It became apparent from the first shift on just what kind of game this was going to be — though perhaps it was clear to others when they saw a bottom-third team on the schedule. Just as the Sharks have lost to the Oilers and Sabres of the world, they split the season-series with a team that by all accounts doesn't want to win on a night that Los Angeles and Vancouver both picked up big wins against much better Eastern Conference teams.
Tomas Hertl scored twice and picked up an assist, while Chris Tierney picked up a pair of points in a loss that makes San Jose's grasp on a Pacific Division playoff spot all the more tenuous. Carolina outshot San Jose 30-27 and had four power plays compared to just one for the Sharks.
Eric Staal opened the scoring and tallied the only first period goal as he wound up alone in front of the crease just in time to catch and shoot a rebound off those lively end boards that beat Antti Niemi, who was unable to get his left skate up against the post in time.
The Canes would make it 2-0 on a defense-splitting move by Andrej Nestrasil before Hertl scored his first goal of the night. That would end up being the only bright spot of a second period that saw the Sharks outshot 10-8 and out corsi'd 23-12.
San Jose came out with their fins on fire in the third period, tying the game quickly on goals from Hertl and Logan Couture, but the deadlock wasn't to last as Carolina slowly tilted the ice in their favor before Andrej Sekera scored just his second goal of the year on a bad play and then some bad puck luck.
The Sharks are back in action against the Flames on Monday, where they will almost certainly disappoint you again.
- Marc-Edouard Vlasic didn't play tonight thanks to some sort of an illness. Playing without your best defenseman makes it more difficult to win hockey games, I hear.
- Melker Karlsson took a puck off the inside of his knee in the third period but was able to return to the bench shortly after.
- The Sharks just aren't as good as they were last year by any metric, so it will be interesting to see if there's any upgrades on the way or if this "rebuild" will begin in earnest at the trade deadline. It's hard to imagine this group is good enough to do more than win a first-round playoff series.
- Carolina isn't as bad as their record would have you believe — they have better possession numbers than the Ducks this year, they just don't have the goaltending or the stupendous luck of Anaheim to go with it.
- Regardless, I can't imagine this loss is being taken particularly well by the coaching staff who saw their team play phenomenally against the Canucks just a couple of nights ago.
- Back down the chutes.
FTF Three Stars
1st Star: Tomas Hertl
2nd Star: Chris Tierney
3rd Star: Eric Staal