Wednesday, April 23, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Penguins pound visiting Sharks

Chris Kunitz, Sidney Crosby

Pittsburgh's Chris Kunitz, left, celebrates his first of two second-period goals as San Jose's Tommy Wingels (57) skates back to his bench in the Sharks' 5-1 loss to the host Penguins on Thursday. AP photo

PITTSBURGH — Chris Kunitz scored twice during a four-goal second period and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the San Jose Sharks, 5-1, on Thursday night for their fifth straight victory.

Pascal Dupuis, Jayson Megna and Kris Letang also scored for Pittsburgh, which snapped San Jose’s six-game winning streak.

Sidney Crosby added three assists in his 500th career game to push his point total to an NHL-leading 42.

Tomas Hertl got his 14th goal for San Jose. Antti Niemi made 23 saves but was pulled after two periods, and the Sharks lost in regulation for only the fourth time this season.

Marc-Andre Fleury made 44 saves for the Penguins against the league’s highest-scoring team. Pittsburgh played without star Evgeni Malkin, scratched after sustaining a lower-body injury during the morning skate.

The showdown between two Stanley Cup contenders quickly turned one-sided after a scoreless first period. The Penguins beat Niemi four times in a span of 7:03, showcasing the firepower that makes the Metropolitan Division leaders heavy favorites to make another deep playoff run next spring.

The Sharks have been futilely chasing a trip to the finals for the past decade and they’re off to another remarkably hot start. The Pacific Division front-runners lead the league in goal differential and had outscored opponents 24-12 over their last six games.

All that momentum came to a grinding halt during a frantic second period.

The Sharks kept Fleury busy but had trouble finding holes. Hertl made it 4-1 at 9:27 of the second when his centering pass from the bottom of the left circle deflected off a Pittsburgh skate and between Fleury’s legs.

San Jose got no closer. Letang beat backup Alex Stalock with a slap shot from just inside the blue line 3:30 into the third to push Pittsburgh’s advantage to 5-1 as the Sharks stumbled in the second game of a four-game road trip.

The loss spoiled forward Tyler Kennedy’s homecoming. The center spent six years in Pittsburgh, scoring three game-winning goals during the Penguins’ run to the 2009 Stanley Cup and earning minor folk hero status for his perpetually scruffy beard and knack for delivering in big moments.

Kennedy, traded to San Jose last summer, received a loud ovation following a brief video tribute midway through the first period. It was a rare highlight for the Sharks, who were never in it over the final 35 minutes.

Notes: San Jose defender Dan Boyle played in his 900th career game. … The Sharks scratched forward Mike Brown, forward Matt Pelech and defender Matt Irwin.

The Associated Press

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