The San Jose Sharks (11-6-4) defeated the Vancouver Canucks (11-6-5) by the final score of 3-2 in yet another shootout. Niemi continued his Vezina caliber season by making great save after great save. The offense finallycame through in the shootout and the Sharks were able to come out with the victory.
In the first period San Jose was definitely outplayed at certain points but was able to come out with a 1-0 lead thanks to Scott Gomez‘s first goal of the season on a great slap-shot from just inside the blue line. Also, their power play looked good although they did not get any goals from it.
The Sharks also did very well to not take any penalties in the period so as to not allow the Sedin twins and the rest of the potent Canuck offense time with the extra man.
In the second period the Sharks earned an early power play which looked very dangerous once again, although was unable to earn a goal. They did gain some momentum before the Sharks went onto the penalty kill for the first time in the period.
On that penalty kill Adam Burish scored his first goal of the season on a partial breakaway when he took a nice shot from between the circles to beat Cory Schneider. Credit Brad Stuart (second assist of the game) for a great feed down the ice to get Burish open for the break.
Later on in the period, with about 6:30 left, the Canucks answered with their first goal of the season after a shot was deflected and fell to Henrik Sedin‘s stick who was right on Antti Niemi’s doorstep. He was able to puck the puck by the San Jose netminder and cut the Sharks’ lead to 2-1.
Then, with about 24 seconds left in the period, after a few bad turnovers by the Sharks in their own zone, the Canucks tied the game on a shot from the top of the right circle that Niemi did not see because of a great screen in front. The goal was credited to Jannik Hansen, making that his sixth of the season. The period ended with a tied 2-2 score.
The third started off with a Canucks power play, and while they were able to generate some chances were unable to score because Niemi made some great saves. However, Vancouver continued their dominant play and controlled the first half of the third period while San Jose struggle for scoring chances.
The latter half of the period the Sharks were able to turn up the pressure and started dominating play. But, with about 6:30 left in the game James Sheppard commits a tripping penalty, but again Antti Niemi was incredible in net and kept the game even at two apiece. The Sharks then earned a power play of their own immediately after the kill but were unsuccessful as well. After the period ended with some very exciting end-to-end play, we were off to overtime. San Jose had nine blocked shots in the third period alone.
In overtime the Canucks got another opportunity on a suspect penalty call but the Sharks stood their ground as Niemi stood on his head, which seems to be the norm now, keeping the game even. San Jose had a few opportunities to win the game afte the kill but was unable to score putting the game into a shootout.
In the shootout goals by both Couture (in the third round) and Pavelski (in the fourth round) were good enough to take a victory from the Vancouver Canucks who will be disappointed to leave the game with just the one point. Again, incredible goaltending by Niemi is what allowed the Sharks to stay in the game and ultimately gain the victory. Overall a very gutsy performance, especially because they were outplayed pretty badly at some points, but a great win nonetheless. Sharks win 3-2 in the shootout.
My 3 Stars
1. Antti Niemi (36 saves)
2. Brad Stuart (2 assists, incredible defensively, was all over the ice)
3. Scott Gomez (1 goal, by far best game of the season)