Wait, didn't I just watch this game last night? Sharks lose to Stars in OT, 5-4

For the second night in a row, the Sharks had a two-goal lead in the third only to lose in overtime. And, for the second night in a row, a disallowed Sharks goal would have been the game winner. Losing in overtime hurts. Losing in overtime after having a two-goal lead hurts more. Losing in overtime after having a two-goal lead against the Stars hurts the most.

It was patently obvious in the first period that the Sharks played last night. They were not able to set up a single cycle the entire period, nor could they keep the zone on the power play. The passes were often way off mark, and they kept giving up . All the shots on net came unscreened, letting Kari Lehtonen see them all the way; nobody was going to the net.

So it wasn’t really much of a surprise that the Sharks found themselves down 2-0 in the first.

The first was not lost, however; Mike Moore, in his third NHL game, had a huge open-ice hit on noted pest Steve Ott. As is customary in the NHL with clean hits, Mark Fistric immediately dropped the gloves with Moore. Fistric bit off a bit more than he could chew, however, as Moore dropped him with two punches, and then flips him after he got up as the linesmen failed to stop the fight. Scott Nichol also scored a goal – dubbed the "most beautiful of the night" by Drew Remenda – after knocking down a long pass from Jason Demers, weaving around two Star defensemen, and then shooting it over Lehtonen’s glove.

Nichol’s late goal gave energy to the Sharks, and they came out into the second looking a lot better. In the first minute of the second, Joe Thornton was decked by Jamie Benn, prompting Devin Setoguchi to drop the gloves with Benn. Setoguchi’s helmet gets knocked off, but he lands the majority of the punches and ultimately gets the takedown.

The second line of Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture, and Ryane Clowe continues their streak of great play, scoring two goals in the second. Pavelski’s 6th came on a wraparound that had everyone looking the other way, and Couture’s 8th – to lead all rookies in goals – went five-hole on Lehtonen after bouncing off of Matt Niskanen.

Later in the period, Torrey Mitchell and Brad Richards were both given 10 minute misconducts for fighting before a faceoff. Jamal Mayers and Kris Barch also dropped the gloves this period, but there were few punches thrown.

The Sharks started the third with the remainder of the four minute high-sticking powerplay that Jason Demers drew. However, the power play on the road continues to be abysmal – the Sharks have gone 0 for their last 20 opportunities. What a change from earlier in the season, when the Sharks couldn’t score without the extra man – now they fail to score with one. While this is not the only reason for the Sharks’ failure to pick up two points on the road, it certainly isn’t helping matters. 

There was a scary moment early in the third when a puck chipped by a Stars player went onto the Sharks bench, hitting Joe Pavelski in the mouth. It appears he lost at least one tooth and needed stitches, as he left for the dressing room and did not return to the bench until there was just over five minutes left in the period. As an aside, aren’t hockey players amazing? Joe Pavelski just got teeth knocked out, likely got some stitches, and was still bleeding all over the place, yet went right back out on the ice. To use a bit of baseball terminology, gamer. 

Just over six minutes into the third, Patrick Marleau scores his eighth off of a rebound. There was a possibility that the goal would have been called off due to the net being knocked off its moorings – a valid fear for Sharks fans as of late – but it was knocked off after the puck crossed the line, and so was ruled a goal. Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s secondary assist on the goal marked his first point of the season. 

But then what was the first mark of last night’s collapse happened again tonight. Vlasic’s shot from the point was tipped by Marleau into the goal, giving him his second point on the season just a few minutes later. However, it was deemed that the goal was tipped in with a high stick by Marleau, and the goal was waved off. While last night’s high stick call on Jamie McGinn’s goal was questionable, this call was right on the money. 

This was the Sharks’ third straight game with a disallowed goal, and they have had a goal disallowed in four of their last five (the game against the Calgary Flames being the exception). Likely not much love for the Toronto War Room from Sharks fans after this series of games. 

After the disallowed goal, the Sharks started hanging back and playing prevent defense, and the Stars took advantage. The Stars scored two goals in less than thirty seconds; one a James Neal goal that bounced around the crease before Neal put it in five-hole, and another being a Ribero goal over Niemi’s left shoulder. Dan Boyle called for a review on Neal’s goal, saying it was kicked in, but it didn’t seem like there was one. 

In an act that felt completely inevitable after his tying goal, Mike Ribero scored in just under three minutes into overtime, roofing it over a sprawled Niemi and cementing the Stars’ comeback. 

Antti Niemi continues his string of good play – the first three, and arguably the fourth, were not his fault at all. The overtime winner saw the goalie completely sprawled out onto the ice out of position after the initial save. Niemi also made several key saves to keep the Sharks in the game in the first period and the second while they were making their own comeback, including several with the glove that he certainly would not have at the beginning of the season. Needless to say, while he did let in five goals, he has definitely improved. 

As the beginning of the game saw the Sharks completely gassed and out of whack, Todd McLellan mixed up the lines, with the exception of the red-hot second line. Joe Thornton – who was rather invisible tonight – was bumped down to the third line with Devin Setoguchi and Jamie McGinn, while Torrey Mitchell was promoted to the first line with Dany Heatley and Patrick Marleau. McLellan also experimented with lines of Heatley-Nichol-Mitchell and McGinn-Marleau-Setoguchi at various points of the game. 

This game sums up the Sharks’ season quite well – consistently inconsistent. They look horrible at some times, and can barely enter the zone, much less hold it. Other times, they score four straight and look to be in control. They get a goal called off. They let their foot off the gas and allow the other team to get back into the game. And, as a cherry topper, they lose in overtime. 

There was some definite good in this game. The second line, for one, and Torrey Mitchell has grown into a force on the ice. But the Sharks’ tendency to let up with a two-goal lead reared its ugly head yet again, and their impotency on the power play didn’t help much either. And so, they lost to the Dallas Stars. Ugh.

On a personal note, I hate overtime. Hate it. And the Sharks this season have done nothing to make me change my mind.

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