By Mary Walsh
SAN JOSE- The San Jose Sharks defeated the Calgary Flames Monday night. With a final score of 3-2, the game was distinctive for seeing three goals scored in a minute and 14 seconds. There was only one penalty called in the game, and the third period was scoreless. It was a muffled ending to a game that started with a bang.
Sharks head coach Todd McLellan was similarly underwhelmed by his team’s performance:
Well, the win is important. Obviously when we start the night, that’s what our goal is. When you look back and evaluate the game, that’s where it gets a little bit disappointing.
We weren’t very good obviously. I didn’t think we skated well, we didn’t move our feet, and then we tried to pass standing still and those [passes] were errant. Had no rhythm or tempo in the game and really didn’t establish a forecheck game other than the first four or five minutes of the game…
We’ve got to regroup here. If we continue to play like that we won’t be winning.
That is a fairly gloomy assessment of a win. On the bright side, there was Justin Braun:
Another Justin Braun game. That’s probably the best way to put it. One of the few guys that had legs and used them properly, made the right play at the right time, blocked some shots when it was important. So he’s Mr Consistent right now for us.
How Braun escaped the sweeping bad marks on Monday night is a little mysterious, in view of the first goal of the game. It isn’t as if that goal was Justin Braun’s fault, but he was there too.
Sharks captain Joe Thornton described a game from which no one really escaped with an unblemished performance:
I think it was just a tough night for everybody. It was one of those weird nights, we were thankful to get two points out of it.
The first goal of the game was scored by Calgary, on their second shot of the game. Three Flames entered the zone, with only two Sharks to defend. Bracken Kearns got back quickly but not quickly enough to stop Jiri Hudler as he slipped away from Braun and Brad Stuart in the corner. He faked a shot at the side of the net that fooled Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi, then skated around him. By then, all he had to do was sweep the puck in, and he did. Assists went to TJ Brodie and Mark Giordano.
It looked like the period would be a slow one after that. Instead, after the half way mark, the teams scored three goals in 1:12.
It took the Sharks several minutes to repair that damage, but finally, with a beam of a shot from the blue line that bounced up and over Karri Ramo, Joe Pavelski tied the game. Assits to Justin Braun and Brent Burns.
While the SAP announcer was saying “Sharks goal…” Tommy Wingels collected the puck along the wall and threw it on net. It hit Ramo’s pad, and bounced over into the net. Assists to Patrick Marleau and Brad Stuart.
The Flames answered right back after that one. A play through the neutral zone had the Sharks a little off track, and Brian McGrattan carried the puck in and shot it off Niemi’s pads. The rebound was there for Kevin Westgarth to pick up. Matt Irwin was close but couldn’t stop the shot. It may have even gone off of his stick, sneaking just around Niemi.
And that was it for the first period. No penalties, no additional goals. There weren’t even a lot of shots in the last three minutes. There may have been three total, one for the Sharks and two for Calgary, for a period total of 10-8 Sharks.
Tyler Kennedy had five of those shots for the Sharks.
With six minutes gone in the second period, the Flames had only one shot for the period and the Sharks only had three.
At 11:51, Matt Nieto took a puck to the face and went down briefly. Play stopped and he went to the room.
Eriah Hayes came up from the fourth line to take Nieto’s spot with Marleau and Wingels. That line drew the only penalty of the game, against Matt Stajan for interference on Hayes. That was at 14:28 of the second period.
26 seconds into that power play, Joe Thornton took a shot from above the faceoff circle and Joe Pavelski tipped it in. The “USA” chants took a minute or so to get going but go they did, for Pavelski’s second goal of the game.
James Sheppard made a noteworthy save a couple of minutes later. First he stopped a shot with this stick, then dove to clear it out of the reach of the shooter until it could be sent out of the zone.
The Flames ended the period with an extended stay in the Sharks’ zone. They didn’t take a lot of shots, they may not have taken any, but they played a solid game of keep away. It looked like a Calgary power play, without the actual man advantage. Why they passed up a few chances to take a shot, when they were down by a goal anyway, was not clear.
The shot count for the period was 11-4 San Jose.
Nieto returned for the third period. The Calgary Flames’ offense also returned. After four and a half minutes, the Sharks only had one shot on goal and the Flames had taken six.
The Flames pulled their goalie in the final minutes but couldn’t score.
Final score 3-2 Sharks. Final shot count 27-23 Sharks. The Sharks scored on their only power play of the game, and did not have to kill a penalty.
The Sharks shot leader was Tyler Kennedy with six shots. Eriah Hayes had four. Three Flames had three shots apiece: Dennis Wideman, Sean Monahan and Jiri Hudler.
Antti Niemi made 21 saves on 23 shots for the win. Karri Ramo made 24 saves on 27 shots for the Flames.
The Sharks next play on Thursday at 7:30 pm. They will host the Winnipeg Jets at SAP Center.