Despite firing a season high 50 shots on goal, the Worcester Sharks were shut out by rookie goaltender Connor Hellebuyck in a 2-0 loss to the St. John's IceCaps (AHL affiliate of the Winnipeg Jets) in front of 4,602 fans Saturday night at the DCU Center.
The Sharks, who are just four points out from tying for the fourth spot in the AHL Eastern Conference Calder Cup Playoff standings, suffered their first home loss since Jan. 23.
"I actually thought we played better tonight than we did (Friday) night," said Sharks head coach Roy Sommer in a post game interview with Bill Doyle of Telegram.com. "We came out of own end better. I thought defensively we were better, we didn't have extended time in our own end like we did (Friday) night. We got some bounces (Friday). We didn't get any (Saturday)."
IceCaps forwards Jason Jaffray and Chase Balisy scored two power play goals inside a 38-second span of the first period after Sharks enforcer Jimmy Bonneau was questionably assessed a five-minute major and game misconduct for elbowing IceCaps defenseman Julien Brouillette at 10:35.
Brouillette laid prone on the ice, picked his head up, put it back down and then hopped right up after the penalty to Bonneau was announced over the public address system.
Jaffray scored on a wrist shot from just inside the top of the right faceoff circle that got through traffic and beat Sharks goaltender Troy Grosenick blocker side at 14:01 for his sixth goal of the season, which held up as the game winning goal.
Balisy added the insurance goal 38-seconds later with a snap shot from deep inside the right faceoff circle that beat a screened Grosenick top shelf blocker side for his 14th goal of the season after the Sharks had failed to clear the zone.
Though the Sharks fired 11, 21 and 18 shots on goal by period, Hellebuyck turned them all aside for his sixth shutout of the season in a strong bounce back performance after allowing four goals on 27 shots Friday night.
"I didn't think we were in tight enough on him (Hellebuyck)," said Sommer. "We didn't get a lot of second opportunities. We were like one and out. But you put 50 shots on to their 22, you're playing pretty good hockey."
NOTES... Shots on goal were 50-22 in favor of the Sharks... The Sharks went 0-for-3 on the power play and 4-for-6 on the penalty kill... Grosenick made 20 saves but had his seven game winning streak snapped... Grosenick is now 16-7-3 with a 2.66 goals-against-average and .905 save percentage... Sharks forward Eriah Hayes had a game high seven shots on goal... Before the game, forward Chris Tierney was reassigned from San Jose and will be available for the Sharks' next game... The Sharks went 7-2-1 in the month of February... This was the sixth of eight meetings between the Sharks and IceCaps this season... The Sharks are 3-2-1 against the IceCaps, 17-8-3 at the DCU Center and 30-18-6 with 66 points overall... The Sharks wrap up their three-in-three weekend with a Sunday afternoon game on the road against the Manchester Monarchs at 3 p.m/et.
1. Connor Hellebuyck - IceCaps (50 saves, Shutout Win)
2. Chase Balisy - IceCaps (1-0-1)
3. Jason Jaffray - IceCaps (1-0-1)
McCarthy / Carpenter / Hayes
Lerg (C) / Trupp / Parkes
Haley (A) / Oleksuk / Hamilton
Bonneau / Schwartz / Coetzee
Taormina (A) / Tennyson
DeMelo / Doherty
Young / Fedun