This road trip hasn’t been a pretty one for the Sharks. After an embarrassing performance in Nashville and a loss against a team they’re certainly better than in Chicago, the Sharks to come out of tonight with a split for this four-game roadie.
To start, Pete DeBoer shook things up, line blender style. Tim Heed slotted in with his usual D-partner, Brenden Dillon, moving Dylan DeMelo up the line up to replace Justin Braun who was out with the flu. The line combinations that only produced two goals over the last two games (courtesy of Timo Meier and Logan Couture) were replaced with... well, something.
There may have been some method to Pete’s madness, as the top line of Timo Meier - Joe Pavelski - Joonas Donskoi came out of the gate looking good, but they weren’t the only ones showing up to impress. The Sharks were able to drive offense, putting up 17 shots in the first period to the Wild’s 10.
With just over six minutes left in the period, after an extended shift from the Wild in front of Martin Jones, Barclay Goodrow was able to enter their zone with the puck, where he made a drop pass to Jannik Hansen. Hansen made a nifty backhand pass to Joakim Ryan, who had stopped in the right circle after losing Jason Zucker, and Ryan ripped home a one-timer to give the Sharks a lead.
A minute later, Meier showed some tricks of his own, looking as though he’d carry the puck around the back of the Wild’s net and instead made a last-second pass to Joonas Donskoi, but Devan Dubnyk was able to make the save. Even Eric Fehr showed a hint of promise with a nice rebound shot that was still ultimately stopped by Dubnyk.
The Sharks were getting pucks to the net in the first, leaving hope that they could maintain through the next two periods.
Early in the second, a 2-on-1 with Kevin Labanc resulted in a backhand wrister from Chris Tierney to put the Sharks up by two on their first shot of the period.
It certainly wasn’t all offense for the Sharks, as Minnesota found their groove and put 19 shots on goal in the second period. They forced the Sharks back onto their heels, holding them to just four shots. The Sharks held up, looking to go into the third with a comfortable two-goal lead, but with less than a minute left in the period, Matt Cullen tipped a shot from Jared Spurgeon over Jones’ stick-side shoulder.
Tasked with merely hanging on to a one-goal lead, the Sharks fell apart in the third period. Tim Heed found himself back in the doghouse, taking only three shifts in the second period and none in the third.
Marcus Foligno got called for hooking, giving the Sharks their first power play opportunity of the night. After 40 seconds, Joe Pavelski got caught slashing Ryan Suter as he attempted to clear the puck, ending the man-advantage for the Sharks. Halfway through the period, the Sharks were back in the box when Tomas Hertl was called for hoking on Matt Dumba.
The clocked ticked down to the final five minutes and it looked as though the Sharks might escape two messy periods of play with two points, but Eric Staal dashed that bit of hope, beating out Jones to tie the game. Without another goal, it went into overtime.
Once again, just when it looked as though the Sharks could press for a shootout, the Wild tipped the ice in their favor. Jared Spurgeon forced a turnover by Brent Burns near the half wall and got the puck to Jason Zucker in the right circle. Jones expected Zucker to shoot, but Zucker fed it back to Spurgeon who fired it over a sprawling Burns at the wide open net.
- The Sharks close out this Central Divison road trip with a 1-2-1 record. Surprisingly, their only win came against the St. Louis Blues, despite the Blackhawks sitting at the bottom of the Central.
- Tim Heed is really on Pete DeBoer’s bad side. He took the fewest shifts (11) and had the least amount of ice time (6:41). Brenden Dillon took eight shifts without Heed. Maybe his offensive-driven play is seen as a disadvantage when games like this force Sharks back into their defense — except that Brent Burns didn’t stay on Spurgeon for the overtime winner and played the second-most minutes tonight, with about a minute less than Marc-Edouard Vlasic.
- The Sharks have set a franchise record in consecutive games without a power play goal. They’ve gone 0-20 in their last nine games. It’s their longest streak since October of 1997.
- Martin Jones continued to bail the Sharks out tonight, stopping 38 of 41 shots. Dubnyk only face 28 shots, stopping 26 of them. Jones has been one of the best players on this road trip. Having the advantage of not playing against the high-powered Nashville Predators, Jones finished the trip with a .936 save percentage.