San Jose Sharks finish road trip 2-6-1 with a 4-3 regulation loss to the Minnesota Wild
[Editor's Note]: In a scary moment in the second period Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan went down after being hit with a stick along the bench. Reports during and after the game indicate he was receiving treatment and managed to watch the game from the dressing room. I'm sure all of you will join us in hoping that McLellan, one of the kindest and most talented Head Coaches in the National Hockey League, remains in good health moving forward.
The Sharks got off to a strong start in the first period, struggled in the second, and fell victim to a pair of deflections in the third to fall 4-3 in regulation to the Minnesota Wild, once again leaving precious standings points unobtained on a road trip that has seen far too much of that.
Tommy Wingels, Joe Thornton, and Brent Burns would score for San Jose, while Cal Clutterbuck, Nick Schultz, Matt Cullen, and Jed Ortmeyer would pot goals for Minnesota.
San Jose jumped out on the board early with a pair of quick strikes from Tommy Wingels and Captain Joe Thornton. After a nifty backhand pass delivered by Jamie McGinn from behind the net found its way to the front of the net, Wingels banged it home from the doorstep to give the Sharks a 1-0 lead. Wingels has been simply spectacular as of late despite the Sharks struggles on this road trip, an excellent sign for the young player who clearly took full advantage of his stint down in Worcester during the middle of this season.
Captain Joe Thornton would add to the lead a mere two minutes later with a goal of his own to extend San Jose's lead to 2-0.
Cal Clutterbuck would cut the lead in half in the middle of the first period however. Despite Clutterbuck going coast to coast through the Sharks defense, San Jose did a lot of good things on the play-- they kept the Wild rush to the outside and forced a very low percentage shot from outside the circles that wouldn't be considered a scoring chance. Unfortunately for Greiss and the Sharks, a bouncing puck would ramp up on Greiss and beat him far side after taking a hop, skip, and a jump in the middle of the ice.
The second period was not kind to the Sharks as the Wild outshot San Jose 13-2 and carried the play for the entire frame. Greiss was phenomenal throughout, stoning Dany Heatley in front of the net with a save of the year candidate, and Marc-Edouard Vlasic also got in on the action by clearing a puck in front of a wide open net as well as breaking up a dangerous 2 on 1 chance.
Nick Schultz would erase those efforts however when he slammed home a shot from the point on the power play to even the score up at two.
The third began with a positive note for the Sharks when Brent Burns unleashed an absolute howitzer from the point to put San Jose in the lead by the score of 3-2. San Jose in general played a relatively strong period, outshooting Minnesota 14-6 despite playing without the services of Logan Couture. And yet San Jose, as has unfortunately the norm throughout the course of this road trip, managed to catch a couple of tough breaks and find a way to lose a game they expected to win coming into the night.
In a span of a minute and a half both Matt Cullen and Jed Ortmeyer would deflect a pair of pucks past Greiss to stun the Sharks and send them into a tailspin heading into tomorrow afternoon's trade deadline.
It remains to be seen what kind of help the Sharks will look for tomorrow, as the organization has been quite good at avoiding making rash moves that predominate this time of year. With prices high across the League, and injuries to Martin Havlat, Douglas Murray, Dominic Moore, and (potentially) Logan Couture stil being resolved, expecting a big move at this juncture wouldn't seem to be in the cards.
But considering how San Jose has played during this road trip, and their current slide into an undeniable battle for a playoff spot, it's fair to say that expecting the unexpected should be the approach we will take into tomorrow.
If it all came crashing down tonight it all comes to a head tomorrow at 12 PM Pacific.
The playoff race is upon us.
God Save Us All.