Eight Is Enough- Joe Thornton scored the game deciding goal in the eighth round of the shootout as the San Jose Sharks edged the visiting Los Angeles Kings 3-2 before another full house at the Shark Tank. The game is the first of three big games over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend at for the homestanding Sharks. With the win Team Teal is now tied with the Anaheim Ducks for the top spot in the Pacific Division while the LA Kings are one point in the standings behind both teams. The shootout was won by the Sharks 4-3 as it lasted eight rounds that were nothing short of a white knuckle ride. Then again so was the game itself. The contest settled into a game of strange bounces that worked for and against both teams. Both goalies in the game came up huge on the evening as Antti Niemi made 38 saves for Team Teal. Likewise Ben Scrivens of the Kings matched Niemi save for save and ended up with 38 of his own. In addition to scoring the winning goal in the shootout, Thornton also scored his third goal of the season taking advantage of another weird bounce off the Shark Tank boards behind the Kings goal. The goal was Thornton’s 165th of his career as a member of the Sharks tying him for third all time in the Sharks record book with Jonathan Cheechoo. At the end of the evening the Sharks had an all important victory while those in attendance came away knowing they had gotten their moneys worth for one night.
Early Wake Up Call- The evening actually did not start off too well for Team Teal as they got behind the eight ball just 18 seconds into the game. Taking advantage of the first of many weird bounces of the game, Los Angeles’ Dwight King was the first one to get to the puck after Michael Richards slammed the rubber biscuit off of the boards behind the Sharks goal. King then fed Jeff Carter coming in from behind, allowing Carter to wrist the puck past Niemi to give Los Angeles a 1-0 lead before most people in the stands had settled in. The Sharks after being hit with an early punch to the gut rebounded and started to assert themselves as the more aggressive team. However Scrivens apparently took a page out of the Jonathan Quick guide to goal tending and was more than up to the challenge stopping all hot rubber that would come his way. Scrivens in the first period would face and turn away 18 shots on goal, taking on the best shots from Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Joe Pavelski and Thornton. Niemi meanwhile would recover from the early goal to make seven saves in the period. The most impressive of the seven came just over 10 minutes into the game where Niemi stoned Richards after he stole the puck off of Dan Boyle’s stick as Boyle was trying to skate out of the Sharks defensive zone. Richards has a two on none break away with Dan Carcillo and elected to keep the puck. As he tried to backhand the rubber biscuit into the net, Niemi was able to make a pad save keeping it a one goal game. This save proved to be a huge one in the game.
Roll Reversal- The middle period saw the visiting Kings step up their game as they be came the aggressor for much of the period. In a period where Los Angeles would outshoot the Sharks 19-7, the Kings had no mercy on Niemi. Likewise Niemi also had no mercy on the Kings either. Niemi came up huge in many instances throughout the period including being a huge factor in the Sharks power play where Team Teal was assessed a double minor penalty when Boyle’s stick hit Justin Williams in the face as Boyle was trying to knock the puck out of the air. Niemi had to become the steel door that sealed hatch as he turned away six Los Angeles shots on goal. In the final two minutes of the Kings double minor power play the Sharks penalty killers were severely tested as they could not clear the puck but somehow managed to stay in passing and shooting lanes giving the Kings fewer options to get the puck past Niemi. The Kings would not score in the second period despite the numerous opportunities they had. Team Teal meanwhile would find the game tying goal just 2:43 into the second period as Joe Pavelski was able to wrist a puck over Scrivens top shelf after getting ahold of a rebound from Tyler Kennedy’s shot on goal near the boards at the right point. Thornton’s goal came from a play that could only be described as another weird sequence that the Sharks will take each and every time it happens. Hertl just outside the blue line near the Los Angeles defensive zone passed the puck towards the Kings goal in the direction of Thornton who chased it down. The Sharks Captain was able to direct the rubber biscuit away from the Kings’ Willie Mitchell who seemed to have control of it after yet another weird bounce. However Thornton had apparently just gotten enough of his stick on the puck to get it away from Mitchell and head towards Scrivens who had his back to the play. The puck would glide and hit both of Scrivens’ skates before going into the net. The Sharks despite being heavily outshot would take a 2-1 lead into the third period.
Tight To The Finish- The final period would see both teams going back and with ample scoring opportunities and it would turn out to be a contest to see which goalie would flinch first. Neither goalie did. Scrivens would again be solid throughout the period as he made 13 more saves. The Sharks had a golden opportunity in the third period with two power play chances but could do nothing with either chance. Niemi meanwhile held serve on his end of the rink with nine saves including a couple on a late Kings power play chance. In the overtime neither team could find the back of the net as Niemi made four more saves to get the game to a shootout. In the shootout period the Kings’ Anze Kopitar got a puck past Niemi to give Los Angeles the early edge in the opening round. The Sharks would even the shootout in the second round as Pavelski was able to get Scrivens to commit to his right leaving the left side of the net open where he buried the puck. In the fourth round Hertl put the Sharks ahead only to see Justin Williams tie it. In the fifth round it was the same thing, with Boyle putting the Sharks ahead only to see the Kings’ Captain Dustin Brown tie things up again. Finally in the eighth round Thornton was able to stuff the puck underneath Scrivens and into the net. The Kings’ Tyler Toffoli would have the opportunity to tie the shootout again however Niemi was having none of that and was able to deny him at the door and save the game for the Sharks.
Important Win to Start Tough Three Game Stretch- Getting a win in the first of a grueling three game set was important for the Sharks and taking this game versus the Kings will certainly give the Sharks a good deal confidence as they now get ready to take on the St Louis Blues at the Shark Tank Friday afternoon. The Blues beat the Colorado Avs in convincing fashion Wednesday and the Sharks will certainly need to be well rested and at the top of their game. After the Blues comes Anaheim on Saturday night and the Ducks are as tough to play as anyone in the league. Beating the Kings is also important as with any division rival you want to be able to pick up ground whenever possible and the head to head series are usually best for that. This game demanded a lot from the Sharks as the eight shootout rounds proved. The Sharks will need to make the most if their day off Thursday in the way of getting as much rest as possible.
Next Sharks Game- Friday afternoon the Sharks will be taking on the St Louis Blues at the Shark Tank. The Blues this year having been as every bit as good as the Sharks this season and are a very tough team to play whether home or on the road. The Blues are lead by Alex Steen, David Backers and TJ Oshie. Steen in 24 games played already has 20 goals on the season and is on pace to set team records as well as NHL records. The Blues also feature Maxim Lapierre who’s never met an opponent that he didn’t want to injure. The puck drops early Friday for a 1pm PT start.
Follow Your Blades of Teal Staff on Twitter:
The Jessica Redfield Ghawi Foundation:
Stand Up 2 Cancer:
So, So Much Hope
The One Fund Boston