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Sputtering Penguins Take a Bite Out of Sharks, 6-3



The Pittsburgh Penguins knew that San Jose is anchored at the bottom of the NHL standings.

That the Sharks own the leakiest team defense in the league, allowing an average of nearly four goals per game, and that they’d be dressing just five defensemen.

And, oh yeah, that in their only previous meeting this season, the Penguins had piled up 10 goals in a 10-2 victory at SAP Center Nov. 4.

That might explain why they seemed to feel there was really no need to show up for their rematch with the Sharks Thursday night at PPG Paints Arena. Not for much of the opening period, anyway.

They had some lapses during the second period, too, but ultimately got in front to stay early in the third en route to a 6-3 victory.

It was just the Penguins’ second win in their past nine games (2-6-1) and raised their record to 29-27-9.

They broke a 3-3 tie in the third on the strength of an offensive burst from an unlikely duo: The No. 3 defense pairing of John Ludvig and P.O Joseph, who began the evening with a combined of one goal and three assists in 60 man-games this season.

Ludvig put the Penguins in front at 2:38, taking a cross-ice feed from Joseph and beating Sharks goalie Magnus Chrona with a wrist shot from the left point for his second of the season.

Two minutes later, Joseph’s shot from the center point was deflected in by Penguins winger Rickard Rakell to give the Penguins the first multiple-goal lead for either side.

San Jose was credited with the first five shots of the game — a total subsequently reduced to four — and the Penguins didn’t record one until 7:07 of the first period, and that was pretty much an accident.

Per the official play-by-play sheet, it was a 162-footer from Marcus Pettersson that appeared to be a clearing attempt that just happened to find its way to Chrona.

The Penguins were awarded a power play 59 seconds later, when San Jose winger Filip Zadina picked up a hooking minor.

The best scoring chance during the two minutes that followed belonged to the Sharks, as Penguins alum Mikael Granlund hit the left post during a 2-on-1 break.

Despite their wretched start, the Penguins took a 1-0 lead at 10:28, as Noel Acciari deflected a Karlsson shot past Chrona for his fourth of the season and first in 22 games. Drew O’Connor got the second assist.

Fabian Zetterlund countered for the Sharks at 14:31, punching in a rebound from the left side of the crease before Karlsson could impede him.

The Penguins failed on their second try with the extra man, after former Penguins prospect Calen Addison was sent off for hooking at 16:17, and San Jose grabbed the lead courtesy of a lucky bounce with 58.6 seconds to go before the intermission.

Defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic scored it when he threw the puck toward the front of the net from below the goal line in the left corner. The puck glanced off Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry and struck Pettersson’s leg before settling into the net.

The Penguins kept the play in San Jose’s end for the first 1:50 of a two-minute 4-on-4 early in the second period, and Jeff Carter pulled the Penguins even at 4:11 with his ninth of the season.

He was set up at the left side of the crease by a deft backhand feed by Emil Bemstrom, who was on the far side of the net.

Evgeni Malkin put the Penguins back in front at 11:34, beating Chrona from near the right post for his 19th. O’Connor and Lars Eller got the assists.

San Jose appeared to tie the game again at 17:10, when Alexander Barabanov deflected a Granlund shot out of the air and into the net, but the goal immediately was waved off because Barabanov’s stick was above the crossbar when he made contact.

That didn’t faze the Sharks, though, and Klim Kostin made it 3-3 at 18:42 by throwing an uncontested shot past Jarry from below the right hash.

After the goals by Ludvig and Rakell early in the third, Bryan Rust closed out the scoring with an empty-net goal at 18:04.

The Pittsburgh Penguins are scheduled to practice Friday at noon at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex.