Gone With The Wind- For 40 minutes Alex Stalock was the best goalie on the ice. In the last 20 minutes not so much. Third period goals from Riley Nash, Jordan Staal, Elias Lindholm plus an empty netter by Eric Staal led a four goal explosion in the Carolina Hurricanes 5-3 win over the San Jose Sharks Friday night in Raleigh, NC. The events of the third period negated what was otherwise a solid performance by Stalock through the first two periods as he stopped 24 of 25 shots on goal. Stalock started for the Sharks as Antti Niemi was given the night off. The Sharks with the loss for the first time this season have dropped two straight games in regulation. What was particularly frustrating for team teal is that they were able to jump to a two goal lead in the first period however offensively dropped off rather noticeably afterward. The Hurricanes outshot the Sharks 35-25 and were fairly dominant for most of the evening. The Sharks from here travel to Minnesota to take on the Wild in the final game of this four game road trip on Sunday. Despite the loss the Sharks still will be no worse than a share of the Pacific Division lead by the time Friday’s games have wrapped up.
The First 40- The Sharks got the jump on the hurricanes in the first period as Tommy Wingles and Marc-Edouard Vlasic staked the Sharks to a 2-0 lead. Wingles goal was the result of a Carolina turnover as Jay Harrison tried to pass the puck up ice out of his own zone. Jason Demers who just came onto the ice was able to intercept the puck and immediately drilled it back towards Cam Ward in the Hurricanes net. Wingles was standing by the net and was in the perfect position to tip in Demers shot giving the Sharks the lead at the 7:09 mark of the first period. The Sharks would later add to their lead as Vlasic took a feed pass from Patrick Marleau from along the boards. Vlasic’s slap shot beat Ward to his left. The Sharks towards the end of the period would have a power play opportunity that would extend into the second period before falling by the wayside. In the second period the Sharks would find themselves spending more time on their end of the ice then they really wanted to. This is were Stalock stepped up and was on top of his game. Stalock was single-handedly keeping the Sharks in the game as he was able to fight off multiple Carolina scoring chances. Stalock’s most impressive saves of the evening were on two point-blank tries by Nathan Gerbe. Stalock also had strong saves on Jeff Skinner and Tuomo Ruutu. Meanwhile the Sharks had some scoring chances of their own but as the period wore on it seemed more like they had taken their foot off of the pedal. The Hurricanes got on the board at 11:36 of the second period on a Harrison goal as he was able to drill the puck from the left point off of the boards behind the net. The puck ricocheted off of the boards and hit the back of Stalock’s right skate before going into the goal.
Then Came the Third- The final period to say the least was not the best period the Sharks have had this season. The Sharks would be outscored 4-1 and really never seemed to be able to match Carolina’s intensity. Just under five minutes into the final period the Hurricanes found the equalizer when Nash was in the right place at the right time and tipped a slap shot from Gerbe past Stalock. Less than two minutes later Jordan Stall was able to stuff the puck under Stalock after a feed pass from Gerbe. Stall kept hammering away at the puck until it finally got underneath Stalock who was unable to control it. Stall’s second and third efforts eventually gave Carolina a 3-2 lead. Three minutes later the Sharks were able to find the game tying goal when Justin Braun was able to drill a slap shot past Ward after taking a feed pass from Marleau who was able to draw some Carolina defenders towards him before feeding Braun. However as things would turn out it was just not the Sharks night afterall. Carolina took the lead for good with six minutes remaining in the game when Lindholm was in position to tip another shot on goal past Stalock, this time from Andrej Sekera. After stopping 24 of his first 25 shots on goal faced, Stalock in the third period gave up three goals on nine Hurricanes shots. The Sharks tried to find the game tying goal late but were not able to sustain enough pressure in the Hurricanes zone or overcome their forecheck. Eric Staal would add an empty netter with 31 seconds remaining to eliminate any possibility of Team Teal forcing overtime.
A First For This Season- For the first time since the season began two months ago the Sharks have dropped two straight games in regulation play. Also for the second straight night the Sharks were outscored 5-1, this time over the last two periods. In Pittsburgh Thursday night the Sharks were outscored 5-1 for the game. Thursday night the Penguins appeared to have caught the Sharks at the right time. Tonight the Sharks were at times just a little on the lethargic side for the better portion of the final two periods. Playing on the road can be tough and honestly the Sharks are no exception. You never want to think in terms of the Sharks being due for a bad game or two but it does happen over the course of an 82 game schedule. The Sharks tonight did not have their best game however Stalock did all he could to keep the Sharks in it up until the third period. If nothing else we all learned that Stalock is human afterall. He will have his share of bad games to just as Niemi had Thursday night against the Penguins. They will also both be just fine. What the Sharks need to do is just file these last two games away and move on to their next game in Minnesota against the Wild Sunday afternoon. A win in Minnesota and the Sharks will finish the road trip with a 2-2 mark. Bad nights at the rink are all apart of the game.
Twitter Quote- “They made their chances count, we had a couple looks.. theirs counted, ours didn’t.” – Dan Boyle (courtesy @SanJoseSharks)
Next Sharks Game- The Sharks take on the Minnesota Wild at the X-cel Engergy Center Sunday afternoon. The puck drops at 3pm PT and can be seen on CSN.
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