The Pittsburgh Penguins needed a bigger boat. Tuesday night, the San Jose Sharks skated around them, beat them to loose pucks and otherwise maintained offensive pressure throughout. Joe Thornton played in his 1000th NHL game with the Sharks and scored the backbreaker early in the second period as San Jose beat the Penguins 5-2 at SAP Arena.
Tomas Hertl (17, 18, 19) had a hat trick and linemate Evander Kane had a pair of assists. The line dominated the Penguins.
“They brought their A game tonight,” said head coach Mike Sullivan.
In the middle of the first period, Kris Letang tried on his All-Star jersey early and undressed another All-Star, Erik Karlsson. Letang, who recently passed Paul Coffey as the Penguins all-time scorer among defensemen, did his best Coffey impersonation. Letang (11) raced end-to-end, then directly at and quickly around Karlsson before he roofed a backhand at full speed.
It was prettier than the chocolate fountain at Giardelli’s in nearby San Francisco. The goal stayed with Karlsson, much like a giant chocolate sundae as he smashed his stick on the crossbar after the first period.
However, after Letang scored San Jose dominated the remainder of the period. And then the remainder of the competitive game.
Just two minutes later, San Jose tied the game. Marcus Sorenson (9) deflected a point-shot from Karlsson.
“Give credit to them. They put their best game forward,” said Penguins goalie Matt Murray.
Two minutes after that, San Jose’s domination led to a second goal. Tomas Hertl bowled over Evgeni Malkin on the wall, then deked Penguins Jack Johnson who had lost his stick. Hertl (17) cut to the slot and picked the corner on Penguins goalie Matt Murray.
“We didn’t play well, obviously if you watched the game,” said Phil Kessel. “They outplayed us in every zone. They were hungrier than us and it wasn’t our night.’
After more continued San Jose offensive pressure, Thornton (10) snapped the puck from the slot which eluded Murray. The Penguins could only shake their heads. San Jose was the better team and not by a little. The Penguins ceded several two-on-one breaks which only added to the lopsided feel, even if the score remained within reach.
“We got outplayed in every area of the rink. We weren’t good enough,” said Sullivan. “I know we’re better than that.”
A few minutes into the third period, Hertl ended any remaining suspense. He deposited a rebound for a 4-1 Sharks lead. He later added the empty netter to complete the hat trick.
Derick Brassard (8) scored with two minutes remaining as the Penguins pulled their goalie. Murray lost for the first time in 10 games. The nine-game win streak was a personal best.
San Jose improved upon their NHL-best home record with their 17th win. The Penguins have trailed after two periods in each of the first three games of this west coast trip and are 1-2.
The Penguins managed only five scoring chances in the first period. Just four in the second period. Meanwhile, San Jose had 11 chances in the first and 15 chances in the second period. Neither team had more than a few chances in the third period.