The lines went through the blender for tonight's game, with mixed results. Skating with new linemate Tommy Wingels, Logan Couture had his best game of the season, but the bottom six continued to look like a mess.
Savior of the galaxy, James Sheppard, returned to the Sharks lineup for the first time this season. He skated as the third-line center with Tomas Hertl and Andrew Desjardins as his wings. Personally, I'd rather see either of those wingers at center with Sheppard on the left side. Regardless of my wishes, Sheppard seemed solid by eye, but his line left a lot to be desired when it came to shot attempts. Desjardins in particular seemed to be a bit overmatched in the top nine.
In the first period, the Sharks and Bruins both looked solid at 5-on-5, but it would be penalties making the early difference. Brent Burns tripped up Seth Griffith and the Bruins would score on the resulting powerplay. After a patient powerplay, Brad Marchand skated just inside the top of the circles as he fired a shot off the post and in. It was the first time this season the Sharks allowed a goal against in the first period.
The Sharks would respond on a powerplay of their own with 3:32 remaining in the period. Soon after a faceoff win, Logan Couture tipped a point shot from Patrick Marleau to tie the game at one goal a piece. It was actually the same play the Sharks ran off the prior faceoff. It's good to see some good chemistry coming from that top powerplay unit after a less than inspiring start to the year.
The Sharks streak of having rough second periods looked like it was going to continue tonight. Boston really took control of shot attempts in the middle frame after a very even first twenty minutes. The Bruins regained the lead on a Torey Krug powerplay goal that, again, went off the post and in to beat Niemi. San Jose looked sloppy for most of the period, but that changed with Couture's second goal of the game.
Patrick Marleau caught a pass in front of the net with his back facing Tuukka Rask. Marleau patiently waited for both Bruin defenders to commit to him before he passed it to a crashing Logan Couture in the slot for the goal.
Thirty-seven Seconds later, the Sharks seized the lead. San Jose forced a turnover along the boards in the Boston defensive zone, and Pavelski fired one in front of the net that Joe Thornton re-directed out of mid-air to make it a 3-2 San Jose lead.
Roughly five minutes into the third period, a mad scramble in front of the net led to a tie game. Antti Niemi slightly bobbled a rebound that fell just out of his reach into the mid-slot. The Sharks defense couldn't do anything with it, despite having four skaters right there, compared to only two Bruins. Seth Griffith found the loose puck and ripped it past the pile of bodies screening Niemi.
The Bruins would regain the lead midway through the third period on a very nice re-direction by Gregory Campbell right in front of the net. As nice as the re-direct was, the whole play happened because of a missed opportunity for the Sharks to clear the zone. The surprising part was, it was Justin Braun and Marc-Edouard Vlasic who misplayed it.
The Sharks caught a break down the stretch with a Patrice Bergeron double-minor for high-sticking with just over four inutes remaining in the game. This time, the powerplay did not look as finely tuned. Brad Marchand may have had the best scoring chance of the first two minutes, nearly scoring on a spin-o-rama goal. The Sharks pulled Niemi for the 6-on-4 with about a minute left, but David Krejci scored the empty netter to finish this one off. The Sharks fall 5-3.
- Seth Griffith scored his first NHL goal against the Sharks because that's the law. Welcome to the club. We ran out of snacks about 50 rookies ago.
- Scott Hannan and Jason Demers got destroyed by the Bruins tonight. They had a combined -23 corsi according to War On Ice.
- Niemi looked sharp again, despite the high goals against. He got scored on off a post twice, on a screen, and on a re-direction. He did bobble the rebound that led to the screen shot, but Stalock's not exactly the best at controlling his rebounds either. I'm sure we'll stick to the rotating system for a while though.
- Logan Couture looked spectacular this game, for possibly the first time this season. I don't think that had anything to do with Matt Nieto being switched off that line, who looked fine with Jumbo, but not as magical as he's looked in the past few games with Marleau. I want to see those two back together.
- James Sheppard won 6 of 9 faceoffs. That was a major problem area last season for him, so it's good to see some improvement in that area. However, his most important statistic: zero Reaper invasions during the game.
- Tommy Wingels knocked down Zdeno Chara on a reverse-check in the third period. Tommy Wingels is the best. <iframe class="vine-embed" src="https://vine.co/v/ObYgg0PVKrJ/embed/postcard?related=0" width="160" height="160" frameborder="0"></iframe><script async src="//platform.vine.co/static/scripts/embed.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
FTF 3 Stars
1st star: Torey Krug
2nd star: Logan Couture
3rd star: David Krejci