Penguins fall in overtime to Sharks, 3-2

Orpik injures hand in first period


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The Penguins lost another one-goal game Wednesday night.

Lost another high-profile player to injury, too.

The real issue, though, might be whether any of this still qualifies as news.

Ultimately, the most significant thing might not be that Patrick Marleau gave San Jose a 3-2 victory by flipping a shot past goalie Marc-Andre Fleury with four seconds left in overtime.

Instead, it might be that defenseman Brooks Orpik was hurt with about two minutes left in the first period, when he was struck on the right hand by a Marleau shot.

Orpik went directly from the ice to the locker room, and did not return. Although there was no immediate word on the nature or severity of Orpik's injury -- "We'll probably have a better update [today]," coach Dan Bylsma said -- he was spotted after the game with a wrap on his hand.

Losing him would be a serious blow to a team that already is operating without forwards Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Chris Kunitz, Mark Letestu and Dustin Jeffrey, among others.

The Penguins also were missing defenseman Paul Martin, who sat out his second consecutive game because of an unspecified injury he got when knocked into the boards from behind Sunday in Chicago.

They have lost three consecutive games by one goal, and giving up the winner so late in overtime clearly stung.

"He just put it over my pad," Fleury said. "I wish we could have made it to the shootout. Four seconds left. That's tough."

Exactly one minute earlier, Fleury had prolonged the game by denying Marleau on a breakaway.

"He's a Stanley Cup champion for a reason," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said.

The chance on which Fleury foiled Marleau came about after defenseman Matt Niskanen, making his Penguins debut, lost the puck to Sharks center Joe Thornton in the neutral zone.

"Bad turnover by me," Niskanen said. "I was trying to be aggressive and make the play. The puck bounced on me. He picked my pocket, and they were off to the races.

"That's an area at that time of the game that I've got to be better. I can't turn the puck over at that blue line. But [Fleury] was there for me. He made a heck of a save."

That glaring blunder aside, Niskanen had a fairly sound first game, especially for a guy whose ice time spiked to unexpected levels after Orpik was injured. Niskanen ended up logging 19 minutes, 33 seconds.

"I thought he played a real sound game, looked confident," Bylsma said.

Left winger James Neal -- like Niskanen, acquired from Dallas in the Alex Goligoski trade Monday -- played 20 minutes, 48 seconds. He recorded two shots and three hits while skating on a line with Jordan Staal and Pascal Dupuis and working on the No. 1 power play.

"You saw flashes of Neal's game in the offensive zone, the shot he has and he skated well," Bylsma said. "He had a couple big hits on the forecheck."

Although Neal got most of the pregame attention, Tyler Kennedy seized the spotlight by scoring the Penguins goals, including one with 50 seconds left in regulation to earn them a point.

His first came at 5:48 of the opening period, when he punched in a Matt Cooke rebound from the left side of the crease, his second when he swatted in a Staal rebound that was lying in the crease.

"I know my centerman and my [left] winger will throw it to the net, and that's where I have to be," Kennedy said. "You have to go to the cage to score goals. That's what Coach told me, and I'm trying to get there."

The lead the Penguins got on Kennedy's first goal held up until 3:01 of the second period, when Logan Couture beat Fleury from inside the left dot while Craig Adams was serving a hooking minor.

Neither team scored again until 5:28 of the third, when Marleau backhanded a shot between Fleury's legs from close range. That looked like the winner until Kennedy salvaged a point for the Penguins by getting his 14th of the season in the final minute of regulation.

And while Bylsma said "it doesn't feel like much of a consolation prize to add a point" after losing with just four seconds remaining in overtime, his players seemed more inclined to focus on the positives of avoiding a defeat in regulation.

"We were right there, and we were battling," Staal said. "It just wasn't quite enough. You definitely take the point, and obviously, try not to focus too much on that last one."


For more on the Penguins, read the Pens Plus blog with Dave Molinari and Shelly Anderson at www.post-gazette.com/plus . Dave Molinari: dmolinari@post-gazette.com .


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