Welcome Home- The San Jose Sharks returned home for their first game at HP Pavilion (aka The Shark Tank) in nine long months. Team teal in a game with the Phoenix Coyotes would give each of the over 17,000 in the building a little bit of everything. This game had penalties, drama, struggles, rallies and finished with a conquest as the Sharks rallied from a two goal deficit in the third period to defeat the Coyotes 5-3. The win was the third straight for the Sharks in the first game of a six game home stand that will certainly be an early challenge for team teal. Patrick Marleau once again proved to the Sharks faithful that at age 33 he has not lost a step and when needed can be as clutch as anyone on the ice. Marleau’s heroics were nothing short of timely as it looked for a while as if the Coyotes were going to steal the opener and be the party crashers.
Opportunities Knocked- The Sharks had a huge opportunity missed in the early in the opening period with an early five on three for 82 seconds. This was the result of penalties to the Coyotes Micheak Stone for holding and 38 seconds later a delay of game penalty on Oliver Ekman-Larsson. The Sharks were able to get pucks on Coyotes goalie Jason Labarbera however were not able to convert. The Sharks halfway though the first period were outshooting Phoenix 12-2 but had nothing to show for it. Later in the period a James Sheppard interference penalty would allow the Coyotes a chance to test the Sharks penalty kill. Here the Sharks passed that test with a strong effort on the penalty kill as Antti Niemi made some key saves. With under a minute to go in the first period team teal would get another power play opportunity as Derek Morris would draw a cross checking penalty. From there the Sharks wasted no time as Logan Couture drilled a slap shot past Labarbera with 38 seconds remaining in the period for his third goal of the season to put the home team up a goal. The two Joe’s, Pavelski and Thornton got the assists.
Desert Pizza- The Coyotes took control of much of the play in the second period where they would go on to outshoot team teal 13-2. The differential in part was due to the Sharks getting in severe penalty trouble. TJ Galiardi and Andrew Desjarens drew back to back penalties with Galiardi’s being a double minor. The Sharks did all they could to kill off the Coyotes five on three advantage but just fell 12 seconds short when Steve Sullivan scored for the Coyotes to tied the game. The Sharks would kill the remaining time on Galiardi’s penalty but never could really manage much of a scoring threat of their own even during a power play opportunity later in the period. Things would not get any better for the Sharks as at the end of the period Martin Havlat was called for slashing to give the Coyotes another power play opportunity to start the third period.
Final Period Litmus Test- The Sharks in the final period would get one of those tests that could be looked back later on in the season as a moment defining the Sharks will and character as a team. Adversity was the order of the final period. Havlat’s penalty to begin the period was soon nullified when Steve Sullivan drew a double minor for tripping Galiardi, interference and unsportsmanlike conduct. However this only lasted for a few moments itself as no sooner the Sharks would gain a man advantage, Thornton would get called for a slashing penalty. As Sullivan’s penalties expired the Coyotes would get an 18 second power play and quickly cash it in when Antionne Vermette scored for Phoenix to put Coyotes ahead 2-1 with 14:59 remaining in regulation. The Sharks tried to argue that Niemi was interfered with, but to no avail. A few moments later Lauri Korpikoski would score to put the Coyotes ahead 3-1. Team teal just like that found themselves in a big hole.
However the Sharks, just when it started to look bleak began to pick up their game and get back into the contest less than two minutes later. Marleau scored 5th goal of season with 10:45 left on a team teal odd man rush, taking a feed pass from Thornton. Marleau quickly deposited Thornton’s pass into the net. Matt Irwin also had his first NHL assist on the Sharks second goal. Just a few moments later the Sharks again created traffic around the Coyotes net and this time Havlat would be at the right place at the right time for team teal. Clowe’s close range slap shot hit the left post and bounced to where Havlat was. Havlat beat Labarbera to the puck and flipped it into the net over the Coyotes’ goalie to tie the game. The Sharks had fully seized the momentum at this point and were in control the rest of the way. With less than two minutes remaining in regulation Marleau just missed scoring the go ahead goal as Labarbera made a good pad save. However the Coyotes would lose puck at center ice as Mark Edoward-Vlasic stole the puck away from Shane Doan. Vlasic immediate flipped the puck over to Thornton who then found Pavelski ahead of the blue line. Pavelski from there found Marleau on the right wing all by himself and got the rubber biscuit over to him. From there Marleau did the rest and drilled the puck past Labarbera to give team teal an improbable 4-3 lead with just 1:45 left.
The Coyotes did very little to help their cause towards the end of the game as hooking penalty to Keith Yandle with just under a minute remaining basically ended the Coyotes chances. The Sharks capped off the evening scoring an empty net goal with just two seconds remaining in the contest from Thornton. Even with the empty net goal, Thornton was not finished. After the three stars of the game were announced the Sharks Captain took the CSN California microphone and briefly addressed the 17,000 plus at the Tank. Thornton in a very classy move thanked all the Sharks fans for their support not only during the game but also during the recently ended 113 day NHL lockout. The Sharks with the win go to 3-0-0 and await the arrival of the Colorado Avalanche for a Saturday afternoon matinee.
Shark Bytes- The 3 Stars of the Game were 3) Couture; 2) Thornton, and 1) Marleau. The two goals Marleau scored tonight give him six for the early season as he is clearly off to one of his hottest starts in some time. This was Marleau’s third game in a row scoring two goals, all instrumental in the Sharks three wins in three games. Thornton meanwhile so far has seven assists for the early season, including three in this contest. Pavelski also had three assist too. Couture’s power play goal in the first period was his third of the young season as well. In addition to Thonton’s class move at the end of the game, the Sharks also had a video tribute to the late George Gund III at the conclusion the pregame opening night ceremonies. This was followed up with a moment of silence for Gund who was the founder and father of the San Jose Sharks Franchise.
The Next Three- Saturday vs Colorado 1pm (note the start time, not a night game); Sunday vs Vancouver 5pm (again, note the start time), and Tuesday vs the arch rival Anaheim Ducks at 7:30pm…
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