Nothing Doing- The Boston Bruins Tuukka Rask showed the San Jose Sharks why he is one of the top goalies in the NHL. Rask made 26 saves in the net while teammate Carl Soderberg scored the game’s only goal late in the third period as the Bruins won 1-0 at the Shark Tank Saturday night. The loss marked the first time the Sharks lost via the shutout this season as well as only their second regulation loss at home. The Sharks and Bruins battled each other fairly even for most of the evening however this particular game would turn out to be one of the Team Teal’s most frustrating outings of the season. For Rask it was his fifth shutout of the season as the Bruins salvaged one game in their three game California road trip. For the Sharks it was another tough night and another hard lesson as to where they stand with the NHL elite. Some of the Sharks who are on the injured list meanwhile are now becoming even more noticeable by their absence from the line-up. The Sharks despite the loss did not lose any ground to the LA Kings who lost to Detroit. However the Anaheim Ducks won their 16th game out of 17 in Phoenix earlier in the day and now lead the Sharks by 11 points in the Pacific Division race.
Goalies Duel- Both Rask and Niemi were excellent in the net all evening. In the first period the Sharks got 12 shots on goal at Rask who was able to easily handle the majority of shots which came his way. However Rask made a few key saves on a redirected shot off the stick of Joe Pavelski as well as a hard wrist shot from Tommy Wingels. The Sharks who lead the NHL in first period goals this season with 51 just could not solve Rask despite their best efforts in the opening period and throughout the game. Just 2:20 into the game the Sharks would get what turned out to be their only power play opportunity of the game as Soderberg was called for holding. During the power play the Sharks only managed two shots on goal from Tyler Kennedy and Justin Braun, and both shots were nothing that Rask couldn’t handle. Niemi meanwhile had some key saves of his own including a point-blank shot from Daniel Paille. Aside from the goalies duel there were also several hits by both teams throughout the course of the game as each team was looking for any edge they could get. Those edges just as the shots on goal would be at a premium especially after the first period.
Chara In Charge- Another problem the Sharks had was the presence of the Bruins defenseman and all-world agitator Zdeno Chara. In addition to standing nearly seven feet tall on skates, Chara was able to lock up Sharks sticks which prevented them from making any feed passes or getting a decent shot on the goal. Almost playing half of the game with over 26 minutes of ice time, Chara was a key player in Rask’s and the Bruins’ team success. Chara along with the rest of his teammates made life difficult for Team Teal who really had a hard time being able to hang onto the puck once they finally were able to get ahold of it. Defensively the Bruins held the Sharks to just six shots on goal in the second period and only allowed eight more in the third.
A Tough Break- The only goal of the game came with 7:35 remaining in the third period when the Bruins’ Soderberg was at the right place at the right time for Boston. Soderberg was able to take advantage of a sequence that actually should have worked out in the Sharks favor. Taking the puck from teammate Ryan Spooner, Soderberg was able to feed Loui Eriksson who had a good look at the Team Teal net. Eriksson’s shot attempt was blocked by Scott Hannan. However the puck floated over to where both Soderberg and Dan Boyle were and both had a chance at the puck. Soderberg’s stick beat Boyle’s stick to the puck. Soderberg deposited the rubber biscuit in an open area of the net to give Boston the only goal they would need. The Sharks had a few opportunities in the Bruins defensive zone late but really could not keep any sustained pressure necessary to generate good scoring chances. The end result was another frustrating night that could either be construed as the Sharks missing some valuable teammates on the injured list. It can maybe construed as the Sharks getting a heavy and unpleasant dose of reality of how they stack up amongst the NHL’s best. Niemi despite the loss had by all accounts a solid night in the net. The only problem is that none of his teammates were able to match his efforts on the evening. The Sharks not only failed to pick up any points in the standings on the evening, but by the end of the game could only leave the ice with more questions than answers. With a three game road trip ahead of them, the only thing the Sharks can do is put this one behind them and sweep it under the rug. There simply is nothing else for them to take from this.
Next Sharks Game- The Sharks go on a three game road swing where they will be visiting the Washington Capitals, the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning. The first stop is in Washington on Tuesday (Jan 14th). The puck drops at 4pm PT (7pm ET). The game can be seen in Northern California on CSN and heard on the Sharks Radio Network.
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