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Quick Bites: Scorched again by Flames

A quick hole was ultimately too much to climb out of.

An overhead view as Trevor Lewis #22 of the Calgary Flames celebrates scoring a goal against the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center on December 20, 2022 in San Jose, California. Photo by Kavin Mistry/NHLI via Getty Images

Whoever wrote the script for last night’s game certainly changed their mind a lot during the process. The storyline almost flipped several times, and the San Jose Sharks even looked like they might take a lead in the third period, but the losing streak ultimately continued.

San Jose was looking to bounce back after a somewhat dismal result against these same Calgary Flames on Sunday night. With just one more game before the holiday break, the team is still struggling to find itself.

Ripe for revenge?

Those who were just tuning in to watch the game may have assumed the scoreboard had a mistake (or maybe not, if they know the Sharks well). In incredible fashion, San Jose fell down by two goals only 30 seconds into the game.

At the beginning of the broadcast, Drew Remenda said that “you can’t win a game at the start, but you can lose it.” This was the exact formula to lose a game from the start. On a milestone night, Matt Benning’s 400th NHL game started off just about as poorly as it could. Right from the start, it looked like San Jose had already lost and vengeance was not to be.

Two quick defensive-zone turnovers and a vacant open slot in front of goaltender James Reimer on both goals left the crowd at SAP Center stunned and silent. But don’t just take my word for it, here’s what head coach David Quinn had to say postgame:

The Sharks were already dealing with bad news this week, losing Tomas Hertl to a suspension and Luke Kunin for the remainder of the year after ACL surgery. On the bright side, the Sharks were welcoming back energetic defender Mario Ferraro after a 10-game absence.

OK, they weren’t ready ... but could they respond?

Following a start that looked like a recipe for utter disaster, San Jose mustered some pushback. Defender Radim Simek rang a hard shot off the crossbar on a good look. Calgary’s shot attempts were all sealed off by Reimer, who displayed incredible mental fortitude to bounce back after giving up the first two shots.

Then, an errant pass behind the Flames net stolen by Timo Meier lead to a goal from Nico Sturm. On the very next shift, Sturm dropped the gloves with Brett Ritchie. It looked as if the Sharks stopped the bleeding, perhaps starting the journey for a comeback.

The power play began looking dangerous, but Flames netminder Jacob Markstrom kept his team ahead. This would become one of the themes of the night. San Jose’s offense generated a multitude of strong scoring chances, only to be denied by the talented goaltender.

Upon the start of second, Reimer made a strong save of his own on a stinging shot. The puck hit him hard on the inside of the knee, a part with less protection for goaltenders. Having just recently come back from a lower-body injury, there was a brief moment of concern from onlookers.

Was it enough? Will it ever be?

The second period offered very little for San Jose. They were outplayed for the majority and fell 3-1 on a deflating goal by Trevor Lewis. Alexander Barabanov made things interesting with a goal in the final minute of the middle frame. After nothing in the way of offensive opportunities for nearly 20 minutes of play, a quick entry, broken play on a slot opportunity for Harrington, and a sweet set of hands on Barabanov tucked in the puck behind Markstrom and into the net — an important goal to bring the Sharks within one entering the third.

San Jose brought that energy into the third. Timo Meier continued to flaunt his scoring touch with a big game-tying goal with 16:02 left in the game. The Sharks were really feeling it after this goal, managing a few consecutive shifts with extended offensive zone time. Then a big hit by Simek drew a response from Milan Lucic, sending San Jose to the power play right as they were turning it on.

It was not to be. Despite good opportunities, the Sharks couldn’t convert. Then Oskar Lindblom was denied by Markstrom on a 2-on-1 and coming right back, Nazem Kadri found himself with room in front of Reimer, beating him upstairs with 9:56 to go. This would stand as the game-winning goal.

Markstrom continued to stonewall the Sharks on a few dangerous shots. The Flames made it ugly with three more goals in the few remaining minutes of the game.

Calgary can be content with their efforts in San Jose over the past two games, as they head down to Southern California to challenge the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks. San Jose has just one more game before the holiday break, hosting the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night.