With any realistic hope of the playoffs long dead, the Sharks lost tonight in Ottawa to at least temporarily improve their fledgling odds of drafting Connor McDavid in June to 5% provided the Dallas Stars beat the Buffalo Sabres. San Jose's loss came in identical fashion to their defeat at the hands of the Senators a month ago on home ice, when the Sharks carried a 2-1 lead in the third period only to see Ottawa score three goals in the final frame. History repeated itself tonight and, as he did on February 28th, Senators winger Mike Hoffman capped the night with an empty-netter, securing a 5-2 win that leapfrogs Ottawa over Boston and into the Eastern Conference's final Wild Card playoff spot.
Apart from their resurgent second period, there aren't a whole lot of moral victories to draw from this game for the Sharks. They looked thoroughly outclassed by the Senators' speed in the neutral zone and had little recourse to counter it apart from dumping the puck in and hoping Ottawa would be gassed by the time they regained the offensive blueline. The Sens' third line of Erik Condra, Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Curtis Lazar wreaked havoc in San Jose's zone, hemming every line they matched up against in their own end and eventually producing the back-breaker on a 3-on-1 with six and a half minutes remaining.
Ultimately, though, the Sharks are best served by losing as many games as possible down the stretch at this point to improve their draft position as well as their still-miniscule odds of landing a franchise player. So to that end, this game was a rousing success.
- Melker Karlsson has more points (thanks Joe Thornton!) but there's no question in my mind Chris Tierney has been the Sharks' most impressive rookie this season. Perhaps it's just correlation without causation but it really seems like that stint in the AHL significantly helped Tierney's development as he's been far more effective since the recall than he was to start the season. There's a lesson there as the Sharks continue this development phase.
- Taking a penalty behind the play while on a 3-on-1 odd-man attack was perfectly emblematic of this season of Sharks hockey.
- As Dan Saraceni pointed out on Twitter, Senators fans were probably particularly interested in who the Sharks' captain is because that's how their team determines who gets shipped out of town.
- The worst part about the Senators' building being renamed the Canadian Tire Centre is that this great 30 Rock bit is no longer relevant:
- Tomas Hertl and Ottawa Senators rookie Curtis Lazar are secretly the same person
Okay, these are the closest pics I could find. Guess which one is Tomas Hertl and which one is Curtis Lazar. pic.twitter.com/s4jY7usJYt— Carrie (@NearIdleLark) March 10, 2015
FTF Three Stars
1st Star: Mika Zibanejad
2nd Star: Jean-Gabriel Pageau
3rd Star: Mike Hoffman