Sharks Catch Flames But Can’t Beat Them

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE-After a very poor first period, the San Jose Sharks rallied but still lost 4-3 to the Calgary Flames Saturday. The game winner was scored by Sean Monahan just 24 seconds into overtime. Other Flames goals were scored by Dennis Wideman, Joe Colborne and Jiri Hudler. Sharks goals were scored by Joe Thornton, Logan Couture and Melker Karlsson. Joni Ortio made 19 saves on 22 shots for the win, while Antti Niemi made 19 saves on 23 shots for the Sharks.

Todd McLellan did not mince words after the game: “We got what we deserved and we’re probably fortunate we got that. The start was unacceptable to a man.”

A number of Sharks mentioned that some video clips and the right words during the first intermission helped them right the ship in the second and third periods. It is hard to ignore the fact that coach McLellan changed the line combinations after the first. When the game started, the forward lines were: Patrick Marleau-Joe Thornton-Matt Nieto, Joe Pavelski-Logan Couture-Melker Karlsson, Barclay Goodrow-James Sheppard-Tommy Wingels, Tomas Hertl-Tyler Kennedy-Tye McGinn. To start the second period, those top two lines had been changed to: Thornton-Karlsson-Pavelski, Couture-Marleau-Wingels.

Asked whether those changes had anything to do with the second period recovery, Joe Pavelski said: “Woke everyone up. Whether you shuffle them around or not, in that situation, I think we’re going to be much better. Couldn’t be much worse there.”

The Flames scored their first two goals early, leaving the Sharks reeling a little. With Justin Braun and Marcus Granlund battling for space in front of him, Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi did not see Dennis Wideman’s shot coming in from the blue line. In 40 seconds flat, Calgary had the lead. Assists went to Joe Colborne and Mason Raymond.

About four minutes later, Jiri Hudler went to the box for tripping, giving the Sharks the first power play of the game. The power play started with a couple of quick clears by Calgary, then an offsides call that pushed the Sharks back out a third time. The Sharks did gain the zone a couple of times but never got a shot on goal. Instead they were pushed out again and again, and finally lost control of the puck in their own zone to give up a short-handed goal. The goal was scored backhand by Joe Colborne, his fourth goal of the season. The assist went to Matt Stajan.

With five minutes left, the Sharks went on the penalty kill as Tyler Kennedy went to the box for slashing. The penalty kill looked almost as good as the Flames’ had looked, allowing just one shot to get to the net, and ousting the Flames from the zone without allowing them to loiter for too long.

The Sharks spent the last minute of the period in a prolonged attack at the Calgary end, but still finished the period with only four shots on goal to the Flames’ 11.

The Sharks came out for the second period so ferociously that it broke the jumbotron. Just 12 seconds in to the second period, Couture took a shot from the half boards to beat Joni Ortio. The scoreboard picture flickered, froze and went black. It took about five minutes to recover. (There is no evidence that Couture’s shot actually caused the technical failure.)

At 2:10 of the second, the Flames were called for too many men on the ice, putting the Sharks on a power play. This Sharks power play was much more effective. A first unit of Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture, Patrick Marleau and Brent Burns tied the game up in 30 seconds. The goal was scored by Joe Thornton, with assists going to Joe Pavelski and Patrick Marleau.

In less than five minutes, the Sharks had almost pulled even on the shot clock as well, outshooting the Flames 6 to 1.

Before the midpoint of the period, the puck went in the Flames net yet again but the play was reviewed. It had gone off of Melker Karlsson’s skate and the call had to go to Toronto to count as a goal. It did, giving the Sharks their only lead of the game. Assists went to Joe Pavelski and Justin Braun.

The Flames tied it back up when Jiri Hudler scored off of a pass that had bounced of a Sharks skate. It was a good shot from just below the hash mark, through quite a few bodies.  Assists went to Mikael Backlund and Mark Giordano.

The shot count for the period was 10-6 Sharks.

Both teams looked a little tentative to start the third period. In the first five minutes, the Sharks had two shots on goal, the Flames none.

Near the half way point of the third period, Matt Tennyson was called for hooking, which occurred in a tumble into the boards. Tennyson seemed to get the worst of that encounter despite being the one in the box.

The Flames power play had a good chance when Sean Monahan found some space to Niemi’s left but the Sharks goalie came out to stop him and the penalty killers had the rest of the ice covered. It was a very efficient kill.

Patrick Marleau tried to untie the game with about five minutes left. He skated up the ice and through some Calgary defenders and got a shot off, then caught the rebound and threw it back in. The Calgary goalie was having none of that solo act.

Several Sharks had more chances to untie it but time ran out. The shot count at end of regulation was 22-21 Sharks. The Sharks had outshot the Flames 8-4 in the third.

McLellan put Wingels, Couture, Dillon and Braun out to start OT. The Flames got the first shot and ended the game quickly after the offensive zone faceoff. It was over just 24 seconds into the fourth period.

Joe Colborne was named the first star of the game, while Logan Couture was the second. Couture not only had a goal but he will also need some dental work on two or three teeth after meeting some errant sticks in the game. Couture’s three blocked shots were also commendable. The third star went to Justin Braun, who finished the game with two assists.

The Sharks’ next game is on  Monday when they host the visiting New Jersey Devils at 7:30 PT.

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