Well that was a bizarre game.
While watching the game and taking notes to write this recap, I was prepared to write one for a win.... and then a loss... and then a win loss win really bad loss win tie and then finally a shootout loss.
This game really was a roller coaster. In the first two periods, the Wild outshot the Sharks 22-15 which is very uncharacteristic of both teams. The Wild are 28th for shots for per game (26.7) and 30th for shots against per game (31.9). The Sharks are 1st in the league for shots for per game (34.9) and 5th in the league for shots against per game (28.6). Things would later balance out after the third and overtime period with the Sharks leading shots 38-31.
The Sharks didn't have a strong game. Antti Niemi wasn't particularly sharp and neither was the team in front. They allowed four goals to a Minnesota Wild team who typically struggle to score goals. Despite those struggles it was great to see the Sharks come from behind and tie up the game.
Shootout losses aren't necessarily something to be ashamed of. They're essentially a coin-flip and they definitely don't indicate team strength. However, the one point between a shootout win and a shootout loss feels like a lot. It's a bummer to lose, but let me remind you that the Sharks have earned points in 12 of the last 13 games (H/T Soloact). 20 out of 26 possible points in that span. Also the PK went 3-3!
Feel better now? So do I. Breakdown of the game after the jump.
The first period started with some back and forth action. Both teams put up some chances with neither taking control of the game. That would eventually change when Cal Clutterbuck scored the first goal 7:04 into the game. It was one Antti Niemi would like back. Clutterbuck skated on in Niemi from the left side and with his right handed shot put the puck over Niemi's shoulder. Niemi for sure should have made a better play, but the defense in front shouldn't have let Clutterbuck all alone.
After that goal, the game went back to its slow pace. Back and forth, back and forth until the Sharks got caught for a too many men on the ice penalty. The Wild put up some quality chances, but the Sharks PK was solid killing off the penalty.
Four minutes later, the Sharks would find themselves on a 5 on 3. Jared Spurgeon took a penalty on a strange play. While the Sharks were entering their offensive zone, the puck bounced up and Spurgeon held on to it. A closing hand on puck penalty and the Sharks were on the power play. After the first faceoff of the power play, Joe Thornton was slashed hard on the hands by Kyle Brodziak. According to the NBCSN commentators, they could hear Thornton give a wooly mammoth roar in pain all the way up in the broadcasters booth. Not a smart move for Brodziak as it gave the Sharks 1:57 of a 5 on 3 power play.
The Sharks just wanted to make us nervous on their 5 on 3. Their first two attempts to settle into the offensive zone were cleared by the Wild. On the third try, the Sharks were able to set up and Dan Boyle scored his 3rd goal of the season to tie the game. It was played well with Michal Handzus planting himself in front of Josh Harding's eyes. Harding was unable to see Dan Boyle's shot from the point that found its way to the net. Patrick Marleau recorded an assist on the goal giving him his 800th point of his career. After the goal, the Sharks had a minute left of 5 on 4 power play, but didn't convert.
The second period had the same pace as the first for the most part. After the midway point of the period Marc-Edouard Vlasic took a tripping penalty and the Sharks killed off the ensuing power play. Shortly after Warren Peters scored his first goal of the season and the Wild took the lead again.
On the very next shift a crazy play happened. Matt Cullen shot the puck, ringing it off the post, and it landed on Niemi's leg where it sat momentarily. Casey Wellman then charged into Niemi, knocking him and the net over, and the puck was in the net. However, it was ruled that the whistle was blown and it would be a no goal. The play was followed by a scrum that handed out coincidental minors. On the brief four on four the Sharks played well, but the game remained 2-1 Wild.
To close out the second period, Andrew Desjardins boarded Clayton Stoner. The power play rolled over 10 seconds into the third period and the Sharks killed it off.
The third period saw strong offensive action by both teams. On one particular play, Desjardins was handed the puck right in front of Harding with an empty net but he couldn't cash it in as the puck rolled off his stick. The game looked bleak later on when the Wild's Nick Johnson scored a nearly identical goal to Clutterbucks. Right handed shot from the left side over Niemi's shoulder.
The Sharks then looked like they had some life when Benn Ferriero (Or Ben Fuhrarow if you're Mike Milbury) scored a goal from a Vlasic shot from the point. 3-2 Wild and the Sharks looked like they were right back on track. But nope, moments later Cullen crashes the Sharks net hard and scores a goal.
With three minutes left in an optimistic turn for the Sharks, Logan Couture scores a goal off of a Brent Burns shot. They were once again in reach of tying the game and they wasted no time doing so. Twenty two seconds later on the next shift Joe Thornton made a great pass to a streaking Patrick Marleau who put the puck in the net.
After that, the game headed into overtime. On the first shift of OT the Sharks nearly scored, but Harding stopped a sliding puck from going into the net at the last second. Neither team would be able to score and they were off to the shootout. The Wild only needed two attempts in the shootout to win as the Sharks were unable to score. Cullen and Koivu had the scores for the Wild and Handzus and Clowe had the misses for the Sharks.
Overall, not the best game for the Sharks but they'll take the one point. They're off now to play the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday, the Sharks first game there since March 20, 1996.