No Winging It- Tommy Wingles in the end made sure the full house at the Shark Tank got exactly what they came to see. Wingles game winning goal at 1:52 of the overtime period gave the San Jose Sharks a 2-1 victory over the Dallas Stars in another tough battle at home. The Sharks were looking to give their fans and themselves a spark after a tough loss to Philadelphia two nights earlier. Wingles goal gave the Sharks the season series over Dallas, but even more importantly also allowed Team Teal to gain ground on the Pacific Division leading Anaheim Ducks who lost at home to Chicago. The Sharks trail the Ducks by seven points in the Pacific Division standings. The Sharks also gained ground on the idle LA Kings as well. Alex Stalock got the start in goal Wednesday night as Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan decided it was time to give regular starting goalie Antti Niemi the night and a bit of a mental break. Martin Havlat, who has spent more than his fair share of time on the injured list got the Sharks on the scoreboard in the second period. In addition, this game marked the first appearance this season of Adam Burish who had been out following back surgery. Wingles game winning goal was set up from a perfect feed pass by Havlat from near the Dallas goal. Most of the game was another defensive struggle as the Sharks were strong on the defensive front but somewhat lagging again in the areas of offense. The power play also continued to slump going 0 for 3 and is now just one goal in the last 18 chances at the Shark Tank. Despite all of that Team Teal still managed to hang tough and grind out the overtime win when it was all said and done.
Many Opportunities Just Didn’t Pan Out- The Sharks early in the game were skating very well and had the better of the scoring chances as halfway through the opening period they had a 6-3 advantage in shots on goal. The only thing missing was getting at least one puck past Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen. On the evening Lehtonen was about as tough of a customer as any the Sharks have faced over the last couple of weeks as he would make 20 saves for the game. The Dallas defense was also just as tough as early on they had blocked five Sharks shot attempts in the first six and a half minutes of the game. Stalock was also on top of his game as well as he amongst his six saves in the opening period were two point blank scoring chances. Here Stalock within seconds of one another robbed both Ryan Garbutt and Jamie Benn. In the second period the defenses took over as well as both goalies as both team exchanged minimal scoring opportunities while both Stalock and Lehtonen were having good games keeping the rubber biscuit out of their respective nets. The Stars for a good portion of the middle period seemed to get the better exchange of the play and were able to keep the puck in the Sharks defensive zone and hold it there for extended periods of time. Despite this it was the Sharks who would ultimately get on the board first when Havlat was able to tip a Scott Hannan pass from about ten feet away to give the Sharks the lead going into the final period of regulation time. Bracken Kearns was able to screen out Lehtonen just long enough to allow Havlat’s tip in to reach the back of the net.
Tough Sledding- The third period would be another tough adventure for the Sharks. Luckily it would be nothing like what happened two nights earlier, but the Team Teal would again have to navigate through some close calls before getting a chance to win the game in overtime. In the third period the Sharks would only manage two shots on goal for the period and never really challenged Stars goalie Lehtonen. Meanwhile Stalock on the opposite end of the rink was all but standing on his head in order to keep the Sharks viable in this game. The only goal Stalock would give up on the evening came about six and a half into the third period. Valeri Nichuhkin was able to wrist the puck into the Sharks net after Team Teal’s defense lost track of the puck in a mad scramble near the goal. The Sharks had two successive power play opportunities inside of the final seven minutes of the game thanks to a tripping and later a slashing penalty to the Stars Erik Cole. The Sharks could not capitalize on either chance and were actually outshot on the second power play. Alex Stalock had to do his best work to prevent a possible game winning short handed goal for Dallas. The Sharks managed to hang on just long enough to get the game into the overtime period where Wingles would ultimately put the issue to rest.
Next Sharks Game- The Sharks will close out this homestand and the per-Olympic portion of their regular season schedule as they take on the Columbus Blue Jackets at the Shark Tank. The game is Friday night (Feb. 7th) with the puck dropping at 7:30pm. The game can be seen in Northern California on Comcast Sports Net and heard on the Sharks Radio Network or NHL Game Center Audio.
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