Technically, the Sharks lost this game when Hurricanes forward Elias Lindholm spun a backhand pass across the San Jose crease that defenseman Jay Harrison deposited into an open net a little over four minutes into overtime. But a failure to show up for much of the first forty minutes was just as much a factor in the Sharks dropping their second game of the season to Carolina and beginning their four-game homestand on a sour note.
Whether it was due to returning home after a three-game road trip, playing their first game at the Tank in nearly a month or just pre-trade deadline jitters, the Sharks looked structureless and passive for the first half of this game, allowing Carolina to dictate territorial play and set up shop in the San Jose end for stretches at a time. Luckily for the Sharks, they were able to capitalize on the few opportunities they received, with Marty Havlat firing a Tyler Kennedy rebound past Hurricanes goaltender Anton Khudobin to tie the game in the first period a minute after Jiri Tlusty opened the scoring for Carolina and Brent Burns staking the Sharks to a one-goal lead off a great setup from Raffi Torres.
But it wasn't until Todd McLellan and his coaching staff put Burns back in his customary spot, on right wing with Joes Thornton and Pavelski, that the team finally started to generate offensive momentum and implement their standard gameplan of overwhelming opposing defenses with shots. By then, the Hurricanes had already tied the game on a goal by Lindholm and Khudobin held down the fort the rest of the way as the Sharks unleashed a third period onslaught. Ultimately, staging that performance two periods earlier would have likely turned this into an easy regulation victory for the Sharks. Instead, the result is another disappointing loss to a sub-par Eastern Conference club.
- I'm not entirely sure why Andrew Desjardins was on the ice in overtime, let alone for a key shift against Eric Staal and Lindholm. I mean, it was obviously to take the draw, and he's a terrific faceoff man no doubt, but so are Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture (who was out the prior shift, sure, but Todd McLellan did still have his timeout). Pavelski and Couture are also among the most talented forwards the team dressed tonight, while Desjardins is undoubtedly the least talented. It's just a curious decision that reeks of overthinking it, and it ended up costing the Sharks as Desjardins failed to recognize Harrison at the back door.
- He almost certainly isn't available but Andrej Sekera sure would make a fine deadline addition to the Sharks in fantasyland. With Sekera on the ice in five-on-five situations tonight, the Hurricanes launched 31 shot attempts to the Sharks' 23 compared to a 49-30 San Jose edge when he was on the bench. It was also his work in the offensive zone that allowed the Hurricanes to maintain pressure on the game-winning shift.
- Justin Braun had the unenviable task of carrying both Matt Irwin and Scott Hannan at different times tonight but acquitted himself well throughout. His stick positioning broke up a second period 2-on-1 that could have easily been a tap-in goal for Alexander Semin. There was also a sequence in the third period that encapsulated everything terrific about #61 this season: he used his reach and a stingy gap to neutralize Jordan Staal as he came over the blueline, won a puck battle against the big Carolina center in the corner, then turned play the other way with a quick, accurate outlet pass.
- James Sheppard's name was mentioned in a rumored Devin Setoguchi trade earlier today. It's probably fair to say the dude does not want to go to Winnipeg as he extended his point streak to five games with a great individual effort on the forecheck to create Burns' first goal in 19 games. I'm not sold on Shep as a third-line center but he's quietly been one of the team's most reliable forwards all year and, barring some sort of improbable return, I hope he's still a Shark this time tomorrow.
FTF Three Stars
1st Star: Anton Khuodbin
2nd Star: Elias Lindholm
3rd Star: Andrej Sekera