SAN JOSE (AP) — Sidney Crosby takes full responsibility for the Pittsburgh Penguins’ current rut.
Evander Kane had a goal and an assist, Martin Jones made 30 saves in his 24th career shutout and the San Jose Sharks sent the Penguins to their first six-game losing streak in eight years with a 5-0 victory on Saturday night.
“I put it on myself,” Crosby said. “I have to step up in key situations. When you’re down like this and losing games, you need big plays and big performances. I haven’t done that. That’s on me.”
Crosby has one goal, no assists and a minus-8 rating during the team’s first six-game skid since the 2011-12 season. Pittsburgh has been outscored 24-8 with all the losses in regulation, falling from first place to third in the Metropolitan Division.
The Penguins even went winless on a California swing against the bottom three teams in the Western Conference, having lost to Los Angeles and Anaheim earlier in the week.
“I think we’re fighting it,” Crosby said. “When you get down in games, you can force it a bit. When it’s going your way, all those things fall into place. Right now, it’s happening. If we can get a lead and put ourselves in a better spot that way it goes along way.”
Logan Couture, Joe Thornton, Timo Meier and Joel Kellman also scored to give the Sharks back-to-back wins following a five-game losing streak.
The Sharks jumped on top late in the first period when Marc-Edouard Vlasic fed Kane with a stretch pass for a breakaway. Kane split two defenders and beat Tristan Jarry for his 22nd goal of the season.
“They’re a team that’s obviously pushing to make the playoffs and with the position we’re in you kind of have to try to take the attitude of ruining some people’s seasons,” Kane said. “I just tried to contribute to that tonight.”
San Jose then struck twice in a span of just more three minutes in the second period with Meier scoring from the circle just after a penalty to Pittsburgh defenseman Marcus Pettersson ended and then Kellman following with another from a similar spot in transition.
Things got a little heated shortly after that between San Jose defenseman Radim Simek and Pittsburgh forward Patric Hornqvist. Simek even pushed a linesman after the run-in, but there was no additional penalty handed out for that infraction.
Couture and Thornton added goals in the the third period.
“We just weren’t very good tonight,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “It’s my responsibility to try to get this team to play to its capabilities. We know we’re a good team when we play the game the right way. We got away from that tonight.”
The game provided a homecoming for longtime Sharks star Patrick Marleau, who was traded on Monday to Pittsburgh for a conditional 2021 draft pick.
The 40-year-old Marleau played 1,551 games for the Sharks but was traded away for a chance to win his first Stanley Cup with San Jose out of contention. Marleau said before the game he could envision returning to San Jose next season when he would have a chance to break Gordie Howe’s career record for games played.
Marleau got a warm ovation during a stoppage of play in the first period by an appreciative crowd that included his wife and four children, who wore their new Penguins No. 12 jerseys for the occasion.
NOTES: Sharks D Jacob Middleton left with an apparent left leg injury in the third period. … Linesman Tony Sericolo left late in the first after being clipped by Sharks F Noah Gregor near the boards. Sericolo returned in the second period. … Penguins D Brian Dumoulin and John Marino, and F Nick Bjugstad all skated before the game but remain sidelined.
Penguins: Host Ottawa on Tuesday.
Sharks: Host Toronto on Tuesday.
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