Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Sharks fall on Sword as Sabres Win 5-4 in Shootout

The Goal That Wasn't in Overtime. Mandatory Credit: NHL Gamecenter

The Goal That Wasn’t in Overtime. Mandatory Credit: NHL Gamecenter

Another Let Down- Cody Hodgson’s goal in the fourth round of the shootout capped an overall bad evening for the San Jose Sharks as they fell to the Buffalo Sabres 5-4 in their third straight shootout loss. The Sabres who came into this game at the Shark Tank having just won two of 16 games gave the Sharks more problems than they were ready to handle. The game had some controversy to go along with it too as Tommy Wingles had appeared to score what would have been the game winning goal in the overtime period. However the goal was immediately waved off by the officiating crew who apparently refused to look at it. To make matters worse, the war room in Toronto did not look at as they were closed for the evening (they close at 10pm Pacific Time whether a game is still going on or not).  This was a good goal. The goal would not count. The Sharks can expect a letter of apology from the NHL in the next couple of days with a PS attached to it. PS: You still lose. As for the rest of the game certainly you have to give the Buffalo Sabres a ton of credit as they showed up to play and outplayed Team Teal for a good portion of the contest. Ryan Miller in net for the Sabres made 47 saves as many of the Sabres’ players had good games. The Sharks were able to rally from an early 3-1 deficit in the third period to pull to a 4-4 tie that forced the overtime. In the end the Sharks come away learning a very hard lesson about maybe taking some games on the schedule for granted.

Nov 5, 2013; San Jose, CA, USA; Buffalo Sabres center Cody Hodgson (19) shoots and scores past San Jose Sharks goalie Antti Niemi (31) during a shootout at SAP Center at San Jose. The Buffalo Sabres defeated the San Jose Sharks 5-4 in a shootout. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Niemi’s Bad Night- Antti Niemi who has had his share of good performances this season will chalk this one up as one he would just as soon forget. After making 10 saves in the first period Drew Stafford and Cody McCormick put the Sabres in front of the Sharks 2-1 within the first six minutes of the second period. Stafford beat Niemi five-hole at the 2:36 mark as the Sharks turned over the puck inside their own zone. Just three and a half minutes later after forcing a faceoff in the Sharks zone McCormick took a draw from the face off and drilled a wrist shot that easily beat Niemi who clearly was not expecting the puck let alone being ready for it. The Sharks in the second period had a few chances but could never really sustain success in the Sabres zone. When the Sharks did get quality shots Miller was their to deny their best efforts. In the third period Buffalo scored twice again. The Sabres’ first goal came at 1:20 into the third period from Tyler Ennis,  just 15 seconds into a power play when again the Sharks lost track of the puck after a face off.  Niemi would then get burned again later in the period when Henrik Tallinder drilled a puck past him. Here Niemi could not gain control of a sharp rebound after a save at the 7:28 mark. It did not help that several Sharks over skated and flat missed clearing the puck before Tallinder got his stick on it. Niemi made 32 saves for the game however did not play his best game. The Sharks defensively were sloppy all night and it was just something that never changed throughout the course of the game.

Nov 5, 2013; San Jose, CA, USA; Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller (30) deflects a shot by San Jose Sharks center Tommy Wingels (57) during the second period at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Sharks Get Pucks on the Net- The Sharks did have numerous scoring chances throughout much of the game. The Sharks for the second straight game had over 50 shots on goal and certainly kept Miller busy in the net. Miller despite the Sabres’ overall record is still one of the best goalies out there and made many key saves throughout. Miller may not have had his best night either, but he did just enough to get his team over the hump overtime controversy not withstanding. As for the Sharks offense, Martin Havlat scored his first goal of the season for the Sharks in the first period to give Team Teal a one goal lead that they could never build on afterward. Tyler Kennedy and Tomas Hertl scored twice within 70 second of each other in the third period to bring the Sharks back from a two goal deficit to a 3-3 tie with 15:38 remaining in the third period. With the Sharks trailing by a goal late, Wingles would score another game tying goal that would force the issue into overtime and save the Sharks a point in the standings.

Yes There is Controversy, However… - This will go down as one of the Sharks lesser nights of the season. Certainly the team was robbed of what should have been a game winning goal and that’s on the NHL and the War Room for falling asleep at the switch. However if the Sharks had brought their A-Game to the Sharks Tank Tuesday evening chances are this would not even be a discussion now. The bottom line is that the Sharks were sloppy and in many ways were their own worst enemy on the ice. The Sharks played arguably their worst defensive game of the season and when your defense is sloppy that usually sets the tone for the entire game. The Sharks clearly did not expect the game they got from the Sabres and during the first period it was clear they were going to have some problems. Could the Sharks have looked past Buffalo with Vancouver coming into town Thursday night? It’s certainly possible. In professional sports this happens to teams and often times they lose focus of what is in front of them with disastrous consequences. Whatever the problem was at the Shark Tank Tuesday, the Sharks have only themselves to blame for what ultimately happened in this game. This was an opportunity missed that they won’t get back. They did get a point out of it in the standings that frankly they were lucky to even get. If the Sharks go out Thursday night and play against the Canucks the same way they played against the Sabres, they won’t have to worry about an overtime controversy. They’ll get run over. The Sharks coaching staff at this juncture may want to consider having a heart to heart with the team Wednesday and go over some basics. Once focus gets lost it can be hard to get back. There are 67 games left after this one and a long way to go. This ended up as an OTL, but it was a bad one to take in a lot of ways. This game is just a lesson that in the NHL any team can show up anywhere and regardless of record still beat a team with a better record. If the Sharks don’t learn that lesson here going forward then it’s their own fault.

Twitter Quote- Tyler Kennedy, Kennedy: “It’s our responsibility. We’ve got to make sure we’re ready for whoever comes in here.”  Courtesy of @SanJoseSharks

Next Sharks Game- The Sharks host the Vancouver Canucks Thursday Night (Nov 7th) at the Shark Tank.  The puck drops at 7:30pm PT.

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