cheechoo, skating on a line with Marcel Goc and Patrick Rissmiller, was given a five-minute major for boarding and a game misconduct for a hit on Penguins defenseman Mark Eaton just 63 seconds into the game. Cheechoo was in on the forecheck and initiated contact with Eaton as the two lost their balance and slammed hard into the end boards.
 
Pittsburg forward Sidney Crosby rushed into the pile and cross-checked Cheechoo in the back and drove his head into the ice, earning a two-minute roughing penalty. The play resulted in a four-on-four for two minutes with a three-minute power play set to begin once Crosby’s penalty expired.
 
On the ensuing three-minute, man advantage, Mike Grier took a high-stick in the face, effective killing the remaining Pittsburgh power play. As the teams returned to four-on-four hockey, Steve Bernier was whistled for a hook as the parade to the penalty box continued for each team.
 
The Sharks killed the brief Pittsburgh four-on-three and the two teams returned briefly to even strength. After returning to five-on-five hockey for the first time since the opening minute of the game, the Sharks established their forecheck and setup in the Pittsburgh zone.
 
Joe Thornton got to the edge of the Penguins crease as Mike Grier sent a shot towards the net. Thornton jabbed at the puck, but Fleury was able to cover the puck before the Sharks center could gain possession. After the play, Thornton took several cross-checks and slashes and the two teams again came together resulting in more penalties. The Penguins and Sharks would again return to four-on-four play.
 
The display of speed and skill by both teams resulted in a barrage of penalties as four-on-four hockey digressed into four-on-three hockey, then eventually into three-on-three hockey.
 
Each team would have a goal disallowed on the period with Pittsburgh’s apparent goal coming after the whistle was blown and with San Jose’s apparent goal disallowed because of goaltender interference. The event filled first period ended in a scoreless tie with the Penguins going 0-for-5 on the power play and the Sharks failing to convert on their lone chance.
 
After killing off the remainder of Pittsburgh’s power play, the Sharks made the first scoring move of the game. On a three on two rush, Thornton unleashed a bomb that Fleury stopped, but could not control. Using his long reach, Kyle McLaren tapped it behind Fleury for the 1-0 lead. It marked the first time in his career that McLaren had posted goals in back-to-back contests.
 
The lead would last just five minutes before Pittsburgh retaliated. Picking up a loose puck in the neutral zone, Michel Ouellet skated in on a two-on-one and rang it in off the far post on Toskala.
 
San Jose returned fire even quicker with a Carle tally. While on the man-advantage, he Calder Candidate took a pass for Milan Michalek and one-timed it behind Fleury.
 
Team Teal would take the 2-1 lead to the second intermission.
 
San Jose wasted little time adding on to their lead, when Mike Grier scored 33 seconds into the final period. Joe Thornton and Kyle McLaren contributed assists on the play.
 
Pittsburg answered back with a third period goal of their own with 18:15 left in the third when Dominic more somehow beat Toskala with a perfect shot on a difficult angle in close.
 
The ice opened up with four-on-four play with 13:35 left in the third when Jarkko Ruutu and Clowe received matching minors, but neither club could take advantage. With 3:23 left in the third, Malkin, who had scored in every game of his six-game NHL career was up close and personal with Toskala, but could not beat the Finnish netminder.
 
The Sharks held on as Pittsburgh pulled their goaltender, but were unable to tie the game late as the Sharks defeated the Penguins 3-2 in their only meeting of the season.
 
LINEUP
Michalek – Thornton – Grier
Bell – Marleau – Bernier
Rissmiller – Goc – Cheechoo
Nieminen – Smith – Clowe
 
McLaren – Carle
Vlasic – Hannan
Gorges – Ehrhoff
 
Toskala – Nabokov
 
NEXT GAME
The Sharks conclude their brief three-game home stand on Tuesday, hosting the Minnesota Wild for the second and final time this season at HP Pavilion. Game time is set for 7:30 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on FSN Bay Area, KFOX 98.5 FM, Sharks Radio Network Affiliates and SJSHARKS.com.
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