Coming off two wins against the Alberta teams, the Sharks concluded their trip through Western Canada on Saturday in Vancouver. The day after a big win over a Calgary team that is fighting for its playoff life, against a Vancouver team that was, somehow, mathematically eliminated from the playoffs last August, this had “trap game” written all over it. Oh yeah, and the Sharks still have a bunch of players injured, and Paul Martin played his third game of the year tonight.
If you decided to skip this one and celebrate the Irish rugby team winning a Grand Slam in the Six Nations, nobody would have blamed you, least of all me.
The game got off to a sluggish start. This is not surprising, considering one of the teams was playing its third road game in four nights, and the other is the Canucks.
With 13:44 remaining in the first, Tyler Motte was called for hooking Joe Pavelski, and the Sharks went on the power play. The power play resulted in a single shot, which is what we should have expected at that point. Not long after Vancouver killed that penalty, Evander Kane was sent to the box for holding one of Vancouver’s NHL caliber players, Chris Tanev. At some point, we need to have a talk about Kane’s penalty differential, because it’s, uh, not great.
The Sharks top ranked penalty kill nearly let Kane off the hook, but in the dying seconds of his penalty, former Shark, Nikolay Goldobin fired the puck past Aaron Dell, makig it 1-0, Vancouver.
The Sharks pulled level with 5:02 left in the first, when Kevin Labanc scored his 11th of the season on the power play play. Game tied 1-1.
About a minute after Labanc tied the game, Logan Couture snapped the puck behind Jacob Markstrom to give the Sharks the lead. 2-1 Sharks. And that is how the game stood at the end of the first.
Early in the second,
Tim O’Meier Timo Meier was credited with a goal. I say “credited with a goal” because Brenden Dillon’s shot bounced off Meier and into the net. Meier later told Bret Hedican that he wasn’t even sure that the puck had hit him. Whatever, it was a perfect screen, at the very least. The puck was in the net that Vancouver was defending and the Sharks were up 3-1.
If you had been watching the game and at this point, decided to go out and hoist a pint (or more) for Rory Best and the boys in green, nobody would have blamed you, least of all me.
But in the next eighteen minutes and thirteen seconds of the game, things... happened.
With our sweet boy, Meier, in the box for holding somebody named Alex Bierga, Bo Horvat, another of Vancouver’s NHL caliber players, tipped a Sam Gagner shot past Dell to pull the home team to within one. 3-2 Sharks.
The league’s top ranked penalty kill had now allowed two goals in a game. You’ll never guess what happened next!
The Sharks penalty kill allowed another goal. This time to noted three-goal scorer, Alexander Edler. Game tied 3-3. Yes, all of Vancouver’s goal were scored on the power play. The last time a team scored 3 power play goals in a game against the Sharks was on opening night.
If you thought that allowing three power play goals to a team that has given up was the worst thing that could happen to the Sharks, well then you must be new here. With 4:41 left in the second, Marc-Edouard Vlasic took a shot to the face. He was in obvious pain and did not return to the game.
That’s bad. The second ended tied 3-3.
The Sharks have 19 shots through two periods. 15 of them have come from three players — Kane (6), Labanc (5) and Couture (4)— Kevin Kurz (@KKurzNHL) March 18, 2018
The third opened with some back and forth action. The teams traded chances, but Dell and Markstrom stood up to the challenges. The stalemate was broken by
Tim O’Meier Timo Meier 6:07 into the period. If he was unsure that his first goal of the evening had even touched him, there was no mistaking that this goal should be credited to Meier, who ripped a wristed shot behind Markstrom, for his 20th of the season. Sharks up 4-3.
The score would remain the same until late in the game, when Tomas Hertl sealed the win for the Sharks with an empty netter. 5-3 Sharks.
Please, please let Marc-Edouard be ok.