Coming off back to back losses that saw the Sharks drop from first place in the Pacific to third, the Sharks (26-16-2) torched the Jets (20-23-4) at home on a matinee Monday afternoon. While many San Jose fans were likely disappointed at being unable to see Finnish phenom and the NHL’s rookie scoring leader Patrik Laine live, they didn’t seem as disappointed as the Jets players themselves, as Martin Jones held the Jets to two goals on 27 shots.
Winnipeg was juiced from their 3-2 loss in LA on Saturday, and here came the Jets like a bat out of hell, flying in the first, with eight shots in the first ten minutes, including some quality chances and some extended offensive zone time, but Martin Jones was up to the task, making some key stops early.
After cashing in a 27.6% success rate on the power play since 12/24, the Jets man advantage was moribund, not only failing to capitalize on two phantom calls on David Schlemko and Chris Tierney (Tierney’s first penalty of the season, kiss that Lady Byng goodbye, Cobra), but surrendering a shorthanded goal to Joel Ward. Ward caught a long rim around on a breakaway and placed a beauty in the far corner past Michael Hutchinson at 1:54. It was Ward’s fourth goal of the season, and his second shorty.
By the end of the first, San Jose had woken up, thanks in large part to Ward’s shorty, and in small part to Michael Haley’s scrap with Mark Stuart, and the shot clock had evened out at 11.
Joel Ward wasn’t done yet, and he took a big hit from Stuart along the boards to make a bigger play, lobbing the puck forward to a streaking Timo Meier. Meier took advantage of the distraction and confusion among the Jets’ ranks after the Stuart hit to sneak the puck underneath Hutchinson’s glove for his second of the season at 2:45 of the second, with a shot that was oh so pretty and witty and gay.
It was a day for destroying pre-game special teams narratives, apparently, as Brent Burns put the Sharks up 3-0 on a power play brought about by Paul Postma closing his hand over the puck. The Sharks’ power play has been an issue lately, scoring 15 goals on 106 chances for a 14.1% rate since the first of November. Nobody told Burns that, apparently, and a huge point shot bounced off of the back boards, and was inadvertently kicked into the net by Hutchinson at 7:08.
At 17:30, Dustin Byfuglien moved from 11th up to ninth in the league in penalty minutes with 64, as a double minor high stick against Joe Thornton gave the Sharks a four minute power play. San Jose failed to convert in the dying minutes of the second, but they skated into the locker room with the man advantage, a 3-0 lead on the scoreboard, and a 25-15 lead on the shot clock on a rapidly tilting ice sheet.
The high sticking fest continued in the third, when Mathieu Perrault put his team shorthanded again with a high stick on Marc-Edouard Vlasic as the Jets got chippier, trying to salvage the day not with sticks or with pucks, but with hate. But Sharks can score, too, because now they have hate, and the cobra struck at 11:41, taking advantage of some sloppy defensive play in the Winnipeg zone to put the Sharks up 4-0.
When you’re a Jet, you’re a Jet all the way, and credit to Winnipeg for keeping the pressure on in a game that was way out of reach, as an absurd Jones save on Drew Stafford was overshadowed by a Josh Morrissey goal off the following faceoff with 2:36 remaining in the third. Jones got a little bit greedy, maybe, with 15 seconds left on the clock, and an ill advised clear (or empty net goal) attempt bounced off of Mark Scheifele, who capitalized late for his 20th of the season. A Joe Thornton empty net goal sealed it up, however, and the Sharks skated to a 5-2 win over the Jets, in a game that didn’t seem that close after the first period. The Jets head to Arizona with nothing to show for this California trip save one little point, but maybe they’ll find a way of forgiving, somewhere.
- Martin Jones kept the Sharks in through a hectic first ten minutes, if Winnipeg scored early, this game would likely have had a very different complexion
- The Sharks absolutely dominated possession after that first ten, which was reassuring after a pair of losses had engendered a bit of talk about the Sharks lackluster power play and general scoring woes.
- The Jets team save percentage was a tragic .901 coming into this game, and I’m not a mathemagician, but I don’t think this’ll help that very much.
Fear the Fin Three Stars
- Martin Jones
- Joel Ward
- Brent Burns