Sharks Gone Wild- In a game that lived up to beyond it’s billing, the San Jose Sharks before a Wednesday night full house at the Shark Tank outlasted the Minnesota Wild 4-2. Martin Havlat, Dan Boyle, Joe Thornton, TJ Galiardi all put pucks in the net for the Sharks who with the win have taken their sixth straight game and have quietly become a red hot team again. Former Sharks Charlie Coyle and Dany Heatley scored for the Wild who rallied from a two goal deficit in the second period to tie the game and make the Sharks work for the win. Team teal’s win also puts the Sharks at least for 21 hours ahead of the Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference Standings in assuming the fifth position in the overall standings. The game also comes on the heels of the Sharks dealing away longtime forward Ryane Clowe to the New York Rangers. Later team teal acquired Raffi Torres from Phoenix and are returning Scott Hannan to San Jose in a trade with Nashville.
This game may be remembered by both teams and all of those who watched it (including a national television audience on NBC Sports Network) not so much for how it began as how it ended. A major scrum broke out in front of the Sharks net with Marc-Edoward Vlasic and Heatley both received slashing penalties. This would leave Heatley injured and Vlasic getting multiple penalties that may lead to a call from league office Thursday. The Wild’s Kyle Brodziak was yelling at both the game officials and the Sharks as they went to salute the fans as many of his Wild teammates refusing to leave the ice. The fracas started as the game was winding down to it’s conclusion as multiple players started going after one another just as soon as the final horn had sounded. Vlasic and Heatley started to swing sticks at one another with Heatley getting the brunt of it after he missed hitting Vlasic. Heatley also seemed to injure his wrist as he fell to the ice.
Bold Beginnings- The Sharks got right down to business and got the jump on the Wild early. Just 1:34 into the game team teal took an early one goal lead when Havlat drilled a wrist shot past Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom five hole. This was the same Backstrom who shut out the Sharks in Minnesota the last time team teal lost a game. Havlat took a feed pass from Sharks Captain Joe Thornton after getting the puck deep in the Minnesota defensive zone from Brent Burns. Soon the Wild would find themselves in penalty trouble as Brodziak would draw a hooking penalty. A moment later Clayton Stoner would join Brodziak in the penalty box after a delay of game penalty which would give the Sharks a 57 second two man advantage. After clearing the puck on the proceeding face off, Boyle would gather the puck from deep in the Sharks defensive zone and take it coast to coast. Boyle at the Wild’s blue line turned Ryan Sutter into the NHL’s most expensive pylon as he skated past him and beat Backstrom with a back handed wrister to give team teal a 2-0 lead.
The Sharks would get more chances to increase the lead however Minnesota tightened up their defenses and got out of the penalty trouble without any further damage. The Sharks however did continue to control most of the period giving the Wild few scoring chances. The Sharks outshot the Wild 10-6 in the opening period and seemingly had everything going their way.
A Wild Come Back- The second period saw Minnesota get out of the gates with a little more urgency in their game as they started to have some success with their forecheck. The Sharks would have a much tougher time challenging Backstrom as they could not seem to find the same consistency they had in the first period. The longer the Wild pressed with their forecheck, the more chances they would get and eventually there would be a payoff. Former Sharks Coyle and Heatley would tie the game in a 25 second span bring Minnesota even at 2-2 with 9:05 remaining in the middle period. Heatley’s goal in particular was a disturbing development for the Sharks. The former Shark was able to drill a clean 55 foot slap shot when the Sharks were unable to clear their zone after losing the faceoff preceding Coyle’s goal. Team teal goalie Antti Niemi had a strong game going himself prior to the two quick Wild goals.
The Sharks continued to have problems with the Wild forecheck thoughout much of the period however would soon get a very favorable bounce. Moment’s after the Wild tied the game, the Sharks with the puck in the Wild’s defensive zone would make something happen. Thornton near the Wild goal was trying to get a pass over to Havlat. However the puck missed Havlat and deflected off the skate of Minnesota’s Stoner and past Backstrom to give the Sharks the lead back. The Wild despite this goal has some chances to tie the game late in the period however Niemi turned out to be much more in focus and made sure the Wild would stay off of the scoreboard.
A Storm Brewing- The Sharks in the final period had started to counter the Wild forecheck and were able to start pushing back. The Wild still challenged Niemi who had seemed to get over the goals he had earlier given up. Niemi at the end was very clutch and was able to withstand the several scoring opportunities the Wild still had. Meanwhile the Sharks kept pushing the envelope and finally were able to draw the Wild into another penalty situation when Cal Clutterbuck was called for hooking Logan Couture. Things would get chippy during the Sharks power play opportunity when both Patrick Marleau and Justin Falk got two minutes each for roughing. Still with a five on four man advantage, Galiardi would prove to be the man of the hour and tapped in a rebound of a slap shot from Burns to give the Sharks their two goal advantage back. Galiardi just seconds early was crosschecked on open ice by Ryan Sutter.
Soon afterward the chippiness started to take place right up to the eruption that occurred at the final horn. As the Sharks tried to salute their fans many of the Wild hung around afterward with Brodziak yelling at many of the Sharks that “…this wasn’t over”. It might not be either, the two teams with this new found hate for one another will go at it again on April 18th at the Shark Tank. This game will in all likelyhood will have possible post season implications.
Shark Bytes- Wednesday’s three stats of the game are… 3) TJ Galiardi 2) Brent Burns 1) Joe Pavelski. The Sharks signed Matt Irwin to a two-year contract extension Wednesday. Terms were not disclosed. Pavelski had six shots on goal however received the game’s first star for winning a number of key faceoffs. Four of Boyle’s 6 goals this season have come in 5-on-3 situations. With the win the Sharks snap a four game losing streak to the Wild which dates well back into last season. If the Sharks make the post season, do not be surprised if the match-up is against the Wild. It would already have the sub plots in place. Finals shots on goal, each team had 33.
Next Sharks Game- Friday Night (4/5) versus the Calgary Flames. 7:30pm PDT start on Comcast Plus, and the Sharks Radio Network.
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