The Pittsburgh Penguins entered the locker room up 2-0 after the first period of play on Thursday night, but during the next 40 minutes the San Jose Sharks exposed the Penguins’ biggest weakness – they just don’t match up with aggressive teams’ physically.
The final score might have only been 5-3, but the Sharks could have easily put seven or eight goals behind backup goaltender Jeff Zatkoff.
Throughout the second and third period, it was obvious the Penguins were struggling to handle the muck and grind type of offense that the Sharks were running to perfection. The Sharks just flat out beat up the Penguins and were winning the majority of the battles in the corners. The pace was furious, the crowd was intense and the Penguins are going to have to really improve defensively if they want to be a serious Stanley Cup threat this year.
This was also the worst game Sidney Crosby played all year.
The turning point of the game was when the Penguins were up 2-1 and had a four minute power play to work with. Crosby turned the puck over to Sharks forward Patrick Marleau who had a 1-on-1 the other way against Evgeni Malkin. Marleau made a great move to get around Malkin, but Crosby didn’t even attempt to backcheck and just sat back and watched the show. If Crosby would have hustled back, he easily would have caught Marleau and prevented any possibility of him getting the puck to the net.
Instead, Marleau’s backhand beat Zatkoff and just like that the game was tied.
Oh, did I mention that Crosby was on the ice for every single goal the Sharks scored? Because that’s pretty absurd.
Sharks captain Joe Thornton was asked at the end of the game what he thought was the turning point of the game.
“We just started hitting,” Thornton said. Yup, that about explains it.
The Penguins are going to have to find a way to forget about this one, and they better do so quickly. Their road trip doesn’t get any easier. Friday night they face the Anaheim Ducks, who currently have the best record in the Western Conference. Good news for Penguins fans is that Marc-Andre Fleury will be back in goal.