A single game -- no matter how compelling, no matter how convincing -- proves nothing, of course.

A 60-minute snapshot simply isn't enough of a sample size to formulate any major conclusions.

So the Penguins' 5-1 victory Thursday night against San Jose at Consol Energy Center doesn't necessarily mean that they would survive a best-of-seven series against the Sharks if the teams would happen to, say, collide in the Stanley Cup final in the spring.

And goalie Marc-Andre Fleury's 44-save effort doesn't guarantee that he would consistently elevate his game and neutralize one of hockey's most volatile offenses.

And Sidney Crosby's three-assist performance doesn't assure he could be counted on to put up multiple points in every game if the Penguins and San Jose were to meet in the postseason. OK, maybe it does.

But the Penguins' bloated margin of victory shouldn't be construed as evidence of their superiority to the Sharks.

"I don't know if the score [reflected] how good of a team they are," left winger Chris Kunitz said.

Probably not, even though the victory was the Penguins' fifth in a row and raised their record to 20-9-1, good for first place in the Eastern Conference. The regulation loss was just the fourth for the Sharks, who are 19-4-5 and did nothing to tarnish the respect the Penguins have for them.

"They're good," Penguins defenseman Matt Niskanen said. "They forecheck really hard -- you could see that they had us bottled up a few times -- and they have big [defensemen] who are pretty mobile for how big they are. They're tough to play against."

While few people likely anticipated the Penguins winning by four goals, even fewer likely foresaw the postgame assessment of Fleury's performance offered by San Jose center Logan Couture.

Turns out that while San Jose coach Todd McLellan believed that, "Fleury made some really good saves," Couture wasn't particularly impressed.

"We didn't bear down on our chances," he said. "Stats aside, I don't think that Fleury was that good. He gave up a lot of rebounds, and on a lot of shots, he looked shaky on. We weren't able to score on second chances."

Couture wasn't the only Sharks player who felt that way, either. Teammate Joe Pavelski said Fleury "was fighting it all night. It felt like we could have had five."

Perhaps Couture and Pavelski concluded that Fleury simply wasn't quick enough to get out of the way of the 44 pucks that hit him.