Goals from Joe Pavelski and Daniel Winnik plus the revival of the San Jose Sharks defense which held the visiting Boston Bruins to 16 shots on goal enabled team teal to snap an ill timed two game losing streak with a 2-1 victory at the Shark Tank Thursday Night. Pavelski’s goal early in the first period along with Winnik’s score shorty into the third period gave the Sharks a badly needed two points in the Western Conference Standings as time and games remaining for team teal is now down to single digits. Antti Niemi made 15 saves besting Boston’s two time Vezina winning goalie Tim Thomas who made 25 saves on the evening and showed the Sharks why he also is one of the best net minders in the business.
With the win, the Sharks move up to a record of 37-27-10 for 84 total points to remain two points behind the division leading Phoenix Coyotes who had won earlier in the evening. A Win by the Los Angeles Kings over St Louis some 375 miles south of the Shark Tank kept LA in 9th place in the Western Conference while team teal remained in the 10th spot, one point out of a playoff position. Outside of a late surge by the Bruins in the second period, the Sharks turned in one of their finest defensive efforts of the season and will need efforts like this over the remaining schedule if they hope to join the post season party starting in three weeks.
Recapping The Winning Night at the Tank:
The Forecheck and the Big Pavelski- The Sharks got off to a big jump from the starting gate as they were getting an early strong hold in the Boston defensive zone. The Sharks were circulating the puck well enough to where the Bruins’ Zdeno Chara and Adam McQuaid had to throw around a lot of early hits. Despite this they could not throw the Sharks off of their game as much of the action congregated around the Bruins net. With just under four minutes played in the first period Thomas made a save of a Joe Thornton wrist shot from the slot only to see the puck go back the the Sharks Captain. Thornton was able to go behind the Bruins goal where he spotted Patrick Marleau coming in from the left slot. Marleau took the feed pass from Thonrton and shot the puck at Thomas who made the save. Thomas however could not corral the rebound and Pavelski was in the right spot to back up Marleau and put the puck in the net past the reach of the Bruins goalie giving the Sharks the early lead.
The Sharks would continue to pressure the Bruins from inside their zone and get some quality scoring chances. Team teal’s pressure continued during a power play sequence after the Bruins Gregory Campbell was called for tripping minor. Boston to their credit was able gear it up defensively despite the number of pucks that came near the Bruins goal crease, with Torrey Mitchell getting the only official shot on goal. Even though the power play expired the Sharks pressure did not. Though the period would go on to end with the Sharks holding a 1-0 lead, you got the sense that the urgency that was missing against Anaheim and LA had returned. The Sharks out shot Boston 8-5 for the period.
More Pressure Bruin- Team teal would continue to press hard in the second period as they had a number of scoring opportunities available to them. Unfortunately the Sharks would also witness in the period why Thomas is one of the best pressure goalies in the whole NHL. In one brief stretch of the second period, the Sharks would get solid shots on the Bruins net from Dan Boyle, Ryane Clowe, Martin Havlet, Brent Burns and Winnik only to see Thomas stand tall under the gun. Niemi meanwhile was a little less busy as the Sharks continued a fair amount of pressure defensively now allow the Bruins to get too many good looks at the team teal net. During a Bruins power sequence initiated by a rather curious slashing penalty to Justin Braun, Boston was held to just one shot on goal from Chara during the penalty and subsequent penalty kill by the Sharks.
The Bruins would start to assemble a stronger forecheck late in the second period as they started to sustain puck possession inside of the Sharks defensive zone. Niemi was forced to make a point blank save on a Milan Lucic tip in attempt after taking a perfect feed pass from David Krejci. As the Bruins tried to keep the pressure on, Niemi was ready for it and was able to hold the defending league champions at bay as the team teal defense would soon lock down the Boston surge. The Sharks would go into to out shoot the Bruins 20-9 in the second period. Team teal however were not able to get any of those 20 shots on goal past Thomas.
Winnik Makes His Mark- Team teal just as they did in the first period got out to another fast jump on the Bruins as they sought to expand their lead. The Sharks would not have to wait long to see a payoff come as Winnik would help lead a team teal odd man rush just a few minutes into the period. Winnik took a feed pass from Andrew Dejardens inside the Bruins defensive zone and and scored the Sharks second goal of the evening just over two minutes into the stanza. The Sharks in their own defensive zone were able for force a Boston turnover off of a back check and bring the rubber biscuit down ice into the Bruins defensive zone.
Couture, who stole the puck got it over to Andrew Dejardens who in turn fed it over to Winnik. From there Winnik drilled a slap shot from the right point that beat Thomas top shelf. The Sharks settled into the 2-0 lead and from this point and things were looking solid for team teal. Even Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan was pleased with Winnik’s effort. “It can’t be Patty, or Pavs, or Coach all the time. It has to be an unusual suspect that steps up.” McLellan told Sharks.nhl.com after the game**. However Boston despite Winnik’s score knew they were not out of it and needed to start making plays. The Bruins would hold their own, however to their frustration so did Niemi.
Boston’s never say “die” attitude payed off later in the final period as Charra finally got the Bruins on the board with just over four minutes remaining in regulation. After Charra made it 2-1, the Bruins would maintain some pressure in the Sharks defensive zone. However the Sharks apparently were ready for it and gave Boston a very difficult time defensively in keeping the potential game tying goal out of the net. By the time the final horn had sounded, team teal had succeeded in getting an all around game performance at a time where it was most needed.
Game Analysis- The Sharks Thursday Night were a little more relaxed and ready to get at it after back to back games that were truly two huge disappointments. The Sharks simply were able to out skate the Bruins for much of the evening as it looked as if everyone except for Thomas seemed to still be adjusting to a long trip and time change. The Sharks had more energy in their step tonight and it was a night they would truly need it. The pressure early in the game set the tone for this game as Boston was just flat out slow for much of the night. Without Thomas in the net tonight the Sharks would have probably won by three goals. He was the reason the Bruins were in the game.
Overall the Sharks had a great defensive effort which helped for much of the contest. Holding a team like the Bruins to just 16 shots on goal for the evening is huge. The Sharks are now in a situation where points are everything. Losses now are just going to all but kill their chances at the post season and the time to go into the shell is not now or really ever. In my 15 game truncated schedule for the Sharks which began on March 12th, the Sharks are 4-2-1 for 9 points out of 13 needed. I am going to amend that to 15 points since it appears that winning outright may very well be the only path left for team teal. The Sharks can only catch these teams if they can outpoint them over the last two weeks of the season. It’s a tall order still, but at least for Thursday Night the Sharks got a taste of what will be needed from them the rest of the way out. They are only two points behind Phoenix for the top spot in the Pacific Division. However the Sharks in order to win their division and the number three seed in the west are going to virtually still climb over a few teams which often times is hard to do. Saturday Night the Phoenix Coyotes come into the Sharks Tank for their third and final regular season meeting in teal town. To say this is a “Must Win” for the Sharks does not even begin to scratch the surface…
GO SHARKS, BEAT PHOENIX!!!
The King Shark
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