SAN JOSE – In the second rematch of the Stanley Cup Final, one team still looks like a contender. The other seemingly has lots of work to do.
The surging Penguins improved to 8-2-2 on the season, embarrassing the Sharks at SAP Center on Saturday night, 5-0.
The Sharks, meanwhile, have yet to find any consistency – either in the results, or with their effort – in losing their third straight game in regulation and dropping to 6-6-0 on the season.
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby scored late in the first period and early in the second to increase the Pittsburgh lead to a commanding 3-0. Martin Jones was pulled after that, but rather than get a jolt from Aaron Dell entering the game, the Sharks continued to play a sloppy and lazy middle frame. Pittsburgh took advantage.
Eric Fehr increased the lead to 4-0 at 2:33 of the second with a wrist shot from the circle on what was the first shot Dell faced. Later, Nick Bonino converted a shorthanded goal from Trevor Daley at 16:28.
San Jose dropped both meetings with the Penguins this season, including a 3-2 loss in Pittsburgh on Oct. 20.
Pittsburgh, which was concluding a four-game road trip, improved to 5-0-1 in its last six.
In the first period, after Chris Kunitz gave the Penguins a lead by finishing off an odd-man rush, the Sharks responded. During one stretch, they recorded 10 straight shots on goal.
Matt Murray made several nice stops on deflected pucks by Joe Pavelski and Melker Karlsson, though, and the Penguins increased their edge to 2-0 when Crosby skillfully banked a puck off of Jones’ skate from behind the goal line at 18:28.
Just 13 seconds into the second, Marc-Edouard Vlasic tried clearing a puck away from in front of the net, but whacked it directly on to Crosby’s stick and it bounded through Jones.
Crosby, who missed the first six games with a concussion, has eight goals and 10 points in his first six games of the season.
The Sharks, who dropped identical 3-2 decisions to Arizona and Calgary earlier in the week, shuffled up their lines prior to puck drop. Tomas Hertl returned to the left wing of the top line, while Patrick Marleau was the third line center for the first time this season.
The Sharks were 0-for-5 on the power play, and allowed their first shorthanded goal.
Pittsburgh was 0-for-1, keeping the Sharks’ penalty killing streak intact at 18-for-18 in their last seven games.
Jones has started 11 of the Sharks’ 12 games, getting lifted for the first time this season. He made a highlight reel stop on Bryan Rust early in the game, but allowed three goals on just seven shots to take the loss.
Dell was playing for the first time since he won his NHL debut in Brooklyn on Oct. 18. He allowed two goals on 18 shots.
Murray got in his second game after missing the first few weeks of the season with a hand injury. He improved to 2-0 with 32 saves.
Matt Nieto returned to the lineup after he was a healthy scratch for the previous five games. Tommy Wingels was a late scratch for reasons that weren’t immediately clear, so Micheal Haley remained in.
Pittsburgh’s Conor Sheary, who scored the overtime winner in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final, returned after a seven-game absence due to injury.
The Sharks’ now begin a season-long six-game road trip that takes them to Washington, Tampa Bay, Florida, Carolina, St. Louis and Arizona. Their next home game is on Nov. 21 against New Jersey, opening a five-game homestand.