The playoff hopes for the Worcester Sharks took another critical hit Thursday night as they were shutout 3-0 by the Connecticut Whale at the XL Center. Having lost three games in a row in regulation for the first time all season, the Sharks have fallen to 12th place of the AHL Eastern Conference, and are six points behind the Hershey Bears for the eighth and final playoff spot with one game in hand.
After a scoreless first period that saw the Sharks out-shoot the Whale 13-7, Whale right winger Christian Thomas put the Whale up 1-0 with a power play goal, his 18th goal of the season, at 1:23 of the second period off a snap shot from the left face-off circle that beat Sharks goaltender Harri Sateri despite Sateri getting a piece of the puck.
At 3:09, former Sharks left winger Brandon Mashinter steamrolled Sateri with his shoulder after Sateri had made a save on Mashinter's shot on goal. Sharks defenseman Taylor Doherty immediately went after Mashinter and stuck up for his goaltender by engaging in his first fight of the season. Referee Geno Binda raised a lot of eyebrows by not assessing a penalty to Mashinter for steamrolling Sateri, who was replaced by Thomas Heemskerk for the remainder of the game.
In the third period, Whale alternate captain Brandon Segal extended the lead to 2-0 with his 21st goal of the season at 2:07 off a backhanded shot on a rebound that beat Heemskerk through the pads. The Whale got an insurance goal at 6:53 when defenseman Sam Klassen beat Heemskerk with a shot from the point for his first career AHL goal in 105 games played.
NOTES... Shots were 31-29 in favor of the Whale... The Sharks went 0-for-5 on the power play and 3-for-4 on the penalty kill... Sateri made 10 saves in his 11th consecutive start before leaving the game due to injury and is now 14-17-3 with a 2.70 goals-against-average and .909 save percentage... Heemskerk made 18 saves in 36:49 of relief playing time... Whale goaltender Cam Talbot made 29 saves for his 23rd win and second shutout of the season... Sharks defensemen Derek Joslin and Adam Comrie each had a game high five shots on goal... Curt Gogol (inj), Nick Petrecki (inj), Brodie Reid (inj), Marek Viedensky (inj), Jimmy Bonneau (scr), Lane Scheidl (scr) and Denny Urban (scr) did not dress for the Sharks... The Sharks have scored one goal or less in four of their last five games and in 21 of their 64 games this season... This was the fourth and final meeting between the teams this season... The Sharks went 0-4-0-0 against the Whale this season, are 16-15-0-2 on the road and 29-28-1-6 with 65 points overall.
1. Cam Talbot - Whale (29 saves, WIN)
2. Brandon Segal - Whale (1-0-1)
3. Sam Klassen - Whale (1-0-1)