Seven minutes into the game, it only took 56 seconds for the Pittsburgh Penguins to go from a scoreless game to a 2-0 lead. First it was Patric Hornqvist from right in front of the net after some nice work by Daniel Winnik to help get the puck there. Then, on a power play, Derrick Pouliot made a great cross-rink pass to Sidney Crosby who made another quick pass of his own to Chris Kunitz. Kunitz one-timed home his first goal in the last 16 games to make it 2-0.
The under-manned Pens who only skated 5 defensemen and got a boost from David Perron gutting out playing sick to get to that position, and they had to cling to it as the San Jose Sharks made their push back. SJ would strike twice in the second period to tie the game, first with Ben Smith tipping in a shot and then Logan Couture scoring on a power play for the Sharks.
Like that the two teams traded chances and opportunities but couldn't put another goal in. It would go to the shootout where Perron and Crosby scored for Pittsburgh and Marc-Andre Fleury kept the puck out of the net for the Pens to earn the extra point.
A few more thoughts on the game:
- It was an important 2 points for the Pens too. The Islanders and Capitals both were victors today, so the Pens needed to keep up the pace. Pittsburgh now has 95 points on the season, and traditionally that's about the cutoff point in the East to guarantee a playoff berth. Though one is not officially clinched yet.
- And, maybe it's coincidence, but nice for the Pens to go 2-0 since coach Mike Johnston's mother passed away. The coach will go home to Canada tomorrow to put her to rest, and at least he can take a little comfort in dealing with his personal life knowing the team is in better position coming out of this weekend than they were coming into it.
- Winnik and Rob Scuderi were PK beasts- both playing 7:21 short-handed. The team was a man down for 10:31 total. Scuderi also logged a total of 25 minutes, and for as much as we rag on him, he played pretty well this weekend, when the team was without Kris Letang and down to just 5 defensemen for much of the time.
- Ditto Ben Lovejoy, who is starting to look more comfortable as his second stint with the team continues. Lovejoy logged a team high 27:44.
- The trials of Beau Bennett continued, he looked bad on the Pens first goal against and only played 1:51 in the third period, none in an OT (that the Pens were mostly short-handed in) and only 6:57 overall. If the Pens need to scratch a forward, would it be him?
- Maxim Lapierre doesn't usually contribute very much, but on this night he won 13 out of 14 (93%) in the faceoff circle. That's definitely a one-night aberration but impressive none the less. It seems like Lapierre's performance has been getting a little better as we near playoffs, let's hope that can continue too.
- Every Penguins (except Paul Martin) registered a shot on goal. Hornqvist had 6 (and 8 total attempts) and almost all of them, seemingly, from right in front of the net. Great to see him back and playing in the tough areas this time of year.
The Pens escape the weekend with 2 wins and get a couple days off now to rest and recoup for the April push to the playoffs.