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Sharks second power play unit swims in sea of stoppages

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The SAP Center lost power last night, but the Sharks’ second power play unit certainly didn’t.

Somehow, the rink got darker than it did in this picture last night. Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

SAN JOSE — Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer’s path through the coaching ranks prepared him for the peculiar proceedings that delayed San Jose’s 3-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets last night.

“Oh yeah,” DeBoer answered when asked if he’d coached in a game with a power outage.

“You coach junior hockey in Canada for fifteen years, you see your share of power outages.”

With 2:42 left in the second period, the SAP Center’s overhead lights dimmed to nearly pitch-black, as the arena was lit only by the red display on the scoreboard ribbon lining the top of the lower deck, and the looping Sharks logo on the jumbotron.

The teams were sent to their respective dressing rooms, and the second period resumed after the second intermission, as required by rule 77.3 in the NHL rulebook which covers “unusual” delays:

If any unusual delay occurs within five (5) minutes of the end of the first or second periods, the Referee may order the next regular intermission to be taken immediately. The balance of the period will be completed on the resumption of play with the teams defending the same goals after which the teams will change ends and resume play of the ensuing period without delay.

Nine minutes after the game resumed, play would stop again for another delay. The lights stayed on, but the officials determined that Chris Tierney did not stay onside, and Brenden Dillon’s goal that doubled the Sharks’ lead was disallowed after a review that lasted nearly seven minutes.

“It was definitely a long game,” forward Joel Ward told reporters in the locker room postgame. “I don’t know what time it is right now, but with [the lights] and the disallowed goal, it felt like it was a triple overtime type of game.”

The lights dimmed and the officials took their time with a review, while the Sharks’ second unit power play shined and wasted no time. The group scored on both of San Jose’s power play opportunities, which proved to be the difference in a game where the team struggled to score at even strength.

“Right now, the five-on-five goals are hard to come by,” DeBoer said about the Sharks, who have scored just one goal playing five aside in their last three games. “We’re creating chances, but the power play won us the game tonight.”

The second unit’s first goal on the night was Joonas Donskoi’s first of the season. David Schlemko’s assist on the goal was also his first of the year. Schlemko was involved on the unit’s second goal, too. His pass along the blue line set up Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s shot, which rebounded off of Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky directly to Tomas Hertl for the eventual game-winning goal.

Entering last night’s game, Schlemko had the highest shot rate of any Shark that’s played at least ten minutes on the man advantage, and trailed only Brent Burns in individual shot attempt rate. Last night’s breakthrough was a long time coming.

“I think it was nice for our unit to get a couple [of goals],” Schlemko said. “[We’ve] had some chances here, but nice to finally see a couple go in.”

The assists were a first for Schlemko in teal, just as the power outage was for his career. The same, however, cannot be said about the recipient of his first assist. Joonas Donskoi said he’s seen stranger stoppages.

“My last year in Finland, the ice broke a couple of times.” Donskoi said above laughs from reporters. “There was like a two, maybe one-and-a-half hour delay in the game, and we just kept going after that.

“That was even worse, so I don’t think [tonight] was too bad.”