Tough Luck Slide Continues For Sharks

Feb 12, 2013; Nashville, TN, USA; Nashville Predators center David Legwand (11) advances the puck against the San Jose Sharks during the third period at Bridgestone Arena. The Predators beat the Sharks 1-0 in overtime. Mandatory credit: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

A Better Effort Not Rewarded- The offensives woes for the San Jose Sharks continued Tuesday Night in Nashville as the Sharks dropped a 1-0 overtime decision to the Predators. Despite still getting one point in the standings, the Sharks suffered their sixth straight winless game despite a much improved effort over the night before in Columbus. The Sharks did a number of things in this game better and even had better scoring chances than in the last two games. The Sharks did everything except to get a puck past Predators goalie Pekka Renne. Meanwhile Antti Niemi was stellar and did his job in the net making 22 of his 24 saves in regulation time. Despite the better effort the Sharks power play continues to misfire as it posted another 0 for 6 game, and has only scored twice in the last it’s last 35 opportunities dating back to the fifth game of the season. The Sharks have also only scored six goals in their last seven games, and has failed to score in 10 of their last 14 periods play not counting any overtime periods. The Sharks best chance on the power play was when the Predators Martin Erat was called for a double minor for a flagrant high stick hitting Justin Braun. The Sharks however would go on to squander this opportunity too as a minute into the man advantage Jason Demers was called for tripping. Team Teal ended up with bookended one minute power plays that never generated much in the way of any scoring threats.

Tough Luck for Niemi- In pitching his second regulation shut out in three games, Niemi did all the things he could be asked to do to keep the Sharks in the game. After a rather low key first period where Niemi officially faced only three shots, the next two periods would prove to be busy for the Sharks net minder as he made 21 saves over the next two periods. Niemi also had a save in the overtime period prior to Wilson’s game winning goal 2:08 into the extra frame. Niemi’s counterpart, the Predators Renne made 25 saves with his busiest period being the first as he made 13 saves. Nashville would tighten up defensively afterward and allow the Sharks only 12 shots on goal over the final two periods. Niemi by and large did his job but his team despite their best efforts would fail him yet again.

Power Play Ineffective, Irrelevant- The Sharks power play again endured another ineffective night in going 0 for 6 for the second time four games. The Sharks had their share of problems again during the game with a man advantage. On their last power play the Sharks did get a number of good looks keeping Renne busy in the net. Give Renne credit as he was much of the reason that the power play did not click for the Sharks in the game. However the Sharks again proved to be their own worst enemy here as in one sequence where it appeared they had a golden opportunity thanks to a 4 minute flagrant high stick call on Erat. A Demers tripping penalty negated the Sharks chance and momentum. The Sharks inability to create an effective power play this season is just one of a number of reasons the Sharks have gone six straight games without a win. If the Sharks convert just one of their six power play opportunities in this game, they win 1-0. Their inability to execute here ended up costing only one point in the standings instead of two. however at the same time the Sharks power play if things don’t change soon may be regarded as irrelevant. If teams are not afraid of their power play, they’ll will be inclined to take more liberties.

Overtime Failure- Colin Wilson scored the only goal of the game 2:08 into the overtime period on a tip in to Niemi’s left as the Sharks net minder could not corral the puck in front of him. Ryan Ellis and David Legwand were credited with the assist. Just a moment earlier Joe Pavelski’s slap shot got underneath Renne and slowly rolled towards the line. The Preds Gabriel Bourque swooped in behind Renne and cleared the puck away before it could cross the goal line. For Pavelski and the Sharks, this goal was so close yet so far away. In a number of ways the overtime period served as a good microcosm of the last six games. The Sharks cannot close the deal on one end of the ice, and find a way to get closed out on the other end. Of the six straight winless games, the Sharks have lost four by one goal. The Sharks have been in the games, however could never take the steps necessary to win and close out their opponents.

Shark Bytes- Antti Niemi was the games’ third star selection. The second star went to Colin Wilson of the Predators, and the 1st star was Pekka Renne. The Sharks have two days off before facing the Blackhawks in Chicago for a rematch of the February 5th meeting won by the ‘Hawks 5-3. Alongside Pavelski, Patrick Marleau also had four shots on goal. T.J. Galiardi seeing his first action in a few games had three shots on goal for team teal. The Sharks penalty kill held up well. After giving up two goals in Columbus Monday Night, the Sharks penalty kill held the fort giving up no goals on two Preds power plays. Tim Kennedy was called up from the Worcester Sharks of the AHL and saw 12:29 of ice time with two shots on goal.

The Next Sharks Game- Friday at 5:30pm PT, 7:30pm CT versus the Blackhawks in Chicago. The Sharks will also visit Chicago again next Friday (February 22nd) on the back end of this six game road trip. The Sharks will really need to raise their game as there is no margin of error you can afford against this very good Blackhawks team. Chicago has yet to lose a game in regulation this season. What that means to the Sharks is that they will certainly have their work cut out for them late Friday. They could have their work cut out for them over the next 35 games as well.

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