Sharks Shut Out Jets in Home Opener

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE-One shut out is not like another. Where the Sharks played a solid game on Wednesday, their shut out of the Winnipeg Jets Saturday was not so shiny. Al Stalock showed that he absolutely deserves to be in contention as the starter, but the rest of the team went off the rails after the first 20-30 minutes of the game. The final score was 3-0, but the Sharks’ power play went 0-8.

Todd McLellan was blunt about how ominous that is:

… Three-nothing, people that didn’t see the game are going to say the Sharks are off to a pretty good start, but that was not a well-played game on our behalf by any means.We probably played a good 26-27 minutes and then after that we weren’t close to being the better team.

I thought our power play absolutely sucked the life out of our team tonight. Probably as weak as it’s been in a long long time and we’ve got some work to do there.

Despite the power play’s failure, the Sharks demonstrated that they can keep pucks out of their own net, and that they can play well defensively in front of either goaltender. Stalock, on the change of momentum in Saturday’s game, summarized what he saw of the Jets’ play:

They changed it up after the first period, obviously. They got pucks in deep, got pucks to the net, banged and crashed, sometimes maybe a little too hard. It was a tough game to battle through some of their big guys in front of the paint. Our defensemen did a good job clearing them out.

The win looks good on paper, the Sharks can bank the points, but the next practice agenda wrote itself tonight: power play, power play, power play.

The first goal of the game was scored with the second line on the ice. It was Vlasic’s goal with assists to Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau.

The second goal of the game came from a hard shot off Tomas Hertl’s stick. The Jets let Hertl get away and skate up the slot. He had time but he did not waste it. His shot appeared to go right through Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec. Assists went to Thornton and Pavelski at 5:12.

The Sharks’ first power play was a little untidy. The Jets were getting some short handed chances and seemed likely to get another when they were called offside. That gave the Sharks a moment to regroup but they never really got it together.

They had another chance in the last minute of the period when Toby Enstrom was called for holding. That was unproductive, in the end of the first and the start of the second.

The shot count was comfortably (for the Sharks skaters) lopsided. At the end of the first, the count was 15-3.

Their next power play came at 11:01 of the second. This time, Marleau was tripped along the boards in the offensive zone.

The shot count stood at 20-7 for San Jose. Stalock had seen a couple of shots a few seconds earlier as Jets crowded his net, two or three of them at least. In the mass of bodies, it was surprising that the puck did not find its way in.

The Sharks’ third power play did not come to anything either. Joe Thornton seemed very much off his game. His passes were going awry at an inordinate rate. I am sure he could have hit the side of a barn Saturday night, but an outhouse might have been a challenge.

The Jets got their first power play at 10:33 of the second. Adam Burish went to the box for closing his hand on the puck. The first penalty killers were Braun, Vlasic, Pavelski, and Marleau. Hannan, Wingels, Burns and Couture were the second unit. Nieto replaced Wingels in the last dozen or so seconds of the penalty kill. The Jets managed no shots on that power play.

The Sharks’ next power play came from a goalie interference call on Dustin Byfuglien late in the second. While the Sharks did not score, they did make some progress in terms of holding the zone and getting some shots on net. This is how the bar drops.

With almost thirty seconds left in the period, Patrick Marleau claimed the puck off a Jets miscue, and carried it all the way up the slot to beat Pavelec with a neat little lift. He had plenty of time, alone as he was in the zone, to take a shot without haste, giving the Sharks a 3-0 lead.

Joe Pavelski was called for hooking seconds later, so the Jets ended the second and started the third on a power play. The second period ended with shots at  26-16 for the Sharks.

Al Stalock held up well, whether waiting for the few shots he faced, or fighting through and around traffic in front of him. His forays out of the net were not too hair raising, and he seemed to be seeing the game well enough to not take too many chances in that department.

During the Sharks’ next power play, (a tripping call on Adam Pardy),  Matt Nieto was pushed into the Jets’ net without any semblance of subtlety. Unfortunately for the Sharks, most of their power play had already expired and they only had 20 or so seconds of five on three.

The Jets were making some progress on the shot clock, and had closed the gap to 26-22. The Sharks did not do a very good job of anything in that power play, aside from preventing short handed goals.

They would have yet another chance when Byfuglien went to the box again, this time for tripping at 9:03.

The Sharks did not score and Byfuglien was freed, but he was not out for long. As Stalock covered a relatively harmless shot, Byfuglien skated in and gave him a little snow shower. Stalock clearly saw it coming and he braced himself. Several Sharks took issues with the snow shower, as did the referee. Byfuglien received a two minute penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct and then a ten minute misconduct was tacked on.

One has to wonder what he said to get all of that for such indirect contact with the goaltender.

While the game started out very slowly for Stalock, it certainly picked up for him in the third. By the end of the second Byfuglien penalty, the Sharks still did not have a shot in the third period and the Jets had taken the lead for the game by the 14 minute mark.

The teams played a little four on four while Zach Bogosian and Scott Hannan spent two minutes in the box for roughing.

With two minutes left in the game, the Sharks were still looking for their first shot on goal.They never took it, but defended their own net sufficiently to hang on to the shut out.

The game ended in a frantic scramble in front of Stalock, but he kept the puck out. It was a fitting close to the game.

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