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.

Sharks Clinch Playoff Berth, Get Burned in Shootout

By Mary Walsh

The San Jose Sharks clinched a playoff spot for the tenth season in a row with a shootout loss to the rebuilding Calgary Flames. Goals from James Sheppard for the Sharks and Joe Colborne for the Flames sent the game to overtime. Mike Cammalleri scored the only goal in the shootout to give the Flames the extra point.

In addition to losing the game, the Sharks lost Logan Couture after an injury he sustained in the first period blocking shots. Per Todd McLellan after the game, Couture would be fine, though he could not say if he will play Tuesday. On the positive side, Brad Stuart looked very good in his return to the lineup.

The Sharks’ power play has been a sore point for some time now, but their penalty kill has been very effective. In Calgary, it seemed to lift the team more than once and launch them on the attack after each successful kill.

Sharks coach Todd McLellan left his starting lineup much as it had been in the last five games, except for the return of Brad Stuart from injury. He replaced Scott Hannan on the blue line next to Justin Braun. The oft-changing fourth line was made up of Andrew Desjardins, Tyler Kennedy and Adam Burish. Additionally, Alex Stalock was back in net for the first time in five games.

1:57 into the first period, Joe Thornton was called for hooking, putting the Sharks on the penalty kill. The kill was successful but the Flames had several chances and gave Stalock a good opportunity to get in the game.

At 9:56, the Sharks earned a power play when Joe Colborne went to the box for hooking. The Sharks made a ferocious start of it but Calgary goaltender Karri Ramo was very sharp and the Flames did a good job of keeping the Sharks out of his way.

The Sharks went back on the penalty kill when Dan Boyle took a hooking penalty to stop a scoring chance by Mike Cammalleri. Logan Couture and Tommy Wingels punctuated the penalty kill by blocking some stinging shots.

The Sharks killed the penalty and a post-kill line of Matt Nieto and James Sheppard broke the other way. Nieto found an open lane for a shot, which found Sheppard in front of the net. He corralled the bouncing puck and put it past Ramo. Assists went to Nieto and Dan Boyle.

Couture went to the dressing room before the period ended, and Desjardins took his spot between Nieto and Patrick Marleau.

The first period ended with the Sharks ahead by one goal, and dominating on the shot clock, 18-8.

Couture did not return to start the second period, was back on the bench by the midpoint but only took one shift before leaving again.

To begin the second, it was Tyler Kennedy on the second line, then Wingels, and so forth. A very good shift from Martin Havlat with Adam Burish and James Sheppard preceded another good shift from Desjardins, Wingels and Marleau. The forward lines had turned into a merry-go-round but the team adapted with alacrity.

The Sharks did not occupy the Flames’ zone in the second period as they had in the first. The Flames were outshooting the Sharks 9-3 when Calgary defenseman Ladislav Smid hit Tyler Kennedy. That Sharks’ power play was possibly their worst performance in a long time, with numerous passes to the point missing the mark and clearing the zone for the Flames.

The Flames did not let up after killing the penalty, and kept the Sharks on their heels until finally Joe Colborne scored to tie the game at 18:00.

The second period ended with the game tied on the scoreboard and almost on the shot clock, with the Sharks leading only 22-20. During the second period, the Flames lead in shots 12-4.

The Sharks started the third period with a quick penalty as Thornton went to the box for hooking just ten seconds in. The Flames power play was more effective than the Sharks’ last had been, but the Sharks’ penalty killers limited the Flames’ power play to just one shot.

The Sharks seemed to have regained their composure when Pavelski, Havlat and Wingels went on a tear in the offensive zone at the midpoint of the period. Repeated chances were thwarted by Ramo and the post, but still the game was tied.

It stayed tied and the Sharks clinched their tenth consecutive playoff spot by making it to overtime. The teams skated right through the extra period without scoring again.

Mike Cammalleri was the third Flames shooter, and the first to beat Alex Stalock in a shootout. That goal held up for the win as Karri Ramo stopped Marleau, Pavelski and Sheppard. In all, he made 33 saves in regulation and overtime. Alex Stalock stopped Joe Colborne and Jiri Hudler in the shootout and made 26 saves in the game.

The three stars were Karri Ramo, James Sheppard and Tyler Wotherspoon. The Sharks shot leader was Dan Boyle with five and Jason Demers lead in ice time with 25:34. The Flames shot leader was Curtis Glencross with six, TJ Brodie lead in ice time with 25:28. No player in the game got credit for more than two hits.

The Sharks next play the Oilers in Edmonton on Tuesday at 6:30 pm PT.