Craig Anderson strikes again as the Sharks fall 4-1 to the Senators
Craig Anderson in the building.
You know how this one goes.
The Sharks piled on 37 shots tonight to outshoot the Senators 37-21, but some quality play in Ottawa's net, timely goals from their lineup, and a rather dysfunctional attack from San Jose in the final forty minutes of the game would hand the Sharks their third loss of January.
Brad Winchester would score the Sharks lone goal, with Colin Greening (x2), Erik Karlsson, and Kyle Turris scoring for the Senators. And of course the wily Anderson, who made a name for himself amongst Sharks fans with his playoff series with Colorado in 2010, made 36 saves and was excellent throughout the night.
Following the game Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan spoke about the shot versus scoring chances differential, explaining he liked the offensive effort from his club but needed to see more out of the defensive end of the ice in order for them to succeed.
"There was probably four or five really good chances that Anderson made some saves. Dan Boyle's shot in the slot, and a few rebounds where they got pads or blockers out on it," McLellan said. "The true really good scoring chances were about four or five. After that, the puck got to the net a lot, there were some long rebounds that they did a good job of coralling us or getting underneath our sticks that we couldn't get to."
"It may sound strange but I thought offensively we created enough opportunities to win the game. But defensively we gave up enough to lose it. And that's what cost us."
San Jose got off to a quick lead in a dominating first period effort that saw them outshoot the Senators 16-7 and generate some quality scoring opportunities. Dan Boyle and Andrew Desjardins paired up to connect with the aforementioned Winchester, who notched his sixth goal of the campaign only 3:10 into the first period.
The fourth line has been a breathe of fresh air compared to last season where the Sharks had difficulty amassing a solid fourth line that Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan could rely on. And while their play on the ice hasn't necessarily reflected in their ice time numbers, as the fourth line trails last year's group by about a shift and a half of ice time per game, that sort of reliability will be important down the stretch.
Equally important will be the Sharks power play, which hasn't had the production many of us expected they would have after adding Brent Burns in the offseason. San Jose's struggles with the man advantage have been rather staggering in the past month and a half-- according to Kevin Kurz of CSN's Sharks Talk the Sharks have gone 10 for 82 since November 23rd, good for a 12.2% success rate.
Puttering to be certain, and something Logan Couture addressed in his post game talk with the media as one reason as to why the Sharks couldn't work their way back into the game.
"We just didn't forecheck, weren't hard enough on pucks. The power play wasn't good at creating chances," Couture said. "They got a power play there and scored, and we didn't. It's a game we didn't play well enough to win."
But before the power play could play a role in this game the Senators would have to come back from an early 1-0 deficit. They would do it in workmanlike fashion, with Kyle Turris delivering the first salvo against Niemi halfway through the first period. After a loose puck got kicked out into the low slot, San Jose would collapse to the net fairly well but fail to locate a white jersey and put a body on the player. Turris would jump on the loose puck and send it to the net where it beat Niemi up high to tie the game at one.
Despite the 1-1 score heading into intermission San Jose had a pretty good first period under their belts in which they outshot Ottawa 16-7. That failed to carry over into the ensuing second period however, as the Senators would fight back to take control of the game.
After a Sharks turnover in the offensive zone resulted in a 3v2 opportunity going the other way Ottawa would take a lead they wouldn't surrender. Kyle Turris carried the puck into the zone before locating defenseman Erik Karlsson high in the slot with a quick and soft feed. Karlsson would make it count as he has done many times this season, ripping a wrister that went past Niemi to the blocker side and into the net. It was a heady play by the 21 year old-- a lot of players will drive hard to the net in that situation, removing themselves as a passing option with the near-side defenseman covering taking that away, but credit Karlsson for pulling up and getting his stick into shooting position where Turris could lay a soft one onto his tape.
I'm no history buff, but it would seem to me that a player with Swedish descent named Karlsson has a decent chance at the Norris trophy considering his Norse heritage.
Anybody viking that joke?
Well alright then. Moving on.
A few failed Sharks power plays after Turris' goal would hurt the Sharks, as Ottawa grabbed their second goal of the period after Jamie McGinn went to the box for kneeing at the 14:28 mark of the second period. Ottawa wouldn't waste any time on the man advantage, scoring a mere 22 seconds into the power play. After picking up a loose puck along the sideboards, Colin Greening would circle around to the circle, use Justin Braun as a screen, and fire a wrist shot that snuck up on Niemi to beat him short side.
The third period was equally disappointing for San Jose, as San Jose would have trouble getting anything going against a dialed in Anderson and an Ottawa defense that did a good job of limiting second chances. Without an ability to locate the loose puck and follow up on a rebound chance, Anderson would make the initial save only to see his team clear the zone and get the puck up the ice.
Greening would make it 4-1 at the 9:34 mark after cutting to the middle and showing off some nice hands to rip a laser that went underneath Niemi's glove. It was one Niemi would like to have back as it effectively put the Sharks out of the game.
A pair of late penalties to Joe Pavelski with under eight minutes remaining would make any hope of a comeback obsolete.
San Jose will look to get back on track this Saturday with an afternoon matchup against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena. With Ryane Clowe and Martin Havlat on the injured list, and the Sharks possibly without Tommy Wingels (who left the game in the third period), San Jose's lineup will be tested mightily in their attempts to head into the All-Star break with momentum.
As Logan Couture said following the game however, this team isn't looking for excuses.
They're looking for wins and better results from the top.
"We need to be better. I mean, excuses, you can use as many excuses as you want. Guys are hurt around the League. Teams are missing a couple top six forwards on almost every team," Couture said. "Guys need to step up. The top six forwards need to be better. We need offense, we're counted on to score goals and keep pucks out of our net."
"That's something we haven't done lately. We need to start turning it around."