Thornton breaks tie as Sharks rally past Penguins
Joe Thornton scored the tiebreaking goal with 5:39 left in regulation to help the San Jose Sharks overcome a two-goal deficit to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-3 on Thursday night.
Justin Braun started the comeback with a goal late in the second and Patrick Marleau and Brent Burns scored tying goals earlier in the third for the Sharks, who have 10 wins and one tie in their last 11 home games against Pittsburgh. Burns added an empty-net goal and Antti Niemi made 19 saves for San Jose.
Olli Maatta scored two goals and Chris Kunitz also scored for the Penguins, who last won at the Shark Tank on Oct. 22, 1997. Jeff Zatkoff made 42 saves in his first appearance since beating Los Angeles on Jan. 30.
But Zatkoff would probably like another chance to stop the goal scored by Thornton. On what looked like an innocent play, Thornton flipped a shot from the blue line that fooled Zatkoff and went in over his shoulder. It gave the Sharks just their third win all season when trailing after two periods.
The goal capped a wild third period that featured the Sharks tying the game with a short-handed goal, falling back behind and then tying the game again all in a span of 1:34.
The scoring spree started after Matt Nieto was given a double-minor for high-sticking Simon Despres. The Sharks killed off the first penalty and then tied the game at 2 on a spectacular goal from Marleau, who took a pass from Jason Demers, faked out Evgeni Malkin and then beat Zatkoff with a backhand.
The Penguins went back ahead 21 seconds later with their second power-play goal of the game when Brandon Sutter set up Maatta for his first-career two-goal game.
That lead was also short-lived when Burns took a pass in the slot from Joe Pavelski 1:13 later and beat Zatkoff with his second goal in as many games after a 19-game scoring drought.
Trailing 2-0, the Sharks took over control of the play in the final half of the second period thanks to some hard hits dished out by Raffi Torres, Jason Demers and Brent Burns.
That energy translated into a goal when Tommy Wingels prevented Zatkoff from freezing a puck to set up Braun’s point shot through a screen by Adam Burish. The goal ended an 18-game drought by San Jose’s defensemen since Dan Boyle scored against Detroit on Jan. 9.
The Penguins got some reinforcements from deals made before Wednesday’s trade deadline with forward Lee Stempniak and center Marcel Goc making their debuts for Pittsburgh after arriving in town shortly after the morning skate.
The game got off to a fast-paced start with no stoppage in the first 5-plus minutes. The Sharks threatened on a power-play midway through the period before the Penguins got goals from Maatta and Kunitz in the final 5 minutes to take the 2-0 lead. That was San Jose’s biggest deficit after the first period all season.
NOTES: Goc had an assist on the first goal. … Pittsburgh star Sidney Crosby has not scored a goal in six career games against San Jose. The only other teams he has failed to score against are St. Louis (seven games) and Chicago (three games). … Olympic figure skater Polina Edmunds, who trains at the Sharks’ practice facility, dropped the ceremonial first puck.