In an all-around stinker of a game, the Sharks fall 4-1 to the Calgary Flames.
Before this game started, you knew there was a chance the Sharks may look tired. They were on their second game of back-to-backs and had just flown into Calgary hours before the game. But, they couldn't be as bad as they were against Columbus, right?
Yeah, about that. This may have rivaled that game for worst effort of the season.
Things didn't start so well for San Jose. Five minutes into the game, a quick rim out of the Calgary zone stranded Kennedy and Gomez well behind the play. The puck was quickly one-touched back to a man with speed for an easy zone entry. Jarome Iginla found a wide open pass to Jay Bouwmeester as the trailer. The shot generated a huge rebound, and Roman Cervenka shot it into a wide open net. Flames took the 1-0 lead.
The rest of the game followed the same template as that play. The Sharks were often slow, and their play in the neutral zone resembled swiss cheese.
The Sharks did get some time to work on the powerplay in the first, but weren't very effective then, or at any time in the game. The top unit played decently, but were mostly kept to the outside. Meanwhile, the second power play unit could barely enter the zone without stumbling over each other. There's just not enough offensive talent on that second unit to get good chances.
In the second period, the Sharks started out with a few good shifts early on, but it didn't last. Not only did they lose control of the period, they went without a shot for a good ten minute chunk in the middle. Thomas Greiss was able to keep the Sharks in it. Though, that's not to say he played particularly well. His rebounds were as bad as Niemi's ever were, and he challenged shooters to the point of leaving himself out of position. The latter would have bitten him in the but if it weren't for Logan Couture. At one point, Greiss seemingly went about 15 feet out of the net to challenge a Chris Butler point shot, and the puck got by him. Luckily, Couture was standing in the crease and was nailed in the back with the that would have gone bar down. The defense cleared it out and kept the Sharks within one.
Ironically, despite what may have been their worst period of the season, the Sharks would score 14:53 into the second. A great two-man forecheck (Marleau sealed the boards behind the net and forced the Flame the other way) forced a turnover to Joe Pavelski, who found Joe Thornton crashing to the net for the game-tying goal. That's right, folks. Joe Thornton took a shot! The second period ended 1-1.
That one goal was the high-point for the Sharks in the game. The team did start throwing a few more pucks to the net, but the Flames were able to respond. Blake Comeau was given two great chances on the rush on the same shift, and he converted on the second to make it 2-1 Calgary 2:57 into the third. The Flames then added another one 89 seconds later. Ryane Clowe was trying to make an break out pass to Murray, but it ended exactly how you'd expect a Clowe-Murray play to go this year. The pass was a little off, and bounced off Murray directly to Iginla in the slot. That made it 3-1 and effectively sealed the win for the Flames.
Calgary sat back the rest of the way, and let the Sharks control the play down the stretch. Miikka Kiprussoff was solid enough that the Flames could just collapse to the net and take away most of the quality chances the Sharks could have had. An empty netter (shorthanded) by Lee Stempniak put the icing on the cake in the final minute.
Final score: 4-1 Calgary.
The loss only drops the Sharks down to the fifth spot in the Western Conference, but it was the continuing glaring problems that really made this game hurt.
FTF 3 Stars
Honestly, on the entire Sharks team, I only really liked the play of Marleau, Sheppard, Pavelski and Galiardi, surprisingly. On the bright side, things can't get much bleaker for the offense, right? Maybe we'll finally see it on Saturday when the Sharks play the... *checks the schedule* St. Louis Blues. Fuck. Let's say Sunday then. Go Sharks.