Getting Chippy- The San Jose Sharks once again flexed their muscle before a sell out crowd of 17,000 plus at the Shark Tank. Patrick Marleau scored two more goals via the power play while Thomas Greiss, getting the start in place of Antti Niemi, made 24 saves in getting his first career NHL shutout. Once again the Sharks prevailed, this time 4-0 in a Saturday afternoon matinee over the Colorado Avalanche. It was a game that started seemingly slow with the Avs doing some of the early hitting. However, when it was the Sharks’ turn to hit back, they hit back…much harder. It was a chippy affair during portions of the game as the Sharks extended their start of season winning streak to four games.
Crunch Time- The visiting Avs took the early edge not only in the hitting department but also managed to get the first five shots on goal in the game in testing Greiss early. This was mostly the result of two early penalties on the Sharks which they managed to kill off fairly well. Later in the first period the moment that changed the game took place when Sharks defenseman Brad Stuart delivered a jolting hit to Avalanche Captain Gabriel Landeskog. Colorado’s young captain was able to get off the ice on his own power and would be okay though he didn’t return to the game until later. Meanwhile, the Avs’ Ryan O’Byrne took umbrage to Stuart’s hit and chased down the Sharks defenseman engaging him in a fight. You cannot knock O’Byrne for sticking up for his teammate, however his anger may have gotten the best of him during the scrap with Stuart. Once O’Byrne had ripped off Stuarts helmet and visor, O’Byrne either had to remove his helmet or back off and stop fighting. O’Byrne did neither, and the result was a double minor for being an instigator and ripping off Stuarts helmet (in addition to the five minutes for fighting and a 10 minute unsportsmanlike conduct penalties). This gave team teal a four minute power play.
From this point the Sharks went to work and quickly made the Avs pay for O’Byrne’s indiscretions. Marleau, who’s been in the right place at the right time so far for team teal was once again the man of the moment. Marleau was in the right place to get the rebound of a Dan Boyle slap shot and knock the puck over Colorado goalie Semyon Varlamov to give San Jose a 1-0 lead with 3:51 left in the opening stanza. This ended the first half of O’Byrnes double minor, however the Avs still would have more penalty kill troubles thanks to a determined Sharks power play unit. Varlamov made some early saves however the Sharks kept the pressure up until Marleau cashed in his second goal of the game 78 seconds after netting his first one. This time Marleau again was in the right place to get a rebound of a Joe Thornton stuff in attempt. Marleau got the puck and just tapped it behind the besieged Varlamov for a two goal lead.
The Captain and Mr Irwin- One of the goals team teal is making this year is to be able to keep the foot on the gas pedal once they get off to a good start. The Sharks would follow up the first period with another solid effort in the second period both offensively and defensively. A tripping penalty on the Avs PA Parenteau when he took down Ryane Clowe barely a minute into the new period gave the Sharks another power play opportunity. The Avs penalty kill was seemingly having some success despite the Sharks power play this time around but could not keep it up for the full two minutes. Thornton would end a mad scurry for the puck around the Sharks net and drill it past an outstretched Varlamov. The Avs fell just 10 seconds short of killing off the penalty as the Sharks now had a 3-0 lead. The Sharks would later extend their lead to four goals when Irwin would drill a slap shot past Varlamov just a few mere seconds after the Avs finally had a successful penalty kill.
On defense, the Sharks tightened up things throughout both sides of the ice making it very difficult for Colorado to navigate with the puck for any sustained period of time. The Avs were held here to just five shots on goal. Meanwhile, Greiss was also was doing his part in keeping his goal crease clear. Martin Havlat also narrowly missed a chance at scoring a goal on a breakaway thanks to the puck rolling away before he could get a decent shot on Varlamov. The Sharks put 19 shots on the Avs net in the second period.
The Quiet Before The Storm- The final period saw the Sharks continue to dominate early and frustrate Colorado often. In seven minutes the Sharks would manage seven more shots on goal against relief goalie and former Anaheim Duck JS Giguere. The Sharks would end up with 17 more shots on goal to the Avs’ 11. Though the Sharks missed out on some good scoring chances, including a couple set up by newest Shark Scott Gomez, goalie Greiss continued to shut down the Avs attack making a number of saves. Colorado would end the game with 24 shots on goal, two shots hitting the right post and nothing more. Towards the end of the game things started to get a little chippy on the ice again as Andrew Desjardins and Cody McLeod got into a fracas with only a few minutes remaining near the Avs net. This turned into an almost brawl when Desjardins smirked at McLeod which seemed to really upset him. When the officials sorted everything out, they gave McLeod the gate as well as Dejardins. The Sharks Adam Burish also drew a penalty and gave McLeod his two cents worth as well.
As the game clock wound down to triple zero’s the Sharks behind Greiss’ efforts on this Saturday afternoon would prove to more than enough to get the job done. With the victory the Sharks improve to 4-0-0 for the second time in team history, the previous time being in Todd McLellan’s first year as Head Coach (2008-09). The shutout was also a result of Greiss coming into the game laser focused himself, giving Niemi a well deserved day off. The Sharks can enjoy this win for the moment, but by the time you are done reading this they should be turning their attention to tomorrow evening’s opponent in the Vancouver Canucks. The Sharks short 25 hour turn around is part of the NHL’s 48 games in 99 days tour thanks to the lockout. The good news is Niemi will be well rested. Just as good, this was a matinee game with a one o’clock start which gives the Sharks about six hours of extra rest before Sunday’s match up.
Shark Bytes- The three stars of the game today were 3) Thomas Greiss; 2) Matt Irwin, and 1) for the third straight game Patrick Marleau. The Sharks after being outshot 8-7 in the first period, outshot the Avs 36-16 over the final two periods. Varlamov was the second goalie the Sharks have chased in four games behind Edmonton’s Devan Dubnyk. The Sharks chased Dubnyk after one period of the team teal’s 6-3 win over the Oilers this past Tuesday night. While nobody expects Marleau to score 96 goals this season, his pace of two a game to start the year is arguably one of the best starts in his career. Sharks Assists today went to Joe Pavelski, Ryane Clowe and Dan Boyle who had two each for team teal while Havlat and Marleau also were credited for assist…
Next Game- Sunday (January 27th, 5pm PT) Sharks vs Vancouver Canucks at the Sharks Tank. The Canucks are 2-1-1, coming off of a 5-0 win over the Anaheim Ducks Friday night. The Canucks have won their last two after dropping their first two at home to Anaheim and Edmonton in a shootout. Scott Gomez made his Sharks debut today and will wear #23.
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