On the night of Alex Stalock's first official NHL start, the San Jose Sharks were victorious. The Stalock Superfans can be happy after he turned in a very impressive performance - stopping 38 of the 40 shots the Sharks allowed.
Those 40 shots allowed means that Sharks were actually outshot in this game 40-29. That's the first time they've been outshot this season. Considering San Jose was playing in their second night of back-to-backs, it might not be too surprising it happened, but it shows the Sharks might just be mortal after all. Maybe.
The banged-up Sharks were still without the usual crew, but were also without Matt Nieto, who was a late scratch. Nieto actually skated with the team during warm-ups but was held out, according to David Pollak, because of a hand injury he sustained blocking a shot. Due to the injury, the Sharks would scramble the lines a bit. Most notably, James Sheppard was rewarded with a spot on the top line with Joe Thornton and Tomas Hertl.
And that paid off quick.
A little over a minute into the game, James Sheppard directed a puck towards the net that was scooped up by Hertl and tucked past Craig Anderson short side. 1-0 Sharks. Hertl from Sheppard and Demers at 1:16 of the first period.
After the goal, the Sens controlled the play pretty well, but Alex Stalock was quickly able to get into a good rhythm. It's great to see him between the pipes after the long road back from his injury a few years ago. After a dump into the Sharks zone, Andrew Desjardins and Brad Stuart (!!) were able to combine on a beautiful transition. Stuart threw a shot on net with the rebound popping out to Desjardins in the slot. The Sharks fourth-line center was able to chuck a backhand shot off the post and in. 2-0 Sharks. Desjardins from Stuart at 6:35 of the first.
It wasn't all Sharks in the first, though. Erik Karlsson was able to pick up a goal on a slapshot from the point near the middle of the period. I'd mention that Stalock was screened, but it was by 5'8" Cory Conacher, so I don't think it counts. 2-1 Sharks. Karlsson from Turris and Conacher at 11:07 of the first.
After the body attached to Mike Brown's mustache took an interference penalty, the Sharks third-ranked penalty kill continued to impress. Tommy Wingels was able to force a turnover at the Sharks' blueline and fed Logan Couture a good pass for a breakaway. Couture was stopped by Anderson, but the puck was just lying in the crease after the shot, and Wingels slammed it home. 3-1 Sharks. Wingels (shorthanded) from Couture and Vlasic at 18:15 of the first.
Early in the second period, both teams got a chance to go on the man-advantage. Although neither scored, the Sharks looked a lot better not doing it. Midway through, Ottawa was able to score on a delayed penalty after a very strong shift by Jason Spezza's line. Ottawa defenseman Marc Methot had the blast from the point to cut the deficit to one. 3-2 Sharks. Methot from Karlsson and Spezza at 9:09 of the second.
The Sharks were buzzing when the third period began. Couture, Kennedy, and Marleau nearly combined for a goal within the first minute of play, but Marleau bobbled the puck before he could take a shot. The other top line picked up where they left off, though. Hertl was able to poke a puck away from the Senators as they were trying to leave the zone. Thornton picked it up and gave it to Sheppard for a snapshot that bounced off two posts and went in. It was Sheppard's first goal of the season, but you wouldn't know it judging by how well he was playing tonight. 4-2 Sharks. Sheppard from Thornton at 1:29 of the third.
San Jose would add one more in the game after a ridiculous series of passes between Wingels, Pavelski and Braun. Wingels took a puck out of the Sharks' zone and flipped it ahead on the backhand to Pavelski streaking into the offensive zone. Pavelski was covered, but was still able to pivot away and drop it off for a crashing Braun. Braun fought off a stick lift and sent it back across the slot to Pavelski. The goal was reviewed as it looked like it may have bounced off of Pavelski's skate, but it held up as a good hockey goal. 5-2 Sharks. Pavelski from Braun and Wingels at 7:59 of the third. AMERICA.
The Sharks would have a few more really solid chances, but weren't able to score a sixth goal - dashing my dreams of inserting another s-word into the headline. SHARKS WIN! 5-2 Final.
- Eleven different Sharks had points in tonight's game.
- Joe Thornton is now ranked 51st all-time in points with 1,131 points. Just 11 shy of Nicklas Lidstrom.
- Fun fact: James Sheppard is averaging an impressive 2.00 points per game while skating on Thornton's line this season.
- The San Jose Sharks have not lost a game in regulation with Sheppard in the lineup.
- On the other hand, the Sharks are winless with Sheppard scratched
- Honestly, James Sheppard had his best game as a Shark tonight. Enjoy this as a celebration:
FTF 3 Stars
1st Star: James Sheppard
Alex Stalock James Sheppard
Tommy Wingels James Sheppard