There is something a little jarring about matinee games. The players are out of their normal routines, and sometimes this results in a choppy game. That was not the case on this Saturday afternoon. Both the San Jose Sharks and the Calgary Flames came out skating well, and the game had a brisk back-and-forth for the first several minutes.
Brenden Dillon opened the scoring at 7:52 in the first, when he took a pass from Chris Tierney and fired it past David Rittich for the 1-0 lead.
Less than two minutes later, the Sharks extended their lead. Brent Burns threw a slap-pass from the point, and Jannik Hansen redirected the puck into the net. Hansen’s second goal of the season put the Sharks up 2-0.
The Sharks continued to press, and Dylan DeMelo came very close to scoring when he rang a shot off the post, but Calgary scored next. Michael Stone potted his third of the season at 12:17 in the first to make it 2-1 Sharks.
The first twenty minutes went by quickly, with minimal whistles and no penalties taken by either team. Calgary outshot the Sharks 11-9, but the Sharks had the edge in shot attempts, 25-19.
The second period saw Dillon take a slashing penalty to put the Flames on the powerplay. Chris Tierney intercepted a pass and skated into the offensive zone, but turned the puck over before doing anything with it. This led to a three-on-one rush for Calgary and a golden chance for them to tie the game, but good luck and hard back-checking combined to keep the puck out.
The Flames continued to get chances, as Mikael Backlund was sprung on a breakaway, but Martin Jones turned him aside. At this point, the Flames were outshooting the Sharks 21-10.
Shortly after, Timo Meier drew a penalty, and the Sharks went on their first powerplay of the game. It would be short lived, as less than a minute in, Kevin Labanc was sent to the box for hooking.
After some four on four time, the Sharks were short-handed once again. Tierney took advantage of a Flames line change to gain the zone, and showed amazing patience in holding the puck long enough for Evander Kane to get alone in front of the net. Tierney fed Kane who beat Rittich to make it 3-1 Sharks.
None the less, the Sharks were still on the penalty kill, and Calgary got a number of prime opportunities to close the gap. Martin Jones did not let that happen, as he made some great saves, and the Sharks killed the penalty.
After Kane split the defensemen, Dougie Hamilton was called for cross checking Joe Pavelski in the face. Again, the Sharks would not get a full two minutes of power play time, as Kane took a double minor. This was a harsh and confusing decision by the refs, as the entire Calgary roster jumped him. Still, Kane spent the remainder of the second seated in the penalty box.
The second period ended with the Flames ahead in shots, 28-23, and shot attempts, 53-44, but with the Sharks up 3-1 where it matters.
Early in the third, Travis Hamonic and Kane fought, and both removed their helmets, so the Sharks were without one of their best players for seven minutes. The Sharks top winger for a second pairing defenseman is a trade any team would gladly make.
The game continued to be a contentious, chippy affair after the fight. The teams traded chances, but Jones and Rittich were up to the challenge.
On a harmless looking sequence, Justin Braun took a pass as his teammates changed behind him, skated in alone against three defenders, and snapped the puck under Rittich’s blocker arm. Somehow it turned into 4-1 Sharks on the solo Braun excursion.
Two minutes later, Dillon’s point shot was tipped by Pavelski, bounced off Hamonic and Kane, and found the back of the net.
The Flames frustration over how this game and season went was palpable in the last minutes of the game. Garnet Hathaway fought Dillon, which completed the Gordie Howe Hat Trick for the Sharks’ blueliner. In the aftermath, the two teams were content to run out the clock.
Calgary outshot the Sharks 38-33, and out attempted them 73-61, but the Sharks win 5-1.
- Before the game, the Sharks honored Jonathan Cheechoo, who recently retired from professional hockey. Cheechoo was a great player, who was beloved by the fans, and it was wonderful to see him in a teal sweater to drop the ceremonial puck.
- Burns’ assist on Hansen’s goal was his 49th of the season, setting a new Sharks’ record for assists by a defenseman in a season. Burns set the previous record of 48 last season.
- Eleven different Sharks (Dillon, Tierney, Meier, Hansen, Burns, Goodrow, Kane, Braun, Couture, Karlsson, and Pavelski) recorded a point in this game.
- After Kane’s fight, there was a lot of chatter about him only need an assist to complete the Gordie Howe Hat Trick, so it is kind of funny that it was Dillon who wound up doing so.
- Martin Jones was fantastic, stopping 37 of 38 shot. This game could have been very different were it not for him.