The Sharks (19-12-1) handily defeated the Calgary Flames (17-15-2) Tuesday night, riding a great performance by Martin Jones and a two goal night by Joonas Donskoi to a 4-1 win.
The Sharks broke a three way tie for first in the Pacific Division with Edmonton and Anaheim to move two points up with a game in hand over both clubs. The Flames, coming off of a 4-2 win in Arizona the night before, looked the part, playing a largely undisciplined game that showed signs of fatigue.
In a game where the Flames built a summer home in the SAP Center penalty box, the Sharks broke out with four even strength goals in Joe Thornton’s 1400th NHL game.
The red hot Flames power play (pun intended) was a non factor tonight, as the Flames only earned one opportunity with the man advantage, despite giving up five. Regardless, Calgary’s penalty kill was up to the task, as all five goals were scored at even strength.
Both teams struggled to generate any sustained pressure through a first period punctuated by Flames penalties. Calgary, the NHL’s most penalized team, has had plenty of practice over the course of the season killing off these infractions. The Flames kill, 6th place in the NHL on the road at 85%, was aggressive and effective, holding the Sharks scoreless. The Sharks started to coordinate a little near the end of the period, when a welcome flurry in front of goaltender Chad Johnson was cut short by the buzzer, Sharks outshooting the Flames 11-6.
The game seemed to open up a bit in the second, with both teams seeing some decent chances, and playing with a little more urgency. Patrick Marleau put one of those chances home at 5:35 of the period, pouncing on a rebound from a Marc-Edouard Vlasic slap shot, and tucking it backhand past Johnson’s left leg. Look at how effectively Joe Pavelski takes Mark Giordano out of the play in front of the net, not worth an assist this time, but instrumental textbook net front grit from the captain.
Pavelski’s tenacity paid off again a few minutes later, as he fought his way into the crease to screen Chad Johnson’s view of a Paul Martin point shot at 9:18. Martin’s slap shot from the point grazed Michael Frolik’s stick on the way to the net, and bounced strangely right under the screened Johnson’s glove.
The Sharks weren’t done yet, as the Sharks depth scoring woke up and Joonas Donskoi made it 3-0 at 14:23. Tommy Wingels draws Jyrki Jokipakka behind the net along with Johnson’s undivided attention, and dishes a pass to a wide open Donskoi who fulfills his destiny and knocks the puck into the open net.
At 16:19 of the period, it started to become apparent that this Flames team was feeling the fatigue from the night before, and were starting to get frustrated, as a series of defensive breakdowns in their own zone led to Donskoi’s second goal of the night. Marleau finished a cycle down low and fed the puck to Chris Tierney, who gave it away to Mikael Backlund in front. Backlund, being a gentleman, gave it right back to Donskoi, who danced through a good chunk of the Flames roster to tuck the puck past an out of position Chad Johnson. The Sharks scored four goals in a period for the first time this season, and led the Flames 4-0 after two, outshooting Calgary 25-16.
The Flames got on the board at 1:19 of the third, as Sam Bennett took advantage of a defensive miscommunication between Brent Burns and Dylan DeMelo. Bennett picked up a clean drop pass from Matthew Tkachuk and, using DeMelo as a screen, snapped the puck past Martin Jones and into the net to make it 4-1.
The Flames continued their hostile occupation of the penalty box into the third, recording three more minor penalties, but also continued their suffocation of the Sharks’ power play, killing all three. The Sharks shut down the defensive end for the last few minutes to close out the game 4-1.
- I was hesitant to jump on the Timo train early, partially due to the pre-draft scouting reports I remember in 2015 that said he was 2-3 years away, and partially due to my being a hipster. Watching him tonight, though, it’s pretty hard not to be optimistic. He’s confident, quick, and has a great net front presence and shoot first mentality.
- With two assists tonight, Joe Thornton has 1363 points in 1400 NHL games. Not too bad for an old fella.
- Good to see Dylan DeMelo get some playing time, he’s not going to get any better in the press box.
- We saw a few point streaks end tonight. Brent Burns’ ends at eight, Johnny Gaudreau’s ends at seven, and Sean Monahan’s ends at 10.
Fear the Fin Three Stars
- Joonas Donskoi
- Martin Jones
- Joe Pavelski