The Sharks (9-7-0) wasted an herculean effort from Aaron Dell in his second career NHL start (you can insert your own Frozen joke here) against the Hurricanes (5-6-4), and were consistently outplayed throughout. A team against whom the Sharks have struggled in recent history (3-6-0 since the ‘Canes cup win in 2006), continued their dominance on a night where San Jose just couldn’t get going, and were outshot 33-22. The Sharks are now 3-1-0 so far on this road trip with two games to go.
The Carolina Hurricanes spent the last few years as a stellar possession team submarined by poor goaltending, partially due to a slavish dedication to one Cameron J. Ward (probably not his full name). This year has been no different, as general manager Ron Francis re-signed Ward to a two year, 6.6 million dollar deal, and the Hurricanes have posted a Corsi for percentage of 53.27 through 14 games, good for fourth in the NHL. A save percentage of .898 will rain on that parade, however, and stick the Hurricanes comfortably on their favorite couch in the NHL’s basement. Re-signing Ward seems to have been a pretty major mistake, unless the league were structured in a way that rewarded losing lots of hockey games somehow, but that would be ridiculous.
Matt Nieto finally drew back into the lineup Thursday evening, and made his presence known with a streaking two on one with Chris Tierney 13 minutes into the first period. Ward was up to the task, however, making a solid left pad save that was promptly cleaned up by a back checking Noah Hanifin.
[HIGHLIGHT] Cam Ward made all 12 saves in the first period, including this one on Matt Nieto. #SJSvsCAR #Redvolution pic.twitter.com/nQwM9giWx9— Carolina Hurricanes (@NHLCanes) November 16, 2016
An exciting back-and-forth first period ended scoreless however, due in part to huge saves on Jordan Staal and Kevin Labanc, Canes outshooting the Sharks 13-12.
The Sharks entered the second period with a feckless effort, and were held without a shot on net for the first 12:18 of the frame, outshot on the period 10-2. It started to come together in the last five minutes, as head coach Pete Deboer shuffled the lines up radically, but this kind of effort would not do for another 20. Aaron Dell was up to the task however, making more than a few highlight reel saves, like this pair on a two on one by Lee Stempniak and Brock McGinn.
A dell-ightful save by the #SJSharks goalie. pic.twitter.com/0TFyxeTlsq— San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) November 16, 2016
The Sharks looked a little better in the third, but play was still largely controlled by Carolina. The Hurricanes eventually broke through at 10:48 of the third period, as a three on two into the Sharks’ zone turned into a pretty persistence goal by Joakim Nordstrom, his first of the season. Dell stopped a shot off of a great cross-ice pass from Viktor Stalberg to Nordstrom, but the rebound bounced off of Patrick Marleau in front of the net, and Nordstrom doubled back through the crease, and waited out Dell and a frozen Brendan Dillon for a smooth backhand past Dell’s outstretched left leg.
[Goal GIF] @Jo92No follows up his own shot to put the #Canes on the board! #Redvolution #SJSvsCAR pic.twitter.com/gzs0FnslTE— Carolina Hurricanes (@NHLCanes) November 16, 2016
Dell made a few more great saves as the period wound down for good measure, but goalies don’t score goals, and time ran out as the listless Sharks skated to a 1-0 loss.
- The Sharks slept through long stretches of this game, and the shot count reflects this, as they were outshot 33-22, score effects making that differential look less embarrassing that it was, not to mention a brutal face off percentage of 31%. We have to give due credit to the Hurricanes, however, as they took advantage of a rare quiet night for the Sharks, winning battles and pouncing on mistakes all over the ice.
- One game is about as small a sample size as can be, but hopefully this encourages coach Deboer to trust his back up, as Aaron Dell looked great tonight, despite being absolutely shelled by a young, skilled Hurricanes squad.
- The Sharks’ fourth line was a bright spot for much of the first 40, as Nieto, Tierney, and Tommy Wingels looked at times like the only Sharks who showed up ready for work.
- Cam Ward wasn’t tested overmuch over the course of the game, but he was there when it counted, and made a few big saves at key times.
- Aaron Dell
- Joakim Nordstrom
- Cam Ward