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Pens/Sharks Recap: Penguins overwhelmed by Sharks, lose 5-2

Pens get early lead but Sharks respond with four unanswered goals to skate away with a 5-2 victory on Tuesday night. First time the Penguins have lost consecutive games since December 1st.

Pittsburgh Penguins v San Jose Sharks Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images


Same lineup for the Penguins as Saturday night in Los Angeles. Only change is in between the pipes with Matt Murray getting the start. Patric Hornqvist and Zach Aston-Reese remain out of the lineup.

Tonight marks the first time the Penguins get a look at Erik Karlsson in a Sharks uniform after his trade in the offseason. Joe Thornton playing in his 1,000th game with the Sharks. Martin Jones get the start between the pipes.

First Period

Just 90 seconds into the game, a breakdown on the blue line by the Penguins leaves Evander Kane wide open for a short breakaway and he beats Murray glove side but the puck rings off the post and stays out.

Five minutes through the opening period and Kane’s chance remains the best scoring opportunity of the game. Each goalie has been called upon in the early going to keep the game scoreless.

Lots a skill up and down both of these lineups and it was showing on the ice midway through the opening period of play. Both sides were playing an up tempo style with action at both ends of the ice.

In a game filled with great defenseman, Letang is the first to make his mark on the contest with a brilliant backhand goal over the glove of Jones to break the deadlock at 10:17 of the first period.

Letang received the puck in his own zone and calmly skated through the Sharks defense and roofed a gorgeous backhander past Jones for a 1-0 Pens lead.

After being undressed by Kris Letang on the opening goal, Erik Karlsson made some amends less than two minutes later. A nice keep in a the blue line by Brenden Dillon ends up on the stick of Karlsson who throws it on net where it was deflected past Matt Murray by Marcus Sorensen to bring the game level once again.

Going behind 1-0 was the wake up call the Sharks needed because shortly after Sorensen’s tying goal they took their first lead of the night off a great individual effort by Tomas Hertl.

A mess of players went down behind the Penguins net, allowing Hertl to gain possession of the puck and go to work. Brushing off a check attempt from Evgeni Malkin, Hertl stickhandled to the middle of the ice and roofed a shot over a screened Murray to push the Sharks in front 2-1 at 14:05 of the opening period.

In front for the first time, the Sharks continued to swarm in the Penguins zone looking to extend their new found lead. Luckily for the Pens, Matt Murray was up to the task but the relentless pressure eventually led to Jake Guentzel being sent to the penalty box for hooking.

The Sharks were unable to capitalize on the man advantage before the horn sounded to the end the first period of play but they had 30 seconds of carry over time and the 2-1 lead after 20 minutes of play.

Second Period

The Pens successfully killed off the remaining 30 seconds of penalty time to open the period and continued their perfect penalty kill rate on this road trip. More importantly, they were able to keep the red hot Shark power play off the board and keep the deficit at just one.

Gaining momentum off the penalty kill, the Penguins began to cycle in the Sharks zone but Martin Jones closed the door and kept the Sharks in the lead despite a few good looks from the Penguins forwards.

We saw the good side of Kris Letang in the first period but the bad side made a brief appearance early in the second. With the Sharks creating pressure, Letang tried to exit the zone but instead turned the puck over to Timo Meier in the slot who rang a shot off the post behind Murray.

Although they dodged a bullet on the Letang turnover, the Penguins were not quite as lucky the next time the Sharks went on the offensive. Sidney Crosby prevented a goal but committed a penalty in the process and on the delayed penalty call, Joe Thornton floated a shot past Murray to give the home side a 3-1 early in the second period.

In complete control of the game, the Sharks continued to ramp up the pressure but could not find a fourth goal to keep building their lead as the second period moved along.

Kris Letang came within inches of cutting the deficit in half and notching his second goal of the game near the midway point of the period. Bryan Rust rushed up ice with Sidney Crosby who delivered a beautiful drop pass for a streaking Letang. Jones was able to get just enough on the Letang shot to slow it down and send it off the post and wide.

Just over five minutes remaining in the second period the Penguins get their first shot on the man advantage looking to close the deficit before heading to the locker room. Good news for the Pens is they did not allow a shorthanded goal with the man advantage. Bad news? They didn’t really test Jones at any point and the Sharks easily killed the penalty.

After the successful penalty kill, the Sharks created a 3-on-1 going the other way but Matt Murray came up with an incredible save on Joonas Donskoi to keep the deficit at 3-1 late in the second period.

In the waning seconds of the period, Jack Johnson is caught flat footed and forced to take a tripping penalty, sending the Sharks to the power play for the second time on the night. With just 33 seconds to work with, the Sharks were unable to capitalize and went into the second intermission leading 3-1 with a chunk of power play time waiting for them in the third.

Third Period

Pens opened the third period by killing the remaining time on the Jack Johnson penalty and returned to even strength with no damage done. Even after the penalty expired the Sharks had a few prime chances in close but Murray denied them all.

Two minutes into the third period the Sharks extended their lead to 4-1 as Tomas Hertl scored his second goal of the night. A shot came off Murray and Hertl was able to sneak the rebound through the five hole before Murray could close the door.

Midway through the final period of play the Penguins went back to the power play for the second time when Joe Thornton was nailed for hooking Riley Sheahan. Derick Brassard rang a shot off the iron at one end then Matt Murray made a great save on Evander Kane at the other to prevent yet another shorthanded goal against. Eventually the Sharks killed off all of the Thornton penalty with no damage done.

With Murray out of the net for an extra attacker, Derick Brassard was able to pull the Pens within 4-2 with 1:50 remaining on the clock.

Down two, Murray remained on the bench and Tomas Hertl was able to complete the hat trick into the yawning cage and restore the three goal lead.

Mercifully, the final horn sounded to put the Penguins out of their misery as they fell to the Sharks 5-2 in San Jose. Penguins have another two-day break before a back-to-back set with the Coyotes and Golden Knights beginning Friday night in Arizona.

Postgame Thoughts

  • Don’t let the score fool you, Matt Murray was exceptional even though he lost his nine game win streak. Murray was the only reason the Sharks didn’t have three or four more on the board.
  • For as good as Murray was, Martin Jones was just a little better.
  • Other than the top line, the Penguins had no way of going toe-to-toe with what the Sharks were putting on the ice.
  • The absence of Patric Hornqvist and Zach Aston-Reese looms large if the Penguins depth doesn’t step up on a regular basis.
  • Jack Johnson was Jack Johnson. In other words, it was another ugly outing.
  • This is the first time the Penguins have lost consecutive games since December 1st.
  • Penguins penalty kill remains on top of their game. Two kills against the Sharks moves them to 7-for-7 on this road trip.
  • Give credit where it is due, the Sharks are an incredible hockey team playing at the top of their game. They look primed to make noise come spring.
  • Sweeping the back-to-back this coming weekend won’t be an easy task, but they need to walk away with at least one win to limit the damage in the standings.