SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- Nearly six years after his last
appearance at the Shark Tank, Mario Lemieux picked up right where
he left off.
Unfortunately for Pittsburgh, the San Jose Sharks wouldn't be
pushed around by Lemieux the way they were earlier in his career --
or even earlier this season.
Mike Ricci tipped Bryan Marchment's slap shot into the net,
igniting a late three-goal flurry as the Sharks overcame two
power-play goals by Lemieux and escaped last place in the Pacific
Division with a 5-2 victory on Thursday night.
Until Marchment's shot found Ricci's stationary stick in front
of the Penguins net, the game was another showcase for Lemieux, who
shredded San Jose's unstable defense. He was denied a hat trick
only when he hit the post on a first-period breakaway.
Lemieux has 49 points in just 14 career games against the Sharks
-- his highest points-per-game average against any opponent.
"I had big games against them the first couple of years they
were in the league,'' said Lemieux, who had a goal and two assists
in the Sharks' loss in Pittsburgh last month. "It's a different
story now. They're a better team, with great goalies.''
Captain Owen Nolan and Patrick Marleau added goals 98 seconds
apart as the Sharks roared to their second win in three games under
coach Ron Wilson. The late rally propelled San Jose to just its
fourth victory in 12 home games this season, earning praise from
the new coach.
"All the decisions we made in the third period were
intelligent, and that was a good sign,'' Wilson said. "I'd prefer
that we play the first period like that instead of the third
period, but we're a work in progress right now.''
Marleau had two goals, and Adam Graves also scored as San Jose
moved past Phoenix in the division standings after more than a
month on the bottom. Evgeni Nabokov stopped 22 shots, including a
series of chances by Lemieux and his linemates in the first two
On the second stop of a five-game road trip, the Penguins lost
their sixth straight. Lemieux scored in each of the first two
periods, but Penguins goalie Jean-Sebastien Aubin gave up a flurry
of late goals after playing well in the first 56 minutes.
"I thought we played a pretty solid game until the end,''
Lemieux said. "We skated well at first and created some good
opportunities. When a team doesn't have much confidence, it's tough
to win games like that. They score a goal, and our confidence goes
out the window. We need to win a game and get our confidence
After 15 minutes of cautious hockey in the third period, the
teams appeared headed to overtime until Marchment took a shot from
just inside the blue line. As it moved through a crowd of players
in front, Ricci tipped it low past Aubin for the go-ahead goal.
"(Marchment) doesn't get a lot of credit, but he makes those
plays,'' Ricci said. "He says he looks for my hair in front of the
net. That play was all him.''
Nolan and Marleau both beat Aubin in the closing minutes with
In his first appearance in San Jose with the Penguins since Dec.
13, 1996, he put on a show for a sellout crowd that included dozens
of fans wearing Lemieux jerseys -- and in the opening two periods,
the Sharks appeared determined to let Lemieux impress his fans.
Lemieux got his first goal midway through the first period when
the Sharks inexplicably left him unchecked in front of the net,
where he buried Alexei Kovalev's pass.
But Lemieux also failed to score on a 2-on-1 break with Kovalev
and two breakaways, taking one shot that ricocheted off the base of
the left post and across the crease. The goal light even came on,
but video replay clearly showed no goal.
Graves scored late in the first period, backhanding a loose puck
past Aubin. It was just the third goal in 28 games this season for
Graves, whose struggles have been one of the Sharks' many problems.
Lemieux converted at a difficult angle for his second goal,
banking the puck off the back of Nabokov's left leg from the
opposite side of the net. But Marleau tied it late in the period
when he was left alone in the slot for a wrist shot.
San Jose has allowed a power-play goal in 10 straight
games. ... D Jim Fahey made his NHL debut for the Sharks. ... San
Jose's Scott Thornton had two assists, including the 100th of his
career. ... Teemu Selanne extended his scoring streak to four games
with an assist on Marleau's first goal. ... Before the game,
injury-plagued Pittsburgh recalled Milan Kraft from
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre of the AHL. Steve McKenna was expected to
miss the rest of the road trip with an elbow infection, but he
played several shifts against San Jose.