The Sharks won what is being conservatively called "a hockey game" against the New York Islanders to split the season series with the Isles thanks to two third period goals.
San Jose dominated the shot total throughout the contest, though most decisively in the first period as they outshot the Islanders 31-20, but narrowly out-attempted New York 58-54 while the score was close. Niemi made 19 saves with the only Islanders goal coming early on in the contest as Kyle Okposo navigated known-traffic-cone Scott Hannan to beat Nemo on the short side.
Tomas Hertl finally scored got on the scoresheet in the goal column as the second-year forward drove towards the blue paint to flick a puck up and over Jaroslav Halak to score on the Sharks only powerplay of the game. New York failed to score on their three powerplays, including one that extended past regulation, giving the Islanders a 6-on-4 opportunity late in the game.
The second period was as forgettable as any I've seen in some times — only 11 total shots were attempted and most of the play took place in center ice between the two team's sets of faceoff circles. When Logan Couture finally broke the deadlock in the third period, it was as startling as it was exciting as both teams did a masterful job lulling spectators into a deep dream-like-state.
After Couture's goal with under six minutes to play, it appeared the Sharks would sit back and attempt to hold on to a one-goal lead, happy enough to weather the Islanders' storm; but a terrific individual effort by James Sheppard led the mustache-deficient-forward to the goal crease where he beat Halak up high to give the Sharks a two-goal cushion.
Noted bad player Adam Burish took a penalty with 1:37 to play, giving the Islanders a chance to get on the scoresheet in a hurry, but a second goal wasn't coming for New York who are now 0-2 on their five-game western conference road trip. The Sharks won their first home game since their home opener against the Winnipeg Jets and will wrap up their brief two-game homestand on Thursday against the Canucks.
- Mikhail Grabovski was as involved in the Sharks' defensive zone as any Islander not named John Tavares — it's probably a bit unlucky he didn't find himself on the scoresheet.
- Antti Niemi was solid in net, making some tough saves that more than made up for the less-than-spectacular effort he made against Okposo's tally.
- Joe Pavelski didn't get on the scoresheet, but he had seven shots on goal and led the team in Corsi +/- — Joe Thornton also had a spectacular game that went unrewarded on the scoresheet.
- The Sharks' second unit looked great on the powerplay leading up to Hertl's goal; they only got one opportunity on the man-advantage tonight (a rarity) and it was nice to see them take advantage of their chance.
- Moving Hertl to the fourth line did not seem to hurt the forward's play — he had a great puck possession night and it was great to see him score again, if for no other reason than we don't have to hear people moan about it anymore. For now.
- Mirco Mueller had six blocked shots tonight — his tenth game of the season with the Sharks. As noted fan of the blog Kevin Kurz pointed out on Twitter, that likely means Mueller will be sticking around this season.
- Jason Demers took a two-minute penalty for a hit to the head on Corey Conacher — despite Jamie Baker's protests, it wouldn't surprise me if Demers got a call from the league for what looked a whole lot like targeting the head to me.
- It's a long layoff for the Sharks, who host Vancouver on Thursday before going back out on the road for seven-straight games.
FTF Three Stars
1st Star: Tomas Hertl
2nd Star: Antti Niemi
3rd Star: Joe Pavelski