Just like their meeting against Tampa Bay on Wednesday, the Sharks scored early tonight against Vancouver. A few minutes into the game it looked as if the Sharks would lose possession during a breakout attempt, when Justin Braun recovered the puck and fired a stretch pass to Logan Couture.
After a bit of a cycle, Couture slid the puck to Braun, who let a wrist shot go that bounced off Canucks’ goalie Jacob Markstrom’s pad, Tomas Hertl’s leg, then into the net.
Nine minutes in, Timo Meier completed a zone entry on a delayed penalty call. After twisting through multiple Canucks in the neutral zone, he fired a wrist shot from a few feet inside the left dot that ricocheted off the bottom of Markstrom’s arm before it bounced along the ice, into the post, then out. (If you’re interested in the Sharks’ prospects and solid gifs, give @zakkthebear a follow.)
The Sharks had two power play opportunities in the first period. They looked fine, if nothing else. Heed whiffed on a one-timer from the circle that may have otherwise been a solid opportunity. A positive sign for the power play: It seems as though the coaches and players are aware of the extra-man team’s struggles and have been trying to generate shots from areas other than the point. For a few seconds during the man advantage, Brent Burns was playing in the slot.
The score was 1-0 Sharks at the end of the first, but the Canucks were lucky to have walked away without allowing more goals. The Sharks attempted 18 of 30 shots at even strength, good for 60 percent. They outshot the Canucks 10-5 at evens and generated six of the eight high-danger chances in the opening 20.
The second period followed the first, as is customary. San Jose took a penalty on their own power play, which has also become customary. During the Vancouver power play, the teams exchanged two-on-one rushes to no avail from either side. At some point during the long, winding journey between 5v4, 4v4, and 4v5 play, Brent Burns nailed the post on a shot, because life is unfair.
Knowing perhaps that the Sharks were more likely to allow a goal than to score one themselves on the power play, Vancouver took a fourth penalty halfway through the second period. After a patented Brent Burns starfish maneuver against a two-on-one opportunity toward the end of said power play, Aaron Dell’s glove was just quick enough to prevent a goal. The sequence was the Canucks’ most dangerous chance to that point in the game.
Markstrom’s reflexes were tested equally, as he was forced to make his own shorthanded save on a Logan Couture shot from the circle. Unfortunately for Markstrom, Hertl dug the puck out of a corner with a bouncing pass to lead Couture back though the neutral zone moments later. Couture had more time, more space, and was able to position himself between the goalie and the defender for the deke and Sharks’ second goal of the evening.
The Canucks might want to keep buying the brand of sports beverage they enjoyed during the first intermission. They came back onto the ice with gusto, out-attempting the Sharks 17-5 at 5v5, pulling ahead in the overall shots attempted column 29-24.
Helpful holdup play by Joe Thornton two-thirds of the way through the third period led to an exciting chance for Joe Pavelski that was made less exciting after a save and cleared rebound. On the other side of the ice, Aaron Dell rose after the whistle with the puck in his glove following a flurry of Vancouver shots. Even he seemed unwilling to believe the rubber disc was there and not in the back of the net.
The period proceeded without much of anything to speak of. Eventually the Sharks added empty-net tallies from Logan Couture and Chris Tierney. After the referees sent off Timo Meier for a game misconduct and an oddly called elbowing penalty, Tierney added his second of the night and second in only one minute of play on a penalty shot.
San Jose finished with just 41 percent (or 44 percent when adjusted for the score and venue) of all the attempted shots on the evening. They have their miserable second period and leading for most of the game to thank for that.
Aaron Dell, who might even be a good goalie, stopped all 41 shots he faced (which amounted to nearly two goals saved above average at evens, per corsica.hockey) for the shutout. Timo Meier led the way at the other end with five shots, three shots on goal and three individual scoring chances (per naturalstattrick.com). If the hockey gods exist, they must surely allow the young forward to score again, eventually.
The Marc-Edouard Vlasic/Logan Couture shutdown group failed to fully shut down the Horvat - Baertschi - Boeser line, conceding four scoring chances and five shots on goal at even strength. The eight defensive zone faceoffs and coach DeBoer’s relentless pursuit of matchups likely inflate those numbers somewhat.
While the final goal count must feel warm after Wednesday night’s ice cold effort against the Lightning, the Sharks only outscored their opponents tonight 1-0 while playing 5v5 hockey. San Jose has been outscored by three goals at evens this season, something they’ll need to fix to find sustained success. Stellar goaltending performances and shorthanded theatrics are entertaining, but those facets don’t tend to predict teams’ ultimate goal: hockey in June.