By Mary Walsh
The San Jose Sharks recorded their first loss of the 2015-16 season Saturday. The New York Islanders won 6-3, with goals from six different Islanders. Sharks rookie Nikolay Goldobin scored his first NHL goal and Joel Ward scored his first as a Shark.
In addition to having played the night before, the Sharks suffered a handful of injuries before and during Saturday’s game. Both factors probably contributed to a somewhat disjointed game from San Jose. After the game, Joe Pavelski said:
That’s the way the game goes sometimes. Definitely, I think there were times where we played our game the way we wanted to play and we were pretty tight and we did well. And then we opened it up too at times and got a little careless. A few bounces maybe didn’t go our way as well. If you’re playing a team like that, you can’t give them any space because they are so offensive and it just takes a little bounce for them to break it open and start feeling good.
Just before the game, news broke that Sharks defenseman Paul Martin was out with a lower body injury. The injury occurred during Friday’s game but Martin did finish that one. Depending on the length of his recovery time, this could be even worse news than Logan Couture’s absence. Martin was playing like the guy the Sharks hoped he would be when they signed him. Good matches for Brent Burns have not been easy to find.
To start the game, DeBoer opted to put Brenden Dillon with Burns, and pair Dylan DeMelo with Matt Tennyson. Goaltender Al Stalock made his first start of the season under some inauspicious circumstances. With Joonas Donskoi also still out, DeBoer decided to start Nikolay Goldobin on the top line again, with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski.
Islanders goaltender Jaroslav Halak was back from injury, playing his first game of the season. This mean that the Sharks barely missed facing an old teammate in goaltender Thomas Greiss, who is now backup for Halak.
Tomas Hertl took the first penalty of the game 3:16 in. He was called for hooking. Half way through the penalty, the Islanders were called for too many men on the ice. Jon Tavares served the penalty. Both penalties expired without a goal.
The Sharks had a good shift or two around the middle of the period, with the top forward line and the Burns-Dillon pair hemming the Islanders in their own zone for a bit.
At 6:56, the Sharks won a faceoff and this allowed Thornton to make a cross-ice pass to Braun, who shot it from the point. The puck went in but Joe Pavelski weas at the net and close enough to Halak to make Islanders head coach Jack Capuano challenge the goal. The challenge was overruled and the goal stood up. The goal went to Pavelski, with assists to Braun and Thornton.
With 2:13 left in the period, Mikhail Grabovski was awarded a penalty shot after he blew by Brenden Dillon and forced Dillon to trip him up to prevent a scoring chance. Al Stalock stopped the penalty shot and the Sharks carried on with their 1-0 lead.
At the end of the period, the shots were even at 10 each.
That changed quickly, as did the score, in a wild second period. Just 21 seconds in, Johnny Boychuk scored with a slapshot after Tavares won the faceoff. Anders Lee helped by screening Stalock. The lone assist went to Tavares.
The Sharks got it back right quick. The Sharks took control of the play in their defensive zone, and the top line was able to carry to puck up ice. Justin Braun disrupted the Islanders defense while Thornton made a perfectly timed pass across to Goldobin on the left wing. Goldobin was right where he needed to be to score his first NHL goal. Assists went to Thornton and Braun.
The Sharks had little time to celebrate as Brent Burns was called for tripping less than aminute later and the Sharks were back on the penalty kill. The Islanders tied the score agan with a briefly contested goal during which Stalock lost his mask. It appears that the puck caught him near the ear and broke a strap. The goal went to Anders Lee, with assists to Ryan Strome and John Tavares.
The whistles kept coming, as Travis Hamonic was called for tripping Pavelksi. The Sharks did not score on that power play.
A shot from Barclay Goodrow hit Ben Smith in the ear, about six minutes into the period. Smith left the game at the next stoppage, leaving the Sharks down by one skater. Smith did not return for the third period.
It took the Sharks a few shifts and a few saves from Stalock but they regained the lead. A big save against Kyle Okposo led to a break out for Matt Nieto and Joel Ward. Nieto carried the puck in and held on to it while Ward made his way to the net. Nieto’s patience paid off as his pass caught Ward at just the right time for Ward to tap it in over Halak’s pad. The goal was Ward’s first as a Shark and assists went to Nieto and Stalock.
The lead lasted about four and a half minutes. Josh Bailey took advantage of a Burns turnover to move the puck out from behind the net. Kyle Okposo found it in the slot and wasted no time throwing it at the net, where Bailey and Frans Nielsen redirected it past Stalock. The goal was Bailey’s and the assists went to Nielsen and Okposo.
The shot count for the period was 12-7 Islanders.
At 3:02 of the third, there was a curious delay for a review of a goal that no one seemed to have seen happen. The review confirmed that it did not happen. It was not clear until later which team did not score it. It turned out to have been a non-goal for the Sharks. The situation room had lost sight of the puck and could not tell if it had gone in.
The Islanders took their first lead at 4:18 of the third, when Okposo broke away after a neutral zone turnover. Stalock made the first save. It looked like Dillon would corral the crafty forward in the corner, but Okposo escaped again and beat Stalock with a wrist shot. The assist went to Josh Bailey.
Near the half way mark of the period, DeBoer put Marleau out with the top line. That was the second game that he started Goldobin there and moved him down late. He also moved Nieto to the second line after Tomas Hertl was hit in the mouth with a puck.
At 11:10, the Islanders took a two goal lead with a hard shot from the slot from Brock Nelson. The shot went past Justin Braun as well as Al Stalock. The goal was unassisted.
The Sharks went to the penalty kill at 12:49 when Braun was called for shooting the puck out of play. They killed that off as the clock ticked down.
DeBoer opted to pull his goalie with over three minutes left and the Islanders made the Sharks pay for that. The net had not been empty for many seconds when Frans Nielsen put the puck in it. It was Nielsen’s 100th career goal. DeBoer put Stalock back in the net.
Final score 6-3 Islanders.
Okposo, Boychuck and Tavares shared the Islanders lead in shots with five apiece. Jaroslav Halak made 22 saves on 25 shots for the win.
Pavelski, Marleau, Tommy Wingels and Brent Burns each had three shots in the game, and no Shark had more. Al Stalock made 27 saves on 32 shots.
The Sharks next play on Monday against the New York Rangers at 4:00 PT.