PITTSBURGH (Ticker) — The Pittsburgh Penguins still were unable
to generate much offense. But they turned to two of their
linchpins to emerge victorious on Wednesday.
Captain Sidney Crosby scored the lone goal of the shootout and
Marc-Andre Fleury made 36 saves as the Penguins posted a 2-1
triumph over the Western Conference-leading San Jose Sharks.
Pittsburgh native Bill Thomas tallied in regulation for the
Penguins, who completed a 3-1-0 homestand.
“We had a tough time on the road, so we wanted to do good at
home,” Fleury said. “To be able to get those points tonight
against a very good team was big for us. … We forechecked
well, but we also made good decisions with the puck. And we got
a lot of shots tonight, which was good.”
“We just have to build on this game and make sure that we carry
it on for the next two games on the road,” Pittsburgh coach
Michel Therrien added.
Joe Pavelski scored and Brian Boucher turned aside 35 shots for
San Jose, which is 1-0-2 on its five-game road trip.
“Coming back and getting a point makes everyone feel a bit
better,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. “It was a tough night
for us – an emotional win from last night (in Boston), the
travel. I’m not sure we had our gas tanks where we needed them
to be. We found a way to at least get a point, which we will
take with us to Buffalo (on Friday) and regroup.”
After being shut out at home by the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday,
the Penguins still could not get their offense in gear in this
one, managing just one goal – which came on a fortunate carom.
Following a scoreless first period, Thomas chased down a loose
puck below the end line on the right side of the net and threw
it toward the crease. The puck bounced off the stick of
defenseman Rob Blake and past Boucher with 94 seconds remaining
in the second session, giving Pittsburgh a 1-0 edge.
“I obviously got a lucky bounce, but I think we did our job,”
Thomas said. “It was just a great play by everyone else.
(Jordan) Staal, 100 assists now, that’s pretty impressive. And
Miro (Satan) made a great play. They both made a great play
defensively to get the puck out so we could get up the ice.”
“Kind of a fluky play,” Boucher said. “That’s what you do,
though. You’ve got to throw the puck to the net. You never
know what’s going to happen. In that case, (Blake) is trying to
do the right thing and it just happens to ricochet off of him
and in through my legs.”
Staal’s assist on the play was the 100th of his career. The
goal was Thomas’ first since April 8, 2007.
“It’s been a while,” he said. “It’s been a long while. I can
remember the last one, though. Last year, I didn’t have any,
and this year, it was looking like that, too. You just keep
working hard and try to get the puck to the net, and I got a
lucky bounce tonight.”
The first overall pick in the 2003 draft, Fleury maintained the
slim lead until midway through the third, when a bouncing puck
found Pavelski on the doorstep for an easy goal at 11:07 for his
14th goal of the season.
“A great play by Milan (Michalek), who got it over to me, and I
had an empty net,” Pavelski said.
Neither team was able to end the game in overtime, and both
Fleury and Boucher were stingy in the first two rounds of the
shootout. But on the Penguins’ third attempt, Crosby – who was
drafted first overall in 2005 – wristed the puck between the
pads of Boucher, giving his club the advantage.
“I just tried to give him a different move,” Crosby said. “Just
from watching him the first couple times, I thought there was
some room in the five-hole.”
Prior to the goal, Boucher made saves on Petr Sykora and
All-Star Evgeni Malkin – no small feat in his mind.
“Sykora is a good player in his own right. I mean, he’s (won)
Stanley Cups, he’s scored big goals in his career,” Boucher
said. “You’re going to have three of the most talented players
on the opposing team coming at you, so you’ve got to try to stay
patient, be big and try to make a few saves. Unfortunately, I
couldn’t make the one on Crosby.”
Sharks All-Star Dan Boyle nearly forced a fourth round, but
Fleury stretched out his right leg to deny the defenseman’s
backhand attempt, clinching the win.
“We just played the best team in the league,” Therrien said.
“That was a crucial game for us. … Even though the result last
game wasn’t there, after breaking down the game against Detroit,
I thought we deserved better. Tonight, we kept our focus and it
was a good team effort.”
On San Jose’s previous shootout chance, Fleury stopped Pavelski,
who provided a humorous moment afterward.
“I think he missed his shot,” Fleury said. “I’m not sure, but
he sweared when he skated by, so I’ll take it.”
“There’s only three shooters that get to go out. You want to
score,” Pavelski said. “It’s not fun being on the losing end.”