The San Jose Sharks four game home stand came to an end with a 4-2 loss to the New York Islanders Tuesday night. With the loss, the Sharks fall to 7-8 on the season, the first time they've been under .500 this year.
Melker Karlsson made his season debut for the Sharks, initially playing wing on the third line before trading places with Joonas Donskoi on the top line. That led to an uncharacteristically good night for the third line and an uncharacteristically underwhelming night for the top line. While the added depth may be a good thing for the Sharks, the reason for the shake-up was not.
Just 36 seconds into the hockey game, Brock Nelson took a shot through traffic. Martin Jones made the save, but the rebound popped right over to an uncovered John Tavares waiting back-door. The Islanders would follow that up less than three minutes later with another goal, this time by Mikhail Grabovski. Grabovski entered the zone with some speed and fired an off-balance shot that beat Jones clean. Jones finished with 1 save on 3 shots.
The Sharks needed a momentum shift, and so Jones was pulled 3:30 into the game and replaced by Alex Stalock. Stalock, though extremely aggressive this game, looked very solid all night (with one notable exception in the third period).
Midway through the first period, the Sharks new top line was looking a little rusty, but the second line started to turn the tide with a couple strong scoring chances. By the end of the period, the Sharks out-shot New York 12-11 and had an 18-17 lead in attempts.
Although the powerplay still sputtered for San Jose, the Sharks were able to build momentum in the second period. Joel Ward was able to get the Sharks on the board 10:14 into the middle frame. The finish by Ward was very strong, finding a slim but of daylight under Thomas Greiss.
Joel Ward goal, 2-1 Isles pic.twitter.com/zZwIn1JbI9— Stephanie (@myregularface) November 11, 2015
The rest of the lines continued the pressure, though were otherwise held off the scoreboard. On one shift for the third line, Chris Tierney passed it to Brent Burns who was creeping in at the top of the circle. Burns' stick shatterd in his hand, and while he was falling forward, he hit the puck again toward the net. While it fired everyone up, he was probably lucky he didn't receive a penalty for playing with a broken stick. The Sharks ended up dominating the period, with a 14-6 edge in shots and 25-17 lead in attempts.
That momentum was immediately halted when the third period came around. Just 45 seconds into the period, Johnny Boychuk loaded up on a big slap-shot/dump-in from just behind the blue line that went right past Stalock. This gave the Islanders a 3-1 lead and really slowed the pace of the game. Until the second line went back to work.
The Marleau-Hertl-Ward line controlled the puck along the boards, and found Brent Burns crashing to the net. Burns blasted it by Greiss and the Sharks were trailing by just one goal with 5:11 to go. The Sharks picked up some chances with the extra attacker, but an empty net goal by John Tavares with 5 seconds left would ice the game for New York.
Sharks goals (assists): Joel Ward (Tomas Hertl, Justin Braun), Brent Burns (Tomas Hertl, Joel Ward)
Fear the Fin's Three Stars
1) John Tavares
2) Joel Ward
3) Thomas Greiss