Sharks In 7th Heaven!

Jan 31, 2013; San Jose, CA, USA; San Jose Sharks center Joe Pavelski (8) shoots and scores Edmonton Oilers goalie Devan Dubnyk (40) during the second period at HP Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Seven The Hard Way- Going into Thursday night’s game against the Edmonton Oilers, the San Jose Sharks had to know there was a very strong likelihood that they were not going to have another six goals in a single period explosion as they had just nine days earlier. Sure enough, this did not happen for a second time as Oilers goalie Devan Dubnyk redeemed himself with a strong game in net making 36 saves. Meanwhile Sharks goalie Antti Niemi remained solid in net also and turned away 26 Oilers shots on goal plus two more in the shootout period. Michael Handzus and Dan Boyle would net shootout goals as team teal would take a 3-2 victory in a hard fought game at the Shark Tank. The win is the Sharks seventh in a row to start the season, and also their fifth in five games of this six game homestand. Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski scored for the Sharks in regulation time just 39 seconds apart in the second period.

For the second straight game the Sharks faced a foe who through everything at them and made sure that any victory would have to be earned the hard way. The Sharks had trouble at times during the game controlling the puck as on several occasions passes just seemed to be too far ahead or behind their intended targets. The Oilers were more aggressive in the first period and early on in the final period. Niemi however kept the Sharks in the game during the rough patches as he along with some defensive help would deny several Edmonton scoring opportunities.

No Early Oil Leak Tonight- The Oilers and Sharks battled through a scoreless opening period which saw Niemi get challenged very early. While Niemi was busy keeping the Oilers off of the scoreboard, his counterpart Dubnyk was equally as sharp and appeared to be a lot more focused in this game as opposed to the previous meeting. Dubnyk would have an early challenge himself as Scott Gomez got a perfect feed pass from Pavelski only to be stoned at the goal crease. Martin Havlat later on a short handed break away during a Sharks penalty kill seemed to have an angle but could not elevate the puck as he tried to shoot it. Dubnyk reached out to make a pad save denying Havlat a short handed goal. The first period had a very fast pace to it as outside of an early Sharks penalty went almost 12 minutes before a true stoppage of play was called. Niemi meanwhile would fend off 11 shots on goal from the Oilers. The Sharks had a power play late in the first period after a cross checking penalty to Edmonton’s Nail Yakupov. However the Sharks only got one shot on goal as the Oilers were able to clear the puck away from the zone effectively.

Breaking Through- The second period for the first eight and a half minutes looked like a carbon copy of the first period with the Oilers seeming a little faster to the loose pucks and the Sharks just missing on some passes. Both Niemi and Dubnyk again were busy on their respective ends of the ice. The Sharks then would be the benefactor of two critical Oilers turnovers in a very short span, the first coming when Ryan Whitney would turnover the puck in the neutral zone to Couture. With the puck in hand Couture then skated up ice and launched a wrist shot which would beat Dubnyk to his right giving team teal a 1-0 lead. Seconds later the Oilers would commit a second straight turnover in the neutral zone as Nail Yakupov lost to puck to Pavelski. Flanked by his teammates on either side, Pavelski took the puck up ice and launched a wrister which beat Dubnyk top shelf to his left. The Sharks enjoyment of their two goal lead however would be brief as a Sharks turnover off a Ryane Clowe drop pass attempt was picked up by the Oilers. Just seconds later from the point Mark Fistric would drill a slap shot that would be deflected by Sam Gagner past Niemi. The Sharks and Oilers would trade scoring chances and a power play opportunity each but neither team could score before the period’s conclusion.

What The Hall Happened- The Sharks were introduced to the future of Oilers hockey within the first moment of the final period. A two on one break away just 51 seconds into the period saw Jordan Eberle delivered a perfect feed pass to the Taylor Hall who hammered the puck into the net. Hall leading the breakaway fed Eberle, forcing Niemi to turn his attention towards him. No sooner did Eberly have the rubber biscuit then he immediately fed it back to Hall who had an open net. Just like that the game was suddenly tied and you had the sense that this game from this point would go right down to the wire, and it would actually end up going past the wire.

Just over four minutes into the period it appeared as if Clowe off of an Oilers turnover scored a breakaway goal to give the Sharks the lead. However the officials ruled that Clowe had interfered with the Oilers’ Fristic while wrestling for control of the puck. Loud boos were heard throughout the Shark Tank after the call was made. The Oilers however during the power play opportunity would see it cut short when they were called for having too many men on the ice during a failed shift change. The Sharks would find themselves with 85 seconds of power play time however could do nothing with it. The Sharks would pick up the pace late and get several shots and good looks at it only to see Dubnyk was more than up to the task. The game would remain tied as for the second straight time (for both teams) there would be an overtime period. The Sharks in the overtime would outshoot the Oilers 7-2 and get more good looks on a late power play. However even with the 1:15 of power play time the Sharks could not find the back of the net despite getting several shots on net.

Second Straight Sharks Shootout- The Sharks failing to capitalize on the last power play opportunity would necessitate a shootout period for the second straight game. For the second straight Michael Hanzus would be the Sharks first shooter. For the second straight game, Handzus would score first beating Dubnyk top shelf. Niemi would remain hot and focused turning away challenges for Gagner and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. After Pavelski was turned away as the Sharks second shooter, it would be Boyle who missed the game Tuesday night because of the flu. Boyle did not miss this game, and would not miss his shot either as he top shelved Dubnyk to his left giving the Sharks their seventh straight victory.

Shark Bytes- The three stars of the game were 3)Sharks-Handzus; 2)Oilers-Dubnyk; and 1)Sharks-Niemi for the third time in the last four games. Niemi has been strong in net so far this season and has been sharp when the Sharks need it most. Niemi’s hot goal tending has as much to do with the Sharks current streak as anyone else on the team. This will be a key throughout this shortened season as he has kept the Sharks in the last two very close games. Meanwhile the goals scored tonight by Couture and Pavelski were both unassisted. Oilers team Captain Shawn Horcoff did not play in this game due to an injury suffered Wednesday night against the Phoenix Coyotes. The Sharks activated Jason Demers however scratched him from Thursday’s game. Demers was recovering from a wrist fracture suffered while playing overseas during the NHL lockout.

Next Game- The Sharks conclude the homestand Saturday Night as they take on the Nashville Predators. The Predators are off to a slow start this season, 2-2-3 in their first seven games. The Predators Thursday Night beat the Los Angeles Kings 2-1 in a game that was decided in an eight round shootout. The Predators feature Shea Weber, David Legwand, Mike Fisher and goalie Pekka Rinne. The will present another challenge for the Sharks who will be shooting for their eighth straight win to start the season. The puck drops at 7:30pm at the Shark Tank.

The Kingshark

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