Stopping The Burn- Joe Pavelski’s goal with 2:06 remaining in the third period helped the San Jose Sharks avoid a noble upset bid from the Calgary Flames. Pavelski’s heroics gave team teal a 2-1 win over an opponent who played very well with house money for most of the evening. Calgary after two bad losses to their Alberta rivals in Edmonton arrived at the Shark Tank and played with a spirit that would make one think that they were the team fighting for a post season spot. Former Sharks Goalie Miikka Kiprusoff made 39 saves for the game in an evening that was extremely frustrating for team teal at least for the first two periods.
Trailing 1-0 in the third period, the Sharks Dan Boyle scored the game tying goal after the Sharks had just missed tying the game at the end of a power play opportunity. The Sharks went zero for three with the man advantage and looked somewhat disorganized on the first two attempts earlier in the game. Antti Niemi made 23 saves on the evening and was probably the one reason the Sharks were still in position to take the game going in to the final period. The win for team teal was their seventh straight matching their season’s high set at the start of the season. As Sharks TV analysts Randy Hahn and Drew Remenda had pointed out during the second period, the Sharks season has been the perfect Jekyll and Hyde story in the NHL this season. For a good while tonight it looked as if Mr. Hyde had returned.
Attacking Early, Denied Often- The Sharks in the first period gave the impression they were going to handle the Flames, who had just won three of 16 road games this season. Flames goalie Kiprusoff, who had announced during the trading deadline day that he was staying in Calgary and would retire at seasons’ end, arrived at the Shark Tank ready to go. The Sharks would launch 15 shots on goal at Kiprusoff and at one point had a 10-3 edge in shots with nothing to show for it. It did not matter if it was Pavelski, TJ Galiardi, Logan Couture, Brent Burns, or Patrick Marleau. Kipprusoff by the time the first period had ended had all but stopped shots from the entire Sharks team photo (minus three via recent trades). Niemi found himself quite busy particularly late as the Flames started to pick up that momentum that is often felt by teams that are allowed to hang around just long enough.
With 2:11 left in the period, Couture uncharacteristically was called for a hooking penalty that would give the Flames a Power Play opportunity. The Sharks penalty kill, which has been one of their best attributes this season, looked anything but that as Calgary needed just six seconds to score. Off of the faceoff, Mikael Backlund got a feed pass over to teammate Mike Cammalleri. Seeing no clear shot, Cammalleri passed the puck back over to Backlund who then took a step before drilling a wrister that got through traffic and past Niemi.
Skating in Circles- The second period for the Sharks can be best described as one of those periods where their tires were just spinning and stuck in the mud. The Sharks were just not really able to sustain anything in the way of consistency and became very error prone with the puck. Niemi found himself fending off a lot of Flames close range scoring chances thanks to bad puck handling from his team. The Sharks did have a power play opportunity during the course of this period when the Flames’ Backlund was called for goalie interference. Kiprusoff made a pair of saves in an effort where the Sharks just seemed to be lost at times. Kirpusoff also came through with a pair of big saves on Matt Irwin and Martin Havlat. The good news in the period for team teal was the penalty kill rebounding as the Sharks were able to kill off a tripping penalty to Matt Irwin late. Both teams had eight shots on goal, however it was the Sharks being frustrated in part by Kiprusoff, and in part by just being their own worst enemy.
“Third” Is The Word- The Sharks caught a break just 18 seconds into the final period as the Flames’ Alex Tanguay drew a tripping minor giving team teal their third try with the man advantage. The Sharks did not covert this opportunity either though Couture’s shot on goal hit the crossbar and just missed tying the game. However in the same sequence the Sharks were able to sustain the momentum they had started to build up in the Calgary defensive zone. Just 23 seconds after the power play opportunity had ended Couture led a Sharks charge up the ice. Once in the Flames’ defensive zone Couture fed Boyle who had trailed the play. Boyle then launched a wrister that beat Kiprusoff to his left top shelf to tie the game. This was only Boyle’s second even strength goal of the season out of the seven he has scored this season.
The Sharks a moment later missed an opportunity to take the lead after Joe Thornton challenged Kiprusoff with a wrister. Despite the save Kiprusoff could not control the rebound. The closest player to the puck was Galiardi who fell over as the puck had drifted out of his reach. Later in the period, Thornton would have a good scoring chance on Kiprusoff coming in off of an angle, but also launched a shot that hit the crossbar. A couple of moments later another battle for the rubber biscuit was going on from behind the Flames’ goal. Burns was able to dig the puck out of a sea of humanity and attempt to stuff the puck past Kirprusoff. The Calgary goalie would deny Burns’ try however lost sight of the puck. Pavelski who was coming around from behind the net was the first man to the puck a knocked into the open area to give the Sharks the lead. Niemi late would make two saves on shots on goal from Cammalleri and Curtis Glencross to preserve the lead and ultimately the win.
Shark Bytes- The 3 Stars of the Game were 3) Antti Niemi; 2) Mikka Kipprusoff; and 1) Joe Pavelski. In two weeks time the Sharks have gone from tied for 11th in the Western Conference Standings to taking a one point lead over their defending Stanley Cup champion rivals. The Sharks with the come from behind win are sitting in fourth place in the Western Conference Standings. If the season ended today, the Sharks would be facing the LA Kings in the first round. Newly acquired Sharks Raffi Torres and Scott Hannan didn’t play. Hannan is working his way back from a neck injury, and Torres has a bad cold. Torres could be available for Sunday’s game.
Next Sharks Game- Sunday April 7th When the Sharks host the Dallas Stars at the Shark Tank. This will be a 1pm start as the Sharks host a rare Sunday Matinee. The game is on CSN Comcast Sports and the Sharks Radio Network.
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