The Pittsburgh Penguins squeaked out a 2-1 shoot-out win against the San Jose Sharks last night in Mellon Arena. It capped a nice home stand with the Penguins getting six out of a possible eight points and not giving any points to Eastern Conference teams.
The first period was a lackluster period of hockey. The Sharks outshot and outchanced the Penguins in the frame. There were no penalties, no goals, and not much excitement.
The game turned into a faster-paced, North-South game in the second.
The Penguins managed a goal that came from hard work. An offensive zone turnover by the Sharks was turned up ice by Staal to Satan, who chipped the puck past a San Jose stick to Bill Thomas.
Thomas, working hard to control the bouncing puck, skated past the goal line and flipped the puck back toward the net. Staal, driving hard down the center of the ice, was the intended target, but the puck hit a defenseman's stick and caromed into the net.
The Penguins continued to get scoring chances, and had a power play, but were unable to score again.
The Penguins didn't sit back in the third, and the Sharks had to work hard to prevent the Pens from stifling their attack. The Sharks' third period goal was inevitable as Fleury gave up some juicy rebounds and the Pens lost focus in front of their net.
The last five minutes was exciting with a Penguins powerplay and a last minute flurry in front of Fleury as the Sharks tried to put the game away in regulation.
Again, the Penguins were unable to capitalize on the power play late in the third and again in overtime. They also gave up some short-handed chances.
Sidney Crosby finally tallied a shootout goal this season and it was enough to win as Fleury saved two decent attempts.
I would have to classify Fleury's performance as solid, but not brilliant. He made some good saves, but he continues to have rebound control problems. Some of his good saves were against shots from his rebounds.
The Penguins did have some nice scoring chances generated by good passing. However, too often the forward line ends up with all three players in the same place, digging for the puck and no outlet.
They still need to work on getting shots to the net that aren't easy for opposing goalies to handle. So many shots against Boucher (and Conklin, for that matter) were right into the logo and easily handled.
If the Penguins want a chance at the Stanley Cup again, they need to improve these areas greatly.
The Penguins have a nice schedule to look forward to in the next week. They have three games in eight days and face two teams below them in the standings.
Hopefully, they'll gain some momentum and a little rest before facing the Habs and then Philly and the Caps back-to-back.
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