Penguins beat Sharks 3-2 in shootout
PITTSBURGH (AP) Short a defenseman on the bench the entire game and short a player on the ice throughout most of overtime, the Pittsburgh Penguins earned a victory in a shootout.
David Perron and Sidney Crosby had shootout goals, and Pittsburgh won its second home game in as many days, 3-2 over the San Jose Sharks on Sunday night.
With injuries and salary-cap issues forcing them to play with just five defensemen, the Penguins killed off the final 3:52 of overtime while short-handed - the result of Patric Hornqvist's high-sticking double-minor - to earn an important two points that allowed them to remain in a tie for second place in the Metropolitan Division.
''There's different turning points in the season that change your momentum both ways,'' Pittsburgh coach Mike Johnston said, ''and tonight could be a big turning point for our team.''
Perron and Crosby were the only shooters the Penguins needed during the shootout, as both beat Sharks backup goalie Alex Stalock to his stick side. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped San Jose's Melker Karlsson, and the Sharks' Logan Couture's shot struck the crossbar.
Hornqvist and Chris Kunitz had first-period goals for Pittsburgh, which had won just one of its previous seven before coming from behind to beat Arizona 3-2 Saturday.
Ben Smith and Logan Couture had second-period goals for San Jose, which wrapped up a seven-game, 12-day road trip with a 3-3-1 record.
Perron was not expected to play after missing Saturday's game because of an illness. But he reached out to Johnston in the afternoon after feeling ''a lot better'' Sunday and in recognizing the Penguins' fate (they were set to play with only 17 skaters).
Perron was set up by Crosby while wide open in the low left-wing circle as time expired in regulation, but he missed the net.
Ultimately, the Penguins got the win anyway, despite playing with only five defensemen. Christian Ehrhoff (upper-body) and Kris Letang (concussion) are out, and the team's salary cap situation doesn't allow for any reinforcements to be called up.
Letang was released from the hospital Sunday after taking a hit from Arizona's Shane Doan on Saturday.
''I really thought our whole defense corps really picked up their game,'' Johnston said.
The Sharks likewise were without a defenseman in Marc-Edouard Vlasic, who left a win in Philadelphia on Saturday with a lower-body injury.
San Jose managed five shots on goal in overtime, but could not beat Fleury. The Penguins' No. 2-ranked NHL penalty kill generally prevented prime scoring chances over a nearly four-minute span to close out play.
''They took a lot away, (but) we've got to find a way to score,'' Couture said. ''We have to. We know the importance of that game, and we had to score on that four-minute power play.''
Added Pittsburgh defenseman Ben Lovejoy: ''Our penalty-killers did an awesome job.''
The Penguins scored twice in a 56-second span, starting with Hornqvist's tally 7:08 into the game, off a feed from Daniel Winnik.
Taylor Fedun - recalled to replace Vlasic earlier in the day - took a hooking minor 33 seconds later. Pittsburgh needed just 23 seconds of power-play time for Kunitz to make it 2-0. Kunitz finished a crisp passing sequence from Derrick Pouliot and Crosby for his first goal since Feb. 25 and his second in his past 27 games.
Crosby, who has a modest three-game point streak, held on to the NHL's scoring lead with 79 points.
Smith scored for the second time in 13 games with the Sharks when he deftly deflected Justin Braun's shot from the point past Fleury at 6:44 of the second.
Couture tied it with 4:22 to play in the second, beating Fleury with a wrist shot to the short side while on a power play.
''We're going to leave feeling real disappointed that we left a real important point on the ice surface,'' Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. ''Moral victories don't get us anything, but in this case we're happy with the fight that we had in our group.''
NOTES: NBC Sports Network analyst Brian Engblom took a puck to his forehead during the final 2 minutes of the second period. Engblom, who was positioned between the benches at ice level, was stitched up and returned for the third period. ... Linesman Steve Barton left a game in Pittsburgh early for the second consecutive day, causing it to be finished with only one linesman. A day after being cut by an errant stick to the face, Barton left Sunday's game during the first period. ... Stalock started consecutive San Jose games for the first time in more than three months. No. 1 goalie Antti Niemi was ill. . Johnston said he anticipated the Penguins would play again Wednesday with only five defensemen.