Theheaded into tonight's game looking for two points.
And that's just what they got.
Pa Parenteau opened the scoring for the Islanders in the second period, but the Sharks would respond ten minutes later with a goal fromon a 5v3 power play to even the scoreboard at one. A goalless thirty minutes later led the teams to the shootout, where and Dan Boyle both beat to give the Sharks a much needed win on home ice, improving their record at HP Pavilion to 4-2-1. Niittymaki held the Islanders without a conversion, robbing Frans Nielsen with a glove save, and Logan Couture had a beautiful move that saw him slip the puck through Roloson five hole. Boyle would put the game on ice by roofing a backhander over Roloson for the win.
made his return tonight after a two game suspension for a hit on of the . He wouldn't tally a point in the effort, but the Sharks top line of Marleau-Thornton-Heatley generated six shots and some notable scoring chances.
"I felt a little weird," the Sharks Captain said in response to the question of how his first game back went. "My timing was a little bit off, but that's to be expected. It's nice to get back there and compete with the guys. I'll be better next game."
Although the Sharks racked up 38 shots on net during the game, they still struggled with capitalizing on those opportunities.in particular had a trio of excellent chances, including a goal that was called off after the puck had crossed the line, but couldn't manage to put one in the net that would count. It's obviously been a frustrating set of games for the 26 year old center, but one that has indicated areas where the Sharks can improve.
"We got to find a way to finish. There's a lot in our game where we didn't come out of our zone clean and we fought it at times," Pavelski said. "Obviously that leads to finishing and scoring goals."
The San Jose puck movement was superb during the first ten minutes of the game, as the Sharks had no trouble getting the play out of their zone and up the ice. With no pressure from the New York defenseman San Jose was able to carry the puck into the zone cleanly without dumping it in, leading to scoring chances and shots.
But following Parenteau's goal in the second period New York seemed content to sit back, clog the neutral zone, and allow perimeter shots but box out bodies in front of the net. It was a gameplan that Islanders Head Coach Scott Gordon felt was effective to some degree, especially for a team that had lost eight in a row coming into tonight and was looking for all the positives they could get.
"Although we did not have the territorial play, we did outshoot them in the third period," Gordon said. "We did not give them a lot, even though they kept coming. We did a good job on defending in our zone, and not allowing any opportunities at all."
Dwayne Roloson saw a lot of rubber again tonight, but held strong and made thirty seven saves in what has become somewhat of a tradition against San Jose. Roloson has logged thirty five saves or more against the Sharks numerous times over his recent career with the Oilers and Islanders, including 43 and 49 save wins during 2008. To say nothing of his performance against San Jose during the 2006 playoffs that saw Edmonton advance with a 4-2 series victory.
In other words, send a postcard to Islanders GM Garth Snow thanking him for signing Roloson in the Eastern Conference.
Although Pavelski was held without a goal yet again, it wasn't due to a lack of opportunities. Early in the first periodsent a shot to the net that was kicked out to a waiting Pavelski, whose follow up chance couldn't get past the netminder. He would have two other brilliant chances in the third period, undressing an Islanders defenseman with a slick inside-out move that was stopped by Roloson, as well as a wraparound shot that, despite crossing the line, was waved off by the official behind the net.
A confusing decision to say the least.
"I understand the ruling, but I don't have to agree with it. I understand what I was told," Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan said. "[The ruling was that] the goaltender has to have the ability to get back into the crease without any type of interference. It was a judgement call and we have to live with it. Just another piece of adversity that we're facing, and finding ways to overcome it."
That adversity is sure to be on display in the next two games.
"We're at home, we gotta make it count," Sharks Assistant Captain Dan Boyle said following the game. "It's important right now to get some of those points that we lost earlier in the season. We got two more before we get going on the road, and although we've got five out of six points [in the last three games], the slow start to the season makes the next four just as big."
Tonight's win vaults the Sharks into a tie for eight place with the, but it's certainly not the start most expected for the team. Finding some consistency is essential if they expect to continue that climb up the standings and begin to establish themselves as a team who is able to bury their chances when they need to.
The Sharks are set to have a two game stint against Calgary and Los Angeles; the Flames defeated the Sharks 4-0 late in October, and the Kings currently lead the Western Conference with twenty points.
For a team that has yet to win three games in a row all season, the Flames and Kings are good litmus tests. Capping off this homestand with back to back victories would go a long way towards getting the ball rolling before the twenty game mark, and presents a distinct opportunity for San Jose to set the tone for the remainder of November and beyond.
Notes: John McCarthy (aka "The Red Scare") had two shots go through the crease, and also had another great scoring opportunity in tight on Roloson. He didn't capitalize (story of the year for San Jose) but looked good in a third line role... Jamie McGinn was scratched for the first time this season... Derek Joslin is healthy and practicing, awaiting McLellan's decision on when he will get game time... McLellan rolled four forwards on the top power play unit again tonight, sticking HTML with Pavelski and Boyle... Pavelski went with a different shootout move than he usually does, which is only peculiar because it comes in the context of a scoring drought...