SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Reilly Smith and Jake Guentzel each had two goals and two assists, Evgeni Malkin also scored twice, and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat San Jose 10-2 on Saturday night, handing the Sharks their NHL record-tying 11th straight loss to start the season and second straight while allowing 10 goals.
Smith set the tone with two first-period goals as the Penguins — who had lost five of their last six — got back on track against the team with the league’s worst record. Guentzel’s goal early in the second that pushed Pittsburgh’s lead to 3-0 was the 200th of his career.
Bryan Rust had a goal and three assists, and Vinnie Hinostroza, Kris Letang and Matt Nieto also scored for Pittsburgh. Tristan Jarry had 24 saves.
For all the desperation that the winless Sharks might have brought to the rink, the Penguins said they wanted the win more after a 3-6 start.
“I don’t think we like where we are this early in the season,” Rust said. “Don’t like our record, don’t like some of the results. So we knew that we had to come out here tonight, try and get the win.”
The Sharks fell to 0-10-1 to matched the 11-game winless starts by the New York Rangers in 1943 and the Arizona Coyotes in 2017 and 2021. The last time a team allowed 10 or more goals in consecutive games was the Boston Bruins in 1965. The Sharks lost 10-1 to the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday.
San Jose has only scored 12 goals this season, and its minus-42 goal differential is the worst for an NHL team ever through 11 games.
Sharks head coach David Quinn said his team is not a mentally tough group right now.
“I liked our first period, and then all of a sudden we became a different team,” Quinn said. “That’s what happened in the game. They kept playing the same way. We give up the third goal and we’re a fragile group.”
Anthony Duclair and Jacob MacDonald scored power-play goals for San Jose.
“We’re losing way too many battles,” Duclair said. “It’s way too easy for the opposing team coming in here. And in front of our fans … I think our battle level is just non-existent sometimes and it’s costing us.”
The game also saw the return of Erik Karlsson to San Jose. The reigning Norris Trophy winner, who was traded to the Penguins in the offseason after five seasons with the Sharks, received an ovation after the video screen played a highlight montage in the first period.
It didn’t take long for Karlsson to make an impact, assisting on Smith’s power-play goal — a wrist shot from the left point — 90 seconds into the game. Smith scored his second midway through the first, tapping in a feed from Marcus Pettersson at point-blank range. The goal came off a Penguins’ counterattack after Jarry stopped Mike Hoffman on a 2-on-1 break.
Penguins head coach Dan Sullivan said it means a little extra for Karlsson and Matt Nieto — another former Sharks player now on the Penguins — to return to San Jose.
“I’m sure it felt good for those guys to come back,” Sullivan said. “I know they have a lot of fond memories here in San Jose. They speak very highly of the city and the fans and the organization.”
Pittsburgh led 2-0 after the first period, and 7-1 after two. Sharks’ starting goalie Mackenzie Blackwood was pulled after allowing his sixth goal, and Magnus Chrona entered in the second period to make his NHL debut in net.
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby played in his 1,200th career game, becoming the first player in franchise history and 10th active player to reach the mark. Crosby assisted on Letang’s goal in the second period.
“We felt like we’ve put stretches of games together where we think we’ve played well, and we haven’t gotten rewarded for it,” Sullivan said. “Tonight we did, and it should be one that we can build on.”
Penguins: At Anaheim on Tuesday night.
Sharks: Host Philadelphia on Tuesday night.
AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL