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Sharks 4, Penguins 0: Hertl is Penguins’ worst nightmare

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Sharks take the season series in a feisty game.

NHL: San Jose Sharks at Pittsburgh Penguins Feb 21, 2019; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; San Jose Sharks center Tomas Hertl (L) celebrates his second goal of the game against the Pittsburgh Penguins with right wing Kevin Labanc (62) during the first period at PPG PAINTS Arena.

What was shaping up to be a 3-0 snoozefest where all three goals came within the first 15 minutes became a wild adventure late in the third period, when 64 penalty minutes were handed out in the final five minutes of the game.

“Snoozefest” is an exaggeration, of course. But after the Sharks notched two power play goals (Tomas Hertl) and one shorthanded goal (Evander Kane), the game was a series of power play opportunities and exchanging chances at 5-on-5, though the Sharks had a clear edge. But taking fewer risks made sense once they ended the first period up 3-0.

The real drama came when, with four and a half minutes left in the game, the Penguins planned to pull goaltender Casey DeSmith during a timeout. According to Kane in the post-game broadcast, he could see their whiteboard and started checking out their play. The Penguins, naturallyn took exception to this.

What resulted was a fight between Tanner Pearson and Kane, as well as Sidney Crosby taking on ... Micheal Haley. In total, Brenden Dillon, Haley, Marcus Pettersson and Crosby were all handed game misconducts. Kane and Pearson were given five-minute majors for fighting. Penguins coach Mike Sullivan exploded at the officials and found himself tossed from the game, as well. When the dust settled, Phil Kessel blatantly took a high-stick to the face of Erik Karlsson off the faceoff, sending him to the box. Kris Letang soon followed for cross-checking Tomas Hertl. Finally, Evgeni Malkin was assessed a game misconduct for mouthing off to the officials.

It wasn’t a great game for the Penguins, but the final five minutes made it a downright embarrassing loss for them.

But for the Sharks? They did a lot of good over the 55 minutes leading up to hell breaking loose. Brent Burns put a cap on the night with a 5-on-3 power play goal and the Sharks are off to Columbus with a road win until their belt.


Hello friends! It’s been a long time, but the big cheese of Fear the Fin is here tonight to talks Sharks versus Penguins. I’m super ready to get this ball rolling.

I’m watching warm ups right now and the Sharks are using Pride Tape for the Penguins’ Pride Night. That’s so incredibly cool and means a ton to me that they planned ahead to do that.

First Period

20:00: LET’S GOOO

19:04: Jack Johnson called for tripping Joonas Donskoi along the wall. Early power play flex for the Sharks.

18:16: TOMAS HERTL! (First of three?) Lots of patience on that power play goal. Assisted by Brent Burns and Kevin Labanc. It’s 1-0, Sharks.

16:29: The Labanc — Joe ThorntonMarcus Sorensen line is doing a great job setting up in the offensive zone, shift ends with a save on Jumbo Joe.

15:58: First shift for Micheal Haley.

15:15: Top line against top line. Good work by Marc-Edouard Vlasic right in front of Jones to clear the puck out from the crease, unfortunately caught by a Penguin at the blue line to keep it in the zone.

14:08: Brenden Dillon is so much smarter with the puck than he has been in previous seasons. Can’t be said enough.

13:05: Someone’s gotta say it..............Casey DeSmith’s pads are hideous.

12:08: Timo Meier and Logan Couture with a 2-on-1, Couture fumbles the puck.

11:23: Brenden Dillon called for cross-checking on who I believe was Zach Aston-Reese? Who had knocked Joonas Donskoi flat at the faceoff. Weak call, but it is what it is. Sharks to the kill.

After some digging, I’ve been confused about it being Zach Aston-Reese because I saw his face and thought it was Conor Sheary. Who no longer players for the Penguins. You cannot convince me that these aren’t the same exact man.

9:59: Evander Kane with a shorthanded breakaway from the blueline and he scores! Assist from Burns. 2-0, Sharks.

8:07: Aston-Reese tripped Kane right at the boards. Took a bit for a whistle there. Sharks power play.

6:41: A really, really good set up play here. Couture gets several Penguins on him, he gets to puck out to Hertl and a quick tic-tac-toe in front of DeSmith and Hertl notches his second of (three) the night! Assists to Labanc and Pavelski. 3-0, Sharks.

4:53: Martin Jones with a save on a long shot from Kris Letang. Good rebound control, as the Penguins were ready and waiting for it.

4:05: Evgeni Malkin definitely just high-sticked Hertl in the face, but no call.

1:41: Sharks are breaking up plays really well.

:17.5: Erik Karlsson with a slew of shots/attempts at the end of the period. I’ll never get tired of watching that.

END FIRST: Sharks 3, Penguins 0

An interesting note: At 5-on-5, all of the Sharks’ attempts are coming from further out. The Penguins are getting much closer to the net. The blue blob in front of the net? That’s all special teams. Sharks lead Corsi For 19-15 in all situations, and at a much smaller ratio of 14-13 at 5-on-5. I’m gonna predict their usual second period meltdown.

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Second Period

19:38: Sidney Crosby all over Jones right away.

18:11: Penguins came out of the gate ready. Sharks struggling to set up, but limiting the Penguins well.

17:15: Melker Karlsson with a chance that he blows.

16:51: Timo Meier with a series of chances!

16:00: Jesus, these first few minutes have gone by fast. Not a lot of stoppages, and trading chances very quickly.

15:10: Yet another Sharks power play! Erik Karlsson is hooked by Malkin and they’re back to the man-advantage (put Hertl out).

13:55: Second power play unit out. Haven’t seen much of these guys. They’re cycling a bit better than the top unit got a chance to.

13:07: Malkin comes out of the box and immediately gets a breakaway. Thank god Joe Thornton was there to break up the play at the net, without taking a penalty, either.

10:00: Crosby just stripped Sorensen of the puck in his wraparound attempt. Dude is unreal.

8:13: Joe Thornton’s hockey IQ is incredible. Just smart play after smart play. Excellent backcheck on Malkin.

7:06: [Ariana Grande voice] Somebody score a goal, I’m bored.

6:59: Almost had a penalty on the Sharks for delay of game, but pretty inconclusive on review, so no penalty.

5:21: Yet another Sharks power play! Aston-Reese gets called for holding on Kane.

4:51: Matt Cullen had a clear shorthanded breakaway and absolutely fumbled the puck.

3:51: Pavelski with a couple of great chances, followed by a post bailing out DeSmith on a shot from Burns.

1:32: Pittsburgh finally getting an extended look in the offensive zone and Phil Kessel is one scary fella with the puck.

:20.7: Kane takes a penalty for tripping Jake Guentzel, who was backing up into him blindly, admittedly, but Kane kinda laid him out.

:03.4: Jones with a big save on Crosby.

END SECOND: Sharks 3, Penguins 0

Okay, I’ll admit I predicted wrong. Pretty solid second period. Sharks leading Corsi For in all situations 20-16, trail 11-14 at 5-on-5. They controlled play for a good two-thirds of the period at 5-on-5, and the entire period after factoring in their many power plays. Again, the shots up close and in the slot are only coming on the power play.

Natural Stat Trick

Third Period

19:00: Melker Karlsson wincing on the bench after taking a hit.

18:20: Penalty killed! These teams were tied in penalty kill percentage at the start of this game.

17:43: Dillon exchanging some checks with Patric Hornqvist.

17:40: Tanner Pearson getting into it with Hertl. Some feelings left over from LA? Looks like Hertl jabbed at Hornqvist and Pearson didn’t like that, went after Hertl. Initially, Dillon in the box with Pearson, eventually swapped for Hertl. So 4-on-4, while they both sit for roughing. Lotta open ice here.

17:07: Erik Karlsson — and the defenders in general — doing a lot of work in front of Jones tonight. Which is making him look pretty good.

15:34: Both teams at full strength.

14:42: Haley and M.Karlsson is maybe the least effective 2-on-1 the Sharks could ever have.

13:46: Radim Simek is quietly having a good night.

12:39: Hertl hasn’t scored again? That seems wrong.

8:45: I cannot believe there hasn’t been another goal yet. The Penguins are starting to remember how to play hockey.

7:21: It is wild to me that the Penguins have acquired so many useless players in the last year. Jack Johnson? Tanner Pearson? What are they even doing?

5:00: Joe Thornton literally just skated the puck past Pearson, who just ... stared at him? And let it happen? Did not challenge him at all? Incredible.

4:34: Broadcast just cut back in to a shit show. Everybody is fighting? Crosby, Pearson, Kane and Haley in the box. Crosby really went after Haley. Jesus Christ.

Nevermind, Haley and Dillon both done for the night. Crosby and Marcus Pettersson, as well. This is insane.

Mike Sullivan is losing his mind. And he’s out!

4:35: Phil Kessel high-sticked Erik Karlsson right on the faceoff. Real ugly. Sharks power play.

4:03: Hertl cross-checked by Letang after slashing at DeSmith’s glove (which, in a very Hertl fashion, he apologized for), gets called. 5-on-3 Sharks power play.

3:39: This 5-on-3 unit is Pavelski, Thornton, Couture, Burns and Karlsson, which is different.

3:09: BRENT BURNS POWER PLAY GOAL! 4-0, Sharks.

2:30: Barclay Goodrow, Melker Karlsson, Marcus Sorensen and Marc-Edouard Vlasic are on the power play because nothing matters at this point.

1:13: Yet another Pittsburgh penalty. Unsportsmanlike conduct for Malkin for mouthing off to an official. Just put Hertl out, you cowards.

:00.0: That’s game! Got pretty ugly at the end there, huh?

FINAL SCORE: Sharks 4, Penguins 0

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Pregame

The San Jose Sharks are ready to take on the Pittsburgh Penguins in Micheal Haley’s debut in teal tonight. This is the first of four games on a road trip that circles through the midwest before ending with a rematch against the Boston Bruins next Tuesday. Not that we’re counting down or anything.

Both teams are relatively healthy, with just Olli Maatta of the Penguins sitting this game out due to an upper body injury.

There hasn’t been much love between these two teams over the last three years — after all, Logan Couture does think Sidney Crosby is a cheater. The Penguins are struggling to find their footing this season, while the Sharks are lucky to have won as much as they have with their goaltending. They’re both also scary teams at their best.

This should be intense. Bring it on.

Lines

Sharks

Expected scratches: Lukas Radil, Tim Heed, Joakim Ryan (healthy)

Penguins (via Pensburgh)

Jake GuentzelSidney CrosbyBryan Rust
Zach Aston-ReeseEvgeni MalkinPhil Kessel
Jared McCannNick BjugstadPatric Hornqvist
Tanner PearsonMatt CullenDominik Simon

Brian DumoulinKris Letang
Jack JohnsonJustin Schultz
Marcus PetterssonChad Ruhwedel

Casey DeSmith
Matt Murray

Expected scratches: Juuso Riikola, Garrett Wilson, Teddy Blueger (healthy)

Injured Reserve: Olli Maatta (upper body, IR)

Where to Watch

Puck drop is at 4 p.m. Pacific/7 p.m. Eastern from PPG Paints Arena. The game will be broadcast on NBC Sport California in the Bay Area, AT&T Sportsnet in the Pittsburgh area and Sportsnet in Canada. Radio call in the Bay Area will be on 98.5 KFOX or through the Sharks App.