Power Outage- The San Jose Sharks fell from the ranks of the unbeaten as an otherwise solid effort by goalie Thomas Greiss was wasted. Team teal failed to convert six power play opportunities in a 2-1 loss to the Ducks at the Honda Center in Anaheim. The loss was the first for the Sharks in nine games in which the game ended in regulation, allowing Anaheim to move to within two points of the Sharks in the Pacific Division standings. The Sharks with the loss are still 7-1-1, however the arch rival Ducks are now 6-1-1 and showing the Pacific Division and the Western Conference they are back and for real. The Sharks after scoring 23 goals in their first five games this season have fallen drastically off of that pace having scored only six goals in the last four games covering 12 periods plus three overtimes.
The Ducks scored both of their goals in the third period to overcome a one goal deficit, the first of which came off of a weird bounce off of the boards behind the Sharks net. As Tommy Wingles tried to clear a puck out towards Brad Stuart, the puck hit a small indention on the board and bounced right in front of the Sharks net where Saku Koivu alertly and easily put the puck away. Greiss thinking the pass was on it’s way over to Stuart was unaware of the bad bounce and never had a chance. The second Ducks goal was scored with 6:39 remaining in the third period when Sheldon Souray drilled a slap shot from the left point that beat Greiss top shelf. Prior to the final period Greiss was having a fairly solid game and had made 22 saves through the first two periods.
Penalty Kill Remains Solid- Despite the short comings of the Sharks power play, the one bright spot for the Sharks on the evening was a strong penalty kill which turned away a total of six Anaheim power plays on the evening. The most impressive sequence of the power play was when the Sharks found themselves two men down in third period after consecutive penalties to Michal Handzus and Joe Pavelski 24 seconds apart. Handzus was called for hooking before Pavelski was cited for delay of game when he flipped the puck over the glass while trying to clear it out of the neutral zone. In one of the most impressive penalty kill efforts you may see all season, the Sharks outworked the Ducks as the Sharks found a way with three men on the ice to block shots assisting Greiss who also turned away a good deal of Ducks scoring chances. The Sharks in fact just missed scoring a rare 5 on 3 short handed goal as Patrick Marleau’s breakaway was poked checked away at the last second by eventual winning Ducks’ goalie Viktor Fasth. The team teal penalty kill has not only been successful, but may very well be the reason the Sharks haven’t dropped their last four games.
Logan, Demers and Greiss- Aside from the Sharks penalty kill, another bright spot has been the play of Logan Couture who scored the only goal for the Sharks late in the first period. Couture stuffed in a puck underneath Fasth after Wingles put the rubber biscuit towards the Anaheim goal. Couture’s goal was his sixth of the season with Wingles and Andrew Desjardins getting the assist with 1:52 left in the opening period. The first period was again a lot of back and forth for both teams with the Ducks getting the lion’s share of opportunities in outshooting the Sharks 14-7. The Sharks would get a power play opportunity just seconds after Couture’s goal but did very little with the man advantage which extended over to the second period.
Meanwhile Greiss had a relatively solid game by all accounts. The Greiss would end up being the losing goalie, the first goal wasn’t his fault in the least. The second and game winning goal by Anaheim was a laser of a slap shot by Souray that Greiss had little if any chance at. Otherwise, Greiss made 30 saves on the evening and had a decent night overall. The best save of the evening was not even by Greiss. That save was made by Jason Demers who dove in front of an Andrew Cogliano wrist shot that would have been otherwise a certain Anaheim goal. Demers dive was the end result of a mad scramble in front of the Sharks goal where Greiss had made a save that deflected away from him, leaving a good portion of the Sharks net was open to Greiss’ right.
A Tough Third Period- The Sharks despite being able to hold their own through two periods of being outplayed could not sustain this for three periods tonight. The Sharks came out hard in the final period and had a few hard rushes inside the Ducks defensive zone and put Fasth to work. The Sharks got a number of good looks but could never find the back of the net again. Martin Havlat was denied on two point blank opportunities. The Sharks had no trouble getting rubber to the net in the final period, they just simply could not convert even one of their many opportunities. Not soon there after the bad breaks came into play, the bad bounce of the boards behind the Sharks goal, Marleau breakaway being turned away and one last power play opportunity that at least looked more solid then the previous five put together. There were many reasons for the Sharks loss in this game however it’s a stone cold lock that Greiss was not even close to one of the reasons for the failed effort.
Short Term Memory Time- The Sharks now have to quickly forget about this game as they are once again in the throws of back to back games. The Chicago Blackhawks make their first appearance at the Shark Tank Tuesday night with their murderers’ row line up featuring Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa just to name a few. They are in the middle of a road trip which has seen them capture four points by way of a win over Calgary Saturday night in between two shootout losses to the Minnesota Wild and Vancouver Canucks. The Blackhawks come into this game as the NHL’s only remaining team now not to have taken a regulation loss yet (7-0-2 for 16 points). The Sharks who rested Antti Niemi for the game in Anaheim will have him ready to go against his former team.
Shark Bytes- Dan Boyle missed his second game of the last four because of a relapse of the flu bug he has been fighting. His status for Tuesday night’s game is not known at this time. Fasth made 25 saves for the Ducks in his winning effort. Ryane Clowe for the second time this season drew 17 minutes time in the penalty box. This stemmed from a fight with the Ducks Matt Beleskey in the first period after Beleskey went after Douglas Murray. Clowe was given 2 minute instigator minor, 5 minutes for fighting and a 10 minute misconduct penalty. The Sharks were only charged with a two minute minor as the end result of this sequence. The penalty killing units then took care of things from there. Couture, Havlat and James Sheppard had three shots on goal each while Marleau had four. Pavelski, Joe Thornton, Justin Braun and Desjardens had two each. The Three Stars of the game were all Ducks tonight… 3) Ryan Getzlaf; 2) Koivu; and 1) Fasth. An honorable mention goes to the Honda Center boards behind the north goal.
Next Game- Sharks vs Chicago Blackhawks, Tuesday February 5th at 7:30pm PT puck drop at the Shark Tank.
Side Note- Congratulations to the San Francisco 49ers on a wildly successful 2012-13 season. Thought the Baltimore Ravens would go on to win the Super Bowl 34-31, the 49ers showed amazing poise and character in their comeback and just fell five yards short of a title. The future is bright for the 49ers and they have only just begun. They will be back more experienced and more determined than ever in the 2013-14 season. Thank You 49ers for a great thrill ride and a tremendous season. We’re all very proud of you win or lose.
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