Sharks' Aaron Dell bests Penguins' Casey DeSmith in goaltender duel
SAN JOSE, Calif. — The way Aaron Dell has played this season means the San Jose Sharks have no drop-off at all when starting goalie Martin Jones is out.
Dell made 31 saves and earned his eighth win in his past nine starts when Tomas Hertl scored a tiebreaking, power-play goal early in the third period that lifted San Jose to a 2-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night.
“It seems like the same story every time he plays: He plays well,” teammate Logan Couture said. “Pretty remarkable for a guy who doesn't know when he's going to play. He just kind of gets thrown into the back-to-backs. He's been outstanding this year.”
Jones sat out with a minor injury but Dell was strong all night, stopping all seven shots from Pittsburgh's dangerous power-play unit and keeping the Penguins off the scoreboard for the final 56 minutes, 42 seconds.
“They move the puck really fast on the power play, and they generated a little bit, but for the most part I thought we handled it well,” Dell said. “We had some big blocks. We got the clears when we needed them. I had to make the saves they needed me to make. That's all I had to do.”
Timo Meier also scored, and Joe Pavelski and Brent Burns added two assists each to help the Sharks win for the fourth time in five games.
Conor Sheary scored for the Penguins, who had won five of six.
Casey DeSmith made 34 saves in his second career start, including robbing Kevin Labanc on a breakaway in the third to keep Pittsburgh within a goal.
“I thought both goalies played extremely well,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “We had a good number of chances and so did they. We just couldn't find a way to score a goal. Casey played terrifically. He made some big saves.”
In a rematch of the 2016 Stanley Cup Finals won by Pittsburgh, the game was played with good pace and both teams had chances. But it took until a power play early in the third for the Sharks to finally take the lead.
Just four seconds after Jamie Oleksiak was sent to the box for cross-checking, San Jose capitalized by scoring a power-play goal in its 10th consecutive home game.
Pavelski won the faceoff from Riley Sheahan back to Burns at the point. Burns then took a shot that was deflected to Pavelski and saved by DeSmith. But Hertl was left alone in front and knocked in the rebound for his 13th goal of the season.
The Penguins struggled to generate good chances late and couldn't get the equalizer.
“We just couldn't get those second, third opportunities we needed tonight,” captain Sidney Crosby said. “We had some good looks but couldn't get them to go in. It really came down to just execution. Our offense has to generate looks for us.”
The Penguins started fast and got the first goal when Dominik Simon played the puck behind the net to Sheary. Crosby got the secondary assist, extending his point streak to a season-high seven games.
But the Sharks took over shortly after that and got 11 straight shots on goal, tying the game when Meier scored his 10th of the season off a cross-ice pass from Pavelski.
Notes: Crosby has 15 points during his streak. … Hayden Bradley, a 15-year-old signed to an honorary three-day contract by the Sharks as a Make-A-Wish recipient after undergoing open-heart surgery last year, was announced with the starters and got a warm ovation.