Thursday, 1 February 2018

Liiga Goes To Tallinna - Pelicans Lahti vs HPK Hameenlinna - Saturday, January 27, 2018

Image result for pelicans lahti
Pelicans Lahti made history last weekend when they played a first ever Finnish Liiga game in Estonia.
The Tondiraba Ice Hall in Tallinna was the venue as Pelicans took on local rivals HPK Hameenlinna in what was the first of three annual games the Lahti-based side have agreed to play in the Estonian capital over the coming years.
Technically this was a ‘home’ game for the team in light blue and nearly 6,000 fans made the trip across the Baltic Sea to watch a classic game of hockey.
I was one of those who travelled, albeit from England rather than Helsinki, but this was a much different looking side to the one I last watched 14 months ago.
The two North American’s on the side from last season, Ben Blood and Justin Hodgman (along with his song), have moved on. While last season’s captain Antti Erkinjuntti, opted to play in Switzerland for this season.
Perennial title challengers HIFK prised top forwards Juhani Tyrvainen and Vili Sopanen away to join the capital-based side while veteran defenseman Pasi Puistola retired.
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In fact, this was a much different looking side to the one lining up just a few weeks ago due to an ever growing injury list which has ruined what was a great start to the season.
Among the key players missing were, centers Miska Siikonen and Hannes Bjorninen. Throw in the fact Russian winger Vadim Pereskokov has returned back to his native Russia to play for Admiral Vladivostock in the KHL and it meant coach Petri Matikainen had to juggle his forward lines coming into this contest.
In the end he started with Aleksi Rekonen playing on the top line alongside Antti Tyrvainen and Joonas Alanne. While Roope Elimaki was promoted to center the second line with Jesse Mankinen and leading scorer Iikka Kangasniemi. Aleksi Mustonen, who has spent much of this season on the top line with Tyrvainen and Rekonen found himself anchoring the third unit with Kimi Koivisto and Jesse Saarinen while teenager Artturi Toivola, centered the fourth line with Taavi Vartiainen and Severi Lahtinen.
The defensive pairings saw Casimir Jurgens, a newcomer to the Pelican’s blue line this season, alongside Mikko Kousa, Czech import Libor Sulak partnering the Dane, Stefan Lassen and Nico Manelius lining up with Canadian-native, Jordan Rowley. Janne Juvonen got the start in goal.
Pelicans have now lost their last three games in a row, but much of that can be put down to the current injury crises and strange things out of their control. Just take a look at their last game with JYP for an insight into what I mean.
This was always going to be a big game for both teams given the occasion and things were far from smooth in the HPK camp. Goaltender Emil Larmi, a Junior World Champion with Finland had a game to forget against KooKoo in his previous game on Thursday, giving up six goals in a 3-6 defeat. 
In what was a tight opening exchange it was Pelicans who got the breakthrough at 17:22 when Canadian Defenseman Jordan Rowley, beat Larmi, much to the delight of the massed ranked fans from Lahti who were behind that goal.
Despite the Pelicans having a reputation for playing ‘extremely aggressive’ according to the liiga website, it was HPK who was running into penalty trouble (they gave up two in the first and a further three in the second), and that finally took its toll when Jesse Mankinen converted on the powerplay after being set up nicely by Antti Tyrvainen and Jesse Saarinen.
Things were looking great with the ‘home side’ seemingly easing their way to a comfortable victory, however, HPK halved the Pelicans advantage towards the end of the second period when Ville Viitaluoma found the net. The top-line center finishing off a move from his line-mate Juho Keranen.
It was a different HPK side that took to the ice in the third period and having got that goal back, seemed to grow in confidence. Less than six minutes had elapsed when Joonas Lehtivuori combined with his defensive partner Petterti Nikkila and Otto Paajanen to tie the game at 2-2. 
Having seen their lead evaporate, the Pelicans were rocking, and matters were not helped when Jordan Rowley was given a contentious penalty for allegedly delaying the game. That put HPK on the man-advantage and with 23 seconds of the penalty remaining Teemu Turunen combined with line-mate Robert Leino and Nikkila to give his side their first lead of the game.
Any thought that this was going to be marked as a classic HPK comeback would be wrong though, as having fallen behind, the Pelicans woke from their slumber and began to lay siege to their opponent’s goal.
Chance after chance seemed to go to waste until their momentum was halted following a penalty call on Libor Sulak. However, having killed off the Czech defensemen’s penalty, Pelicans could once again attack. With just over two and a half minutes left in the game they finally got their break through.
Nico Manelius fed Jesse Saarinen just below the expectant Pelicans fans watching anxiously from the stands, and it was as if their passion and chanting helped to suck the puck over the line and into the net. Saarinen’s reaction said it all with his celebration and the crowd went crazy as somehow, they had just watched their side surrender what looked like a certain win, before snatching a draw from defeat.
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With three seconds of the game remaining HPK forward Turunen was called for Tripping, meaning the Pelicans would start their 3-on-3 overtime with an extra skater. Unfortunately, there was no more changes to the scoreline and with HPK unable to trouble the Pelicans goal it meant we were heading for a shootout.
A penalty shootout is never a good way to settle any game in any sport, least of all one which had delivered so much to the travelling Finnish fans and the local Estonian neutrals and it would be a cruel way for Pelicans to lose this one.
Aleksi Mustonen, Jesse Mankinen and Iikka Kangasniemi all missed their shots while HPK saw Oula Palve and Teemu Turunen suffer a similar problem. It would be left to Kristian Vesalainen to win the game in the third round of the shootout and send the HPK fans travelling back to Finland the happier.
Ironically Vesalianen had only scored twice throughout December and January but it will be his name who will be recorded in history to net the game winner.
The Pelican's Jesse Mankinen joked afterwards saying ‘Maybe a smoother ice surface here than we are used to in Lahti was difficult for us to adapt to.’ However, he went on to say ‘I think it's okay (for us). We have a very mobile team, there was room for skating. In the attacking third you have to keep the puck moving, so you can create the targets.’
Despite the result, hockey won out and a largely successful event will be repeated next year when the Pelicans return to the Estonian Capital.
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Here is the liiga website report in Finnish:
Liigassa suorasta puolivälieräpaikasta kamppaileva Pelicans ja viime aikoina upeasti pisteitä haalinut HPK iskevät yhteen lauantaina historiallisessa pelissä. Joukkueet nimittäin kohtaavat kautta aikain ensimmäisessä ulkomailla pelattavassa Liiga-mittelössä.
Vaikka Pelicans onkin nyt kolmen ottelun tappioputkessa, on se 13 edellisessä koitoksessa jäänyt tyhjin käsin vain neljästi. Pirteästi pelannut hämeenlinnalaispoppoo sen sijaan on jäänyt tänä vuonna pisteittä ainoastaan kahdesti.
Kumpi löytää balanssin?
Pelicansin kausi on ollut aiempien sesonkien tapaan melkoista vuoristorataa. Vaikka esimerkiksi viime tai tällä kaudella ei ole tullutkaan katastrofaalisen pitkiä tappioputkia, on otteluiden sisällä tai muutamien päivien aikana tapahtunut kummallisia asioita - eli ihan lyhyessä ajassa.
Esimerkiksi viiden viimeisen minuutin aikana 1−4:n 4−4:ään JYPiä vastaan kääntänyt pelikaani antoi tuossa pelissä hurjan taidonnäytteen aggressiivisestä hyökkäämisestä, mutta vastaavasti Jukurien isäntänä se pelasi kauden surkeimman pelin häviten 2−4. Keväällä menestyminen vaatii sen, että otteet tasaantuvat.
Mutta jos on Pelicans ailahdellut, niin samaa voi sanoa HPK:stakin ja etenkin sen maalivahtiosastosta lähiaikoina. Nuorten maailmanmestari Emil Larmi pommitettiin tiistaina KooKoon toimesta vaihtoon, mutta vastaavasti viikko sitten Vaasassa hän oli joukkueensa suurin tuki ja turva voittoon.
Lauantaina on selvä asia, että HPK:n alakerran pitää kestää kovatempoisesti hyökkäävän Pelicansin edessä.
Kerhon vahvuus lienee lahtelaisten tavoin hyökkäämisessä, sillä esimerkiksi joulu-tammikuussa vain kahdessa ottelussa pisteittä jäänyt Kristian Vesalainen ja pistepörssissä kuin varkain jo kahdeksanneksi kivunnut Oula Palve (12+26) ovat iskeneet hurjaa jälkeä.
Koska Pelicansin pelitapa suosii äärimmäisen aggressiivista hyökkäämistä, ja toisaalta HPK:lta löytyy tulikuumia hyökkääjiä, voi lauantaina luvassa olla maalikarkelot. Iso asia pisteiden jaon kannalta on se, kumpi pystyy samaan alakerran tekemisen hyökkäämisen kanssa balanssiin.

Iso kaukalo sopii ainakin Pelicansille [A big rack fits at least for Pelicans]

Lauantainen Tallinnan ottelu on luonnollisesti spesiaali tapahtuma pelaajillekin. Pelicansin Jesse Mankinen valaisi lahtelaisjoukkueen Instagram-tilillä sitä, minkälaisessa kaukalossa pisteistä pelataan kello 19 alkaen.
Vähän ehkä pehmeämpi jää kuin Lahdessa, hyökkääjä sanoi, ja jatkoi isosta kaukalosta:
Uskon, että sopii (meille). Meillä on hyvin liikkuva joukkue, siinä on tilaa luistella. Hyökkäyspäässä pitää pitää kiekkoa ja liikkua, niin saadaan luotua maalipaikkoja.
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Wednesday, 31 January 2018

NHL - Sharks Round Up - November 01-11, 2017

Trashville Predators @ Sharks 1-4 - Wednesday, November 01

Joe Thornton got his 1,400th NHL point, and Martin Jones made 19 saves to help the San Jose Sharks defeat the Nashville Predators 4-1 at SAP Center.Joonas Donskoi, Joe Pavelski, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Mikkel Boedker scored for the Sharks (7-5-0), who got their season-high third straight win.

"It was just a good, hard-fought win," Pavelski said. "I think you understand that guys in here care. We weren't happy with our start, and the last five, six, seven games, it's been much better. It's just a continuous process of working towards that and keeping our game at a certain level we want to keep it at."

Roman Josi scored for the Predators (5-5-2), who lost for the fourth time in their past five games (1-3-1).
"We're not getting the [offensive] zone time we want," Josi said. "We're not [creating turnovers]. We're forechecking hard, but we're just not working as a five-man unit. It's the same in the D zone. I think it starts in the D zone."
Thornton got point No. 1,400 in the second period with an assist on Pavelski's goal. He passed Jari Kurri for 20th in NHL history in a 3-2 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday and is nine points from tying Dale Hawerchuk for 19th.
"I think the perspective is you look at the 20 guys on that list with him," Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. "That's pretty eye-opening and pretty amazing. There's not many words for it. For the people out there that wonder what type of accomplishment that is, I think just take a look at that list. That's rare air."
San Jose went 1-for-8 on the power play. Nashville was 0-for-4. The Predators have been called for 81 penalties, most in the NHL.
Donskoi gave the Sharks a 1-0 lead at 15:49 of the first period when he took a pass from defenseman Tim Heed and beat Rinne from close range. Pavelski tipped in defenseman Brenden Dillon's shot from above the left face-off circle at 10:04 of the second period for his 299th NHL goal to make it 2-0.
Josi skated through traffic and beat Jones with a backhand to the far side from the left circle to cut the lead to 2-1 at 10:04 of the second. It was the defenseman's third goal.
Vlasic scored a power-play goal at 13:50 of the second to give San Jose a 3-1 lead. His slap shot from the right point deflected off Nashville defenseman P.K. Subban's skate and past Rinne. Boedker scored at 13:43 of the third period to make it 4-1.
Vlasic left the game with an apparent head injury at 1:02 of the third. He had the puck in the right corner behind the Sharks net when Predators center Ryan Johansen checked him from behind. Johansen, who received a minor penalty for boarding, appeared to make contact with his right shoulder to Vlasic's head, which hit the glass. DeBoer didn't have an update on Vlasic's condition after the game.
"I haven't had a chance to see him or talk to him yet, but anytime you're going back for pucks you try not to get hit in the head like that," Dillon said. "We have a couple days before our next game on Saturday, so hopefully he's OK."
"A lot of emotions on the ice. That's the kind of effort we have to put in to win in this league. A lot of 1-on-1 battles. I think we were pretty strong all over the ice in 1-on-1 battles." -- Sharks forward Joonas Donskoi
Sharks rookie defenseman Joakim Ryan, who got his first NHL point with an assist on Boedker's goal, set a Sharks record with nine blocked shots. ... Josi led the Predators with four shots on goal and had another six attempts blocked.

Anaheim Sucks @ Sharks 1-2 SO - Saturday, November 04
Joonas Donskoi scored in the sixth round of a shootout to lift the San Jose Sharks to a 2-1 victory against the Anaheim Ducks at SAP Center. Joe Pavelski also scored in the shootout for San Jose, and Martin Jones stopped five of six shots. Rickard Rakell scored in the shootout for Anaheim. Donskoi faked left, brought the puck back to his right and beat Ryan Miller with a wrist shot from close range.
"That was great," Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. "He's playing with confidence. He looks like the player we had here two years ago, which is a good sign because we need that."

Joel Ward scored, and Jones made 25 saves for the Sharks (8-5-0), who won their season-high fourth straight game. Corey Perry scored, and Ryan Miller made 44 saves in his second start of the season for the Ducks (6-6-2), who lost their third in a row. The Ducks were coming off a 5-3 loss to the Nashville Predators at Honda Center. Ward tied it 1-1 with 8:03 remaining in the third period with his second goal of the season, putting forward Barclay Goodrow's rebound into a wide-open net to cap a 2-on-1 rush. Goodrow played his second game of the season and centered a line for the first time since he was in minor hockey.

"I'll do whatever it takes to get in the lineup," Goodrow said. "We're pretty interchangeable once we're in our own zone."
Ward, a fourth-line forward, has two goals in his past three games.
"I felt like me and [Goodrow] spent some time together so we gained some chemistry a little bit in practices," Ward said. "It's always good to contribute and help your team in a positive way. It was a good feeling to get one, and get the boys going a little bit and give ourselves a chance."
The Sharks outshot Anaheim 41-26 in regulation and 4-0 in overtime. Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano played his 800th consecutive game, the fourth-longest streak in NHL history, behind Doug Jarvis (964), Garry Unger (914) and Steve Larmer (884). Cogliano's streak began on Oct. 4, 2007, in his NHL debut with the Edmonton Oilers against San Jose. Perry, who played his 900th NHL game, scored on a breakaway at 6:23 of the first period to give Anaheim a 1-0 lead. He took a stretch pass from Derek Grant and beat Jones through the 5-hole for his third goal of the season and first since scoring twice in Anaheim's season opener.
Miller stopped 12 shots in the first period and 17 in the second. In one flurry just over eight minutes into the second, he stopped Justin Braun's slap shot from the high slot, Chris Tierney's attempt from close range on the rebound and another Braun slap shot.

Tampa Bay Lightning @ Sharks 5-1 - Wednesday, November 08
Nikita Kucherov, Vladislav Namestnikov and Steven Stamkos each had three points to help the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 5-1 win against the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 32 saves for Tampa Bay (12-2-2), which leads the NHL in points (26) and is tied with the St. Louis Blues for the lead in wins. Namestnikov had two goals and an assist, Kucherov had a goal and two assists and Stamkos had three assists. Jake Dotchin and Slater Koekkoek also scored for Tampa Bay. Stamkos leads the NHL with 28 points. Kucherov ranks first with 15 goals and is second in the League with 26 points.
"As the game went on, we just didn't reset ourselves," Sharks captain Joe Pavelski said. "We kept missing passes and just fed their rush. They're good players, for sure. They made some plays, played with the puck a lot. And partly that's on us. Any time we had it we seemed to give it back to them."
Kucherov buried a wrist shot into the upper left corner of the net 44 seconds into the second to give Tampa Bay a 2-1 lead. Koekkoek made it 3-1 at 9:21 when he scored on a backhand between Jones' pads from close range. The Lightning extended their lead to 4-1 at 12:00 on Namestnikov's wrist shot. Stamkos took a cross-ice pass in the left circle from Kucherov and quickly sent the puck to Namestnikov on the other side. Namestnikov scored a power play goal at 6:14 of the third period to make it 5-1. After Donskoi scored, the Lightning tied it 1-1 on Dotchin's first NHL career goal at 7:17 of the first period on a slap shot.
"Our game tailed off," Sharks center Logan Couture said. "We turned pucks over, didn't forecheck. They felt comfortable. They had the puck all night. They're so talented. All four lines are fast. They outskated us all over the ice. It seemed like they had five more skaters than we did."
"When you play an elite team, you have to bring your 'A' game and we didn't do that across the board. When you bring your 'B' game, you see what happens. We didn't do anything well. " -- Sharks coach Peter DeBoer

Lightning forward Chris Kunitz played his 900th NHL game. ... Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic returned to the lineup after missing one game with a concussion. ... Sharks defenseman Paul Marin (ankle) missed his 12th straight game. ... Lightning forward Yanni Gourde, a former Sharks prospect, had two assists. ... Lightning forward Cedric Paquette (upper body) missed his ninth straight game.

Vancouver Canucks @ Sharks 0-5 - Saturday, November 11
Aaron Dell made an NHL career-high 41 saves to help the San Jose Sharks to a 5-0 win against the Vancouver Canucks at SAP Center. Logan Couture and Chris Tierney each scored two goals, and Tomas Hertl had a goal for San Jose (9-6-0), which won for the fifth time in its past six games and defeated Vancouver for a sixth straight time. Dell got his second NHL career shutout in his fourth start of the season. His first shutout came against the Philadelphia Flyers on Dec. 30, 2016.
"I feel like I get better every game and I've tried to get better in practice every day too," Dell said.
Jacob Markstrom made 26 saves for Vancouver (8-7-2), which has lost three of its past four games.
The Sharks rebounded from a 5-1 home loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday. Dell replaced Martin Jones in that game after the second period.
"I think it was a big bounce-back for the team after the last game," Dell said. "I think the one period I got in for that helped prepare [me for] this one."
Hertl gave the Sharks a 1-0 lead 48 seconds into the game with his third goal of the season and first since Oct. 17. Markstrom made a save on Ryan Braun's shot from above the right circle, but the rebound deflected off Hertl's skate and over the goal line.
"We need scoring by committee," Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. "He's one of those guys. Tierney got a couple tonight, and Couture's been consistent all year. That's how we're going to win. I thought Tomas Hertl's been playing some really good hockey."
Couture made it 2-0 with a shorthanded goal, San Jose's first of the season, at 15:59 of the second period. Hertl chipped the puck out of the defensive zone, springing Couture on a breakaway. Couture faked left, went right and beat Markstrom between the legs with a backhand shot. It was Couture's first goal since Oct. 28. He leads the Sharks with 10 goals.
"He's a big strong guy, "Couture said of Hertl. "He had three guys on him, and he made a great chip. Fortunately it didn't go too far, so I was able to track it down and still have an angle to get to the net. Made a move I like to make and was able to find the back of the net."
Vancouver outshot San Jose 14-6 in the second period but couldn't get the puck past Dell, who made two stellar saves on 2-on-1 rushes. He stopped Sven Baertschi at 3:18 of the second on a power play and Derek Dorsett at 11:15 on a shorthanded try.
"Dell was our best player, which is why we have him," DeBoer said. "He was great. ... He had an exceptional season last year and followed it up with a great training camp and every time we've put him in there, he's given us good games. He's a big part of our team."
Couture scored an empty-net goal with 1:41 left in the third period. Tierney scored a shorthanded, empty net goal with 38.8 seconds remaining and on a penalty shot with 12.2 seconds left.
Dell against Bo Horvat's wrist shot from close range at 7:18 of the third period.

"It's always nice to contribute and score. It was a goal that I set for myself was to contribute offensively for this team and score goals. It's a nice start." -- Sharks center Logan Couture

Canucks forward Loui Eriksson returned after missing 12 straight games because of a sprained left knee. He had five shots in 18:16 of ice time. … Sharks forward Melker Karlsson played his 200th NHL game. ... Sharks defenseman Paul Martin (ankle) missed his 13th straight game.

San Jose Sharks @ Pittsburgh Penguins 2-5 - Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Matt Murray made 40 saves in his first game since his father's death to help the Pittsburgh Penguins win 5-2 against the San Jose Sharks at PPG Paints Arena.Murray last started Jan. 4 before appearing in relief of Tristan Jarry on Jan. 7. He returned home to Ontario on Jan. 17 following the death of James Murray. His 40 saves were his second-most this season, behind the 43 he made in a 4-3 win against the Florida Panthers on Oct. 14.

"It was a great feeling, obviously," Murray said. "Getting back to normal and getting in a good game like that, and getting a win for the team. Points are important right now and every game means so much. So it was really nice to get back into it.
"For sure, this one meant a little more to me, personally."

Murray's performance impressed, but did not surprise Penguins coach Mike Sullivan.

"I thought he was terrific," Sullivan said. "It was obviously an emotional game for him. I thought he was terrific. He made some timely saves for us that gave us a chance to get our legs and capture the game.
"He's just a great kid that has good perspective I think, and because of that, I think he handles adverse situations really well."
Evgeni Malkin scored a hat trick for Pittsburgh. His second goal gave the Penguins a 3-2 lead at 6:01 of the third period. After Martin Jones turned it over to Patric Hornqvist behind his net, Malkin received a pass and shot into an open net. His first goal tied it 2-2 with 4.1 seconds remaining in the second period.
Bryan Rust, who scored twice, made it 4-2 at 13:58 of the third period. Tom Kuhnhackl sent a no-look backhand pass between his legs to Rust for him to score his sixth of the season on a backhand shot.

Malkin scored into an empty net for the hat trick to extend it to 5-2 at 18:47. He has 12 goals in his past 10 games, including five in his past two.
"Last couple weeks, I feel like I'm so lucky," Malkin said. "I try to help the team to win. I'm glad. I like my shot. It's coming. I'm just using my shot right now. … We have more confidence right now. It's more fun."
Sidney Crosby had an assist on the goal to extend his season-long point streak to 10 games. He has 20 points (three goals, 17 assists) during that stretch.Jones made 26 saves for the Sharks, who have lost three straight games (0-2-1), after missing four with a lower-body injury. Jones said he felt 100 percent healthy and was pleased with how his teammates performed in front of him.
"We played really well. Thought we were really quick on pucks and got in on the forecheck," Jones said. "So it was good. We took away their time and space, which is what you have to do against teams like that."

Pittsburgh (28-21-3) has won three straight since losing 2-1 to San Jose (26-16-7) on Jan. 20.
Rust ended his 14-game goal drought to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead at 11:09 of the first period. After passing to Riley Sheahan, Rust entered the zone down the near wall, received a return pass and went forehand to backhand through Jones' legs.
The Sharks took a 2-1 lead on two power-play goals, the first from Brent Burns at 10:00 of the second period, and the second from Logan Couture at 18:35. It was Couture's 200th NHL goal. 
The lead lasted 1:20 before Malkin tied it 2-2.

"It's unbelievable. The way [Murray has] handled himself and just how much he means to this team. His effort was inspiring and I'm sure he's super excited about it." -- Penguins forward Bryan Rust

"We did some good stuff, but self-inflicted wounds, you know? There are two or three key plays that, obviously, we gave them. So that's one of those games where you can't beat yourself on the road." -- Sharks coach Peter DeBoer
The Sharks were 2-for-5 on the power play without forward Joe Thornton, who missed a second game with a knee injury. Thornton will likely miss several weeks. … Penguins defenseman Matt Hunwick missed a second straight game with an upper-body injury. Defenseman Ian Cole played in his place for a second time after being a healthy scratch the previous seven games. ... Burns has nine points (one goal, eight assists) during a seven-game point streak.

NHL - Pens Round Up - January 23-25, 2018

Carolina Hurricanes @ Penguins 1-3 - Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Jean-Sebastien Dea's first NHL goal broke a tie in the second period, and Casey DeSmith made 34 saves to help the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 3-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes at PPG Paints Arena. Dea, who was playing his fourth NHL game, gave the Penguins a 2-1 lead at 9:19 of the second period. Bryan Rust backhanded a pass to Dea gliding toward the crease, allowing him to deflect it by Cam Ward.
"It was special," Dea said. "I don't know what to say right now. It's a pretty amazing feeling. I've dreamt about it since I was a little boy. It's just really amazing right now. … I ran into the ref or the other guy [Hurricanes defenseman Noah Hanifin] after that. I just wanted to get out of there and [celebrate] for that goal."

Jake Guentzel made it 3-1 at 11:02 of the third. DeSmith has allowed fewer than three goals in each of his three NHL starts. He made 28 saves in a 3-1 win against the Los Angeles Kings in his first start on Jan. 18 before allowing two goals on 36 shots in a 2-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks.

"I'm just happy to be out here," DeSmith said. "I'm playing hard and guys are playing hard for me. That's why I've gotten a couple wins here. So, they're playing pretty responsibly in front of me and they're making my job pretty easy, letting me see the puck and stuff like that.
"I've played worse in my life, for sure. I'm just playing at a high level right now and I'm fortunate it's coming at this time."

Ward made 30 saves. He allowed one goal on 49 shots in his prior two games against the Penguins this season. Pittsburgh (26-21-3) has outscored its opponents 18-9 during a four-game home win streak. Carolina (21-19-8) has lost eight of its past 11 games (3-7-1). After Derek Ryan gave the Hurricanes a 1-0 lead at 7:14 of the second period, Dominik Simon and Dea scored 1:16 apart. Simon carried down the far wall to the top of the right face-off circle before sending a wrist shot past Ward's glove, tying it 1-1 on his second NHL goal at 8:03 of the second before Dea made it 2-1. Simon has scored twice in his past three games after going his first 18 NHL games without a goal.
Sidney Crosby had the primary assist on Simon's goal to extend his point streak to eight games. He has 16 points (three goals, 13 assists) during that stretch.
Ryan opened the scoring when he collected Lee Stempniak's rebound with his left skate and scored on a wrist shot for his 10th goal of the season.
"[Dea] gets his first NHL goal tonight. That's always a great experience. He'll never forget that as long as he lives. The energy that's around that, every player on the bench remembers their first goal. So, I think everyone gets excited when that happens." -- Penguins coach Mike Sullivan

Crosby's assist was his 1,079th NHL point, tying him with Jaromir Jagr for second on the Penguins all-time list, trailing Mario Lemieux (1,723). ... Each of the Penguins' three goal scorers (Simon, Dea and Guentzel) is 23 years old. … Hurricanes defenseman Brett Pesce returned from missing five games because of an upper-body injury. … Rust returned from missing 11 games with an upper-body injury. He had the primary assist on Dea's goal and led the Penguins with three blocked shots.
Minnesota Wild @ Penguins 3-6 - Thursday, January 25, 2018

Sidney Crosby had three assists to move into second on the Pittsburgh Penguins scoring list in a 6-3 win against the Minnesota Wild at PPG Paints Arena. Crosby passed Jaromir Jagr with his 1,080th point when he set up a one-timer from Dominik Simon that gave the Penguins a 1-0 lead at 3:54 of the first period. Mario Lemieux is first with 1,723 points.
"I think you just feel more confident. You see things a little bit more [when you score regularly]," said Crosby, who has 19 points (three goals, 16 assists) during a nine-game point streak. "When it's going like that, it's fun to play. You tend to think of the ones you miss or could've had more than the ones that you actually convert on."

Evgeni Malkin (two goals, one assist) and Phil Kessel (three assists) had three points each, and rookie goaltender Casey DeSmith made 23 saves in his fourth straight start for the Penguins (27-21-3), who are 7-2-0 in their past nine games.
"We're in a fight for the playoffs here," DeSmith said. "With the guys this locker room, it's no surprise they're elevating their game each and every game. It's a good time to do it, for sure."
Minnesota (26-18-5) had its six-game point streak end. Malkin made it 2-0 with a power-play goal at 9:09 of the first period. After receiving a pass from Crosby, Malkin carried it behind the Wild net and attempted a pass that hit Ryan Suter's leg and ricocheted off the back of Devan Dubnyk's left skate. Carl Hagelin extended the lead to 3-0 at 9:28 of the second before Dumoulin scored 1:27 later.
Crosby batted a puck down and turned up ice, sending a cross-ice pass to Hagelin, who quickly returned it to Crosby who tapped a pass to Dumoulin drifting toward the left post. Dumoulin took a wrist shot to put Pittsburgh ahead 4-0. Alex Stalock replaced Dubnyk, who made 17 saves on 21 shots, following Dumoulin's goal. Stalock stopped 16 of 18 shots. Malkin scored another power-play goal, which deflected off Suter's skate, to make it 5-0 at 1:42 of the third.
Simon pushed it to 6-0 with his second goal at 2:32.

Wild coach Bruce Boudreau called a timeout following Simon's goal and told his players he wanted them to show pride in the remaining 17:28. Minnesota responded with three straight goals. Eric Staal scored at 8:44 when he got to the loose puck off Nate Prosser's blocked shot and beat DeSmith glove side to make it 6-1.

Mikael Granlund made it 6-2 with a power-play goal at 10:50 before Jonas Brodin scored 56 seconds later to make it 6-3. Staal said the Wild wanted to push back but weren't fooled into thinking they had a chance to win at that point.
"I think all of the elite players in the game, they tend to see the game quicker. They see it before other people on the rink ... I think Sid is one of those elite guys." -- Penguins coach Mike Sullivan

Crosby remains one goal shy of 400 in the NHL. He is on a five-game goal drought since scoring his 399th against the New York Rangers on Jan. 14. … Wild forward Matt Cullen returned to Pittsburgh for the first time since signing with Minnesota on Aug. 16. He won the Stanley Cup twice and had 63 points (29 goals, 34 assists) in two seasons with the Penguins. … Penguins defenseman Matt Hunwick, who Sullivan listed as day to day, did not play with an upper-body injury. Defenseman Ian Cole replaced him after being a healthy scratch the past seven games.

Pittsburgh Penguins @ San Jose Sharks 1-2 - Saturday, January 20, 2018

Aaron Dell made 31 saves, and Tomas Hertl scored the go-ahead goal early in the third period to lift the San Jose Sharks to a 2-1 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins at SAP Center. Dell started in place of No. 1 goalie Martin Jones, who missed the game with a lower-body injury.
"That's what I'm here for," said Dell, who will start again Sunday at the Anaheim Ducks. "If they need me for three more games, if they need me for one game, I just got to take it as it comes."
Timo Meier scored for the Sharks (25-14-6), who won for the fourth time in their past five games.

"It's tough, with Jones going down with an injury," Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. "We knew [Dell] would be great, and he was again. He was outstanding for us. That's a nice luxury to have, with two good goalies."
Dell is 11-3-2 with a 2.18 goals-against average and .928 save percentage in his second NHL season.
Penguins rookie goaltender Casey DeSmith made 34 saves in his second straight start, the second of his NHL career. Conor Sheary scored for Pittsburgh (25-21-3), which went 1-2-0 on its California road trip.
"We just couldn't get those opportunities, our second and third ones, that were important especially in a close game like that," Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. "You've just got to bury the puck. At the end of the day, it's just execution. I had some really good looks and, you know, put a couple of those in, it's a different game. … We competed hard, we generated some good looks. Power play too. Same kind of thing."

Hertl scored on the power play to give the Sharks a 2-1 lead at 1:53 of the third, four seconds after Penguins defenseman Jamie Oleksiak was called for cross-checking Joonas Donskoi. Joe Pavelski redirected Brent Burns' point shot, and Hertl put the rebound into a wide-open net.
The Penguins pulled DeSmith with 2:15 remaining. San Jose missed three shots at the empty net, but Pittsburgh didn't get a single shot through against Dell with the extra attacker. Sheary gave Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead at 3:18 of the first period. Dominik Simon tracked down his own rebound behind the net and passed the puck in front to Sheary, who beat Dell between his pads for his first goal in eight games.
"I'm not putting up the numbers I'd like personally, but if I bring the work ethic every night, I can help this team win," Sheary said. "We're trying to get back to being relentless out there. We roll four lines, and if they produce, we can roll."
Meier scored at 17:44 of the first to tie it 1-1. Pavelski threaded a cross-ice pass between Penguins forward Patric Hornqvist and defenseman Justin Schultz for Meier, who beat DeSmith with a wrist shot from the left face-off circle for his 10th goal.

"Obviously, we know Pittsburgh is strong," Meier said. "They have a pretty good lineup and a lot of skill and speed. So, for us to win that game shows that we're improving our game and we're playing pretty good hockey right now. So, we're looking forward to taking another step and getting better every game."
Dell made 16 saves and DeSmith made 11 in the second period.
"I thought both goalies played extremely well," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. "We had a good number of chances and so did they. We just couldn't find a way to score a goal. Casey played terrifically. He made some big saves."

"Having another game under my belt helps confidence-wise. The Sharks shoot the puck from all over the place and they try and get tips and rebounds. They play a little different game than we usually see." -- Penguins goaltender Casey DeSmith

"He's been performing great for us this year. He's showed in the games that he came in what a great goalie he is. We enjoy playing in front of him, and that's a huge two points for us to get here tonight. We're looking forward to continue like that tomorrow night against Anaheim." -- Sharks forward Timo Meier on goaltender Aaron Dell

The Sharks recalled goaltender Troy Grosenick from the San Jose Barracuda of the American Hockey League. ... The Sharks had 28 blocked shots, one shy of their season-high 29 in a 3-2 shootout win against the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday. Defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic led them with six. ... Crosby had an assist to extend his point streak to seven games (three goals, 12 assists). ... Burns had two assists and has 25 points in his past 18 games.