Penguins pull away as Sharks lose again without Thornton

Paul Gackle, The Mercury News on

Published in Hockey

PITTSBURGH -- A pair of careless turnovers spoiled a gutsy effort by the Sharks as the team searches for an identity without Joe Thornton.

Martin Jones and Brent Burns handed Evgeni Malkin and the Pittsburgh Penguins a pair of easy goals as the Sharks fell to 0-2 without Thornton Tuesday, dropping a 5-2 decision in Pittsburgh.

Jones set up the game-winning goal at 6:01 of the third, putting the puck on Patric Hornqvist's stick with a pass from below the goal line, allowing Malkin to score his second of the game into a wide-open net.

The Penguins (28-21-3) tied the game 2-2 in similar fashion with 4.1 seconds left in the second after Burns committed a similar turnover. The Sharks defenseman passed the puck over to Phil Kessel as he was retrieving it from below the goal line, setting up an easy goal for Malkin, who was left alone in the slot.

Malkin completed the hat trick with 1:13 left in the third, scoring into an empty net.

Other than the turnover on the game winner, Jones put together a decent showing in his first start since Jan. 18. The Sharks goalie made 27 saves on 31 shots after missing four games with a lower-body injury.


But Penguins goalie Matt Murray's performance in his first start since Jan. 7 was even better. Murray made 40 saves as the Sharks (26-16-7) produced 42 shots without Thornton, who suffered a right-knee injury last week.

Murray had missed seven consecutive games to be with his family after the passing of his father.

The Sharks took a 2-1 lead in the second by scoring a pair of power play goals. Brent Burns recorded the Sharks first goal, blasting a shot from the point into the top shelf at the 10-minute mark. Joonas Donskoi and Mikkel Boedker earned assists on the play.

Logan Couture put the Sharks ahead at 18:35, squeaking a one timer past Murray after an across-the-slot pass from Joe Pavelski trickled toward him in the lower-right circle. Tomas Hertl also picked up an assist on Couture's team-leading 21st goal.


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