After going without one for 28 games, a second straight night ended in a San Jose Sharks shootout. They will take the four points however they get them…
There was not one San Jose Sharks shootout in the first 28 games of the 2016-17 NHL season. They then won two in 24 hours after besting the Ottawa Senators Wednesday, Dec. 14.
Tuesday’s win over the Toronto Maple Leafs was about completing a comeback. Wednesday was about revenge.
Ottawa won its fifth straight head-to-head matchup Dec. 7. The nastiness Wednesday reached a crescendo by the third period.
Winter of Discontent
Maybe that was appropriate given famed enforcer Chris Neil was honoured (Canadian spelling for the ceremony in the nation’s capital) before the contest for surpassing 1000 career games. His cross-checking penalty against San Jose enforcer Micheal Haley in the second period definitely contributed to the tension.
Things got extremely heated at the end of the period. The flashpoint was Marc-Edouard Vlasic getting tangled in the corner with two-time Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson.
Karlsson said after the game that Vlasic tried to pitchfork him. Kyle Turris eventually stuck for his captain, drawing an instigator and misconduct penalty in addition to matching majors for fighting.
Then the Senators crossed a line with just over 12 minutes left in regulation. It started when Logan Couture checked Mike Hoffman from behind but well away from the boards.
Hoffman tracked him down for several seconds and cross-checked him in the back of the head. Couture did not return and may miss additional time.
Hoffman earned a cross-checking match penalty and headed for the dressing room. He is not known for this type of play, but it was too egregious not to receive a suspension.
Joe Thornton committed slashing and misconduct penalties at the end of the overtime. Ottawa still won the penalty-minute race 42 to 29.
The Sharks scored first about six minutes in. It was the third time in four games they had a score seconds after a power play ended. Thornton got the puck down low to Couture, who sent a no-look pass to Joe Pavelski uncovered on the back side.
Mike Condon could not stop Pavelski’s sharp-angle slapper. However, the Senators showed they could respond quickly.
Just over a minute later, Ryan Dzingel found Bobby Ryan attacking the slot. Martin Jones had little chance as San Jose’s defenders were scrambling all shift.
That score held past the game’s midpoint. Then Brent Burns made a play that made Thornton later exclaim “he’s the best in the world” before clarifying he did not mean only among defensemen.
Burns beat Ottawa defenders by himself with speed and power before wristing one past Condon. However, Mark Stone found Turris on the backside for the tying goal a couple minutes before intermission.
Thornton’s high-sticking penalty in the final five minutes of the third gave the Senators their first lead. Dion Phaneuf scored from Karlsson and Stone with 3:46 remaining.
However, Burns created the tying score just over a minute later. He sent a shot that ricocheted off an Ottawa skate to the backside wing. Chris Tierney knocked the puck down and swiped it into the net before Condon could stop it.
Neither team played very aggressively in the final 2:28, nor could they find the net in the overtime. In fact, rookie Kevin Labanc was the only one of eight shooters to score in the skill competition. Jones did not allow a single score in seven shooters over the two nights.
Beyond the Numbers
The event summary accurately reflects a tight game. The most impressive thing was the battle level right to the end after working overtime in another city the night before. Once his teammates punched in for the long haul, workhorse Jones could steal two more points.
The Senators had a slight edge in possessions (35-33 faceoffs, 3-10 giveaways and 7-7 takeaways), slightly fewer hits (25-28) and more shots (31-29) to indicate more time on attack. However, the Sharks actually had more attempts (59-55) and still managed one more block (16-15).
San Jose reached 36 points in 30 games this 2016-17 NHL season with the win. That is one game up on the Anaheim Ducks for the Pacific Division lead. There are two games left on the road trip—at the Montreal Canadiens Friday and the Chicago Blackhawks Sunday.
The Sharks took action that may indicate Couture will not be part of those games. They announced at 10:25 a.m. PST Thursday that they are calling up Timo Meier.