Olli Jokinen’s scored three goals for a hat trick and Mikka Kipprusoff made 33 saves as the Calgary Flames took the San Jose Sharks 4-3 at The Tank Wednesday Night. The Sharks turned in another performance that was marred by a slow start and a key turnover which the Flames would ultimately redeem for a key road win. For the Sharks, it’s their second straight loss after a three game win streak. The Sharks despite this two game slide still lead the Pacific Division over the L A Kings by two points with three games in hand. The Flames came out as the more desperate team and had the Sharks pinned in their defensive zone for a good portion of the game. The victory for Kipprusoff was his 300th career win, getting it in the same place he got his first win in 2001 as a member of the Sharks. Dan Boyle missed this game as he has the flu.
On the evening, the Flames’ Jokinen had also had assist for a four point night. Jarome Inginla had the other Calgary goal while Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski and Michal Handzus scored for team teal. For Antti Niemi, it was another rough night at the office as he gave up four goals for the second straight game. Maybe the only positive for Niemi tonight was this time the Sharks (for the first time in three games) did not put one in their own net. Just as in the game before in Phoenix, the defense is not giving the Sharks netminder a lot of help around the cage. Team Teal, after what looked like a team turning the corner just a week ago, once again is going through another Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde phase as it’s becoming harder to tell which direction the Sharks are trending. This was the 12th time this season the Sharks have given up 4 goals or more. In those games, the Sharks have won only once.
Another Tough Evening…Here’s the Breakdown:
Fire In The Tank- The first period was what Coach Todd McLellan described as a “wasted period” in his post game presser. The Sharks spent the vast majority of the period pinned down in their own zone and not being able to get clears when they needed them. Maybe the most amazing stat of this game was that Niemi still made 15 saves in the opening period as the Flames came hard and came often. The Flames would finally dent the scoreboard on Jokenin’s first goal of the evening. Jokenin got credit for a goal which actually was a defection off of his leg in front of the Sharks net, courtesy of a Chris Butler slap shot. Niemi shifted to where he thought the puck was going, only to have it bounce off Jokenin into the net with 7:30 left in the first period.
The Flames managed to keep this pressure on throughout the period making Niemi’s 15 saves look rather impressive. The Sharks did manage to actually get some early chances on Kipprusoff but were turned away as the veteran net minder stopped 12 shots and looked solid. This included a late save of a point blank shot by Patrick Marleau with about a minute and a half left in the period.
The Sharks would get out of the first period down 1-0 despite a late hooking penalty to Douglas Murray that carried over in to the second period. The Sharks would kill that penalty only to see Benn Ferriero get tagged for interference as the Sharks had gained the Flames defensive zone seconds earlier. This would prove to be a costly penalty as Calgary just needed 15 seconds to capitalize. Again, Jokinen was the Flames’ “Johnny (or in this case “Olli”) on the Spot” as he collected the puck off the back of the Sharks goal following an Alex Tanguay shot off the back boards. Jokinen was able to jam the rubber buscuit into the right side of the net before Niemi could gain position. The Flames looked to be in buisness and in complete contol of the game with a two goal lead.
The Ecstasy and the Agony- The Sharks down 2-0 did show a good level of resilience as they soon would mount a quick comeback after Jokinen’s second goal. With 13:40 left the second period, the Sharks drew a Flames penalty down ice for hooking. Team teal would be able to add a sixth attacker while trying to keep the puck away from the Flames until they no longer could. Ryane Clowe carried the puck up ice to where he spotted Couture in the slot. Couture took the feed pass from Clowe and was able to drill a slap shot that beat Kipprusoff to his left to cut the Sharks deficite to 2-1. It would only take the Sharks another 83 seconds to tie the game when Pavelski took a feed pass in front of the Flames goal from Joe Thornton and drilled a wrister past Kipprusoff to tie the game. The Sharks looked to be in good shape having rallied from two goals down to quickly tie the game.
The Sharks would press again in the Flames zone. Kipprusoff’s game though would get refocused and he became a very tough customer for the rest of the period. The Flames would then get a huge break when off of a Sharks offensive surge would regain control of the puck. Mr. Jokinen again would prove to be a spoiler. This time as Jokinen carried the puck up ice, he would find Iginla trailing on the play and hit him with a perfect feed pass. From there, Iginla’s quick snap shot would beat Niemi to his right and allow the Flames to regain the lead with 8:45 left in the period. The period would end with the 3-2 score as both sides mounted a few more scoring chances but were shut down each and every time.
Getting a Break, Then Getting Broken- The Sharks would get a break and a power play opportunity just 44 seconds into the final period as the Flames Mark Giordano would get called for high sticking Thornton in the face. Team Teal would jump all over this opportunity quickly as M Handzus would win the faceoff and then make his way immediately towards the Flames goal. Brent Burns would fire a wrister that bounced around Kipprusoff. Handzus found the loose puck before Kipprusoff could recover it and stuffed it into the net to give the Sharks a 3-3 tie just 49 seconds into the period.
Not long after the Sharks got the tying goal, Collin White would soon make one of the biggest turnovers this season. White, from behind the Sharks goal was trying to make a pass to Thornton who unfortunately for team teal had his back to the play. The puck would bounce off the side boards and straight to the on rushing Tanquay who passed it over to Jokenin. From there Jokenin was able to drill a wrister that beat Niemi to his right and gave the Flames the lead again at 4-3. The Sharks as the game went along got more scoring chances and started to even dominate the Calgary defensive zone late. However Kipprusoff was more than up to the challenge and stopped every puck the Sharks would throw at him. An apparent goal by Marc-Edouard Vlasic to tie the game was waived off immediately as the officiating crew ruled that Marleau was interfering with Kipprusoff as he fell into the net, knocking down the Flames goalie in the process. Kipprusoff’s best save of the night came with just 3:02 remaining when Burns launched a slap shot from the point which rebounded to Pavelski. In turn Pavelski tried to flip the puck over Kipprusoff and was successful. That was until the Calgary goalie felt the puck rolling down his backside and put up his back legs to make what TSN called “The Scorpion” save.
Game Analysis – Just when you think the Sharks are looking like a team that’s coming together, they find a way to make one think otherwise. Though talent wise they have as much as most teams in the NHL, the Sharks seem to be the great teaser. Three or Four games they will look solid, followed by Two or Three games in which they may even win one and lose two (or OTL). In these games they just seem to have a different feel about them and it’s not a good feeling really. As for this game, the Flames were opportunistic and were all over the pucks for must of the night. Jokinen and Kipprusoff carried the Flames on their backs tonight and were leaders. The Sharks were forced to play catch up and chase the puck most of the evening. Defensive lapses over the last two games have cost team teal as they have dropped two games in a row against teams they should be able to handle. However the Sharks do have games in hand though soon they will be forced to play their hand during the nine game tennis roadie which starts Sunday. The Sharks could be very well looking a “make or break” scenario soon. It seems also this year that more and more fringe players are finding ways to play themselves off of this roster.
Next Game- The Sharks will host the Chicago Blackhawks Friday Night at the Tank, with the puck drop scheduled for 7:30pm. The Blackhawks are 2-1-0 versus team teal, winning both games in Chicago this year while losing a 1-0 decision their last time in the Tank. The Blackhawks have had some road woes of late, being 0-3-1 on their current road trip. Though currently slumping, you cannot expect a roster that includes Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa amongst others to be cold for too long. The Sharks must bring their “A Game” to this contest. If they play like they did Wednesday Night against the Flames, it will be no contest. It’s time for the Sharks to regroup and be ready to handle business come Friday evening.
GO SHARKS!!! BEAT THE ‘HAWKS!!!
The King Shark
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