The San Jose Sharks (28-12-6, 62 points) fell to the Boston Bruins (29-14-2, 60 points) in regulation for only the second time at home this season as they were shutout 1-0 at the SAP Center. Boston’s Tuukka Rask earned his league-leading fifth shutout of the season.
As expected goals were tough to come by tonight for the San Jose Sharks and by the end of 60 minutes ended up with none. It was equal parts tough defense and solid goaltending for the Bruins who showed why they are the top team in the Atlantic division.
Also, one of the matchups that was intriguing was the goaltender battle which featured two Finnish netminders, one starting for each team. In fact both are fighting for that starting spot as we head to the Olympics, so no doubt each wanted to beat his counterpart. Unfortunately for the Sharks the winner of tonight’s battle would be from Boston. Antti Niemi was no slouch either though even with the losss as he made a few great saves after the Sharks were down 1-0 and kept them in the game. He would stop 21 of the 22 shots that went his way.
What also hurt the Sharks this evening were the penalties, especially in the second period. Everytime they would start to get something going they would kill their own momentum with a penalty and against one of the top defensive and goaltending teams in the league that cannot happen.
The lone goal, which was scored with just 7:35 left to play in the third, came off of deflection with Niemi out of position. He was ready for the initial shot which came from the slot but was blocked by San Jose’s Scott Hannan. The deflected puck then found its way to Boston’s Carl Soderberg who was heading to the net in case of a rebound and was able to put the puck home. Credit Soderberg for heading to the net, but on the play Dan Boyle also had a bit of a defensive lapse and rather than tying up the forward’s stick he got caught puck-watching.
As the game was coming to a close San Jose gave one last ditch effort as they pulled Niemi for the extra skater but the Sharks could get nothing out of it. Once the Bruins got the puck out of the defensive zone they built a wall at the blue-line and for about a minute the Sharks could barely get the puck back into the zone. With that the game ended 1-0.
GGS 3 Stars
1. Tuukka Rask (26 saves, 5th shutout)
2. Antti Niemi (21 saves)
3. Carl Soderberg (1 goal, 3 shots)