Barracuda win a wild OT thriller 6-5 over Heat

Photo credit: @sjbarracuda

By Marko Ukalovic

SAN JOSE–Rudolfs Balcers and the San Jose Barracuda (14-11-0-2) have a flair for the dramatics as they overcame a two goal deficit in the second period to win 6-5 in a overtime thriller over the Stockton Heat (16-8-2-2) at the SAP Center on Thursday afternoon.

Balcers’ game-winning heroics came at the 2:39 mark of overtime when Stockton misfired on a pass at their own blue line. Balcers picked up the puck and made a nice move to skate around Heat forward Andrew Manginapane to get to the front of the crease where his initial shot was stopped by a sprawling Heat goalie Jon Gillies (9-6-3) but was able to slide home his second attempt into the net.

“It just plopped right in front of me”, said Balcers on his game-winning goal. “I just wanted to get a good angle for a shot when I saw Jon (Gillies) go the other way, I just deked him and tucked it in there.”

It didn’t take long for the fireworks to get started as Mangiapane opened the scoring with his 12th goal on the season after a turnover by Danny O’Reagan not being able to clear puck out of the Cuda’s zone. Mangiapane took a feed from Ryan Lomberg and ripped a wrist shot to the far corner past goalie Parker Gahagen (2-1-0) just 1:07 into the game.

Stockton kept the momentum going after Mangiapane’s goal with the Barracuda by taking two penalties 1:28 apart to set up a 5-on-3 opportunity for the Heat. However San Jose’s penalty kill was able to keep the puck of the net. They controlled play for the most of the first period as they had multiple odd man rushes but weren’t able to capitalize on them.

San Jose would tied the score at one when defenseman Michael Brodzinki scored his second of the season at 11:20 of the first period when his shot from the right point ricocheted off of Heat defenseman Oliver Kylington and over Gillies’ shoulder and bounced into the net. Radim Simek and Filip Sandberg assisted on the goal

Both teams would trade goals just 38 seconds apart late in the first period. Jon Martin scored his third goal on season for the Cuda when he was able to bury a rebound into an empty net. Tim Clifton won a battle along the boards and got the puck over to Emerson Clark, whose shot found a wide open Martin after bouncing off the pads of Gillies at 16:04. The Cuda were guilty of a bad turnover in the neutral zone when Emile Poirier skated in on a 3-on-1 down the right wing and wristed a shot past Gahagen at 16:42. The unassisted goal was Poirier’s third goal of the season.

The Heat made the most of the opportunities in the second period. Mangiapane scored his 13th goal of the season and second of the game at 13:57 when he skated in from the right slot and used Jacob Middleton as a screen and fired a shot past Gahagen for a 3-2 lead. Rasmus Andersson and Oleg Yevenko assisted on the play.

After a bad pinch in by San Jose’s Radim Simek lead to a 2-on-1 beak for the Heat, Brett Findley was able to finish off a spectacular tic-tac-toe give and go passing display between him and Mangiapane for his sixth goal on the season at the 16:02 mark for a 4-2 lead. Ryan Lomberg also received an assist.

O’Reagan would atone for his earlier error in the game when he cut the lead to 4-3 with just 16.8 seconds left in the second period. His seventh goal of the season came after Balcers was able to keep the puck in the Heat zone and fed O’Regan who was able to dipsy-do his way up to the left slot and fire a shot past Gillies.

Cuda defenseman Julius Bergman tied the game 4-4 at 5:56 of the third period when he scored his third goal of the season from the right point after taking a cross ice pass from Jacob Middleton. Bergman’s shot found its way into the back of the net with a bunch of traffic screening Gillies into the top left corner of the goal.

Not to be outdone by his fellow defenseman, Nick DeSimone gave the Cuda a 5-4 lead just 1:18 later on a deja vu play as his shot also from the right point beat Gillies with players screening him in front of the goal at the 7:14 mark. Brandon Mashinter and Radim Simek provided the assists on the goal.

“We’re not a one dimensional team,” head coach Roy Sommer said on his defensemen’s contributions on offense. “If we don’t get the full compliment of people scoring, we’re going to be in trouble.”

The Heat’s Hunter Shinkauk would tie the game at 15:56 when he skated in from the middle of the blue line all alone in front of Gahagen snapping a shot past him. Marek Hrivik and Poirier assisted on the goal.

Gahagen earned his second win of the season by making 24 saves on 29 shots including stopping a breakaway attempt by Stockton’s Poirier late in the 3rd period. Gillies took the loss making 26 saves on 32 shots.

GAME NOTES: Both teams were 0/4 on the power play. San Jose is 16/16 in their past four games on the penalty kill.

The teams exchanged fisticuffs twice during the game. Joesph Crammarosa and Calvan Fitzgerald fought in the first period and Brandon Bollig dropped the gloves with Oleg Yevenko in the third period.

UP NEXT: The Barracuda travel up to the Great White North for the first of back to back games against the Manitoba Moose on Saturday December 30th at Bell MTS Iceplex in Winnipeg.

Merry Little Shutout: Sharks Beat Kings 2-0, Jones Picks Up 100th NHL Win

Photo credit: @PR_NHL

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE — The San Jose Sharks shutout the Los Angeles Kings 2-0 at SAP Center Saturday night. It was Martin Jones’ 100th NHL win and the first time the Sharks shutout the Kings in San Jose in over a decade. Sharks goals were scored by Marcus Sorensen and Joe Pavelski. Jones made 28 saves for the win, while Jonathan Quick made 31 saves in a losing effort for the Kings. Pavelski’s power play goal extended the Sharks’ power play success to an eight-game streak.

After the game, Sharks assistant coach Rob Zettler said:

I thought that was one of our best games of the year so far, against a division team, obviously and able to gain two points on those guys. Defensively we’ve been good all year, we’ve been starting to put the puck in the back of the net the last few games, last couple of weeks so it’s a good feeling.

Over those last couple of weeks, the Sharks have had to lean on their top lines for scoring. With Logan Couture injured, the team needs even more from the bottom six than before. That was the difference Saturday, said Zettler:

Tonight specifically I thought we got some quality minutes from our fourth line: Ward, Boedker, Sorensen, obviously scored the goal. I thought that was a major difference, being able to put those guys out in key times, key moments, and keep our big guys’ minutes down a little bit.

The game started with a strange sequence of penalties. First, Justin Braun was called for tripping Marian Gaborik, and it was a questionable call at best. 42 seconds into the Kings power play, Oscar Fantenberg was called for delay of game by concealing the puck. Depending on your bias, he either fell or threw himself down to the ice, momentarily concealing the puck. The puck was visible and moving almost immediately, so if it was an attempt to freeze the puck it was not a successful one.

Apart from penalties, it was a very rough-and-tumble game. Brenden Dillon and Timo Meier stood out, but it was a skirmish-laden event for almost everyone on the ice.

“It was fun to be on the bench, the physical part was fun. You know, Timo and Dillon and Burnsie’s hit against good players, really fun to be a part of,” said Zettler after the game. “You could feel the energy, not only in the building but you could feel it on the bench.”

The second period started with more penalties. First, Jonny Brodzinski hit Timo Meier, who responded by holding on and being dragged away from the boards. Brodzinski then threw Meier to the ice and got four minutes for roughing. Meier got two minutes for holding. During the ensuing four-on-four, the Kings were called for too many men on the ice, giving the Sharks about a minute of four-on-three action. With three penalty killers and then with four, the Kings killed off all of that.

One second past the midpoint of the game, Sorensen put the Sharks on the board. Key to his goal was that Quick was too far out of his net as the Sharks entered the zone. Sorensen changed direction abruptly right in front of Quick and was able to put the puck in with a backhand. Assists went to Mikkel Boedker and Dylan DeMelo.

The second goal came in the third period, on the Sharks’ fifth power play of the night. Tomas Hertl was in moving in front of the net, with Pavelski a little ways up in the slot. Burns took the shot from the blue line and Pavelski redirected it in. Burns took that shot right off a faceoff win by Pavelski, just six seconds into the power play.

The Sharks return to action Thursday when they host the Calgary Flames at 7:30 PM PT.

Barracuda rebound from previous loss, down the Stars 3-1

Photo credit: @TheAHL

By Marko Ukalovic

SAN JOSE–Playing the back end of a back-to-back against the team with the most points in the Pacific Division is not an easy task. However, the San Jose Barracuda (13-11-0-2) rebounded from a tough shootout loss last night on the road and ended up downing the Texas Stars (17-11-1-1) 3-1 at SAP Center on Friday night.

Cuda captain John McCarthy got the Cuda on the board with his fifth goal of the season on the power play at 9:12 of the first period. The power play goal set off a flurry of stuffed teddy bears being thrown from the rafters on to the ice with it being Teddy Bear Toss Night at the Tank.

Forward Danny O’Reagan, who was reassigned back down yesterday, threw a shot at the net that hit off Stars goalie Landon Bow (11-6-1) and rebounded to McCarthy. He was able to knock in his second attempt past Bow for a 1-0 lead.

San Jose’s Brandon Bollig didn’t need to wait for Santa on the 25th, as the Stars gave him an early Christmas present in the second period when defenseman Dillon Heatherington skated out in front of his own net and tripped over his teammate Brian Flynn’s skate leaving the puck all alone for Bollig to tap it past Bow for an unassisted goal, his sixth of the season.

“What’s the old saying? The harder you work, the luckier you are,” said head coach Roy Sommer. “I thought we deserved the game. We’re winning ugly, but we’re still winning.”

The Stars were lifeless in the second period without having a shot on net more than half way through the period, thanks to the Cuda maintaining puck possession. They came on strong late in the period when Brian Flynn scored his eighth goal of the season, thanks to a pretty pass from Curtis McKenzie behind the Cuda net that found a wide open Flynn at the top of the slot who buried the shot past Antoine Bibeau (8-6-0) at the 17:55 mark. Texas ended up outshooting San Jose 13-9 in the second period.

The Stars carried that momentum into the third period as Bibeau made two nice saves in the first two minutes of the third period. Texas controlled the play of the game for the first 10 minutes until San Jose clamped back down on defense not allowing another goal.

The Stars were also victims of some bad luck as they hit two posts in the third period. Denis Gurianov hit the post after 2-on-1 opportunity created by McKenzie five minutes left in the game. Flynn hit the crossbar earlier in the period that beat Bibeau.

The Barracuda has chances to put the game away twice when Brandon Masinter had a golden opportunity to score at the 11-minute mark when he drove to the net, made a deke on Bow, but his backhander attempt was stoned by Bow as he sprawled out reaching back behind him to grab the puck. Rudolfs Balcers’ breakaway attempt was stopped by Bow with four minutes remaining in the game

Brandon Mashinter finally iced the game with an empty net goal, his sixth of the season, at 19:07 when Manny Wiederer found him all alone at the Stars’ blue line and Mashinter was able to skate all the way in before depositing it into the net.

Bibeau, who played strong from the beginning to the end, finished the night with 29 saves on 30 shots for his eighth win of the season. Bow took the loss on 26 saves on 28 shots.

“Beebs (Bibeau) bailed us out,” said McCarthy. “He’s come in and played hard and he’s playing well. He won the game for us tonight I would say.”

GAME NOTES: San Jose was 1-for-2 on the power play while Texas was 0-for-3. There were no penalties in the third period. The game drew 4,158 in attendance on the third annual Teddy Bear Toss Night.

UP NEXT: The Christmas break is upon for the Barracuda. They don’t return to action until next Thursday 12/28 when they host the Stockton Heat at 1:15pm at the SAP Center.

Sharks Bank on Labanc’s 4 Points in 5-4 OT Win over Canucks

Photo credit: @PR_NHL

By Matthew Harrington

SAN JOSE, Calif. — The San Jose Sharks defeated the Vancouver Canucks 5-4 in overtime at the SAP Center Thursday night, thanks to a four-point night from Kevin Labanc. The rookie forward capped a career night with the game-winner at 1:53 of overtime, his first goal in 23 games.

Joe Thornton netted a pair of goals and finished the night in sole possession of 18th place on the all-time points list with 1,416.

The Sharks coughed up 3-1 and 4-3 leads in the game, but Labanc buried his fourth goal of the year to pull out the two-point effort. Labanc took Tomas Hertl’s feed from beside the net and ripped a shot from the slot for a goal to go along with his three assists.

Labanc last scored on October 14th against the New York Islanders and lit the lamp twice Opening Night against Philadelphia.

Daniel Sedin scored his eighth goal of the season just 2:09 into the third period, tying the game at four apiece. The Sharks had taken the lead at the end of the second period on a 5-on-3 man-advantage that saw Joe Pavelski feed Tomas Hertl with a cross-crease pass that Hertl pulled from his feet and buried for his ninth goal of the season.

Hertl’s goal was the fifth goal of the second period, with the Sharks opening the scoring in the period on Timo Meier’s fifth goal of the year, burying a slot pass from Dylan Demelo at 5:20 into the frame, and Thornton’s second beautiful shot of the game on the power play 6:29 into the middle frame for a 3-1 lead. Jake Virtanen would score a 4-on-4 goal and Brock Boeser would add a rebound tally late in the frame to tie the game at 3-3.

Vancouver scored first in the contest just 1:58 into the game, but Thornton went top shelf on Canucks goaltender Jacob Markstrom for the first of 3 San Jose power play goals in 5 opportunities. It was career point No. 1,415, moving Jumbo past Doug Gilmour for 18th best all-time. Jumbo also picked up an assist, putting him just 4 points behind no. 17, Adam Oates.

San Jose finished the game with 32 shots on goal while the Canucks put up 40. Sharks netminder Aaron Dell made 17 saves in the second period alone to hang on for his fifth straight win.

The Sharks continue the homestand with a Christmas Eve eve tilt against the reviled Los Angeles Kings. The Sharks currently sit in third place in the Pacific Division, eight games back of the leading Kings and six back of second place Vegas.

Sharks Score Five Again, Shut Out Slumping Sens 5-0

Photo credit: San Jose Sharks

by M. Walsh

SAN JOSE — The San Jose Sharks handed the Ottawa Senators a resounding defeat to the tune of 5-0 at SAP Center on Saturday night. The win followed up a surprising 5-4 overtime win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night, when the Sharks led a furious comeback after trailing by three goals. Saturday’s goals came from Logan Couture, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Melker Karlsson, Joe Pavelski and Tomas Hertl. Couture, Pavelski, Brent Burns and Kevin Labanc all had multi-point games and back-up goaltender Aaron Dell made 25 saves for the Sharks’ shutout win. At the other end of the ice, Craig Anderson made 45 saves on 50 shots in a losing effort for the Senators.

Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer said that San Jose’s goal was to start fast against Ottawa, avoiding the slow start that marked their previous game: “I liked our game. Compared to the game against Carolina, I thought we were really sharp and really carried over the way we played in the third period against them into tonight.”

The Sharks checked a lot of boxes in Saturday’s game, killing four of four penalties and scoring on two of seven power plays. Tim Heed returned after dealing with an upper body injury, and Paul Martin is scheduled to start a conditioning stint with the Barracuda. So much rosy news begs the question of whether the Sharks have reached a turning point in the season.

DeBoer would not say that it is a turning point, but he did say that the goals are important for more than the score: “It was nice to score some goals, nice to get some power play goals. Guys have been working awful hard, we generate a lot of chances and we haven’t finished enough this year. So it was nice to have a night like that. Whether we can do that again tomorrow night I don’t know. But confidence is a big part of scoring and there was a lot of guys feeling good about themselves tonight.”

Logan Couture opened the scoring near the midpoint of the first period. The Sharks had outshot the Sens 10-0 at the 12-minute mark. Dell had just fought off the Senators’ first couple of shots in a flurry of activity on the edge of his crease. After Hertl won a defensive zone faceoff, the Sharks went the other way fast, with Labanc making a lovely pass so Couture could beat Anderson as he moved across. Assists went to Labanc and Justin Braun.

At the end of the first period, the shot count was 16-6 San Jose.

Early in the second period, the Sharks had just come off of a power play when Vlasic blasted a shot past Anderson. Tim Heed caught a pass from Kevin Labanc from behind the net, and sent the puck across the ice to the waiting Vlasic.

The Senators were keeping pace at least in shots past the midpoint of the period, but the Sharks did not let up. Joe Thornton passed the puck backward behind the net to a trailing Pavelski, who quickly sent it back up above the goal line for Melker Karlsson to pop into the net.

The Sharks’ power play came to life in the third period with two goals, one early and one late. The first third period power play resulted from a fight between Marcus Sorensen and Ryan Dzingel, when Dzingel was given an extra minor for roughing. Pavelski tipped a quick Couture shot from high in the slot. A second assist went to Brent Burns.

The Senators appeared to have scored at 5:12, in a power play that followed soon after the Sharks’ fourth goal. Braun was in the box for slashing. Matt Duchene took a shot from the face off dot and Bobby Ryan pushed it in. The official waved it off and did not even stop play. On later review, the NHL concluded that the puck had not crossed the line before Vlasic swept the puck back out.

The final power play of the game came when Alex Burrows used the butt end of his stick to bloody Dylan DeMelo’s face. Burrows was ejected with a fighting major and a roughing minor. DeMelo received roughing minor as he went to the dressing room to be patched up. Tomas Hertl scored after catching a bouncing puck off of Erik Karlsson’s hand. Assists went to Brent Burns and Logan Couture.

The Sharks next play on Sunday at 6:00 pm PT against the Minnesota Wild.

Barracuda let Roadrunners escape with a 3-1 win

Photo credit: @sjbarracuda

By Alexandra Evans

SAN JOSE—The San Jose Barracuda put up a solid defensive fight through Friday night’s match against the Tucson Roadrunners, who managed to notch two goals in the final two minutes of the game and earn a 3-1 win.

Both teams played sound defensively in the first period until the final two minutes when Roadrunners’ Michael Bunting approached the net, prompting Cuda goaltender Antoine Bibeau to move out of the net to stop what looked like a play. With Bibeau out of the way, Bunting put the puck right in the net at the 18:08 mark to give Tucson the lead.

In the second period, Rudolfs Balcers scored a power play goal at the 3:08 mark. Despite putting up an additional 16 shots (for 29 total), including some promising attempts from Danny O’Regan on a five-on-three run, the Cuda failed to make it past Hunter Miska, but managed to stop the Roadrunners from scoring again…until the end of third period.

Both teams held one another scoreless for the first 18 minutes of the third, when all of a sudden, Mike Sislo copped a rebound goal with a minute and a half remaining, followed by another from Bunting 23 seconds later to make the final score 3-1.

“It happened so quick,” Bibeau said of Tucson’s final two goals. Despite each “blink of an eye” (so to speak), he saw the puck far better than he had during Wednesday’s 6-0 shutout loss.

Bibeau, who came off of his fifth consecutive win on Sunday evening in Bakersfield, agreed that the team’s defense was very sound throughout the entire match. The team’s inability to score impacted the game, but did not reflect their effort as a whole.

The Roadrunners are ranked #1 in the Pacific Division of the AHL, and some may wonder if it takes even more momentum and strength to stand up to such a team. Not necessarily, according to Bibeau. He explained that there was not much the Cuda needed to change as far as effort, as, coming off of the 6-0 shutout loss, effort was more important to them than whether or not they defeated the Roadrunners (whose sound playing styles he acknowledged, and the fact that they stimulated strong competition that evening).

Edging on their next two matches against Tucson on Tuesday and Wednesday (in the desert), Bibeau said that taking time to relax on the team’s off days will serve them well, and that they will play the next two games with a mindset no different than one which they would have against a lower-ranked team.

Roster update: Danny O’Regan was reassigned to the Barracuda from the Sharks this afternoon, and Bryan Moore was recalled from the Allen Americans. Additionally, the club signed Emerson Clark of the ECHL’s Jacksonville Icemen to a professional tryout agreement.

Kings still too much for Sharks

by Ivan Makarov

SAN JOSE, CA — Playing their toughest opponent yet, the current Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings and the team that eliminated them from playoffs in the memorable fashion last season, San Jose Sharks failed to impress and fell 4-1 at home.
It was a preseason game and Sharks head coach Todd McLellan benched a few key players, including Joe Pavelski, Marc Eduard Vlasic  and Justin Braun. But the Kings were also missing Marian Gaborik, Jarret Stoll, Jeff Carter and Tyler Tofolli, so on paper, the rosters looked evenly matched.

But it all came down to the Kings being more effective with their scoring chances, and more stingy in goal.

Joe Thornton opened the score in the game 88 seconds into it after a good puck possession inside the Kings zone. Sharks center got the puck from a rookie defenseman Taylor Fedun, paused and put it past Jonathan Quick.

Half way through the first period Drew Doughty tied the game at 1-1 on a great individual effort as he picked up the puck around center ice from Justin Williams, skated past two Sharks players and put it top shelf on Antti Niemi, scoring his first goal of the preseason.

Sharks could have taken the lead towards the end of the period when Patrick Marleau got out on a breakaway, but he was unable to shoot the puck as Kings’ defenseman caught up with him and blocked his stick at the same time as Marleau got close to the net.

Kings took the lead in the game early in the second period when Dustin Brown capitalized on the Sharks’ mistakes in their own end and put the puck high into the net. The Sharks were scrambling to get into the position unable to match the Kings speed on the zone entrance and it was too late.

Justin Williams doubled the lead and scored the third goal for the Kinds towards the end of the second period. He was the first on the rebound from the shot by Dwight King as LA players surrounded Antti Niemi. The follow up shot by Williams did not look all that strong, but it squeezed into the goal under Niemi’s pad.

Dwight King made it 4-1 for the Kings half way through the third period as he broke into the Sharks zone with speed on the left wing, and put the puck into the net above Antti Niemi’s shoulders who did not react fast enough.

On the positive side of things, Sharks rookies looked confident against a strong opponent, generating scoring chances and speed. Sharks looked faster on the transition and while entering the zone. On the negative side, Antti Niemi looked rusty and is in part to blame for the score, failing to save the Sharks when they needed him the most. Sharks were also sloppy with the puck giving it away 22 times vs just 9 giveaways for the Kings. The Sharks also allowed the Kings to outshot them at home 30-24 – not something that happened very often last season against any opponent.

The crowd also expected the game to be a bit more heated after the history between the two teams in the last post season, with Sharks blowing 3-0 lead in the series and allowing the Kings to beat them in the best of seven and go on to win the Stanley Cup. But overall the players kept their emotions and tempers in check, perhaps saving them for the regular season opener on Wednesday, October 8, when they meet again in Los Angeles. It’s preseason and not many are paying attention just yet, so why waste energy?

Sharks preseason games continue on Friday when they travel to Arizona to face the Coyotes.

Sharks drop fourth straight

Vancouver Canucks' Brad Richardson (15) is congratulated after scoring against the San Jose Sharks during the first period of an NHL hockey game on Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013, in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Vancouver Canucks’ Brad Richardson (15) is congratulated after scoring against the San Jose Sharks during the first period of an NHL hockey game on Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013, in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

By Ivan Makarov

SAN JOSE, CA – Counting last year’s playoffs, San Jose Sharks have beaten Vancouver Canucks in nine straight games. The streak came to an end on Thursday night as Sharks were defeated 4-2 and have lost their fourth game in a row.

Sharks fell two goals behind in the first half of the game, and while correcting some of the weaknesses in their game, they were unable to execute a come back.

The scoring in the game got off to a quick start as both teams exchanged goals early on. Sharks scored first on a strange bounce around the net. Joe Thornton was passing the puck along the boards inside Canucks territory but it bounced off the top netting, and into the goal off the Vancouver’s Roberto Luongo’s back. Canucks responded with a tying goal by Brad Richardson who scored from close range after Sharks turned the puck over inside their zone.

Sharks defensive woes continued when Mike Santorelli made it 2-1 for the visiting team by scoring yet another goal in front of Antti Niemi that saw Sharks defense got caught in the middle of the change and could not stop a developing fast attack by Vancouver.

But Sharks responded only a minute later with Mike Brown scoring his first goal in the Sharks uniform after a breakaway attack and a great pass from James Sheppard that found him all alone in front of Luongo. Brown put the puck high and say Luongo’s blocker to tie the game at 2-2.

Sharks continued to struggle on the defense, and allowed what was perhaps the most embarrassing goal of their season so far at the end of the first period. In a situation that appeared safe Jason Demers was on his own blue line but bobbled the puck while trying to pass it to Scott Hannan. It was easily intercepted by Alexandre Burrows and in the confusion of all and scrambling to get the puck back Sharks defensemen fell on top of each other, allowing Chris Higgins to face Antti Niemi all alone and put the puck into the net, giving Canucks 3-2 lead going into the first intermission.

Second period did not start any better for San Jose, as Canucks doubled their lead on a goal by Zack Kassian on a redirect from Kevin Bieksa shooting all the way from the blue line. The goal made it 4-2 and forced Sharks to switch their goaltenders as Antti Niemi headed to the bench and got replaced by Alex Stalock after allowing four goals on 12 shots.

Stalock’s presence improved Sharks focus and their play on defense. Having only put 11 shot on goal in the first two periods, it wasn’t until the third that San Jose picked up their game offensively. They held the puck more, and started winning the battles in the tight areas. As their play improved, so did the play of Roberto Luongo who was on time to the puck and poisoning himself well each time.

With two minutes remaining in the game, Todd McLellan pulled the goaltender for extra skater in the zone. That helped generate chances, but none of them were realized by the Sharks, and they lost yet again.

After three home games in a row, the Sharks will travel to Canada where they will face the Jets, Flames, Canucks and Oilers with the last stop in Chicago before returning to SAP Center for five game home stand in the second half of November. It may be a good time to get on the road again where coaches can spend more time with the players, address some of the bad habits that are starting to creep into the team’s play, and simplify their game, as they do when playing away from their home crowd.

Sharks lose again

Image
Buffalo Sabres’ Cody Hodgson (19) scores the game-winning goal past San Jose Sharks’ Antti Niemi, of Finland, during the shootout of an NHL hockey game on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013, in San Jose, Calif. Buffalo won 5-4. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

By Ivan Makarov

What on paper looked like one of the easiest games of the early season for the San Jose Sharks, turned out to be one of the wildest and disappointing games so far. Playing at home against the last team in the league Buffalo Sabres, Sharks had to come back from behind multiple times to force the overtime, but in the end, they still lost the game 4-3 in the shootout.

“This was a fear of mine that we would be complacent and that we would turn it up when we thought we had to,” said disappointed Sharks head coach Todd McLellan after the game. “And that’s exactly what we got. I thought we were outworked for the large part of the game, and out detailed, certainly.”

Sharks outshot the Sabres 51-36 during the game, but did not look like the better team, chasing the puck, being sloppy on defense and not capitalizing on many rebounds given up by Ryan Miller.

Marty Havlat opened the scoring in the game as he picked up on the rebound from Patrick Marle shot inside the zone following a long possession in the offensive zone and the score remained 1-0 in the first period. But it was in the second period that Sharks lost the lead by allowing Buffalo to score two goals – first one by Drew Stafford who capitalized on the Sharks turnover by Tyler Kennedy inside their own zone, and the second one by Cody McCormick who scored by picking up the puck off the face-off won by his own team inside the Sharks zone, making it 2-1 in favor of the visiting team.

Sharks fell even farther behind at the start of the third period when they were unable to kill a penalty on Dan Boyle’s hooking call. Tyler Ennis scored just 15 second into the power play on a pass from Cody Hodgson as the two of them were standing all alone in front of Antti Niemi.

Sharks climbed back into the game two minutes later when Tyler Kennedy and Tomas Hertl scored two goals within 70 seconds to tie the game at 3-3. But the score did not remain tied for long, as Henrick Tallinder picked up a puck Sharks could not control inside their zone and put it past Antti Niemi, who wasn’t at his best on that play and should have made the save.

Sharks finally tied the game on the first power play goal of the night with less than four minutes remaining in the regulation. With the mad scramble in front of Miller, Tommy Wingels was the first to reach the puck with a dive as it was bouncing in the crease. But that was all the offense the Sharks could produce, and Antti Niemi allowed Matt Moulson and Cody Hodgson to score against him in the shootout, while Joe Pavelski, Patrick Marleau and Tomas Hertl were unable to do the same against Ryan Miller.

Sharks are now winless in their last three after starting the season with 10 wins in the first 12 games. They take on Vancouver Canucks next at the SAP Center on Thursday.