Sharks Fall to Bruins 3-1, Power Play Struggles

Photo credit: San Jose Sharks

By M. Walsh

SAN JOSE, Calif. — The San Jose Sharks fell to the Boston Bruins 3-1 on Saturday. Boston goals came from Peter Cehlarik, Jake DeBrusk, and Danton Heinen. Bruins goaltender Anton Khudobin made 36 saves for the win, while Sharks goaltender Aaron Dell made 17 saves. The lone Sharks goal came from Timo Meier.

The Sharks played well in many short bursts, but they could not generate second chances or sustain pressure for very long. After the game, Sharks captain Joe Pavelski said:

We’ve got to be a little bit harder around the net. We had some good chances tonight, it’s just we’re one play off, it feels. You come back to the shift and it’s one play, whether it’s in your d-zone or the neutral zone or the o-zone. It just feels like it’s one play right now.

In Saturday’s loss, the Sharks extended their power-play goal drought to 22. Perhaps more improbable, they saw a fourth consecutive coach’s challenge go against them. Brent Burns continues to shoot without scoring. He now leads the Sharks with 75 shots this season.

Just 1:02 in, the Sharks seemed to have ended their 63-minute goalless streak. Joe Thornton held the puck briefly near the goal line and then passed it back in front of the Bruins net. Out of a crush of players in front of the goalie, the puck found its way over the line off of Joonas Donskoi. The Bruins challenged it and won the challenge. Instead of ending their scoring drought, the Sharks now had three consecutive goals disallowed.

Undaunted, the Sharks went back to work and did get a goal at 4:50, this time from Meier. Danny O’Regan wrested control of the puck behind the Bruins net and guided it to Meier across the goal mouth. Khudobin could not get across in time to stop it. A secondary assist went to Joel Ward.

Moments later, the Bruins came back with a goal of their own. The puck went over the line after Boston’s Jake DeBrusk slid into Aaron Dell and pushed him into the net. The Sharks challenged the play for goaltender interference. The goal held up and was credited to Peter Cehlarik. DeBrusk got an assist for his trouble. It was the fourth consecutive challenge to go against the Sharks.

Of the decision, Pavelski said: “I don’t know. They say he was tripped in there. He was already kind of going down, I think.”

The first power play of the game went to the Sharks at 8:43. Riley Nash went to the box for tripping Joe Thornton. The Bruins penalty kill was effective. It was so effective that, just as Dell was tapping his stick to signal the end of the penalty, DeBrusk broke away and scored to give Boston the lead. Assists went to Charlie McAvoy and Sean Kuraly.

By the end of the first period, the score was 2-1 Boston, though the Sharks were outshooting the Bruins 17-5.

Near the midpoint of the second, Joe Thornton was called for tripping David Pastrnak. The Sharks penalty kill started well, with Melker Karlsson and Chris Tierney leading a merry chase at Boston’s end. The Bruins got no shots with that man advantage and really had no opportunity to do so.

The next penalties called were offsetting minors at 10:46, an interference call against Zdneo Chara and an embellishment call against Jannik Hansen. The Sharks dominated the four on four play but did not change the score.

As the period came to a close, the Sharks still trailed 2-1, and still led in shots, now 25-14.

Fans in the third period saw the Sharks start slowly. It was near the midpoint of the period before they had their first shot on goal. Their game picked up after that, but so did Boston’s game. At 14:59, Danton Heinen scored his third of the season against the Sharks, catching a well-timed pass from Kevan Miller for a breakaway. Too many Sharks were too deep in the Boston zone to catch him.

The Sharks had another power play in the last two minutes of regulation, but it didn’t make a difference.

The Sharks will have a chance to repair their game on Monday when they host the Anaheim Ducks at 7:30 pm PT.

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