San Jose saw their three-game win streak come to an end in Carolina.
With the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks idle, the San Jose Sharks had a big chance to pull with one point of the division lead on Friday night. Unfortunately, the Carolina Hurricanes weren’t about to let that happen on home ice.
Carolina slowly seized control of this one as the game wore on as they used a pair of Jeff Skinner goals in the third period to secure a 5-2 victory over San Jose.
Both teams were playing for the second consecutive night and they took their turns trading chances in an evenly played first period. The Hurricanes would strike first as Chris Terry knocked a fluttering shot from Noah Hanifin over Martin Jones for his fifth goal of the season.
It was a fluky play that left Jones with no chance, but for the third-straight game on this road trip, the Sharks allowed the opening goal of the contest.
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Just like their past two games, San Jose had an answer off a beautiful setup from Joel Ward. Ward gained the zone and backhanded a pass to Brent Burns who toe-dragged around Victor Rask before firing one past a screened Cam Ward to even things up at one apiece.
The goal snapped a 16-game goalless drought for Burns and evened the game after the first 20 minutes.
Carolina came with a big push in the second as San Jose was on their heels. The Hurricanes outshot the visitors by a 19-4 margin in the middle frame and scored the lone goal of the period.
Joakim Nordstrom took a feed and absolutely rocketed one past Jones in one he’d like to have back for his sixth of the season, re-establishing the one-goal advantage for the home team. Burns and Paul Martin backed in way too deep on the play allowing Nordstrom too much time to wind up.
This time, the Hurricanes were able to extend their lead just 39 seconds into the third as Skinner poked home a loose puck in front on a wild goal mouth scramble. The play was initially ruled no goal, but was overturned on the coach’s challenge for Skinner’s 20th of the season.
San Jose wouldn’t go away though as Patrick Marleau made a great play in stealing the puck from Ward and finding Tomas Hertl in front for an easy tap-in as the deficit was cut back to one midway through the third period.
The Sharks wouldn’t be able to complete the comeback as Skinner was there to deposit the back-breaking goal. After Jones made the initial save, Skinner beat Joe Pavelski to the rebound and scored his second of the night to seal the deal before Jordan Staal added an empty-net tally.
This was a tough pill to swallow for this Sharks group because of the chance to tighten the Pacific Division race. Credit to Carolina for swarming San Jose all night and not affording them many chances in this one. They played with the puck for most of the night and made the Sharks chase them around for much of the game.
It didn’t help that San Jose’s top players had an off night as Joe Thornton and Pavelski were both minus-three, while Burns and Logan Couture were minus-two.
San Jose will enjoy a couple of days off over the weekend as they journey back to the Western Conference to wrap up this five-game trek. The Sharks will face off in a physical contest against the St. Louis Blues as they look to get back on track following this tough defeat.