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Quick Bites: Jones terrific as Sharks fall 2-1 to Red Wings in shootout

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44 saves wasn’t enough to earn the Sharks a win.

In the second stop of the five game roadie, San Jose played in Detroit tonight for the first time outside of Joe Louis Arena and came out on the wrong side of a seven round shootout. Coming off a generally good performance in the loss against the Penguins last night, San Jose came into tonight looking to snag some points in an ultra-competitive Pacific and Western Conference. The Sharks were also looking to snap a three game losing streak.

While they salvaged a point and played well enough to win, the streak extends to four losses. Things got off to a good start for Team Teal however. Mikkel Bødker missed the net up high on a two-on-one in the first shift of the game from a great Marc-Édouard Vlasic pass. Timo Meier, who initially looked to be scratched for tonight’s game after sitting out the pre-game warmups, drew a penalty with a good power move to the net. Again Hot Boed missed up high on Petr Mrazek. Logan Couture then rang one off the post shortly thereafter.

Both the Boed Man (ok I’ll stop) and Couture, as well as Barclay Goodrow, got good scoring chances later in the period but failed to convert as the Sharks looked to be purposefully shooting high on Mrazek. The Sharks ended the first frame scoreless after a funny sequence between Burns and Hertl at the end of the period. Burns passed to Hertl on a two-on-one, but Hertl had just lost his stick and couldn’t kick it in for the tap-in, obviously, so just kind of held it in his skates for a second. Burns followed that up with a burner from the point on an offside where Tomas had to collapse full-body on the ice to avoid getting Couture'd.

Jones and Mrazek both looked sharp after one period of play and continued that trend into the second. Darren Helm’s Deep missed the net for Detroit on a breakaway after a Joakim Ryan tumble. He then followed that up with a grade A wraparound bid which would’ve resulted in the game’s first goal had Timo Meier not broken up his attempt with an active stick. An ill-advised between-the-legs pass from Joonas Donskoi, as he was right in front of the Wings’ net, intended for Bødker led to a two-on-one turnover chance for the Wings at the tail end of their power play, which Jones again saved.

Jones was sharp in the first but straight terrific by the end of two. Aaron Dell’s play this year had me thinking of packaging Jones for a star like Tavares at the deadline. While the Sharks would get very lucky in a scenario like that, Jones’ calmness in net – what they’d call ‘net presence’ if you will – allows him to stay in position, and along with his rebound control, makes me rethink the idea of total parity between our two Shark goaltenders. His 44-save performance tonight was outstanding and a clear example of why he’s the number one goaltender. Good for DeBoer to recognize the importance of giving Jones the chance to demonstrate this and give him the start despite the back-to-back, which Dell normally would play in and I definitely thought should before the game started tonight.

Mrazek’s glove matched Jones’ play in the period, and a Henrik Zetterberg interference on Joel Ward led to a Wings power play. The PP carried over into the third after Vlasic’s stick held up an Atheneciu (A-T-H-A-N-A-S-I-O-U – Athanasiou!) would-be tap-in. San Jose dodged a bullet in the first few minutes of the final frame, or so we thought, after Detroit fired an onslaught of pucks towards the net. Justin Braun played terrific tonight too, and blocked a key shot and a number of shots as a whole throughout the night.

Detroit’s Dylan Larkin rifled a backhander high and wide on a two-on-one later in the period, but that’s okay because Vlasic returned the favor by shooting high on Mrazek after a good feed from Couture. The Sharks carried some good zone play later in the period, and Pavelski rang a backhander off the post before Detroit finally got the game’s first goal moments later. Couture had fallen off a breakout in the neutral zone and before the turnover, you knew that if the puck didn’t get deep, that it was trouble. Trevor Daley in his first game back from injury, squeaked one by Jones after collecting the turnover.

With just over five minutes left in the game, a Luke Glendening broken stick gave the Sharks good zone time in a sort of make-shift power play. This ad-hoc PP resulted in Kevin collecting his money (the puck) and sending it to the bank (the net) with a wicked wrister from the point.

The teams traded a few chances in the final minutes before skating off for extra time to decide the contest.

Jones again was phenomenal and made a save off Larkin in the first shift of OT, and after a non-call on a Detroit hook on Vlasic, San Jose had to kill off a power play. The penalty to Burns was questionable at best, but with the help of Jones and Braun, San Jose were able to send the game to the shootout.

Pavelski, Couture, and Tierney all scored terrific shootout goals for the Sharks in the skills contest, while Nyquist, Athanasiou, Tatar, and Abdelkader each scored pretty goals of their own for the Reddest of Wings to end their own five game home losing streak and collect the win.

San Jose (26-16-8) looks to end the losing streak in Columbus on Friday (4PM PT).

Notes:

  • Braun in his excellent game took a stinger to the foot in the second but didn’t miss a beat;
  • The Vlasic/Braun pairing were terrific and logged some heavy minutes against Detroit’s top players;
  • The Sharks (and a lot of NHL scouts in the press box) had a chance to see a showcasing of Tomas Tatar as we approach the trade deadline. While the young Czech didn’t have the most eye-popping game, he did demonstrate his sweet set of hands in the shootout;
  • There were quite a number of odd man rush opportunities for a fairly low-scoring game;
  • DeBoer played the line blender game in the second to spark some offense and chemistry. At one various points we saw Ward-Couture-Meier, Karlsson-Hertl-Labanc, Donskoi-Couture-Meier, and Boedker-Tierney-Pavelski.
  • Martin Jones, at least in this game, looked to bring his 2016 playoff run play back. That should get Sharks fans pretty pumped - even after a shootout loss.