The Sharks did not get off to the greatest of starts tonight. Mathieu Perreault redirected a Nikolaj Ehlers’ shot just 18 seconds into the first period on the first shift of the game. I say “redirected,” but Brent Burns had him tied up and the puck glanced off of Perreault’s skate and past Aaron Dell.
Winnipeg is not a team that you want to spot an early lead. So, of course, the Sharks let the Jets score a second goal before the game was five minutes old. On a quick transition play, the Jets easily moved the puck into a good scoring chance, which Joel Armia converted.
The Sharks ability to come back was compromised when Tomas Hertl was given a five minute major and a game misconduct for boarding Dmitry Kulikov at 8:13 in the first. Kulikov was bloodied and immediately left the ice. He did not return to the game. The hit will likely result in a conversation with the Department of Player Safety.
5min + Game Misconduct for Hertl. Suppose the NHL has put a larger responsibility on the “hitter” in this situation. pic.twitter.com/9q4vPiJJPX— Brodie Brazil (@BrodieNBCS) January 24, 2018
The penalty was mitigated, somewhat, as Jacob Trouba took a roughing penalty against Hertl, so the Sharks only had to kill off the final three minutes of the major. Thank goodness for small miracles, because I shudder to think what the Jets would have done with a full five minute power play. The Jets did manage one goal with the man advantage. Tyler Myers ripped a shot from the blue line, and it was tipped by Bryan Little to put Winnipeg up 3-0 with just over eight minutes left in the period.
The Sharks were able to cut into that lead late in the first. Dylan Demelo and Brenden Dillon aggressively attacked the Winnipeg zone, resulting in some nice puck movement before Joe Pavelski ripped a shot past Connor Hellebuyck. 3-1 Jets after the first.
The second period opened with the teams trading chances, none of which were especially dangerous, including a Sharks power play. The game continued like this for nearly ten minutes, before Logan Couture scored to pull the Sharks back to within one goal. It was not a dangerous looking play, as the Jets had numbers back. Couture attempted a centering pass that was broken up, but the puck wound up back on his stick. Couture did not hesitate to fire it past Hellebuyck.
The Sharks continued to pressure after Couture’s goal, and were rewarded with a power play after Blake Wheeler was penalized for high-sticking Timo Meier. With the man advantage, Joe Thornton found Chris Tierney at the side of the net, and the Cobra banged in his twelfth goal of the season.
The final minutes of the second were a messy, scrambling affair. The Jets had a couple of great chances to score, including a breakaway by Ehlers and a puck that squeaked through Dell’s pads, but the second ended tied 3-3.
Both teams had some good chances early in the third, but none better than a breakaway by Joe Pavelski, which was turned aside by Hellebuyck. Patrick Laine had a beautiful chance that Dell stopped. Kevin Labanc and Couture had a nice 2-on-1 that they couldn’t convert. Very exciting, entertaining hockey was played by both teams, but the goalies were equal to the challenge.
On a play that did not look dangerous as it began, Joel Armia shot the puck between Joakim Ryan’s legs. Dell could not get his glove on it, and Winnipeg was back on top 4-3 with just over eight minutes left in the game. Considering the chances that had gone begging, this goal felt really anticlimactic.
But the Sharks kept pressing, and 15:20, Timo Meier banged a puck behind Hellebuyck for his eleventh of the season to tie the game back up at four a piece.
Immediately following the goal, Dustin Byfuglien high-sticked Meier, and the Sharks went on a power play. The best chance came from Meier, who threw a backhander on net that looked like is was going in. So much so that the goal light came on, but Hellebuyck kept the game even.
The third period ended 4-4, and we went to overtime. Unfortunately for the Sharks, the game ended exactly as it started: with the Jets scoring 18 seconds into the frame. Bryan Little scored his tenth goal of the season to give the Jets two points.
Considering the Sharks played without Joonas Donskoi for the whole game (he was out sick with the flu) and Hertl for most of it, taking a point from a game, in which they spotted a three goal lead to a very good team, getting a loser point tonight seems like a pretty fair outcome.
- Pavelski’s goal was his first in 21 games, breaking the longest scoring drought of his career.
- The Jets are a good team who have some players that are all kinds of fun to watch.
- The Sharks played a video tribute to radio announcer Dan Rusanowsky, congratulating him on calling his 2000th regular season game:
- Joe Thornton is now four behind Mario Lemieux for eleventh place in career assists.
- With about thirty seconds left in the third, Thornton and Mikkel Boedker collided, and Thornton headed straight to the dressing room. He was not on the bench for overtime. It looked awkward and his knee was involved. Commence breath holding.