For the Sharks, being ahead of the shot counter after one period has begun to be a common occurrence. Unfortunately, the team has failed to live up to their recent hot starts.
When San Jose took an early lead and kept their collective foot on the gas for the first period, there was reason for excitement.
One minute into the game, Joonas Donskoi fed Joakim Ryan at the point. The defenseman sent a wrister spinning on net that beat Al Montoya for Ryan’s first NHL goal.
Just minutes later, Darnell Nurse backhanded the puck behind the net and off the official’s skate to a waiting Joe Pavelski who put it home for a 2-0 lead. Since being united in the team’s second post-Joe Thornton game, the Timo Meier, Pavelski, Donskoi trio has made quick work of opponents. It’s no coincidence that those three contributed to the team’s first two goals.
On the other side of the lineup, the Sharks’ fourth line has consistently been called into question, especially of late. The three, in Joel Ward’s absence, would have an opportunity to improve the perception of them.
The trio would capitalize on their opportunity. Jannik Hansen took a turnover from Ryan Strome created by Barclay Goodrow into the offensive zone. After breaking past the blueline, Hansen left a drop pass for Goodrow, who slid the third goal of the night home.
San Jose’s evening was nearly flawless until an unfortunate sequence of events halfway through the second.
A near miss on a give-and-go between Chris Tierney and Mikkel Boedker led to a breakaway by Zack Kassian, who missed the net but saw the puck rebound hard off the back wall and bounce off Aaron Dell’s back for a goal.
Aaron Dell kept the game from tightening up minutes later, as he stonewalled Connor McDavid on a semi-breakaway. Unfortunately, the tides would shift in Edmonton’s favor again shortly thereafter.
A valiant effort to combine for an offensive zone chance went awry for the Chris Tierney line again. Tierney lost the puck after trying to dangle one defender, leading to a stretch pass to Zack Kassian who got behind the Sharks defense due to a line change, and opened Dell’s five hole for his second goal of the night.
The night ended up being deja vu all over again. With two minutes remaining in the second period, Leon Draisaitl added his goal to Edmonton’s tally and tie the game at three. A rink-wide pass led to an easy Oilers entry by Draisaitl, who skated around Brenden Dillon and sent a dangerous pass across the front of the San Jose net. Brandon Davidson turned the tie game into an Edmonton advantage after an easy putback.
The ever-effective trio of Tomas Hertl, Logan Couture, and Kevin Labanc would not be outdone. After fighting in the corner for possession of the puck, Couture found Hertl alone in front of the net for a crafty backhand goal.
What a game at the Shark Tank tonight. Hertl's Goal ties this game at 4 in the 3rd Period pic.twitter.com/vPEreVqWpJ— Sharks on NBCS (@NBCSSharks) February 11, 2018
San Jose’s wild-and-crazy first line of Pavelski, Meier and Donskoi continued the push, creating the another chance for Joakim Ryan, who capitalized for his second goal of the evening.
The Captain ensured the Sharks deposited two points in their bank with an empty-net marker with just over a minute left in the game.
Though too reminiscent of the team’s recent struggles over the second two-thirds of games, the Sharks pulled out a win at home. They’ll need to reduce the big chances they give up if they have any hope of competing for the postseason.
- San Jose looked poised on offense in this game, but they clearly still allowed too many chances going the other way
- The Chris Tierney, Mikkel Boedker, and Melker Karlsson line continued to struggle. While Hansen provided a spark on the fourth line, that trio’s shot-differential remained in the negative. With two extra spots now on the roster, it would not be surprising to see Doug Wilson radio the Barracuda for a little something different at the bottom of the lineup.
- The top of the roster, on the other hand, continues to be a monster. The team’s top two forward lines posted impressive shot- and chance-differentials of their own while playing mostly against Connor McDavid and Draisaitl.
- San Jose’s overall score- and venue-adjusted shot differential had rebounded during their past four games. Tonight was just average in that department, but at least they didn’t let the third period escape them, as well as the second.