San Jose Sharks’ Ryan Merkley (6) skates past Minnesota Wild’s Kevin Fiala, center, and Jared Spurgeon (46) after Spurgeon scored the game winning goal in overtime at Xcel Energy Arena in St Paul on Sun Apr 17, 2022 (AP News photo)
By Mary Walsh
The San Jose Sharks finished their road trip with an overtime loss, 5-4 to the Minnesota Wild. Dmitry Kulikov, Jared Spurgeon, Matt Boldy, and Kevin Fiala scored for the Wild, with two goals from Spurgeon. Marc-Andre Fleury made 26 saves for the win. Rudolfs Balcers, Matt Nieto, Noah Gregor and Nick Bonino scored for the Sharks. James Reimer made 23 saves in the loss. With this win, the Wild clinched their playoff berth.
In this ten game losing streak, the Sharks lost six games by one goal. Two of their losses by two goals included empty net goals. That is a lot of close games. After this game, Sharks Head Coach Bob Boughner said:
“It’s crazy how close we are on a lot of nights. You know, I’ve never been through anything like this as a coach or as a player, you know, losing this many games. And I’m not sure some of those guys in the room have either, the veterans, and certainly my staff. So it’s our job to try and draw on the positives, especially with nine rookies in the lineup tonight, is trying to you know, provide a lot of teaching at this point of the season. There’s a lot of good going on and you’ll never see it in the wins a losses column right now.”
Sharks added a couple more rookies to the mix on Sunday, for a total of seven in the lineup. Forward Thomas Bordeleau had an assist, a shot and was 40% in face-offs. He had 13:14 TOI, skating at center with Noah Gregor and Rudolfs Balcers. Defenseman Santeri Hatakka had a shot, a hit and two blocked shots in 11:44 TOI, skating with Nicolas Meloche.
Of Bordeleau’s first game, Boughner said: “I thought he did a lot of good things. You know, I talked to him after the first. Of course, he was nervous and, you know, he said to me: ‘I’ll be better in the second period,’ but I thought he actually had a pretty good first period.” He went on with the analysis to say “I liked his game, I thought pretty responsible, and for a first game I thought he handled himself very well.”
Dmitry Kulikov scored the first goal of the game at 6:04 of the first period. Kevin Fiala dropped the puck to Kulikov high in the slot. Kulikov’s shot went through some traffic and past Reimer’s glove. Assists went to Fiala and Matt Boldy.
Jared Spurgeon made it 2-0 at 7:29 with a shot from the point that went through traffic and in. It seemed to change direction off of Brent Burns’ stick. Marcus Foligno got the assist.
Rudolfs Balcers got the Sharks on the board at 9:38. Thomas Bordeleau knocked the puck lose below the goal line and Balcers gathered it up and moved up high for a shot from just below the blue line. The puck went under Fleury and in. Assists went to Bordeleau and Noah Gregor.
Matt Nieto tied the game at 1:19 of the second period. Nick Bonino caught the puck after Burns knocked it away from the Wild in the Sharks’ zone. Bonino passed it across the neutral zone to a speeding Nieto who carried it the other way. He got as far as the face-off circle before taking the shot for his sixth of the season.
Matt Boldy got the lead back for the Wild at 6:37, cleaning up a rebound. Assists went to Kevin Fiala and Frederick Gaudreau.
Noah Gregor tied it back up at 11:11. Bordeleau helped out again, this time picking off a pass and getting the puck to Balcers to start the play. Burns took the shot from the point and Gregor knocked in the rebound. Burns and Balcers got the assists.
Nick Bonino scored a short-handed goal at 1:37 of the third to give the Sharks a 4-3 lead. Tomas Herlt broke the puck out and then turned to skate backwards just over the Wild blue line. Bonino went down the boards and Hertl made a pass across the ice to him. Bonino took the shot from bad angle and beat Fleury. Assists went to Hertl and Nicolas Meloche.
Keivn Fiala tied it for the Wild, redirecting a Jordie Benn shot from the point. There was some discussion of goaltender interference, as a Wild player did bump Reimer’s glove. After the game, Boughner explained that the Sharks considered challenging it but, with Reimer outside the blue paint, the call might go against them. Assists went to Benn and Gaudreau.
Jared Spurgeon scored the game winner at 1:05 of overtime with a wrist shot from just above the circle. Assists went to Fiala and Gaudreau.
The Sharks next play on Tuesday at home against the Columbus Blue Jackets at 7:30 PM PT.