The San Jose Sharks simply unraveled in the third period of their first Stanley Cup Final rematch against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Sharks let slip a two-goal lead and gave up the winner on the power play with 5:58 to go as the Penguins roared back for a 3-2 victory at a raucous PPG Paints Arena on Thursday.
Patrick Hornqvist had the winner for Pittsburgh, as his shot went off Paul Martin’s skate and behind goalie Martin Jones after the Sharks defenseman’s clearing attempt went off Joel Ward’s skate. Marc-Edouard Vlasic was in the box for slashing with 7:06 to go in the third.
Tomas Hertl and Patrick Marleau scored for the Sharks, who fell to 2-2 on their five-game road trip.
“This league is really a race to three goals, that’s pretty much how it works, and we couldn’t get the third goal,” San Jose coach Peter DeBoer said. “Again, let them hang around, which is something we’ve done lately.”
The Penguins seized momentum in the early stages of the third period.
The Sharks were unable to make the Penguins pay for Evgeni Malkin taking a tripping penalty 4:10 into the third. Mikkel Boedker missing an open net on a backhand attempt with the man advantage that would have given the Sharks a 3-0 lead.
Instead, Malkin cut the Sharks’ lead to 2-1 with 13:13 to go in the third, and Scott Wilson tied the game with 10:59 left.
“We played right,” Malkin said. “We moved the puck quickly. We shot the puck. We did the right things. There were lucky goals, off the post, off the goalie. It’s not pretty, but it’s important goals.”
The Sharks dominated the first half of the game and Hertl gave them a 1-0 lead with 14:56 left in the second period.
Joe Pavelski took a long pass near the Penguins’ blue line from Brent Burns and fired a shot on net from a sharp angle that Marc-Andre Fleury, who had lost his stick, couldn’t control. Hertl followed up the play to score his second goal in as many games.
Burns now has at one point in each of the Sharks’ first five games and a team-high nine for the season.
The Sharks didn’t allow a Penguins shot on goal until there was 10:02 to go in the period. Still, minor penalties taken by Boedker and David Schlemko nearly derailed that momentum, as the Penguins appeared to tie the game with 6:41 left on the power play.
Penguins forward Phil Kessel hit the post on a shot from a sharp angle, and the rebound first went behind Jones. The puck then bounced up and a crashing Hornqvist knocked it in. But after a video review, officials determined that Hornqvist “batted the puck into the San Jose net with his hand.”
That proved to be a huge momentum shift, as Marleau scored his second of the season with 3:45 left in the second after a nifty give-and-go with Logan Couture. Marleau started the play by stripping Chris Kunitz of the puck just outside the Penguins’ blue line.
It was the Sharks’ first game inside the downtown Pittsburgh arena since winning Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final on June 9. The Sharks lost Game 6 to the Pens 3-1, concluding the longest playoff run in franchise history.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
BY THE NUMBERS
A statistical look at the Sharks’ 3-2 loss to the Penguins at PPG Arena:
0: Power-play goals in three attempts for the Sharks.
2: Points for the Penguins’ Evgeni Malkin and Patric Hornqvist (goal and assist each).
3: Goals by the Penguins in the the final 13 minutes.
5: Different players to score a goal in Thursday’s game.
8: Penalties enforced on both teams. The Sharks were guilty on five of them.
24: Minutes the Sharks led the game.
25: Minutes played by Penguins defenseman Trevor Daley, a game high.
32: Saves made by Penguins goalkeeper Marc-Andre Fleury, compared to 17 by the Sharks’ Martin Jones.
54: Total shots on goal in the game. The Penguins had 34.
59: Face-offs in the game. The Penguins won 31, led by Evgeni Malkin’s 11.
SOCIAL MEDIA REACTS
Compiled by Noel Harris