The End of Another Bad Trip- The San Jose Sharks finished a six game road trip in which almost every flaw and imperfection they had was exposed for the world to see. The Dallas Stars were the latest team to take down team teal. Jamir Jagr and Michael Ryder scored power play goals 88 seconds apart between the second and third periods as the Stars would go on to a 3-1 win. The Sharks with their latest defeat finished their six game road trip with an abysmal 1-4-1 mark, and have only won once in their last ten games (1-6-3). To make matters worse, the Sharks lost Brent Burns to an injury and Ryane Clowe who was suspended by the NHL for an incident Friday night towards the end of the Blackhawks game. The Sharks on the road trip scored seven goals in six games and were completely outplayed and dominated in at least three of the games as well as parts of this one too. Antti Niemi who appeared to be tired still made 23 saves but clearly was running on fumes by the time the third period had rolled around. The Sharks now come back home to take on Colorado Tuesday night as they try to find answers as to what has gone wrong with a team that started this shortened season winning their first seven games.
Trading Punches- Such as the case Friday night in Chicago, the Sharks skated well and stayed with the Stars for the lions’ share of the first two periods. Niemi made a good number of big saves as he still had some gas in the tank. Meanwhile Cristopher Nilstorp started in net for Dallas despite an 0-3-0 NHL record. Nilstrop however did not look like a goalie who had never won an NHL game as through the first two periods he would turn away 20 Sharks shots on goal, including 12 in the first period alone. One of Niemi’s best saves of the game happened very early in the game when he made a save of a point blank shot off the stick of the Stars’ Vernon Fiddler after a Sharks turnover on a missed pass. Niemi would again find himself quite busy himself facing 21 shots. The Sharks highlight of the night may have been when Joe Thornton agreed to take on Jamie Benn in a fight during the middle period. Thornton seemed to get the best end of the fight, but in the process took himself off of the ice for five minutes. This was Jumbo Joe’s second fight of the road trip, which exceeded all of the fights he got into last season.
The Sharks other best sequence of the game happened during the first period when team teal had to kill off a 62 second five on three man advantage for the Stars after Patrick Marleau and Mark Edoward-Vlasic will called for minor penalties 58 seconds apart. The Sharks penalty kill again rose to the occasion and put on one of the better displays of a two man advantage penalty kill in holding Dallas to four shots on goal through this entire power play sequence. The Sharks power play would be called upon again late in the second period to kill off another two minute minor, this time to Dan Boyle for high sticking. The Sharks killed off the first 1:40, however that would be as far as they would get as Jagr would find a lose puck in front of the Sharks and shove the rubber biscuit past Niemi to give the Stars the lead. The Sharks in this power play sequence unlike the others before it were not able to get a clear out of their zone which gave Dallas ample scoring chances before Jagr finally cashed it in. As the goal has scored, Douglas Murray complained to the refs that his stick was slashed out of his hands. Murray’s persistence would only land him in the penalty box for an unsportsmanlike penalty.
The Latest Third Period Collapse- The Sharks would go into the final period needing to kill of another penalty and were just not able to do so. Dallas would take a 2-0 lead just 30 seconds into the final period as Ryder would drill a slap shot that beat Niemi to his right. With the Sharks having a hard enough time just scoring one goal, a two goal deficit for team teal would seem almost insurmountable. The Sharks did get a ray of hope when the Stars would find themselves in penalty trouble after minor penalties to Eric Nystrom and Stephane Robidas would allow the Sharks 58 second of a five on three man advantage. The Sharks only needed two of the 58 seconds as Thornton won the faceoff and immediately got a pass over to Marleau. In turn, Marleau drilled the puck into the net beating Nilstorp to his left. The Sharks had cut the deficit to one goal and still had an active power play for another 1:58. However, the Sharks after a couple of unsuccessful attempts would see the power play expire. The Sharks would get another power play a few minutes later when the Stars’ Brendon Dillion was sent to the penalty box for interference. Again, the Sharks could do nothing with the opportunity.
Later in the period it has appeared the Sharks had tied the game when Logan Couture knocked in a feed pass from Thonrton into an empty Dallas net. However, the officials immediately waived off the goal and said that Thonrton had interfered with Nilstrop when he fell on him. The Sharks penalty kill would come back to take care of this situation however the Sharks not only lost a goal, but two minutes off of the clock also. Late in the third period the Stars’ Philip Larsen sent Tommy Wingles into the boards hard and drew a boarding penalty. The Sharks had another two minute opportunity however again could not do much with it as the Stars successfully and routinely killed off this penalty. A few moments later the Stars would ice the game as Benn would take a feed pass from Alex Goligoski and drill a wrist shot past Niemi with 2:11 remaining. As time wound down the Sharks road trip would end with it’s fifth loss in six games and with any notion that this team is not in a world of hurt right now.
Shark Bytes- Joe Thornton was surprisingly the third star of the game while Jamie Benn and Dallas goalie Cristopher Nilstorp were the top two stars of the evening. The Sharks only lead in the entire road trip was when they took the lead for good in St Louis this past Tuesday evening. In fact, that has been the Sharks only lead in the past 10 games going back to when this slide began. The Sharks are one third though the season and are on pace for a 23-16-9 (23-25 composite) record, which would be 55 points any just maybe good enough for maybe an 8th seed. If the Sharks do make the post season, as seeding for this team higher than 7th seems somewhat unlikely. Even for this to happen, a lot will need to change with this team in a very short period of time. If it doesn’t, safe to say all bets are off. What the front office will do from here if anything is anyone’s guess.
Clowe Update- Ryane Clowe was suspended by the NHL for Saturday Nights game versus Dallas as he will have a league hearing Monday on a possible 6 to 10 game suspension. This was because of Clowe coming off of the bench to allegedly instigate a fight in the final nine seconds of the Sharks loss to Chicago Friday night. Clowe left the bench to challenge Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw after Shaw had leveled a jarring hit to Joe Pavelski which could have potentially caused an injury. Clowe was ejected for a game misconduct and recieved word Saturday that he would be banned by the league from Saturday’s contest against the Dallas Stars.
Sharks Next Game- The Sharks return home to the Shark Tank to see if some home cooking could do the trick. The Sharks will host the Colorado Avs, who the Sharks beat 4-0 on January 26th in San Jose. The Sharks have lost their last three home games after winning their five, and only scored two goals in those three losses. The Sharks need to find a winning way fast or they will very soon be on the outside looking in. With a shortened season, if a team falls outside the top eight it may be tough to get back in. The way the Sharks have been playing as of late simply won’t get it done.
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