By Mary Walsh
SAN JOSE- The San Jose Sharks won their fifth game in a row, defeating the Winnipeg Jets 1-0. Goaltender Alex Stalock got his second shutout in a row, the first being on January 16 in Florida against the Panthers.
Sharks head coach Todd McLellan was glad to see the Sharks play a much better game than they had Monday:
It was a tight game, I thought both teams played that way. Not many chances at either end. And when there were, both goaltenders played well. We’re lucky enough that [Pavelski] batted one out of the air and [we] got away with the win.
Good to see our team play a tight game. I thought against Calgary we weren’t any where near that, we were sloppy. Great to see Alex [Stalock] get another shut out. We’re excited for him. Some good things tonight.
As well as keeping their own zone in order, the Sharks also outshot the visitors. An imbalance on the shot clock was all but predicted by Jets head coach Paul Maurice, after the morning skate:
A huge, huge challenge in here tonight… in terms of their quickness and speed on the puck and the time that they take away from you when you have the puck it’s a huge challenge for the back end.
We loved the gritty effort in Anaheim, it was fantastic but the facts at the end of the day were our goalie made 40 saves and we blocked 36 shots. We didn’t have the puck enough, and I’m not complaining about our effort. So that tells you they were pretty good. I’m expecting to see that from San Jose.
The Sharks delivered, outshooting the Jets 32-20, with Winnipeg blocking 16 more shots. That was a closer margin than the Jets saw in their last game.
Thursday morning, Todd McLellan had predicted the first period to a tee, when asked what he expected from the game:
Tough game, probably a fast game when you look at their lineup and the way they’ve been playing the last four or five games. We know our opponent is confident, fast, they can play an aggressive game so I think we’ll see that type of night.
Bold plays abounded from both sides, the Sharks made quick, short passes through the neutral zone. The puck was bouncing much like it had the game before but the Sharks looked like they were used to it now. No matter how many times the puck hopped over a stick or went shooting into the air unexpectedly, they looked calm about waiting for it to come back into line. After the game, Joe Pavelski didn’t want to give the ice too much credit for either game:
I think it was a little better. You can’t put it all on the ice… You can make one play where the ice probably doesn’t affect it, and then there’s another play where it might make a difference.
It wasn’t a tough period in terms of physical play, but it tested the focus of both teams, with long stretches between stops. Neither team was able to execute or finish elaborate plays.
Pavelski went to the box at 3:33 of the first for holding the stick. That got some boos from the crowd and the Sharks killed the penalty off without giving the Jets much to work with.
The second penalty also went against the Sharks, this time to Tommy Wingels for tripping at 12:38. More boos from the audience, still no joy for Winnipeg.
The boards were unusually lively, as demonstrated by a Winnipeg shot that went wide, only to bounce back at the net. It missed the outside of the post, bounced off of Stalock, and across the blue paint. Luckily for the Sharks, the bounce was unlikely and fast, and no Jets players were in position to take advantage of it before the Sharks were on it.
The period ended with the teams even in shots at 11 each.
The second period was not so fast. The middle of the period was bogged down with pucks out of play and offside calls. The shot clock ticked along but neither team maintained lengthy attacks.
Finally, after a pile up in front of the Winnipeg crease, Olli Jokinen was called for holding.
It took the Sharks less than ten seconds to put the puck in the net, but the referee waived it off. Joe Thornton was on top of Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec when the puck crossed the line. That he was pushed there by Winnipeg’s Mark Stuart did not make a difference. The game remained scoreless, and the power play did not change that.
Shortly thereafter, Mike Brown helped Winnipeg’s Jacob Trouba into the end boards. He didn’t hit him with a full body check but he gave him a distinct push from behind and Trouba hit the glass awkwardly. Brown went to the box for charging. The Sharks killed off their third penalty of the game. They did not allow the Jets a shot on goal.
The shots for the second period were 11-4 San Jose.
The Jets had a scare to start the third period, when a shot from Brent Burns stung Ondrej Pavelec. After consulting with the trainer, Pavelec stayed in.
The Sharks earned their second power play of the game when Matt Nieto drew a hooking call on Bryan Little. The Sharks couldn’t convert on that one either.
The score finally got to change after Justin Braun cut a path to the slot and threw a backhand on Pavelec. Braun described the shot after the game:
I just kind of put it on my stick there. Maybe I should have shot it right away but it kind of worked out: soft backhand, Pavs made a nice play, whacked it out of the air.
Pavelski did knock it out of the air, but described it as if it happened in slow motion:
It’s one of those that’s just kinda, well it’s hovering there. You’re going to the net just hoping for something like that.
In case anyone was still wondering if Pavelski is in the zone, if he’s seeing pucks hovering while the rest of us see them not at all, yes, he is officially in the zone. That is a good thing for the Sharks, a good thing for Pavelski, and dare I say it? Sure, it’s a good thing for America too.
Alex Stalock made 20 saves in the shutout win, Ondrej Pavelec made 31 saves for the Jets. The Sharks and the Jets both had perfect penalty kills on three chances each.
Braun, Andrew Desjardins, Brent Burns and Matt Irwin each had four shots on goal. Brad Stuart led the Sharks with five hits, followed by Eriah Hayes with three. Olli Jokinen led the Jets in shots, with 5. Jacob Trouba led the Jets in blocked shots, with four. The Sharks won 45 of 69 faceoffs.
The three stars were Alex Stalock, Ondrej Pavelec and Joe Pavelski.
The Sharks next play on Saturday at SAP Center. They will host the Minnesota Wild at 7:30 pm.