A pretty bad first period and a really bad penalty kill performance drowned the Sharks in Toronto.
The Maple Leafs got on the board first when the Sharks’ penalty kill left both Auston Matthews and John Tavares unmarked. Tavares and Matthews each scored twice for the Leafs.
The Sharks’ penalty kill allowed a goal on three of Toronto’s four power plays. That’s not an outcome you’d expect from a penalty kill that was ranked first in the league coming into this game. Watching the penalty kill, though, it’s not surprising that’s how it turned out. They didn’t cover Matthews and Tavares on the first goal and didn’t have a guy on Matthews in the left circle later in the first period.
Tomas Hertl tied the game on the Sharks’ first power play of the game halfway through the first period. The 1-1 tie was the last time the Sharks were really in the game.
The Sharks took 41 shots on goal and had a few pushes of sustained offensive pressure, but only scored one even-strength goal late in the third period when it didn’t really matter, anyway.
The Sharks’ defense isn’t successful right now, as this three-game losing streak has shown. A change needs to be made somewhere, somehow.
The San Jose Sharks (12-8-5, 2nd Pacific) meet the Toronto Maple Leafs (17-8-0, 3rd Atlantic) tonight in the second half of the second of three consecutive pairs of back to back games. What? The convoluted nature of that sentence reflects the particular brutality of this stretch of the Sharks’ schedule, containing four back to back pairs containing only one home game in a stretch of just over two weeks.
Tonight’s may be the hardest test of that entire stretch, though, as the already formidable Maple Leafs welcome back their top line (?) center, and native-Californian Auston Matthews after missing 14 games with a shoulder injury courtesy of Winnipeg Jet Jacob Trouba. While Toronto’s 9-5-0 record during Matthews’ absence is impressive, they stand to improve further with his return.
The Sharks’ 4-1-1 road trip seems a distant and peaceful memory, as they’re 1-1-2 in their past four after handing the Buffalo Sabres their tenth straight win in overtime last night. The Leafs are rested, having topped the Boston Bruins on Monday by a score of 4-2, largely on the back of yet another dominant performance by goaltender Frederik Andersen, who made 38 saves, and whose .947 save percentage in his last nine games leads all goalies with at least six appearances in that time period.
The Sharks are in tough to crack Andersen and his Matthews led forward corps tonight, but will be rewarded with two days’ rest before traveling to Kanata to take on the Ottawa Senators on Saturday afternoon.
Dell will get a chance to unsully his name after the 6-0 shellacking the Vegas Golden Knights gave to the Sharks on Saturday, though placing much blame on Dell for that performance seems a little unfair. Radil has played well enough for the Sharks to hold down his spot on the fourth line, but he’ll be shifted to wing tonight as Antti Suomela draws back in. Timo Meier, possibly still dealing with an injury from last night, will sit out.
Sharks projected lines:
Scratched: Timo Meier, Radim Simek, Tim Heed
As mentioned above, Matthews returns to the Leafs lineup at center, bumping poor Gauthier up into the press box.
Maple Leafs projected lines:
Zach Hyman -- John Tavares -- Mitchell Marner
Patrick Marleau -- Auston Matthews -- Kasperi Kapanen
Andreas Johnsson -- Nazem Kadri -- Connor Brown
Tyler Ennis -- Par Lindholm -- Josh Leivo
Morgan Rielly -- Ron Hainsey
Jake Gardiner -- Nikita Zaitsev
Travis Dermott -- Igor Ozhiganov
Scratched: Frederik Gauthier , Martin Marincin, Justin Holl
Where to watch
The game will be broadcast on NBCSCA in the bay area, SportsNet in the GTA, and TVA Sports for the undoubtedly massive contingent of Francophone Sharks fans. Radio call on 98.5, puck drop at 4:30, and play by play right here.
17:07: Kevin Labanc is nearby when Mitch Marner falls over, his stick was in there just enough to get Marner off balance. Toronto power play.
16:22: Toronto’s passing sets up an easy goal for John Tavares. Auston Matthews is still good at hockey.
13:54: There’s been rushes in both directions since that Tavares PPG. Sharks not quite connecting on their passes. Couture had the best chance of the period so far.
10:28: Joonas Donskoi draws an interference call after the faceoff.
9:20: Tomas Hertl gets in front of the net as the Sharks move the puck. Hertl catches the rebound to turn and score! 18th power-play goal of the Sharks’ season.
8:58: Sharks will go back on the penalty kill after commercial break. Hopefully they learned from the first time.
8:41: Well. Auston Matthews is still still good at hockey. That was an impressive wrist shot. 2-1 Toronto.
5:34: Johnsson looks a bit hurt nearby the Toronto bench, hopefully it’s nothing serious.
5:19: Pavelski takes a high stick in the faceoff circle. Sharks power play.
3:30: Evander Kane nearly scores on the doorstep after an impressive cross-ice passing sequence by the Sharks.
3:10: Kadri gets a breakaway out of the penalty box, but the puck hits the post.
:17: Toronto extends the lead on the rush.
End of First Period
As a college student I often tell myself “you either succeed or you learn” and I’ve gotta hope the Sharks learned from their unkilled penalties. The penalty kill didn’t look like it’s first in the league.
19:08: Tavares draws a penalty. This is the opposite of what the Sharks should be doing.
18:07: Patrick Marleau just hurt our feelings. 4-1 Leafs.
17:41: Travis Dermott to the box.
15:42: I was about to write that this power play wasn’t so great. But then Joe Pavelski!
7:10: Brent Burns almost scores, but doesn’t. Looked cool though, with the beard flowing...
5:29: Sharks get some zone time, which is never a bad thing. Next step: score an even-strength goal.
:13: Sharks give the puck away attempting to clear. Only luck kept Tavares from completing a hat trick.
End of Second Period
A goal for each team in that period means Toronto still has the lead. Congratulations to Patrick Marleau, who has now scored on all 31 NHL teams. I’m bummed I don’t remember seeing him play back in the early 2000’s.
The Sharks’ power play wasn’t as good as the one in the first period, but Joe Pavelski saved it with a goal at the last second of the man-advantage. Three goals in two nights for Joe!
Looks like the Sharks started mixing forward combinations in the last ten minutes or so. Melker Karlsson made an appearance on Logan Couture’s line.
19:27: Braun for holding. Why have the Sharks taken a penalty in the first minute in both of the last two periods? It’s not a good tactic.
17:08: BIG SAVE BY DELL! Burns wiped out in the neutral zone and Mitch Marner sprang on the loose puck to get a breakaway.
12:50: About a minute of offensive cycle by the Sharks but no goals.
11:08: Evander Kane had a potential breakaway but the Leafs defense gets the body on him to separate the puck without a penalty.
Johnsson , who was shaken by a hit in the first period, gives the Leafs a 5-2 lead. Glad he’s not badly hurt; less glad he scored. Looks like Matthews tipped the puck just before it went under the bar. Goal will go to Matthews for his second of the game, and Johnsson gets the assist.
4:29: Sharks get their best scoring opportunity in an upsettingly long while.
1:58: Melker Karlsson gives the Sharks a bit of dignity back.
1:02: The Sharks pulled Dell since it’s a 2-goal game now.
Final: Sharks 3, Maple Leafs 5