Justin Peters became the first Carolina goalie aside from starter Cam Ward to win in 41 games as the Carolina Hurricanes beat the San Jose Sharks 3-2 in a game that wasn't even that close until the third period.
The Sharks were on a second half of a back-to-back and, due to some San Francisco-like fog, were stuck traveling to Raleigh the day of the game. While that's no excuse for professionals, it certainly did not help the Sharks any, and travel fatigue was readily apparent throughout most of the first and the entire second period.
It was the first period that ultimately killed the Sharks, even though they were able to even up the score later on. They fell behind early after Jeff Skinner banked a pass off of Dan Boyle's skate that ended up behind a helpless Thomas Greiss. Just three minutes later, the other 19-year-old on the Hurricanes Justin Faulk made it 2-0 as he converted a pretty tic-tac-toe passing play with Jamie McGinn in the box for roughing.
In a "let's all feel old" moment of the day, Jeff Skinner and Justin Faulk have never been alive during a time when the San Jose Sharks did not exist. Their combined age also makes them younger than Teemu Selanne, Nicklas Lidstrom, Johan Hedberg, Jaromir Jagr and Ray Whitney. I am older than they are.
Now that we all feel good and creaky, let's get back to hockey. The Hurricanes got their second power play of the night after Greiss was whistled for a rare goalie hook, but failed to capitalize. A successful kill spurred the Sharks, giving them the most offensive pressure of the game thus far. Torrey Mitchell had a great chance at one of his signature highlight reel goals, but fanned on the puck.
The second period can be summed up thusly:
One of the highlights of the game was Tommy Wingels, who has been proving his Top Six capabilities the past few games and only strengthened his case tonight. He was one of the most noticeable Sharks on the ice, and ended up drawing both Hurricanes penalties (albeit one was cancelled out by a somewhat questionable embellishment call on Wingels). In particular he was doing well on a line with his fellow former Worcester Sharks Logan Couture and Jamie McGinn.
But the real highlight of the game was the Shark who was playing his first game in teal (stripes count, I swear), Dominic Moore. Despite his lack of time on the power play or penalty kill due to his unfamiliarity with Todd McLellan's system, it was immediately apparent what he was brought on for. He won his first two faceoffs and was flying around the ice all night. He also brings to the Sharks the most pun opportunities this side of Linsanity.
Moore contributed to both of the Sharks' goals, even if one contribution didn't show up on the scoresheet. The first goal, and the catalyst for what ended up being a very strong third period for the Sharks, had Moore stand in front of the net as Dan Boyle gathered the puck up by the blue line and shoot it just past Peters to cut the deficit to one. Minutes later, he feeds former Wild teammate Brent Burns from behind the net with a perfect pass. Burns shoots it short side and the game is tied.
However, with seven minutes left in the game, Jussi Jokinen deflects a Jamie McBain shot past Greiss that ended up as the final goal of the game. It was the only goal that Greiss could have stopped of the three he allowed, although he was screened and had to deal with a deflection.
The Sharks attempted to make up for their lackluster play in the first two frames in the final five minutes, with scoring chance after scoring chance. Patrick Marleau almost scored into a wide-open net after setting the puck down from a Dan Boyle rebound, but Peters lunged over and made a highlight reel save.
In the "Heartbreaker of the Night" category, Joe Thornton was on the doorstep with a wide-open net with three seconds left in the game and Peters with no idea where the puck was - and he whiffed. The Sharks captain was visibly cursing himself out after the game.
NOTES: Joe Pavelski with an awesome heads-up play in the third; Jim Vandermeer broke his stick and then had to defend an odd-man rush, so Pavelski alertly gave his stick to Vandermeer from the bench... Jason Demers thinks Patrick Marleau's middle name is "Martha"... Tonight was the first game Brad Winchester missed since joining the Sharks.