Perhaps this was some sort of karmic retribution for all the hubris surrounding the Sharks the past couple of days. It wasn't a question of IF the Sharks would beat the Sabres it was how badly would they beat them. Well, it turns out the Sharks wouldn't beat them at all as Couture was the only Shark to score in the shootout and Niemi wasn't quite up to the task. That's the third overtime loss for the Sharks in a row and their fourth this season.
San Jose did little to impress against the Sabres, but a blown call in the overtime period is sure to be the story most will be talking about. A Tyler Kennedy shot hit the inside of the post and deflected back towards Miller. The puck redirected into the net well before the official had any intent to blow his whistle, but it was pulled out of the net and smothered by Miller. For no apparent reason the play was not reviewed and play continued.
This is obviously a foul up by the "war room" in Toronto who should have put a call down to stop play immediately following the whistle. The NHL has been pretty good about releasing videos on why certain calls were made (or not made) and I hope that they follow suit here.
Let's be clear though: The Sharks should not have been in this position to begin with and it's their own sloppy play that put their lives in the hands of the officials. San Jose should have won this game (because they scored an OT goal that should have counted) but I have a real hard time getting riled up about a blown call when the Sharks played like hot garbage on multiple occasions throughout the night.
It took the Sharks a while to find their grove against the Sabres, but halfway through the first period San Jose found their way on the scoreboard with a little help from a familiar source.
Dan Boyle ripped a shot on Ryan Miller, but Miller could only kick it away which left the puck outside the crease long enough to be cleaned up by Martin Havlat who netted his first goal since returning from injury. Patrick Marleau should also get credit on this play as he was able to keep the Buffalo defenders away from the puck long enough for Havlat to get a strong shot away.
San Jose's sleepy play continued into the second period as a lazy turnover in the offensive zone led to a Drew Stafford chance and goal off of Antti Niemi. The shot seemed to surprise Niemi, probably because Oh My God it was a bad turnover.
The Sharks frustration boiled over into another face-punching fest as Tyler Kennedy and Johan Larsson got into it after scrum along the boards. If it energized anyone it was certainly the Sabres as Cody McCormick scored five-hole on Niemi immediately following a Buffalo faceoff win in the Sharks zone.
On the Sharks third powerplay of the game (after Couture was high-sticked) Boyle got a chance to earn his second point of the night right off of the faceoff but he didn't get all of it and Miller made the save. Couture had an open net chance to tie the game up but couldn't lift the puck. Despite it being the Sharks best powerplay of the game, they were unable to even the score.
Niemi's shaky night continued as he was caught out of his net and Brad Stuart had to go full Bobby Orr to keep the puck out of the net..
Things went from bad to worse as Buffalo went on their first powerplay of the game early in the second period and almost immediately capitalized to make it a 3-1 Sabres advantage. The Sharks' mental breakdowns had cost them three times in this game and things weren't looking particular sunny for San Jose.
But Tyler Kennedy drew the Sharks within one and Tomas Hertl tied the game at three apiece five minutes into the third frame to get San Jose back in the hockey game.
The scoring wasn't done yet though as the Sabres capitalized on a Marc-Edouard Vlasic turnover to give themselves the lead yet again. Niemi made the first safe but a Henrik Tallinder shot deflected off of Justin Braun and into the back of the net.
It didn't get any easier for the Sharks as they put themselves on a 1:30 long 5-on-3 penalty kill midway through the third. Niemi made the saves he needed to and the Sabres powerplay looked about as poor as advertised giving the Sharks nine minutes to even the score.
After failing to capitalize on their fourth powerplay of the night, Tommy Wingels brought the score even again with an incredible effort in the crease. Braun put the puck on net but Miller stood tall and in the scrum in front of the net Wingels dove forward and pushed the puck across the line.
A winner could not be found in the next three minutes or the five minutes of overtime, despite the Sharks putting on incredible pressure for the majority of the extra frame. The should-have-been-a-goal was just one of many high-grade chances that the Sharks failed to convert on.
- The Sharks lost another game after taking over 50 shots. Sounds about right.
- Four goals should be enough against most teams for the Sharks, but against the Sabres? Shouldn't even have to think about it. And here we are.
- That game sucked because of the play and because of who the play came against. And the Sharks still got a point out of it. That's kind of incredible.
- Niemi isn't putting this game on his highlight reel.
- This was supposed to be the warmup for the Canucks on Thursday but now the Sharks risk losing their fourth straight game if their ownage of Vancouver ceases on Thursday. Given the way things are going...
- I'm starting to think I'd rather see Matt Irwin and James Sheppard out there than Brad Stuart and Mike Brown. Maybe that's just me though.
- Speaking of Brown, isn't it too bad his fights weren't able to change the game for the Sharks? Man, what else does a guy have to do!?
- Let's never speak of this game again.