San Jose topped Pittsburgh 2-1 via the shootout on Sunday afternoon, winning their second consecutive game on their current eight-game road trip. Evgeni Nabokov led the way by stopping 20 of 21 shots and Jonathan Cheechoo scored the Sharks lone regulation goal. In the shootout, the Sharks went a perfect three for three to seal the victory.
The Penguins were without Sidney Crosby, but were still very dangerous with the likes of Evgeni Malkin.
The game had an unusual delay as the Zamboni, while laying a fresh sheet of ice before the game, dropped fluid all over the playing surface and it had to be cleaned up. The delay was almost 20 minutes long.
San Jose would go without Kyle McLaren on the afternoon as he was resting after playing four games in five nights coming off a return from knee surgery. Tomas Plihal was place on the injured reserve list with a respiratory infection. Ty Conklin was in the opposite net of San Jose’s Nabokov.
Offensive action was limited in the first 15 minutes of the opening period as the game was scoreless and there was just one power play between the teams. Pittsburgh didn’t even record their first even-strength shot until the 14 minute mark.
San Jose just missed on a Cheechoo power play shot late in the first and Pittsburgh came close to scoring in the final 35 seconds, but the opening 20 minutes would finish scoreless.
The host Penguins had their first power play opportunity of the game early in the second period, but never really threatened thanks to the Sharks penalty killers.
A later Sharks penalty gave Pittsburgh another shot while up a man, but Nabokov got the good result after hearing a puck clang off the post and the goose eggs remained on the board. San Jose had their own power play chances, but could not convert in the middle period.
San Jose was outshooting Pittsburgh 21-14 after two periods, but neither squad had solved the opposing netminder and the score was 0-0.
Three minutes into the third, San Jose finally cracked Conklin and not surprisingly, it was Jonathan Cheechoo continuing his red hot play. Taking a Joe Thornton
pass, Cheechoo skated down the wing with a blueliner draped on him. San Jose’s first line right wing forced himself inside the defender and pulled the puck to the inside post.
With a little more than 10 minutes left, the Sharks were in control of the contest, but the lead did not last long. A Jody Shelley penalty put Pittsburgh on the power play and they converted as they have for ten consecutive games. A deceptive pass from Sergei Gonchar at the point found Erik Christensen down low and he slammed home the power play goal to tie things at one.
Thing looked a bit shaky for San Jose when Cheechoo was sent to the penalty box, putting the Pens dangerous power play back on the ice. However, excellent work by Torrey Mitchell
forced Malkin into a penalty and the Sharks would have a minute of power play time with less than two minutes left in regulation.
Pittsburgh held San Jose at bay on the late power play and the game went to overtime, but nothing was settled there and the shootout would be used to decide things.
In the shootout the Sharks excelled, scoring on all three attempts by Joe Pavelski
, Cheechoo and Jeremy Roenick and finished off the 2-1 victory.
The Sharks will bus to Columbus following their contest in Pittsburgh, about a three hour trip.
The Sharks will visit Columbus on Wednesday and the 4 p.m. PST game will be aired on FSN Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.