The following artice was written by the newest author at Fear the Fin, Cameron Gore. Cameron is a credentialed member of the Sharks media (writing features for the Sharks Magazine and covering the team for ProHockeyNews.com) and has played, officiated or managed hockey in some form or another for the last thirty years. As such, he brings a fresh perspective on the game from the eyes of someone who has played and participated at almost every level. Cameron is also actively involved with the Stockton Thunder, and can occasionally be found providing color commentary on their radio and television broadcasts. None of these credentials, however, trump the fact that he's Canadian, and therefore, "just knows".
We will let Cameron officially introduce himself later in the week,but here's his recap of last night's action. Look for him to fill in with his own take on home games and contribute some special features for the remainder of the season and into the playoffs.
For the second time in as many games against the Nashville Predators Patrick Marleau played the spoiler by beating Preds net minder Pekka Rinne in overtime for a 3-2 win.
It was decision time for the Sharks all time leading scorer as he bared down on a 2 on 1 break alongside Ian White. Pass or shoot were the options and with the Predators Ryan Suter closing the gap on the odd man rush, and to the delight of the sold crowd at out the HP Pavilion Marleau fired a snap shot past the glove on the short side to give the Sharks the overtime victory.
"I pulled to my forehand and made a quick shot and tried to catch him off guard" is how Marleau described the game winning goal.
The first period finished even with each team lighting the lamp once.
Ryan Clowe who was the games first star opened the scoring for the Sharks. Clowe found himself in the right place at the right time. Jason Demersmade an aggressive move at the blue line to keep the play alive and fed Heatley in the slot who tipped the puck towards the net and found its
way in off of Clowe's foot.
Clowe played on the left wing with Logan Couture in the middle, who he has played well with when the opportunity has presented itself and Dany Heatley filled the spot on the right wing.
"Obviously we've had some good chemistry this year." said Clowe "We had some real good jump tonight our line right from the start. We had a lot great scoring chances, it's good to see. We have to contribute as much as we can with Patty, Seto and Jumbo together they'll get a lot of attention so they need us to step up."
And step up they did. Both Clowe and Heatley finished the game with two points. Couture was held off the score sheet but contributed on the Sharks second goal by setting a screen in front the Predators net.
The Sharks second marker came from recently called up Justin Braunon the power play. The youngster from the farm has a knack for getting shots through to the net and tonight he tallied his second NHL goal on a slap shot from the point that was tipped by the Predators defenseman and in past the glove hand of Pekka Rinne.
Braun was all smiles as he took us through the events that led to his goal.
"I was just trying to get it past the first guy." said Braun "That's pretty much what they want me to do, get the puck up ice and shoot it from the point, I was lucky enough to have it go off of one of their sticks and end up in the back of the net."
Both of Nashville's goals came with the man advantage, which operated at 50% efficiency on the night.
San Jose did what they had to do earn the two points on the night. They did not start the game well but it is the finish that people remember. Niemi was good when he had to be and although he was not tested a ton, in the third period he made some clutch saves. The most notable came after a bad bounce on a clearing attempt where the puck ended up on Mike Fisher's stick all alone in front of the Sharks net with the third period winding down. Fisher got everything he had on a slap shot but could not beat the glove hand of the Sharks net minder who earned third star honors. That was Nashville's best scoring chance of the period and was one the few times the puck wasn't in their zone.
In the third the Sharks played one of their best periods of the season and if not for the stellar play of Pekka Rinne this game would have been done with 10 minutes left to play. San Jose peppered Rinne with 13 shots and the scoring chances were constant in a period that kept the fans on the edge of their seats.
Things worth noting on the night were Jamal Mayers played his 800th career game which is quite the feat considering role players tenure in the NHL tend to not last as long as the superstars of the game.
The best line for San Jose on the night was the Clowe, Couture, and Heatley combination and as coach McLellan put it, "I feel that Couture is a little bit better in the middle, he's around the puck a little bit more and maybe to get Clowe going and it paid off tonight." Previously Couture had been playing the wing with Joe Thornton in the middle and Devin Setoguchi on the other side.
The rookie from London, Ontario clearly looked more comfortable playing center and the elevated play in Ryan Clowe's game can only be attributed to the strategic change that was made.
Patrick Marleau will be public enemy number one in Tennessee after he scored the game winning goal in overtime against Nashville in as many games.
The Sharks now prepare for the league leading Vancouver Canuckswho come to town on Thursday. The Canucks are currently on a five game road trip and so far have won their first three. The clash of two of the leagues hottest clubs in the league will be the fourth and final meeting between these teams unless they meet in the post season, which is a very likely scenario. San Jose beat the Canucks 2-1 in Vancouver in late January but lost the previous two outings 4-3 in San Jose and 6-1 north of the border.
Keep your stick on the ice,