The San Jose Sharks (19-6-6, 44 points) lost to the New York Islanders (9-18-5, 23 points) by the final score of 3-2 in a shootout at the SAP Center in San Jose. Unfortunately for the struggling Sharks, even a home game against a team that was 0-8-2 in its last 10 games was not enough to help them overcoming their recent losing ways.
This evening Todd McLellan and his staff made quite a few changes in the line combos to shake the team up after their losing streak. For one, Martin Havlat and Tyler Kennedy were both on the fourth line while the second line consisted of Logan Couture centering Patrick Marleau and Joe Pavelski.
The Sharks were dominant throughout the first period, out-shooting the Islanders 18-3. Part of that was because the Sharks had three power plays but also because the Islanders are on the second night of a back-to-back after being in Anaheim last night. But, as we saw, New York got stronger as the game went on and eventually picked up the win.
Either way, even with the strong first, the Sharks did not score. They did, however, open the scoring for the game in the second period on a much needed power play goal by Patrick Marleau. He was the beneficiary of a fortunate bounce off the stick of Dan Boyle that had the puck go right to him with an open net while Islander goaltender Kevin Poulin was out of position.
Ten minutes later, with San Jose up 1-0, the Sharks scored again. This time it was Joe Pavelski who scored on a rebound after he set up the original shot by Dan Boyle. Just like that it was 2-0 Sharks as they headed to the second intermission.
In the third period the Islanders cut the Sharks’ lead in half early on a Thomas Vanek goal on a scrum in front of the net while Antti Niemi was out of position. He was out of position because he stopped the original shot off a partial breakaway by John Tavares and could not recover in time to freeze the puck, which sat in the goal crease.
After the goal the Islanders slowly picked up confidence and moment and you could see it in their play. Then, with just over a minute and a half remaining and a faceoff in San Jose’s zone they called a timeout and pull their netminder. Tavares won the draw cleanly right to Kyle Okposo who fired the puck on net with a bit of a screen and beats Niemi on the wrister from the point.
We move on to overtime which was played at a frantic, back-and-forth pace that saw seven total shots on goal. The Islanders, who forced Niemi to stand on his head, accounted for four of those while the San Jose Sharks had three. Eventually though the game would go to a shootout, where none other than Okposo would score the game-winner in the fourth round, giving the Islanders the 3-2 shootout victory. The other two shootout goals were scored by Logan Couture and Thomas Vanek.
So, for the second game in a row now, the Sharks have squandered a two-goal lead after two periods and have now lost home games to both the Buffalo Sabres and the New York Islanders. That’s not to take away from the great games played by both teams, but if you want to be a contender those are the games you need to win. Instead, they find a way to lose once again and now the losing streak extends to four games.
The Sharks will get their next chance to end the losing skid tonight once again at home and against the Minnesota Wild who they just lost to. After that it’s another tough three game road-trip, so San Jose will want to capitalize on this home game to get a few things straightened out before head back out on the road.
Lastly, for those that missed it, the San Jose Sharks paid a tribute to long-time goaltender Evgeni Nabokov. It was great to see him get a nice ovation from the crowd.
GGS 3 Stars
1. Kevin Poulin (48 saves)
2. Patrick Marleau (1 goal, 1 assist)
3. John Tavares (2 assists)