Just when you thought the San Jose Sharks got ahold of their season and the Pacific Division, they surprised their fan base with a shocking home clunker.
In a game that was clearly a huge blown opportunity, the Sharks dropped a 4-3 decision to the Winnipeg Jets, who were clearly the more desperate and focused team. Toby Enstrom’s power play goal with 3:36 remaining in the final period was the game winner for the Jets who are fighting for their playoff lives.
The Sharks, who still lead the Pacific Division, missed out on points in the standings with the regulation loss. As of the end of play Thursday, the Sharks only the arch rival Anaheim Ducks by two points in the Pacific Division. The Ducks also have three games in hand and are as of now in total control of their destiny while the Sharks most likely have lost that for themselves.
Team Teal’s effort in the second and third period was rather lack luster at best. In the final period, Winnipeg clearly dominated the play and it may have only a matter of time before the roof finally caved in. All the Sharks can do with this try to regroup quickly and get ready for a Saturday afternoon tilt in Denver against the playoff bound Colorado Avalanche.
No Desperation & A Comedy Of Errors
There was only one team on the ice that showed real desperation for most of the game, and they were in the white and blue sweaters.
One of the signs that may have indicated that this was not the Sharks night happened early. The Sharks took a 1-0 lead on Dan Boyle’s first goal in 29 games just 1:57 into the game. However Team Teal were not good stewards of that lead as they allowed Andrew Ladd to score 36 seconds later as Antti Niemi failed to cover a puck he should have easily had. The Sharks regained a 2-1 lead later in the period on a power play goal by Brent Burns, his 21st of the season. Team Teal seemed to have asserted control of the game as the first period had ended.
But another sign that this would not be the Sharks night actually happened on an earlier power play when Joe Thornton missed to tip in the puck with a wide open net. In the second period, Blake Wheeler scored for the Jets just 1:55 into the frame when another puck Niemi should have stopped just eased threw his leg pads.
Things would go from bad to worse for the Sharks in the period when on a Team Teal power play, Thornton received what was perhaps a questionable tripping call. This negated the opportunity which a moment later turned into the Jets favor. Shortly after, Winnipeg gained the man advantage Dustin Byfuglien (buff’lin) drilled a hard slap shot that easily beat Niemi to give the Jets a 3-2 lead. The Sharks would draw even a few minutes later on a power play goal of their own as James Sheppard’s slap shot deflected off Logan Couture and into the net past Winnipeg goalie Al Montoya. The Sharks had a few scoring chances later in the middle period but nothing would come of them.
In the final period, the Sharks rarely had control of the puck for any extended period of time.
The Jets just out-hustled and out-hit Team Teal throughout the period and generated a number of scoring chances by the second half of the final stanza. The game got away from the Sharks when Brad Stuart was called for a two-minute holding penalty. Just as it seemed the Sharks were going to kill of the penalty Logan Couture was called for a delay of game penalty when his clearing attempt went over the glass.
Off of the faceoff, the Sharks were able to get the clear they needed to kill of the 11 second two-man disadvantage. However, it would not be enough as Enstrom got the game winner past Niemi just seconds after Stuart’s penalty had ended. The Sharks had no answer for Enstrom’s goal and left the ice with the knowledge that they let an important two points in the standings slip away.
The best advice going forward for the Sharks at the point may very be to just go ahead and start to get ready to play the Kings in the opening round of the playoffs less than three weeks from now. If the Sharks have any aspirations of lasting in the playoffs, giveaways like this game simply aren’t going to get it done.
Next Sharks Game
The Sharks go back on the road and will take on the Colorado Avalanche Saturday afternoon. The game is at 12 Noon PDT (1pm MDT) and can be seen on CSN-CA, and heard of the Sharks Radio Network.
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