PITTSBURGH – The Penguins moved the puck with crispness and collected 39 shots on goal, but it the exquisitely bearded Brent Burns who had the last toothless laugh as his San Jose Sharks withstood Pittsburgh’s offensive onslaught and topped the Penguins 3-1 on Saturday night at CONSOL Energy Center.
San Jose’s Captain Caveman look-a-like defenseman scored two goals and added seven shots on goal. Burns’s seven goals lead all NHL defensemen and his 90 shots are second only to Alex Ovechkin’s 96 for the overall league lead.
“[Burns] is definitely one of those guys who actually doesn’t get enough credit for how good he is,” Penguins center Matt Cullen said.
The Sharks defenseman opened the scoring 7:54 into the game when he slipped behind the Penguins defense and put home a puck that rebounded off of Marc Andre Fleury’s right pad.
Burns struck again 13:06 into the second period when he fired a shot from the point into traffic that had collected in front of Marc Andre Fleury. The puck caromed off of Penguins defenseman Rob Scuderi and ended up finding its way into the back of the net.
“He’s an animal,” Penguins defenseman Ben Lovejoy said of Burns.
The second period goal came less than five minutes after a long, productive powerplay allowed the Penguins to assume momentum and tie the game at one.
During the first half of Joe Pavelski’s four-minute high sticking penalty, Phil Kessel potted Pittsburgh’s only goal 8:38 into the second period when he crashed the net and pushed home a puck that was loose in the crease.
“We had some power play opportunities and got one, but it probably would have changed the game if we were able to get one on those last couple [power plays] we had,” Sidney Crosby said.
Sharks goaltender Martin Jones shut the door after that. Jones stopped 38 shots en route to his 11th win of the season, which ties him with Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby for the NHL lead.
Former Penguins and current Sharks defenseman Paul Martin received a video tribute and a round of applause for his five years in Pittsburgh.
The veteran defenseman also added an insurance tally in the third period when he fired a seemingly harmless slapshot from the point that bounced off of Fleury’s blocker and defenseman Ben Lovejoy’s torso to give San Jose a frustrating third goal. It was Martin’s first goal of the season.
The Penguins seemingly outshot the Sharks 39 to 29 and generally controlled the pace throughout the majority of the game.
But the Sharks were able to bear down on the Penguins on the forecheck, create traffic in front of the net, and take advantage of some favorable bounces to come out of Pittsburgh with their 12th victory.
“Our execution has got to get better, but we had our opportunities and the difference in the game [was] two pucks off of guys,” Crosby said. “That happens sometimes.”
To make matters worse, Penguins defenseman Kris Letang left the game early after a tipped puck hit him in the face.
With a secondary assist on the game’s first goal, veteran Sharks forward Patrick Marleau notched his 1,000th career NHL point.
Marleau, 36, was drafted second overall by the Sharks in 1998 and has spent all 18 of his NHL seasons in teal and black. He holds team records for games played (1,349), goals scored (462), game-winning goals (90), and points.
The former Sharks captain is the 83rd player to reach the 1,000-point milestone. Included in that group is Marleau’s teammate, forward Joe Thornton, who spent eight seasons with the Boston Bruins.
The Penguins will have three days off before they will host David Backes, Vladimir Tarasenko, and the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday November 24th in a pre-Thanksgiving showdown at CONSOL Energy Center.