PITTSBURGH (AP) – Evgeni Malkin, Scott Wilson and Patric Hornqvist scored during a furious third-period rally to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to 3-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Thursday night.
The Penguins trailed by two goals after two largely lifeless periods in a rematch of last June’s Stanley Cup Final before catching fire late. Hornqvist and Malkin both finished with a goal and an assist. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 32 shots and bought the Penguins time until the offense finally got going.
Tomas Hertl and Patrick Marleau scored for the Sharks, who controlled the first 40 minutes and appeared well on their way to a one-sided victory before falling apart late. Martin Jones made 17 saves but saw the play in front of him break down in the third.
The Penguins captured the franchise’s fourth Stanley Cup in an entertaining final last June, finishing off the Sharks in Game 6 in San Jose. If the Sharks wanted a glimpse at just how close they came to their first title, they need only look toward the rafters at PPG Paints Arena during warmups to get a look at the banner the Penguins raised last week.
San Jose insisted Thursday had nothing to do with revenge or any sense of payback. Last June is gone. For now the Sharks are still trying to find an identity even with nearly the same roster back for another run.
They’re off to a hot start and certainly looked fresh playing for the third time in four days on the road. Not so much Pittsburgh, which struggled to generate much of anything in a shutout loss in Montreal on Tuesday and did little to get to Jones during the first two periods on Thursday with captain Sidney Crosby (concussion) and defenseman Kris Letang (upper body) out of the lineup.
San Jose tilted the ice for long stretches, working extensively in the Pittsburgh zone while the Penguins went through several lengthy droughts in which they failed to put the puck anywhere near Jones.
The Sharks eventually took a 1-0 lead 5:04 into the second thanks to a strange sequence in which Fleury lost control of his stick when a shot from Burns smacked off the handle. The puck was briefly cleared but as Fleury tried to chase the stick down, the Sharks rushed back into the zone and Hertl eventually jammed a rebound off a shot by Joe Pavelski past the stickless goaltender.
San Jose’s lead doubled shortly after Hornqvist’s goal was overturned, stripping Chris Kunitz to create a 2-on-1 that ended with him taking a pass from Logan Couture and burying it by Fleury with 3:45 left in the second.
Things changed quickly. Malkin’s second of the year – a shot from in between the circles 6:47 into the third got Pittsburgh started. Wilson tied it 2:15 later when he collected the puck from the corner and darted to the net before slipping a backhand by Jones.
Hornqvist completed the comeback 14:02 into the third by slamming a rebound by Jones on the power play to give the Penguins an unlikely lead.
NOTES: Pittsburgh played the third period with just four defensemen after Olli Maatta and Derrick Pouliot left with injuries. … Crosby did not skate Thursday, a scheduled day off. … The Penguins also scratched Conor Sheary (eye). … San Jose scratched Fs Michael Haley and Ryan Carpenter and D Dylan Demelo. … The Penguins went 1 for 5 on the power play. The Sharks were 0 for 3.
Sharks: wrap up a five-game road trip Saturday at Detroit.
Penguins: visit Nashville on Saturday.
(© Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)