Western Conference teams benefit from playoff format - 03-31-15

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

In 2013, the NHL adopted a new playoff format in which the top three teams of each division qualify for the postseason while two wild card teams, regardless of division, also qualify.

Officially, the NHL has said this change from the old 1-through-8 format was made to stress rivalries. Unofficially, change was made to provide a greater chance of more television-friendly matchups and to reduce travel in the Western Conference.

Recently, five members of the Penguins who spent parts of their careers with Western Conference teams were asked about the format.


What's your opinion of the current playoff format?

David Perron (right), left winger (Blues, Oilers) - It seems like there's a lot of possibilities on what teams you can face. It's defintely nice. Most of it was [in the Western Conference]. One year in St. Louis, we played San Jose then we played [Los Angeles]. If we had beaten them, we would have to play Phoenix I think. That's three teams that on the West Coast there. Three and a half-, four-hour flight every time. If it goes down to Game 7, it's a lot of travel. I think it's nice mostly for the [Western Conference]. A lot less travel as far as far as playoffs go.

Ian Cole, defenseman (Blues) - It was kind of confusing at first and then once you go through it or are a part of it for a short period of time, you kind of have a better idea of how it works. I think it's interesting to do division rivals for the most part. Obviously, you build up a lot of animosity playing them multiple times during the year and then continue to play them in the playoffs. That ramps it up.

Nick Spaling (right), left winger (Predators) - "It's a little different set up but at the end of the day, I don't know if it's a huge difference maker. It might eliminate one team or something differently but I don't see a huge change in it. You play your division. I don't mind it."

Ben Lovejoy, defenseman (Ducks) - "As a player, I think it would be nice to have a little variety. As a fan, I think it's great to see some of these rivalries come through in the playoffs. I know for us last year, it didn't work out because we had to face [Los Angeles in the second round] but in 20 years, that matchup had never happened. Because of the format, it was able to happen. I think that's good for the game."

Mike Johnston, coach (Canucks, Kings) - "I know in the [Western Hockey League], they've adopted that format as well where they have wild card spots and they keep teams in their divisions. I think the theory there is that you get the rivalries within the division and you getting them playing off. But it's the wild card spot where you can switch divisions that becomes confusing for everybody when you look at it."

How much do you think it benefits Western Conference teams?

Perron - "The time change too affects you. If you have a three and a half-hour flight coming back from [Los Angeles] to St. Louis, you lose two hours. It's a five and a half-hour trip. Most times in the playoffs, you play every other day so Teams will sleep in after the game. Next day, they'll fly out. They'll get in at like 6:30 [p.m.] maybe and right back at it the next day. It's a lot different than if it's a Philadelphia or New Jersey game where they can be in their own bed at 11:30 [p.m.]."

Cole - "Yeah except that depending on the wild card, could be playing … let's say St. Louis finish first and the Kings sneak in somehow, they could be playing. I see what they're trying to do but it doesn't always necessarily work out like that all the time. That's part of it. You know that's going to be a part of it whatever the travel is. Obviously yes, you'd like to have the easier road not having to fly back and forth to California all the time."

Spaling - "It is nice to cut down on the travel when. Obviously when you're changing time zones and you got maybe four-hour flights. It is tough on teams to start out a first round like that. It isn't easy. It is nice to cut down travel and get a start on the playoffs a little bit closer to home."

Lovejoy (right) - "It makes such a difference for the Western teams. My first year in Anaheim, we had to play against Detroit and it was four hours. We went to Game 7 and we did that flight a whole bunch of times. Playoff hockey is hard enough. I think anything you can do to cut down on travel makes a huge difference on the body."

Johnston - "It was huge. We [the Canucks] played a playoff series against Detroit and that's a long way to go in a playoff series very early in the playoffs. It's a situation in the west where you're looking at a lot more travel in the playoffs. That four hour flight, four and half hour flight … those really add up when you play a playoff series, especially if it goes six or seven [games]."

(Photos: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images and Harry How/Getty Images)

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Empty Netter Assists - Troubles at home - 03-31-15

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .


-With Kris Letang (above) and Christian Ehrhoff sidelined, the Penguins would appear to be stuck with only five defensemen for the time being.

-The Penguins haven't been very good at home since the start of 2015.

-Today would've been the 77th birthday of former Penguins forward Bill Hicke. Acquired prior to the 1971-72 season from the California Golden Seals in exchange for cash, Hicke's Penguins' career amounted to 12 games and two goals that season. In November of 1971, he was traded to the Red Wings in exchange for for cash. He died July 18, 2005 at the age of 67.

-Happy 50th birthday to the best goaltender in Penguins history (for the time being):

-After the Jump: The Lightning sweep the Canadiens.

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Empty Netter Assists - Recapping Penguins-Sharks - 03-30-15

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .


-The Post-Gazette's recap from last night's game. “I thought our whole defense corps picked up their game." - Mike Johnston on playing with five defensemen.

-The San Jose Mercury News' recap. "No, not right now, especially when you had a four-minute penalty in overtime and you don't convert. Tough loss." - Sharks forward Logan Couture's reaction when asked if getting a point in the standings was any consolation.

-The Associated Press' recap. Sidney Crosby leads the league in scoring with 79 points.


-Mike Lange's goal calls.

-Evgeni Malkin was focused on this faceoff:

-Chris Kunitz was popular:

-Marc-Andre Fleury steered away this puck:

-Sharks goaltender Alex Stalock did the splits:

-Sharks coach Todd McLellan held court on the bench:

-Sharks defenseman Brenden Dillon fended off a poke check from Patric Hornqvist:

-Johnston speaks:

-Crosby speaks:

-David Perron speaks:

-Kris Letang was diagnosed with a concussion.

-Why won't Coyotes captain/forward Shane Doan face supplemental discipline for the hit?

-Eric Hartzell made 28 saves for the Wheeling Nailers in a 4-3 win against the Cincinnati Cyclones.


-Happy 55th birthday to former Penguins defenseman and assistant coach Randy Hillier. Acquired prior to the 1984-85 season in a trade which sent a draft pick to the Bruins, Hillier spent parts of seven seasons with the Penguins as a player. In 1984-85, Hillier appeared in 45 games and scored 21 points. During 1985-86, he was limited to 28 games and three assists. He followed that up in 1986-87 by seeing action in 55 games and  recorded 12 points. In 1987-88, Hillier once against played in 55 games and netted 13 points. Hillier appeared in a career-high 68 games in 1988-89 and scored a career-high 24 points. He saw action in nine postseason games that spring and recorded one assist. In 1989-90, he saw action in 61 games and netted 15 points. During 1990-91, Hillier appeared in 31 games and scored four points. He appeared in eight playoff games that spring and failed to record a point while helping the franchise earn its first Stanley Cup championship. During the 1991 offseason, he joined the Islanders as a free agent. In 343 regular season games with the Penguins, he recorded 92 points, 94th-most in franchise history. In 17 postseason games, he recorded one assist. Hiller returned to the Penguins and served as an assistant coach in the 1997-98 season and once again from 2001 through 2006.

-Happy 39th birthday to former Penguins goaltender Ty Conklin. A free agent signing in the 2007 offseason, Conklin's Penguins career amounted to 33 games in 2007-08. He went 18-8-5 with a 2.51 goals against average, .923 save percentage and two shutouts. He also served as the team's starting goaltender in the first Winter Classic in 2008. During the 2008 offseason, Conklin, one of 11 NHL players born in Alaska, joined the Red Wings as a free agent. He is currently a goalie development coach with the Blues.

-After the Jump: Jaromir Jagr scores two slick goals and leads the Panthers past the Senators.

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Sharks at Penguins - 03-29-15

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .


-The Penguins find themselves in quite a jam once again with their salary cap and injuries. With Kris Letang (concussion) and Christian Ehrhoff ("upper body") each sidelined and David Perron (illness) probably sidelined, the Penguins are being forced to dress only 17 skaters, including only five defensemen. This is what happened in Thursday's game at Carolina except they had six defensemen in that game and only 11 forwards.

-There are lots of questions as to why this happening. Here are a few answers.

-While there isn't an official total available, they are believed to have less than 100,000 in salary cap space at the moment.

-The NHL CBA says a team facing a roster emergency related to their salary cap must play their "previous game" with less than a full lineup before it can request cap relief. "Previous game" is the key phrase. Since they played Saturday's home game with 20 skaters, they must play tonight's game with only 19 skaters before requesting relief. It the emergency still exists for Wednesday's home game for the Flyers, they can request relief.

-As colleague Dave Molinari reported, Every player currently on the roster must go through waivers in order to be assigned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. While players such as Beau Bennett and Derrick Pouliot are on their entry-level contracts, they are now waiver-eligible. The excellently-named blog "McSorley's Stick" explains the formula for which players on entry-level deals can be eligible based on years in the league and career games.

-Additionally, the Penguins can not place someone like Christian Ehrhoff or Letang on long-term injured reserve since the NHL-NHLPA collective bargaining agreement does not allow teams to use LTIR in the final 10 games of their season.

-The notion of "dump Craig Adams" has been suggested by plenty of amateur general managers but the most immediate move the Penguins could employ if they wanted to do that would be waivers and the Penguins would need to have wait a full day to see if someone would claim him. If he cleared, he could be assigned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and his minimal $700,000 salary would be off the books.

-There has been quite a bit of blame thrown at Penguins management for allowing this situation to fester and some criticism is certainly warranted. But Jim Rutherford, Jason Botterill and company had to preform quite a few acrobatics with their salary cap in order to squeeze in Daniel Winnik, Ian Cole and Ben Lovejoy. While it's certainly debatable if the Penguins are better off with Cole and Lovejoy than they were with Robert Bortuzzo and Simon Despres, they certainly seem to have benefited in adding Winnik in exchange for Zach Sill.

-Mike Johnston confirmed Letang was diagnosed with a concussion. He was released from a hospital today. After Johnston said it's a "day-to-day thing," Penguins officials stressed there is no time table for his recovery. As we've seen over the years with Sidney Crosby and others, there is no set timetable with head injuries.

-This is the fourth documented concussion or head injury in Letang's career and the second time he suffered a head injury this season. He was boarded by Flyers forward Zac Rinaldo in January and missed one game. One head injury is scary enough but four? That's a frightening number. When you consider the fact that Letang suffered a stroke last season, your starts to wonder about the quality of life he'll have after he's done playing.

-When you see younger players in the NFL retiring due in part to fears of concussions, you have to wonder if the same could happen in the NHL. To be clear, any suggestion that Letang would ever considering retirement is purely speculation. He has never said anything which would lead one to believe he would weight the merits of an early retirement. But after his fourth documented head injury, would anyone of sound mind blame him if he did think about it?

-With Letang and Ehrhoff out, the Penguins will play with five defensemen. Johnson said Winnik "can play some defense." One would presume Paul Martin and Derrick Pouliot will have to eat a ton of minutes tonight.

-Craig Morgan of Fox Sports Arizona did some first-rate reporting in finding out why the NHL's Player Safety department opted to not take any supplemental discipline. Morgan wrote:

"A spokesperson said Doan's hit came 'slightly beyond' the 0.5-second window. When considering supplemental discipline for late hits that occur after that window -- again, 0.6 seconds and beyond -- the department is looking for instances "when elements of other infractions are involved" such as 'substantial head contact.'"

A spokesperson for the department told Morgan, "It's not charging, no head contact, etc. It's a shove; not violent or predatory. (Just) a play that happens a lot but had a bad end result."

-The Penguins won't be the only team playing without a franchise defenseman. The Sharks will not have Marc-Edouard Vlassic at their disposal tonight due to a "lower-body" injury. In his place, the Sharks recalled journeyman Taylor Fedun from Worcester of the AHL.

-Some pregame sights. The ice:

-Fans entering the barn:

-Ulf Samuelsson:

-Mario Lemieux Laval Voisins:

-Denis Lemieux Charleston Chiefs:

-Mark Recchi:

-Paul Coffey:

-There are quite a few Sharks fans on hand. Patrick Marleau:

-Joe Thornton:

-Logan Couture has a fan with a shark head:

-Mark Letestu:

-Luc Robitaille:

-A reader spotted a Jiri Slegr fan:

-Another spotted a Darius Kasparaitis fan:

-Randy Carlyle:

-Jersey of the Night: Man... this is awesome. Gary Rissling:


-David Perron did take warm ups.

-The Penguins' lines and pairings were all over the place during warm ups. Winnik and Craig Adams were each taking "shifts" on defense. We won't even bother with posting anything resembling a lineup.

-Perron is listed in the lineup.

-With 18 skaters in the lineup, the Penguins will not be eligible to request salary cap relief for Wednesday's game if needed.

-The Penguins' starters are Steve Downie, Nick Spaling, Brandon Sutter, Ben Lovejoy, Paul Martin and Marc-Andre Fleury.

-Their scratches are Christian Ehrhoff and Kris Letang.

-The Sharks' starters are Melker Karlsson, Joe Pavelski, Joe Thornton, Brent Burns, Scott Hannan and Alex Stalock.

Their scratches are Mirco Mueller, Daniil Tasarov and Marc-Edouard Vlasic.

-Prior to the game, referee Kevin Pollock is honored for working his 1,000th career game. Fans here give him a polite applause. We honestly thought this could have been a little uglier given the Penguins' recent issues with officials. Kudos to fans for not booing him with his family on hand for the ceremony.

-Jeff Jimerson does his job:


19:36: Ben Lovejoy whistles a wrister from the right point wide on the near side.

17:36: Marleau chucks a wrister from the right point on net. Fleury kicks it out.

17:12: Kunitz snaps off a wrister from the left wing. Stalock snags it.

17:08: Off the ensuing faceoff in the Sharks' left circle, Cole booms a one-timer from center point. Hornqvist tips it wide of the cage.

15:35: Malkin leads a rush up the left wing and gains the offensive zone. With Blake Comeau doing a center drive, Malkin deals a crossing pass to Kunitz above the right circle. Kunitz leans down and fires a shot which Scott Hannan blocks.

15:11: Hornqvist lift a wrister from the right wing. Stalock punches it away.

15:05: Derrick Pouliot whips a wrister from the left point which Couuture blocks.

14:57: Dillon dumps a puck from the neutral zone off hte Penguins' end board. Tomas  Hertl wins a race to the rebound and jabs it on net from the left of the cage. FLeury kicks it out.

14:43: Off the ensuing faceoff win in the Penguins' left circle, Matt Irwin whacks a slapper from the left point which Downie blocks.

14:32: After a puck deflects out of play, there is a lengthy stoppage. Linesman Steve Barton, who left yesterday's game against the Coyotes after being stuck in the face with a stick, heads down the Penguins' ramp way.

13:17: After Cole makes a nice play to keep a puck in the Sharks' zone, he sweeps a backhanded pass from the right point to Perron above the left circle. Perron whacks a one-timer which he fans on. The pucks slides in on net where Adams and Lapierre each chop at it but can't beat Stalock.

12:52: The Penguins strike first. After Winnik wins a puck battle behind the Sharks' net with Burns, he taps a pass to Hornqivst to the right of the cage. Hornqvist plays it on net and Stalock denies him. Hornqvist sticks with the rebound and gets a backhander on it before Hannan can play it and beats Stalock's right skate for a goal. A nice dirty goal. Great work down low by Winnik. Winnik and Cole get assists. Penguins 1-0.

12:19: The Penguins will get a power play after Taylor Fedun was called for hooking Kunitz in the Sharks' right wing corner. Crosby, Malkin, Derrick Pouliot, Kunitz and Patric Hornqvist take the ice

11:56: Welcome back to the scoresheet Chris Kunitz. The Penguins' power play strikes. After Pouliot spins off a check form Tommy Wingels on the Sharks' left half wall, he deals a cross-ice pass to Crosby in the left circle. With Justin Braun out of position, Crosby taps another cross-ice pass to Kunitz to the left of the cage and Kuntiz one-touches it with a forehand shot by the blocker of Stalock. It snaps a 14-game goalless streak for Kunitz. He has a huge look of relief on his face. Crosby and Pouliot get assists. Penguins 2-0.

11:04: Cole whacks a one-timer form the left point which hits a stick and deflects out of play.

9:24: Taking a pass in the left circle, Hannon lifts a wrister on net which Fleury eats up.

8:51: In deep on the right wing, Malkin backhands a pass to the slot. It deflects on net and Stalock sweeps it away.

8:13: With Adams pursuing on a forecheck, Barclay Goodrow braces for a collision and smacks Adams with a good hit.

7:22: Fedun booms a slapper form the righ tpoint. Fleury kicks it out. Hornqvist plays the rebound out of danger.

6:43: Lapierre sweeps a wrister from the left circle on net. Stalock kicks it out.

5:50: Off a drop pass by Malkin, Scuderi rips a wrister from above the left circle which is blocked. 

4:20: Burns rips a wrister from the left point wide of the cage.

4:03: A one-timer by Hertl from center point is blocked by Martin.

3:31: Settling a puck at center point, Scuderi whips a wrister wide of the cage.

2:12: Thornton deals a pass form the left corner of the Penguins' zone to the crease. Fleury plays it away.

1:24: A wrister by Nick Spaling is wide of the cage.

0:12: Logan Couture rips a wrister form the left wing. Fleury kicks it out.

0:00: End of period. The horn sounds with Crosby and Burns tied up in from of the Penguins' bench. Officials break them up. Penguins 2, Sharks 0.


(We've been spying on Wrestlemania 31 as the game has gone on.)

-All things considered, that was a really good period for the Penguins. They had the bulk of quality scoring chances and really limited the times the Sharks could get a shot anywhere close to the net. Most of San Jose's shots were junk shots from the perimeter.

-The Penguins sort of mixed and matched their defensive pairings most of the period.

-The Sharks have a 12-9 lead in shots on net.

-The Sharks have a 22-20 lead in attempted shots.

-Hornqvist and Braun each lead the game in shots, 3-3.

-Pouliot leads the game with 7:56 of ice time.

-Dillon leads the Sharks with 7:24 of ice time.

-The Sharks lead in faceoffs, 12-9 (57 percent).

-Thornton is 3 for 4 (75 percent).

-Lapiere is 3 for 3 (100 percent).

-Martin leads the game with two blocked shots.


19:20: Off a faceoff win in the Shark's left circle, Hornqvist whips a wrister on net. Stalock eats it up.

19:06: Crosby has a chance in tight but can't beat Stalock as Hornqvist crashes in.

18:44: Dillon lobs a wrister from the left point. It deflects out of play.

16:13: A chop shot by Pavelik for the slot is blocked by Lovejoy.

15:48: Couture whips a wrister from the slot. Fleury stops it and fumbles the rebound. As he lunges out for it. Couture crashes in and falls on Fleury. Cole shoves him out of the way.

14:27: Kunitz leas a rush up the right wing and deals a cross-ice pass to Malkin the left circle. Malkin lifts a wrister which hits something in front.

13:16: The Sharks strike. Dillon fires a slapper from above the left circle which hits a body in front. the rebound kicks to the right half wall. Goodrow wins a race to the puck and deals a pass to Braun at the right point. Braun whacks a one-tier which sails towards the net. Smith is sanding in front of Fleury and re-directs it with his stick by the glove hand of Fleury on the near side. What a nifty deflection. Braun and Goodrow get assists. Penguins 2-1.

12:11: Taking a feed in the slot from Couture, Hertl rips a heavy wrister wide of the cage.

10:35: Taking a feed from Kuntiz, Malkin lifts a wrister form the left wing. Stalock says no.

10:26: Chris Tierney appears to have a nice chance in above the left circle but a backcheck by Malkin strips him of the puck.

10:19: Off a give and go with Malkin, Comeau rips a wrister from the left circle which Stalock fights off.

9:02: On a delayed penalty, Fedun whips a wrister from the slot. Fleury punches it away with his blocker despite traffic.

8:54: Fedun chops a one-timer form the high slot. Fleury smothers it. Lapierre is sent to the penalty box for hooking Pavelski. Sutter, Winnik, Scuderi and Lovejoy take the ice.

8:28: Couture chops a shot form the left point. Pavelski is in front of Fleury and stops the shot. He deals to a wide open Thornton to the right of the cage. Thornton has a wide open look at the net but hurries his shot and fires wide on the near side.

6:54: Lapierre's minor expires. The Sharks didn't do much with that chance.

5:44: Pouliot gallops his way up the left wing and lifts a wrister which Stalock eats up.

5:27: Off a feed by Comeau, Pouliot fires a wrister which is blocked by Wingels.

5:21: Pouliot settles a puck at the center point and pounds a slapper which Stalock rejects.

5:07: Lovejoy slams Tierney from behind into the right side of the Penguins' net. The net is dislodged. Lovejoy is called for cross checking. Winnik, Lapierre, Scuderi and Martin take the ice.

4:22: Tie game. Burns snaps off a stretch pass to Marleau on the left wing. Marleau gains the offensive zone and feeds a little pass to Couture who darts by Martin and lifts a wrister from the left circle which squeaks through Fleury's gear. That's a poor goal for Fleury to allow. Martin looked pretty slow on that play too. Marleau gets the only assist. Penguins 2, Sharks 2.

3:32: Marleau whips a wrister from the right half wall which deflects on net. Fleury smothers it.

1:42: Play is halted as a puck deflects into the broadcaster space behntt the benche and strikes NBC broadcaster Brian Engblom in the face. Penguins athletic trainer Chris Stewart attend to him and puts a towel over the face. Engblom retreats to the Penguins' rampway for medical attention.

1:01: Hornqvist chucks a wrister from the right circle on net. Stalock eats it up.

0:00: End of period. Before the horn sounds, Pavelski airmails a slapper from the neutral zone over the cage. Penguins 2, Sharks 2.


-That was a fairly even period all around. Each team had a fair share of quality scoring chances. The Sharks just did a better job of burying theirs.

-Derrick Pouliot is stepping up in a big way right now. He looks so confident anytime he touches the puck. The Penguins need him to play like this desperately.

-The Penguins have a 20-19 lead in shots on net.

-The Sharks lead in attempted shots, 41-33.

-Hornqvist leads the game with six shots.

-Couture leads the Sharks with four shots.

-The Sharks have a 26-20 lead in faceoffs (57 percent).

-Couture is 9 for 15 (60 percent).

-Lapierre is 6 for 6 (100 percent).

-Martin leads the game with four blocked shots.

-None of the Sharks has more than one blocked shot.


20:00: It appears Engblom is back between the benches after being struck with a puck. He has large cut right above the center of his brow.

18:47: A wrister by Pavelski from the left circle is deflected wide.

18:11: Using Lovejoy as a screen, Melker Karlsson rips a wrister from above the left circle. Fleury steers it away.

16:56: Winnik chops a loose puck from the left circle on net. Stalock kicks it out.

16:08: Hertl whips a wrister form the right circle. Cole blocks it. Hertl regains his rebound in the slot and fires it wide.

14:29: Crosby gains the offensive zone on the right wing, veers to the slot then the left circle and pushes a wrister on net. Stalock smothers it. A scrum develops. Wingels appears to punch Crosby in the face. No call.

14:25: Off the ensuing faceoff in the Sharks' left circle, Downie lifts a wrister on net. Stalock smothers it.

13:25: Pavelski lifts a wrister from the left wing. Fleury eats it up as Thornton falls over him.

13:19: A slapper by Burns from center point is off the mark.

12:57: The Sharks get a power play. Crosby tried to back a puck up on the left half wall of the Sharks' zone and lost it. Burns tried to jump on it but Crosby tripped him. Burns may have sold that bit. xx take the ice.

12:10: Adams pushes the puck up the left wing and flings a wrister on net. Stalock steers it away.

11:07: Scuderi wins a puck a battle against Pavelski on the Penguins' left half wall and chucks it down ice to kill off the rest of the Crosby penalty. The Sharks did little with that chance.

10:16: Smith veers out of the left wing corner and lifts a wrister from the left circle on net which Fleury eats up.

9:53: Taking a feed in the neutral zone form Hornqvist, Crosby gains the offensive zone at center point and whips a wrister wide of the net.

9:25: A wrister by Perron from the left wing is blocked wide by Irwin.

9:07: Cole whacks a one-timer from the center point. Nieto slides down to block it and is in some pain afterwards.

8:58: Play is halted. Fleury went to play a puck behind his net but it took a funny hop and got stuck in his right pad. Odd.

7:55: After a defensive zone turnover by the Penguins, Dillon whips a wrister from the right point well wide of the cage.

7:09: On a delayed penalty, Lovejoy slinks his way up the left wing, cuts inside Braun and lifts a wrister from the left circle. Stalock eats it up. Wingels is called for high sticking Pouliot near the Sharks' bench. Crosby, Malkin, Hornqvist, Kunitz and Pouliot take the ice.

6:13: Crosby tees up a one-timer form the right circle. Stalock kicks it out.

5:22: Bennett gets a chance in the right circle an lifts a wrister which catches the far post and deflects away.

5:09: The Wingels minor expires. Little going on there for the Penguins.

4:47: Off a feed by Downie, Sutter rips a heavy wrister from the left of the circle wide on the near side.

4:01: A wrister by Lovejoy from center point hits a body in front. Comeau settles the rebound in the left circle and fires it wide on the near side.

3:52: The Sharks get a late power play as Nick Spaling is called for holding Tierney near the Sharks' bench. This is a huge two minutes. Lapierre, Winnik, Scuderi and Martin take the ice.

3:13: Marleau lifts a wrister from above the left circle. Winnik slides down and blocks it with his chest. Oof.

1:48: As Spaling's minor expires, Lovejoy intercepts a pass in the Penguins' left circle. Sutter chops it down ice hoping to spring Spaling on a breakaway but the puck has too much oomph on it and slides down ice.

1:27: Lovejoy chucks a wrister from the right point which deflects wide.

0:21: Couture moves up the left wing and lifts a wrister which Fleury eats up.

0:00: End of period. Crosby fight off a check from Pavelski in the Sharks' left half wall and fires a cross-ice pass to Perron in the left circle. Perron takes a moment to settle the puck and rips a wrister. Stalock appears to get juusst a piece of it as the horn sounds. Wow! Penguins 2, Sharks 2.


-The Penguins have a 33-27 lead in shots.


4:37: Wingels has a chance in tight and centers a pass from the left of the crease no one in particular. Martin steals it.

4:01: Off a drop pass by Pavelski, Thornton whacks a slapper which Fleury denies.

3:51: Battling for a puck in front of the Sharks' bench, Hornqvist clips Burns in the face and draws blood. Oof. That's a double minor. The Penguins will finish this period one way or another killing a penalty. Winnik, Lapierre and Scuderi take the ice.

3:31: Thonrton lifts a wrister fro the right circle. It glances off the far post. Whoa!

3:22: A one-timer by Pavelski from above the right cirlce is blocked by a sliding Winnik.

3:13: A one-timer by Pavelski from the left circle is kicked out by Fleury.

2:55: Taking a drop pass by Thornton, Burns rips a wrister from the left circle. It deflects out of play. the Sharks call a timeout to get organized.

2:16: From above the right circle, Couture sails a pass wide to the far side of the cage.

1:56: Couture whacks a one-timer from the right circle. Fleury saves. Pavelski is there for the rebound but falls.

1:14: Fedun lifts a wrister from the left circle. Fleury fight it off.

1:03: Irwin chops a slapper from the right point wide of the cage.

0:02: A wrister by Couture from the left circle is wide of the cage and time expires.

0:00: End of period. WOW! What a job by the Penguins' penalty killers. Penguins 2, Sharks 2.


-Perron is up first. He saunters down the slot, goes backhand and lift s shot by the blocker of Stalock. Penguins 1-0.

-Karlsson goes down the slot slowly, shows forehand, jukes Fleury and tries a backhander but loses the puck.

-Crosby veers a bit to the left, levels out and snaps off a wrister by the blocker of Stalock. Penguins 2-0.

-Couture must score. Couture veers to the right, attacks the net and lifts a wrister off the cross bar. End of shootout. Penguins 2, Sharks 0. End of game. Penguins 3, Sharks 2.


"Last month, we probably lose these kind of games." - Patric Hornqvist.

-That was Hornqvist's reaction when asked if the Penguins have turned a corner with the wins over the past two days. Each game was a white-knuckle, next-goal-wins type of affair in which the Penguins played with short-handed rosters. The Coyotes and Sharks aren't playoff caliber teams but they gave pretty honest efforts in each of the last two games and tested the Penguins quite a bit. In each instance, the Penguins showed off quite a bit of character which was missing from from their terrible loss at Carolina Thursday.

-The Penguins need to show they can maintain this type of attention to detail Wednesday when the Flyers come to town. But sweeping this weekend was a big step in the right direction.

-The Penguins did a great job of sheltering their five defensemen. They had a pretty thorough commitment from all the forwards on the backcheck and were pretty secure with the puck most of the night. All five of them picked up a heavy workload and were all pretty responsible. Every member of the Penguins' blue line can hold his head up high tonight.

-Ben Lovejoy was asked about the defensemen limiting their shifts after the game:


"You have to be as efficient as you can but also go out and outwork the other team. I think there's a very fine line. You don't want to get caught. I thought we did a great job of that. I think that the whole team rallied in front of five defensemen. They knew that we were going to be tired. They knew that we were going to playing a lot of minutes and I think our forwards coming back, not turning pucks over and grinding in the offensive zone to make our jobs that much easier."

-Derrick Pouliot played the least amount of time of any of the defensemen (18:21) but he looked so calm and poised for the entire game. He looked like a 10-year veteran. He made a huge statement tonight.

-The Penguins' penalty kill was amazing in the overtime period. The Sharks put four all-stars on the ice for most of the extended four-on-three power play they worked with in overtime and they couldn't score. Brandon Sutter, Maxim Lapierre, Craig Adams, Daniel Winnik, Paul Martin and Rob Scuderi looked like they were defending the president in overtime.

-As the cliche goes, your best penalty killer is your goaltender. After allowing one leaky goal, Marc-Andre Fleury was tuned in most of the night. He was a huge part of this win.

-The top line of Hornqvist, Winnik and Sidney Crosby was easily the Penguins' best line. They were strong down low on the forecheck and created quite a few things by simply being near the crease. Winnik has been a great fit on that line and seem more than capable of playing with Crosby. His work low on the forecheck set up Hornqvist's goal.

-On Winnik, Hornqvist said:

"He's good. He's really good around the corners and protecting the puck and all that. We just have to get a little more pucks to the net and maybe create more cycles in the corner. Other than that, I thought we played good."

-For a guy who was throwing up 20 minutes before the game, Perron looked pretty good. He mostly played on a line with Maxim Lapierre and Beau Bennett. He skated pretty well and threw a few pucks on net. His shootout goal proved to be the winning shootout goal.

-Even beyond his goal, Chris Kunitz had one of his best games in a while. His skating was sharp and his touch with the puck was a littler crisper than usual. He still has a ways to go to get back to his old level, but this was a positive development.

-We wonder how this would have turned out if Marc-Edouard Vlasic was available on the power-play in overtime. He is pretty valuable to that team.

-Alex Stalock was pretty sharp tonight. He didn't allow a soft goal and his rebound control was solid.

-The Penguins had a 33-32 lead in shots on net.

-The Sharks led in attempted shots, 66-53.

-Logan Courture led the game with seven shots.

-Hornqvist led the Penguins with six shots.

-The Sharks led in faceoffs, 36-33 (52 percent).

-Lapierre was 13 for 14 (93 percent)!

-Couture was 11 for 21 (52 percent).

-Martin led the game with five blocked shots.

-Dillon led the Sharks with three blocked shots.

-Game summary.

-Event summary.


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About the Sharks - 03-29-15

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

A preview of the Sharks.

When and where: 7:30 p.m, EDT, Consol Energy Center.

TV: Root Sports (Pittsburgh market), NBC Sports (Rest of the United States).

Record: 37-30-8, 82 points. The Sharks are in fifth place in the Pacific Division.

Leading Scorer: Center Joe Pavelski, 67 points (36 goals, 31 assists).

Last Game: 3-2 road shootout win against the Flyers Saturday. Goaltender Alex Stalock made 16 saves for the Sharks.

Last Game against the Penguins: 2-1 home shootout win March 9. Goaltender Antti Niemi made 39 saves for the Sharks.

Sharks Player We Would Bet Money On Scoring: Defenseman Brent Burns (above). He has a three-game scoring streak.

Ex-Penguins on the Sharks: Assistant coach Jim Johnson.

Ex-Sharks on the Penguins: Defenseman Christian Ehrhoff, goaltender Thomas Greiss.

Useless Sharks Trivia Vaguely Related to the Penguins: Sharks left winger Matt Nieto has played in 131 career games, second-most among active players born in California. Only former Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik (774), now of the Capitals, has played in more.

The last time the Sharks played the Penguins, this happened:

Probable goaltenders: Marc-Andre Fleury (32-17-8, 2.27 GAA, .921 SV%) for the Penguins. Alex Stalock (7-7-1, 2.60 GAA, .902 SV%) for the Sharks.

Injuries: For the Penguins, left winger David Perron (illness) is doubtful. Defensemen Christian Ehrhoff ("upper body") and Kris Letang (concussion) are out. Right winger Pascal Dupuis (blood clot) and defenseman Olli Maatta (shoulder) are on injured reserve. For the Sharks, defensemen Mirco Mueller (left hand) and Marc-Edouard Vlasic ("lower body") are out. right winger Mike Brown ("lower body") and left winger Raffi Torres (knee) are on injured reserve.

Potential lines and defensive pairings: The Penguins had an optional morning skate. Consider this a guess based on their lines and defensive pairings from yesterday:

26 Daniel Winnik - 87 Sidney Crosby - 72 Patric Hornqvist
14 Chris Kunitz - 71 Evgeni Malkin - 17 Blake Comeau
19 Beau Bennett 16 Brandon Sutter - 23 Steve Downie
13 Nick Spaling - 40 Maxim Lapierre - 27 Craig Adams

7 Paul Martin - 51 Derrick Pouliot
4 Rob Scuderi - 28 Ian Cole
12 Ben Lovejoy

-According to the team's Web site, the Sharks lines and defensive pairings are:

68 Melker Karlsson – 19 Joe Thornton – 8 Joe Pavelski
12 Patrick Marleau – 39 Logan Couture – 48 Tomas Hertl
83 Matt Nieto – 50 Chris Tierney – 57 Tommy Wingels
71 Daniil Tarasov – 21 Ben Smith – 89 Barclay Goodrow

27 Scott Hannan – 61 Justin Braun
52 Matt Irwin – 88 Brent Burns
4 Brenden Dillon - 43 Taylor Fedun


-Due to injuries and salary cap restrictions, the Penguins will only be able to dress 17 skaters.

-Center Sidney Crosby has 299 career goals.

-Defenseman Rob Scuderi has 98 career points.

-With Vlasic sidelined, the Sharks recalled defenseman Taylor Fedun from Worcester of the AHL.

-Sharks defenseman Scott Hannan will play after leaving yesterday's game due to facial injuries.

-The referees are Kevin Pollock (No. 33) and Wes McCauley (No. 4). The linesmen are Steve Barton (No. 59), Pierre Racicot (No. 65).

-Our live blog starts at approximately 6:30 p.m. Please tune in.

(Photo: Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

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