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Rangers 3, Sharks 2 (SO): Nightmare on Santa Clara Street

The waning moments of the Sharks 3-2 shootout loss to the New York Rangers was a lot like the ending to Halloween horror movie. At first, it seems like the heroes (led by Tomas Hertl), are going to vanquish the monster that’s been trying to kill them all night long, with a beautiful snap shot over the shoulder of Henrik Lundqvist in the final second of the game serving as the weapon of choice.

For a moment, everything seems like it’s going to be okay, until they find out the monster has a child (in the form of an evil shootout) as it gets its revenge.

That extra point the Sharks grabbed was far from worthless, as it keeps them in a tie with the Flames for the Pacific Division lead. But for a team that’s trying to answer a bunch of questions and find their identity, the result seems to just seems to ask more.

After Brent Burns opened the scoring just four minutes into the game, San Jose let their guard down and the Rangers took over. After a butterball shot found its way over the glove Martin Jones, New York seemed to dictate the play until the late stages of the second.

But even as the Sharks began to pick up steam going into the third, it was the Rangers that capitalized on a one-time from Chris Kreider. Timo Meier’s tying goal midway through the period would give San Jose some short-lived hope, until Kreider scored his second of the game just moments later on a massive defensive breakdown.

Tonight the Sharks were plagued by their inability to get large quantities of sustained pressure, and it cost them dearly against an opponent who, on paper, seems to be lightyears behind San Jose.  While hitting the panic button obviously isn’t necessary, it’s becoming more and more clear that Pete DeBoer and his staff have their work cut out for them in the coming months in order to make this team the threat they’ve been labeled as.

Once the Sharks are able to find a little more consistency in their game, they’ll be a tough team to stop. But for now, there’s some trials and tribulations ahead, and soon we’ll find out if the Sharks can end this horror film by becoming the next villain in line.


Pregame

Let’s be honest, there’s only one story we’re all here for, and that’s the return of Jumbo Joe.

Joe Thornton will be back in teal tonight when the Sharks host the New York Rangers, after missing the last nine games due to an infection in his knee. Thornton will immediately slot in to Pete DeBoer’s first line, where he’ll be centering Timo Meier and Joe Pavelski.

With Thornton being activated from injured reserve, the Sharks returned Dylan Gambrell to the San Jose Barracuda earlier this afternoon and will give Rourke Chartier the night off in favor of Barclay Goodrow at center.

For the Sharks, the name of the game tonight will be “consistency.” Despite being tied with Vancouver — crazy I know — for the Pacific Division lead, the Sharks have still struggled to find that immediate success everyone expected at the beginning of the season. A win tonight would give them wins in four of their last five games and a decisive sign that things are trending in the right direction.

As for the Rangers, consistency hasn’t been the issue; it’s the kind of consistency. With a 3-7-1 record, the Blueshirts sit last in the insanely tough Metro Division. They are also coming off a 4-3 loss on Sunday to the Los Angeles Kings where they blew a 2-0 lead. Yikes.

Even though his team is win-less on the road so far, New York’s rookie head coach David Quinn does have one feather in his cap going into tonight’s game. Quinn’s first NHL win came against these same Sharks back on October 11, when Brady Skjei scored 37 seconds into overtime to give the Rangers the 3-2 win at Madison Square Garden.

If the Sharks are going to find success tonight, it’ll need to start from the crease, as Martin Jones makes his eighth start of the season. Jones has looked pretty shaky so far this year, and even though it’s only late October his .900 save percentage is pretty alarming. A solid performance from him tonight, especially against one of the NHL’s greatest goalies in Henrik Lundqvist, would definitely temper fan concerns.

You can catch the game on Comcast Sportsnet California or listen on 98.5 KFOX, with puck drop scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Pacific.


Sharks Lines

Timo Meier – Joe Thornton(!!!) – Joe Pavelski
Tomas Hertl – Logan Couture – Kevin Labanc
Evander Kane – Antti Suomela – Joonas Donskoi
Marcus Sorensen – Barclay Goodrow – Melker Karlsson

Joakim Ryan – Brent Burns
Brenden Dillon – Erik Karlsson
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun

Martin Jones

Rangers Lines

Vladislav Namestnikov – Mika Zibanejad – Mats Zuccarello
Chris Kreider – Kevin Hayes – Ryan Spooner
Jimmy Vesey – Brett Howden – Jesper Fast
Cody McLeod – Filip Chytil – Vinni Lettieri

Marc Staal – Neal Pionk
Brady Skjei – Anthony DeAngelo
Brendan Smith – Kevin Shattenkirk

Henrik Lundqvist


Pregame

7:11: Hey everyone! I’m Lach in the Crease, your ghost host for tonight’s game. This is my first time handling the live blog duties, so expect a large amount of bad Halloween puns tonight. You’ve been warned.

7:32: Oh good, Joe’s beard was also activated from IR. That’s relieving.

First Period

20:00: Jones to our left, Lundqvist to our right. Let’s do that hockey!

16:38: GOOOOOOAAAAAAAL! Brent Burns catches two Rangers directly in front of King Henrik and blasts a shot past his glove. Great heads up play by Sorensen, too. Dream start at the Tank.

15:39: Never mind. Mats Zuccarello throws a curveball at the net and catches Jones napping a bit. Tie game at 1.

14:32: Do you have a small heart attack every time someone lobs the puck at Jones now? Cause I sure am. Anyone got a paper bag?

10:15: The back-and-forth of this game reminds me of the early ‘90s NHL, and as someone who wasn’t born until ‘97, I welcome it.

9:20: (channels inner Jim Hughson) Grrrrrreat saaaave Jones! Absolutely stones Jesper Fast in the slot. More saves like that, please.

6:59: Melker accidently trips Kevin Hayes while going for the puck, but an apology’s not gonna cut it. It’s penalty kill time for the Sharks.

4:59: Sharks kill it off, and looked good doing it too. Gave the Rangers pretty little room to work with in front of the net.

4:47: Can we all agree that TechCU commercial is really awkward? It’s not me, it’s you, ad people.

4:15: It’s nice to know Timo Meier’s lumberjack classes are going well, but sadly it earned him a high sticking call. Back to the PK.

3:08: The biggest problem for Jones so far this season has been his inability to create his own luck through his positioning. That save on Howden is a step in the right direction.

0:00: That’s the period, we head to the intermission tied at one. The Rangers outshot the Sharks 17-6 in that period. Yes, you read that correctly; 17 shots. That’s…less than ideal.

I think it’s safe to say the Sharks need a much better effort in the next 40 minutes. The two penalties didn’t help, but after Burns scored the team took their foot completely off the pedal. The Rags seemed to dominate possession from that point on, and even if the Zucc knuckler didn’t go in they’d still come out of the period feeling good about their effort.

Second Period

20:00: As the second period gets underway, let’s roll the replay on that Burns goal, shall we?

Those were simpler times. Second period, here we go!

19:04: Mika Zibanejad grabs Tomas Hertl’s stick and gets the gate for holding. Get the jaws out, it’s power play time!

16:56: A frantic looking power play results in some close calls, but Lundqvist shuts the door. Jones also forced to make a shorthanded stop on Vlad Namestnikov. Maybe settle down a bit, guys.

13:12: Jumbo’s in his first game back from injury, and yet he’s throwing himself in front of shots anyway. That’s somehow crazy and impressive at the same time.

10:09: Labanc with a nice interception in the neutral zone. Sorensen couldn’t capitalize, but it’s those little plays that are going to turn the tide.

8:27: Hertl with the falling wrister just can’t get the puck over the King. What an effort, though.

8:08: Looks like it’s time for Coach Pete’s Lineup Blender, sponsored by the company that made that food proccessor you got at Costco. Meier’s back with Hertl, and Melker jumps up to join the Joes.

4:52: Shot off the post. Lundqvist down and hurt. Everything happening at once. Send help.

4:50: Looks like Lundqvist is okay after getting crushed between the net and Cody McLeod. A true warrior. Stick taps for you, Henrik.

3:45: Now Sorensen’s playing with Joe & Joe. Fire up the blender again.

0:30: Suomela with a good chance, but Lundqvist barely stears it aside. The pressure’s ramping up for Team Teal.

0:00: And that’s the second. Sharks did gain a lot of ground in the shot department with a 14-6 swing, but we’re still deadlocked at one apiece. They were controlling the play again in the later stages of that period; if they just keep firing at the net a bounce should go their way eventually.

Third Period

20:00: Final 20 minutes, time for someone to step up. Let’s go.

18:47: Rangers score. Chris Kreider with a quick one-timer through Jones on a perfect pass from Brady Skjei. So…that’s a nope. 2-1 Blueshirts early in the third.

16:34: Sharks come back with a few good chance of their own, but Henrik’s equal to the task. All part of the plan, right?

14:50: Kane off the post! How’d that not go in?! Just…how?!

11:46: IT’S TIMO TIME AGAIN! Some solid defense leads to a 2-on-1, and Meier rips the puck over Lundqvist’s right shoulder for his ninth of the year. Just like that, we’re tied at 2!

9:55: Oh dear god no. Total collapse by the Sharks and Chris Kreider tricks his way into the treat of an open net. Rangers grab the lead back.

4:54: Desparation time for San Jose, and they know it. They’re taking control and forcing the Rangers back into their own zone…until they take a too many men penalty. THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU LEAVE THE BLENDER ON, PETE.

2:46: Penalty’s over. Chaaaaaaarge!!!

2:01: Empty net. Last chance.

0:28.9: Two icing calls on the Rangers, one huge stop by Lundqvist and they finally use their timeout. Now or never.

0:01.3: SCOOOOOOOOORES! HERTL! WITH 1.3 REMAINING! TIE GAME! WE’RE GOING TO OVERTIME!

0:00: Hoo boy…what a rush. Unbelievably, we’re getting some free hockey!

WOAH-vertime

5:00: 3-on-3 time. Who wants that extra point more?

3:21: Uh oh, Labanc’s off to the sin bin for tripping Hayes. 4-on-3 power play for the Rangers.

1:21: Rangers penalty now! Kreider slashes Chewbacca, so we’ll see 3-on-3 again for 24 seconds until Labanc’s expires, then it’s an SJ man advantage.

0:00: Lundqvist with a beauty of a save late on Burns, and now we head to the shootout. Choose your poison wisely, coaches.

Shootout

Round 1: Sharks start things off with Teenage Mutant Ninja Hertl…toe drag fakes out Henrik but it sails high. Zuccarello for the Rangers…dekes but Jones stuffs him. 0-0

Round 2: Couture tries a snap shot but Lundnqvist robs him. Zibanijad tries the slow approach but he can’t outwait Jones. 0-0

Round 3: Pavelski comes in with speed and goes five hole, but Henrik barely holds it out. Shattenkirk for the Rangers…dekes and finds a pocket behind Jones. Rangers win it in a shootout.

That’s it from me tonight. Thanks for reading, and may your Halloween be less scary than then tonight’s game was.

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