A Hard Days Night- On a day in which the San Jose Sharks bid farewell to stalwart defenseman Douglas Murray, five different team teal players scored. James Sheppard scored his first goal of the season, and it turned out to be the game winning goal in a 5-3 victory of the arch rival Anaheim Ducks. The Sharks with the win picked up a huge two points in the Western Conference standings as they sent their feathered foul Southern California rival to their third straight home loss at the Honda Center. The Ducks up until last Friday has won 13 straight at home, which included a 5-3 win over the Sharks exactly one ago Monday night. This time, it was the Sharks who would get the jump on Anaheim as they flip flopped the score and put away their 14th overall win of the season and increased their point total to 34, good enough for the moment to move back into eighth place in the conference standings. In addition to Sheppard’s goal, Brent Burns, Joe Pavelski, Martin Havlat, and Dan Boyle all lit the lamp for team teal. Boyle’s goal was an empty netter with 27 seconds remaining in the game.
The win also capped an emotional day where hours earlier Murray, who has been with the Sharks organization since being drafted in 1999, was dealt to the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Penguins in exchange for getting Murray sent the Sharks their second round draft pick in the 2013 NHL Draft and a conditional 2014 draft choice. If the Penguins reach the Eastern Conference finals, the Sharks will have the Penguins’ pick in the second round of 2014. If the Penguins falter and are eliminated prior to the Eastern Conference Finals, the Sharks instead would get the Penguins’ third round pick in 2014. It is not known if the trade was done to maybe send a message to the rest of the team or not, but the Sharks Monday night responded unlike at any time during this lockout shortened season.
Sharks Hit The Ice Hard- The Sharks came out of the gates tonight looking like a team that was more than ready to get after it. This is precisely how the Sharks approached the game the entire evening. The Sharks never allowed Anaheim to get set offensively early like they’ve done many times before this season. The Ducks themselves were coming off a very tough emotional loss to the Red Wings the night before. The Sharks would do much to create their own chances early on. With over five and a half minutes gone in the opening period, Burns taking a corner feed from Havlat would drill a sharp angle shot that beat Anaheim goalie Viktor Fasth to give the Sharks first blood in the contest. Sharks Captain Joe Thonrton won a race to the puck behind the Ducks goal before getting a behind the net pass over to Havlat. Seconds after Burns’ goal, team teal goalie Antti Niemi would be called upon to make a point blank save on Emerson Etem.
Less than two minutes later, Pavelski would be in the right place at the right time as he was able to pick pocket the normally sure handed Corey Perry after he had stolen the puck from TJ Galiardi. Pavelski wasting no time turned and drilled a wrister that beat Fasth to his right to give the Sharks an early 2-0 lead. The Sharks would get even more opportunities via two power play chances but could not cash neither man advantage in. Team teal would outshoot the Ducks 10-8 for the period and even outhit the Ducks who did not expect the first period script to go like it had.
A Hard Havlat to Break- If the Ducks didn’t care for the way the first period had played out, then they were really not going to like how the second period was going to begin either. Just 34 seconds into the middle frame Thornton won a face off and got the puck over to Matt Irwin who drilled a hard slap shot. Fasth made the save but could not corral the rebound which went straight to Havlat. Taking advantage of the juicy rebound he received, Havlat deposited the rubber biscuit past Fasth to give the Sharks a 3-0 lead. Moments after Havlat’s goal, Niemi would again be called to stop another breakaway chance, this one by Perry. Niemi stoned Perry twice as he controlled the rebound but could not score on either his wrister or wrap around attempt. Niemi was solid in net for the first half of the game, but holding the Ducks off of the scoreboard these days is a tall order for any team.
The Ducks would get their first break of the evening when on an odd man rush Etem would try to feed Peter Holland in a similar looking play from last weeks meeting between the two rivals. This time Brad Stuart would be in position to block Etem’s pass, however the pass would hit Stuart’s stick and deflect past Niemi to get Anaheim on the board. Despite the errant marker, Niemi would keep his cool and make big plays later in the period. The biggest play of the period for Niemi was after a Sharks turnover near their own goal. A bad turnover left Teemu Selanne one on one with Niemi. Selanne tried to jam the puck under Niemi, however the Sharks net minder was having none of that and dove on the puck before Selanne could get it back and have another shot on the net. Moments later Sheppard would have a break away opportunity of his own against Fasth but could not get a clean shot off on the net and the Anaheim goalie was able to gather the puck. The Sharks would heavily outshoot the Ducks 21-9 in the period however again were also turned away on a third power play opportunity. The team teal penalty kill unit would also get a late period challenge when Patrick Marleau was called for holding with a minute and a half left in the second period. The Sharks however were able to keep the Ducks at bay through the end of the middle period.
It Doesn’t Come Easy- The beginning of the third period was a good news, bad news scenario for the Sharks. The good news was that the Sharks were able to successfully kill off the remaining penalty time in Marleau’s infraction. The bad news was that the Ducks in that time had built up quite a bit of momentum and kept the puck away from team teal who could not clear the rubber biscuit. The Sharks would pay the price for this as Francois Beauchemin was able to drill a slap shot that beat Niemi to his right to bring the Ducks to within striking distance at 3-2. The Sharks from this point on knew they were going to have to work to get this game into the win column considering they were only 58 seconds into the final period. Just seconds later Niemi was forced to dive on another live puck near his goal crease preventing Andrew Cogliano from tying the game. Niemi would later in the period stop a point blank shot on goal by Perry.
With 12:20 remaining in the period and the Sharks on a power play, Logan Couture tipped in a shot from Pavelski knocking the puck past Fasth to give the Sharks what should have been a two goal lead. However a review from the war room in Toronto and also a call by one of the officials on the ice ruled that Couture’s stick was higher than the crossbar, and it didn’t even matter that the puck hit the shaft of the stick. The Sharks instead got the shaft as the goal was disallowed. The officials said there was inconclusive evidence on the ice and that the goal would be disallowed despite replays clearly showing the goal should have counted. With all the things already going on with team teal, this was certainly one of the last things they needed.
A few moments later with the Sharks holding the puck in the Ducks’ zone, a clearing attempt by Anaheim ended up on the stick of Sheppard who immediately threw the puck towards the net with Havlat skating in front of the Ducks goal crease. The puck beat Fasth to his right side and it had appeared at first that Havlat may have tipped it in. However, the game officials decided this goal needed to be reviewed too. This time there were no raised stick violations and the Sheppard got credit for the goal as the Sharks got a “make good” call from the officials.
Late in the game with under two minutes remaining, the Ducks pulled Fasth for an extra attacker. Seconds later taking advantage of a Sharks turnover near their goal, Perry was able to somehow jam the puck underneath Niemi to pull Anaheim back to within one at 4-3 with 1:40 remaining. The final 100 seconds were looking very much like a white knuckle ride for team teal as they did what they could to survive a final push by the Ducks to tie the game and get it to overtime. After knocking the puck out of play in the Sharks zone, the Ducks saw the ensuing faceoff move outside of the Sharks blue line. Pavelski won the faceoff and the puck went directly to Boyle. From there Boyle caromed a shot off of the boards which ricocheted towards the Ducks goal and went into the empty net. The Sharks with Boyles’ last second empty netter clinched a hard fought victory on an emotional day for the team.
Shark Bytes- The three stars of the game were 3) Dan Boyle, 2) Francois Beauchemin, and 1) Joe Thornton who had an assist and was a catalyst on several other key plays for team teal. The Sharks outshot the Ducks 39-27. Monday’s win for the Sharks snapped a three game skid at the Honda Center dating back to last season. Havlat scored his first goal in 15 games, Pavelski’s was his first in 19 games. The win for the Sharks was their 14th overall, but only their ninth in regulation this shortened season. A part of the Sharks organization since 1999, Murray made his first appearance for the parent club in 2005 and has been with the team teal until Monday afternoon. The New York Rangers per David Pollak of the San Jose Mercury News had scouts in the stands tonight. The Sharks have a three game home stand starting Wednesday and will need to make some hay here. If this doesn’t happen, Murray could be just the first shoe to drop.
Next Sharks Game- Wednesday Night at the Shark Tank versus these same Anaheim Ducks. The game starts at 7pm PDT (not 7:30pm). The game will be on CSN California and the Sharks Radio Network (98.5FM in San Jose, 102.1FM in San Francisco). The Sharks will need and appreciate a full house especially against their arch rivals.
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