In the final game of the 2017-18 regular season, the San Jose Sharks hosted the Minnesota Wild. A single standings point tonight for the Sharks would mean that they would finish second in the Pacific Division, and have home ice advantage in the opening round of the playoffs.
The less said about the start of this game, the better. Minnesota dominated possession, and the Sharks did not record a shot on net until nine minutes had ticked off the clock. Martin Jones did his best to bail out his teammates, including a great save on a Marcus Foligno breakaway. The Wild opened the scoring when Jonas Brodin slapped the puck behind Jones. 1-0 Minnesota.
The Sharks did not respond well. Minnesota had a few great chances to score, and were, frankly, unfortunate to not convert at least one. After some sustained pressure, and failures to clear by the Sharks, Matt Cullen buried a point-blank chance. 2-0 Minnesota.
Sharks were being out-shot 10-2 at this point. It was hard to watch. If you turned off the game at this point, nobody would have blamed you. But we here at Fear the Fin Hockey Blogging and Aerospace Engineering, LLC soldiered on.
The Sharks finally woke up at this point. Brent Burns ripped a shot past Devan Dubnyk, who was screened by rookie Dylan Gambrell. 2-1 Minnesota.
Sixty-four seconds later, Joe Pavelski took a pass from Mikkel Boedker and snapped it to the back of the net. 2-2 Tie game.
And those who didn’t change the channel were rewarded for their faith and patience. At the end of the period, The Wild were out-shooting (12-5) and out-attempting (29-18) the Sharks, but the teams were tied 2-2.
The Sharks opened the second period with the same urgency that they showed at the end of the first. The game flowed, with few whistles, but the Sharks were winning the possession battle. But it was Minnesota’s turn to score against the run of play. Mikael Granlund used Dylan DeMelo as a screen before snapping the puck behind Jones. 3-2 Minnesota.
Less than a minute later Jason Zucker deked out Jones and restored Minnesota’s two goal lead. 4-2 Minnesota.
If Zucker didn’t succeed in sucking all the air out of the building, he certainly accomplished that four minutes later. Zucker and Eric Staal came in 2-on-1 against Justin Braun. Braun took away the passing lane, so Zucker took the shot himself. It beat Jones cleanly. 5-2 Minnesota.
The period ended with the Wild leading in shot, attempts, and goals.
If you thought the third period would be a boring affair, you would be correct! With the game apparently decided, Minnesota was mostly content to sit on its lead. Yes, there were good chances both ways, but neither team seemed willing to risk an injury in the third period of a three-goal game.
The Sharks did dominate the score adjusted shot attempts in the third, and they did manage to close the gap a bit late in the period. With the goalie pulled, Timo Meier deflected a DeMelo point shot behind Dubnyk, and the Sharks had a glimmer of hope. 5-3 Minnesota.
After the ensuing faceoff, the Sharks pressed hard for another goal, and for a precious few seconds it looked like they might just get it. But Eric Staal sealed the game with an empty netter, packing this one up 6-3.
- After missing the last two games with a shoulder injury, Evander Kane was back in the lineup tonight. He did not look like his usual self, registering only three shots on goal. In Peter DeBoer’s post game comments, he mentioned that Kane was less than 100%.
- Marc-Edouard Vlasic finished the season having taken only two minor penalties. Both were for delay of game on pucks flipped over the glass. This would be a remarkable accomplishment on its own, but given that Vlasic regularly plays the toughest defensive minutes, it is almost unbelievable. Give him the Lady Byng Trophy.
- Anaheim defeated Arizona, and Dallas did the right thing and beat LA, so the Sharks will play the Ducks in the first round of the playoffs.
- Early in the third, Logan Couture took a shot off the hand and went straight to the dressing room. He did return to the bench with about twelve minutes left.
- Aaron Dell played the third period. He did not allow five goals.