Antti Niemi

In the midst of a marathon road trip, Sharks fall in Carolina

By Guest Contributor Kyle McLorg

It’s tough to win on the road in the NHL period, but it’s even tougher when you’re smack dab in the middle of a 2-week road trip. Tougher than that is winning back-to-back road games in two different states. Add to that being down 2-0 coming into the third period — now you are bordering on nearly impossible.

That is exactly what the Sharks tried to do and failed, losing to the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 in Raleigh last night.

The Sharks fell to an early deficit at RBC Center after a shot from Jeff Skinner deflected off of Dan Boyle’s skate and slipped past goalie Thomas Griess. This isn’t the first time Boyle has put one past Griess — he did so on February 2nd, as well.

The next goal came on a Carolina power play — a nifty dink and dunk one timer off the stick of the Hurricane’s Justin Faulk midway through the first period.

The scoring would come to a standstill for the next 30 minutes of ice time, resuming in the third period on the Sharks’ end. Less than 2 minutes into the period, Boyle wristed a shot past ‘Canes backup goalie Justin Peters. Not 3 minutes later Sharks newcomer Dominic Moore got into the action, feeding a pass to defenseman Brent Burns from behind the net that Burns one-timed past Peters, knotting it up at 2-2. But the Sharks would lose the race to 3 after Jussi Jokinen deflected in the go-ahead goal at 11:55 in the third.

The Sharks pulled Griess for the last few minutes of the period in favor of an extra skater and frantically made a push to tie it. The final few seconds saw a flurry of scoring chances, including a wide open net-side shot that Joe Thornton fanned. It was all for naught, as the Sharks returned to the locker room 1-2-1 on the February road trip with five games left before they return to San Jose.

Can the Sharks beat the streak?

It only gets harder from here. The Sharks next opponent? The Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena, where the home team has won their last 22 straight games, an NHL record. The Wings are coming off the heels of a 2-1 win over the Nashville Predators last night and they’ll be hungry to continue their streak over the suddenly skidding Sharks.

Who will play in net for the Sharks on Sunday is yet to be determined. Griess, who started in net over Antti Niemi following a poor performance for the Sharks starter in Tampa, still played a pretty solid game, making 22 saves despite suffering some poor defensive support. After the game McLellan told the media, “We’ll have to sit down and determine who starts next, but that won’t happen tonight.” Griess is certainly playing the best hockey of the Sharks’ two goalies right now, but McLellan has been known to lean on his goalies even when they’re on a cold streak, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see Niemi between the pipes versus the Red Wings.

The puck drops at 9:30 am on Sunday, and it should be a fun one for Sharks fans to watch.

You can find more of Kyle McLorg’s writing at Ruthless Sports. Follow him on Twitter @Ruthless_Sports.

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