Sharks edge Penguins in shootout thriller

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The San Jose Sharks and especially the Pittsburgh Penguins created some great scoring chances on Monday, yet Antti Niemi and Marc-Andre Fleury stole the show.

It makes sense that the increasingly thrilling contest needed eight shootout rounds to wrap up, then, but the bottom line is that Niemi and the Sharks ultimately earned a significant 2-1 win.

Matt Nieto opened up the scoring with a 1-0 goal late in the first period. Despite some muscle-flexing from both sides (Pittsburgh fired 40 shots on goal to San Jose’s 30), Sidney Crosby was the only other player to find the net in regulation.

At least it was a standout goal for Crosby, who netted his first-ever tally against the Sharks:

The Penguins fell just short of sweeping their California stretch. Overall, they went 2-1-1 on a challenging four-game road trip. As much as they would have preferred to win, they probably feel at least somewhat content with their overall effort.

San Jose leaned on Niemi pretty heavily at times, yet they found a way to win, keeping their playoff hopes alive. They still need some breaks to go their way, but losing a game like this would have made the Sharks’ outlook quite a bit bleaker.

While it’s true that these teams rarely face each other, fans of tonight’s game can look forward to another bout between the Sharks and Penguins in Pittsburgh on March 29.

San Jose has to hope that its chances haven’t faded by then.