Sharks pounded by Penguins, lose 5-1

Chris Kunitz scored twice during a four-goal second period and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Sharks 5-1 on Thursday night for their fifth straight victory.

Pascal Dupuis, Jayson Megna and Kris Letang also scored for Pittsburgh, which snapped San Jose’s six-game winning streak. Sidney Crosby added three assists in his 500th career game to push his point total to an NHL-leading 42.

Marc-Andre Fleury made 44 saves for the Penguins against the league’s highest-scoring team. Pittsburgh played without star Evgeni Malkin, scratched after sustaining a lower-body injury during the morning skate.

Tomas Hertl got his 14th goal for San Jose. Antti Niemi made 23 saves but was pulled after two periods, and the Sharks lost in regulation for only the fourth time this season.

The showdown between two Stanley Cup contenders quickly turned one-sided after a scoreless first period. The Penguins beat Niemi four times in a span of 7:03, showcasing the firepower that makes the Metropolitan Division leaders heavy favorites to make another deep playoff run next spring.

The Sharks have been futilely chasing a trip to the finals for the past decade and they’re off to another hot start. The Pacific Division front-runners lead the league in goal differential and had outscored opponents 24-12 over their last six games.

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