What a confusing game.
Much of tonight’s match-up between the San Jose Sharks and Vancouver Canucks was special teams play, with multiple instances of 4-on-4, 6-on-5 and other uneven combinations of players that kept the game flow from being the more cohesive experience of 5-on-5.
Games like this are where depth gets exposed, because someone is going to have to account for all of that extra time put on the top players. This Sharks team simply does not have the scoring depth to reliably support the top-6 — or on nights like tonight, just the top line, who seemed to be the only players who showed up. The Canucks had no problem cycling the puck in the offensive zone, while the Sharks had to rely on line changes and extra skaters to get past Vancouver’s defenders.
Somehow, amid all of that bad hockey, came a sequence in the final 50 seconds that was one of those rare sports moments that come out exactly how you imagine the coach drew it up. Alexander Barabanov tied the game with a tenth of a second left on the game clock, sending the game into overtime. How that shift existed in the same 60 minutes as the rest of regulation is beyond me. That was a moment of pure strategy and execution that had me on the edge of my seat.
The play earned the Sharks a loser point in a game during which they were always playing from behind, so that’s something. In total, maybe five to ten minutes of regulation is game tape the Sharks can be proud of. As for the rest, well ... that won’t be a fun conversation in practice tomorrow, I’m sure.
Comment of the Game
One particularly frustration tonight was a certain forward with some of the worst mitts I’ve ever seen.
As we all would!
Let’s go, the Jonathan Dahlen Revenge Tour is going to pop off at SAP Center tonight, I can feel it.
18:20: Sharks aren’t getting any offensive zone time yet, but the Canucks haven’t made much of the bit of time they’ve gotten. No shots on goal from either team, yet.
17:31: The Canucks look just as disjointed as San Jose, which ... doesn’t say great things about where the Sharks are at right now.
16:51: First shot of the game is a tip up front from Jason Dickinson and James Reimer makes the save.
15:57: Noah Gregor has so much speed, I just wish he didn’t have hands of lead.
15:27: Sharks with a shot on net, finally, as Tomas Hertl rushes the net. The Timo Meier line carries this team.
13:54: A hit against the boards by Kyle Burroughs on Jeffrey Viel in the neutral zone ties up several players and allows the Canucks space to get a shot on goal. Play stops as Viel is looking for a fight, but he doesn’t get it.
Tanner Pearson and Jonah Gadjovich get in on the scrum, but it’s Viel and Burroughs getting off-setting minors for roughing. Play is going to 4-on-4.
13:36: Mario Ferraro skates the puck into the offensive zone and gets slammed by Bo Horvat for his efforts. Still, I’ll take that over dump-and-chase or chip-and-chase any day of the week.
11:54: Back to 5-on-5.
9:44: Shots are currently 7-3, in favor of Vancouver. I don’t think either team has had particularly dangerous chances, but Vancouver is better about getting the space to shoot in the offensive zone.
9:26: Viel called for holding on Brock Boeser. Sharks to the penalty kill.
8:25: Man, even the Canucks have a power play that can cycle the puck and come out of the zone without totally surrendering an opportunity the other way. Must be nice!
7:26: Penalty over.
7:18: Gregor attempting a shot while a Canuck was on him and leaving no room for Jesus was certainly a choice.
6:07: Ferraro isn’t able to corral the puck and Reimer had to make a save. Whoops.
5:57: J.T. Miller with a really nice deflection in front, Reimer makes the stop.
5:06: After extended time cycling in the Sharks’ zone, Boeser gets a feed from Miller in the crease, and beats Reimer top corner, glove side. 1-0, Canucks.
3:44: Well, that woke the Canucks up. They’re aiming for two before the period ends.
3:01: Sharks get away with Meier tripping Tyler Myers behind the Canucks’ net.
2:20: WHAT DID I SAY? Quinn Hughes takes a shot from the blueline that went between Matthew Highmore’s legs on the way to the net, where it sails past Reimer. 2-0, Canucks.
1:13: Brent Burns with a shot (maybe tipped by Gregor?) that pings off the post.
The Sharks turned the jets on for about a minute here. Shots 15-4, Vancouver leading.
END FIRST: Canucks 2, Sharks 0
18:23: Jake Middleton has a shot attempt that goes wide. A little bit of a better effort to start the period, but that doesn’t say much.
16:44: Canucks have been cycling nonstop in the Sharks’ zone.
16:25: Sharks go for a quick zone entry on a line change from the Canucks and Logan Couture tosses the puck to the net. A little tip from Myers up front as he tries to block with his stick results in a goal. 2-1, Canucks.
14:56: Nicolas Meloche gets called for crosschecking Elias Pettersson in the crease, back to the penalty kill. The way the Canucks are cycling the puck at 5-on-5, I can’t imagine this will go well for San Jose.
13:56: Nils Hoglander has wheels. Just a fantastic skater.
12:56: Penalty killed, back to full strength.
12:03: San Jose will get the slightest bit of offensive zone time and have absolutely no idea what to do with it.
9:36: All things considered, the Canucks haven’t had a shot this period, while the Sharks have had 3. That’s better than I was expecting.
9:12: I spoke too soon, huh? Burroughs takes a shot from above the right circle and it bounces off Juho Lammikko and James Reimer to go in. 3-1, Canucks.
8:22: Viel wants to kick Canuck ass so badly. He gets in a tussle with Oliver Ekman-Larsson after a whistle and they’re both off for roughing, sending it back to 4-on-4.
7:36: San Jose is looking a little better with the open ice.
6:59: Hertl with an unfortunate giveaway to Pettersson in the defensive zone. He’s lucky it didn’t go anywhere, because that was the wrong spot to make that mistake.
6:26: Boeser off for tripping Andrew Cogliano. Sharks get five seconds of 4-on-3, then 5-on-4.
5:57: There you go! Hertl gets the puck behind the nets, passes to Meier in the left circle, who takes the one-timer to beat Demko short-side. 3-2, Canucks.
5:16: Couture whacks Ekman-Larsson with his stick to the hips and he’s off for interference. Canucks power play.
3:16: This definitely wasn’t Vancouver’s best power play. Sharks successfully kill, but it wasn’t particularly exciting or sexy play that did it.
1:51: Wow, the fourth line just had a hell of a shift. The fourth line came into the zone for a scoring chance, Demko makes the save, they draw a penalty and have an extended shift of 6-on-5 with a delayed call. Viel was robbed of a goal. What a shift.
1:07: Miller officially goes off for tripping. The Sharks’ power play will get split in half by intermission if they don’t get a goal here.
0:25.1: Man, it didn’t amount to anything, but Meier just faked a shot before making a backhand pass to an open Hertl behind him and it was really neat.
0:01.6: Sharks have a final faceoff, so they pull Reimer and hope to get a shot off before the buzzer. Hertl wins the draw, but it’s Gregor open in the slot to score and well ... he didn’t do that. The third will start with 54 seconds of power play time.
END SECOND: Sharks 2, Canucks 3
19:16: Who else but Timo Meier? Sharks open on the skater-advantage. Hertl fakes a shot in the slot to pass to Meier on the left dot and he snaps it top corner without hesitation. Looks awful familiar. 3-3, tied game.
Anything can happen now, folks.
16:56: Meier is shoved into Demko by Myers and they’re calling it goaltender interference. Trash call. Third game in a row! Canucks get a power play.
14:56: Sharks have kept the last three penalty kills without a shot on goal by the Canucks. Not too shabby.
14:02: Shots are 22-20 in favor of the Sharks, as they’ve pushed in the second half of the game.
12:57: Jeffrey Viel with a quick one timer in the slot.
11:36: The Canucks get their first shot of the third from Highmore behind the left circle and it would’ve gone wide, but Reimer reached out for an easy glove save, so it still counts as being on goal. Incredible.
10:14: Smart play from Cogliano to rush behind the net, where Demko was corralling the puck and he very nearly got possession while Demko was well out of position. Man, I wish that would’ve paid off.
9:24: Another delayed call, Miller goes off for a blatant hook. Sharks to the power play, let’s get three for Timo.
9:08: Rough opening, as the Sharks tried to get the puck back to the blueline and it gets fumbled out of the zone. A lot of time wasted to reset after that.
7:24: And penalty over. That was uninspiring.
5:37: Continued pressure lead to a mess in front of Reimer and Connor Garland eventually gets the puck through the pile of bodies. 4-3, Canucks.
4:32: The top line nearly brought it back to a tied game. Meier followed the puck all the way to Demko’s pads, but no dice.
3:40: Pettersson is set up by Garland for a one-timer and his stick snaps. Lucky.
2:11: Barabanov gets a quick, but soft shot on Demko.
0:49.9: Miller and Motte with a 2-on-1, Reimer makes the stop.
After the whistle, Meier shoves Motte behind the net and there’s a bit of a scuffle.
0:00.6: ARE YOU JOKING??????
I was on the edge of my seat, so let’s try to write this out: the Sharks took a timeout before a defensive zone faceoff. Timo Meier gets the puck off the draw and absolutely wheels it down the ice and breaks into the offensive zone. Reimer goes off for the extra attacker.
With less than a second remaining, Barabanov buries it top corner and it’s tied game. We’re going to overtime, babes.
END THIRD: Sharks 4, Canucks 4
3:25: Matt Nieto, Noah Gregor and Brent Burns might be the worst combination of players Boughner has ever put out in overtime. What the hell?
2:21: J.T. Miller scores high short-side on a delayed penalty against the Sharks.
END OT: Sharks 4, Canucks 5
The San Jose Sharks are playing their second of three make-up games tonight, hosting the Vancouver Canucks. The last few seasons have been up and down for Vancouver, but approaching the second half of the season, it’s becoming clear that the Canucks aren’t making a push toward the postseason. The Sharks, meanwhile, will say they’re fighting to get back into playoffs, but came back from the break looking disjointed and messy.
Here’s everything you need to know to tune in:
SAN JOSE SHARKS
Timo Meier — Tomas Hertl — Alexander Barabanov
Jonathan Dahlen — Logan Couture — Rudolfs Balcers
Andrew Cogliano — Nick Bonino — Noah Gregor
Jeffrey Viel — Lane Pederson — Matt Nieto
Mario Ferraro — Brent Burns
Marc-Edouard Vlasic — Ryan Merkley
Jacob Middleton — Nicolas Meloche
Expected Scratches: Radim Simek, Jonah Gadjovich
Injured Reserve: Erik Karlsson (upper body), Kevin Labanc (upper body), Adin Hill (lower body)
J.T. Miller — Bo Horvat — Brock Boeser
Vasily Podkolzin — Elias Pettersson — Nils Hoglander
Tanner Pearson — Jason Dickinson — Conor Garland
Tyler Motte — Juho Lammikko — Matthew Highmore
Oliver Ekman-Larsson — Tyler Myers
Quinn Hughes — Luke Schenn
Kyle Burroughs — Travis Hamonic
Expected Scratches: Alex Chiasson, Noah Juulsen, Brad Hunt
Injured Reserve: Tucker Poolman (headaches), Brady Keeper (leg), Brandon Sutter (illness)
How to Watch
Tonight’s game will be broadcast regionally on NBCSCA and SNP. Streaming is available with a subscription to ESPN+ (blackout restrictions do apply). The radio call will be streamed through the Sharks Audio Network. Puck drop is at 7:30 p.m. PT/10:30 p.m. ET at SAP Center in San Jose, California.