The San Jose Sharks have concluded a four game homestand that started with a stumble, but ended with a flourish.
Tuesday night before another sold out house as the Shark Tank, Team Teal again set the tone in a game they thoroughly dominated in a 6-2 rout of the visiting Toronto Maples Leafs. The Sharks outshot the Leafs 48-21 and basically were in a zone for most of the evening.
The Sharks got goals from Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Brent Burns, Tommy Wingels, Martin Havlat and two from Joe Pavelski. The victory, however, was more hard-earned than the final score indicated as the Sharks had one goal from Wingels waved off in the first period. Moments later, Burns’ goal was also almost waved off thanks to officials who did more to confuse the issue than actually oversee the game itself.
Antti Niemi, thanks to a Sharks dominant effort on defense, did not see that many pucks come into harms way. Niemi would make 19 saves on the evening. Meanwhile, Niemi’s counterpart, James Reimer, had a far more stressful night. Though he would make 41 saves, Reimer’s night was nothing short of difficult. Pavelski with his two goals also reached the 400 point milestone in his career as well. Wingels meanwhile got his first career “Gordie Howe Hat Trick” with a goal, an assist and a fighting major.
The Sharks and Leafs, in the first 4:50, would swap goals despite Team Teal’s early dominance on the short clock. Vlasic would get the Sharks on the board at the 3:58 mark of the opening period with a hard slapshot that beat Reimer, after taking a good feed pass from Matt Nieto. However the Sharks maybe had a little too much jump after the following face-off. A James Sheppard shot on goal just seconds later would hit the crossbar and bounce towards Martin Havlat. However the puck bounced past Havlat and went to the Leafs’ Mason Raymond who lead a breakaway towards the Sharks goal. Raymond was able to get a feed pass over to Jake Gardiner who would beat Niemi with a wrister to tie the game 25 seconds after Vlasic’s goal. Moments later, the Sharks had appeared to had taken a one goal lead when it seemed that Wingels had scored sneaking a puck past Reimer that clearly went into the net. However, the officials on the ice waved off the goal immediately since they somehow lost sight of the puck and pulled the “Intent to blow” card. This was the wrong call, however the Sharks had to play on, so they did.
A few moments later the Sharks were able to take the lead on Burns’ 18th goal of the season, but not before having to await another officiating decision as his goal was initially waved off as well. The goal was reviewed and this time the war room in Toronto got it right, calling Burns goal good as the replay showed it clearly hit the back of the net. The Sharks outshot the Leafs 14-6 for the period, yet had every right to feel as if they got shortchanged.
The Sharks continued to dominate in the middle period as they were able to keep sending hard rubber Reimer’s way while at the same time limiting the Leafs’ opportunities. The Sharks scored two goals in a 79 second span as Wingels and Pavelski added tallies. Wingels’ was exonerated by “The Hockey Gods” as he was able to deflect a Justin Braun wrist shot past Reimer for a 3-1 Sharks lead at the 6:54 mark of the middle period. Pavelski’s first goal of the evening was the result of another Team Teal odd man rush where he was able to drill in a slap shot past Reimer following a perfect feed pass from Joe Thornton at the 8:13 mark of the second stanza.
Meanwhile, the Maple Leafs just were never to find any traction in the period and again were held to just six shots on net. The Leafs’ evening may have been best summed up late in the second period when Mason Raymond on a breakaway against Niemi just somehow could not get a shot on goal and skated past the net while losing control of the puck. In the third period Pavelski would add his second goal of the game at the 4:26 mark taking a perfect cross ice pass from Jason Demers who was able to keep the puck from leaving the Leafs’ defensive zone. Later on Havlat would get his sixth goal of the season, as he was able to get the puck past Reimer during a wild scramble in front of the Sharks net.
What Didn’t Work
The Sharks dominance of the Leafs’ tonight overshadowed something that has become a weakness that Team Teal will need to address at some point: the Sharks’ power play was 0-for-5 on the evening. However, they were dominant enough tonight to where this did not factor into the final outcome of the game. As a matter of fact, you can throw out the Sharks final power play on the evening as it came late after several fighting majors were assessed on both teams, and Team Teal was just running out the game clock.
However, the power play tonight was simply not the best it’s been. The Sharks late in the first period had over 90 seconds of power play time which was spent doing far more passing than shooting. Certainly the Maple Leafs deserve some credit for killing the penalties off. The Leafs second and final goal of the game was a shorthanded goal from Jake Gardener on the Sharks fourth power play of the game. At the time of the shorthanded goal, the Sharks already had the game well in hand. Nonetheless, the Sharks again got into some bad habits and got burned for it. There certainly are thing here the Sharks are going to need to fix soon otherwise their inability to score on the man advantage might entice opponents to take extra liberties.
Next Sharks Game
The Sharks from here leave for a three game eastern trip. The first stop is Columbus, Ohio where the Sharks will take on the Blue Jackets. The puck drops at 4pm PDT (7pm EDT) and can be seen in Northern California on CSN-CA, and heard on the Sharks Radio Network.