Two bad hockey teams meeting on the same ice can make for an entertaining hockey game. Okay, so maybe the Sharks aren’t a bad hockey team, but they sure are playing horribly lately. Sunday night’s 5-4 shootout loss to the Winnipeg marked their fifth-straight losing effort, and they did it in rare fashion.
The Sharks got out-shot 46-34. Antti Niemi couldn’t seem to get out of his own way. The defense looked listless yet again. They couldn’t hold a lead late, and when they did actually score a goal in overtime it didn’t count (AGAIN). The loss signified the end of a rough span of Bay Area sports, starting so promisingly with Stanford’s win over Oregon but then careening into a tree with back-to-back losses for the Warriors, an embarrassing loss for the Raiders, a perhaps even more embarrassing loss for the 49ers and now this.
When San Jose is at its best they’re stifling on defense and opportunistic with the puck on their sticks. The Sharks were (for the most part) the latter, but the theme of back-and-forth scoring has recurred far too often during this stretch of the season with very little to account for it.
The two-goal lead that Dan Boyle and Tomas Hertl gave the Sharks in the first period was cut in half by Michael Frolik in the second. Then, when Tommy Wingels again widened the gap to two, Dustin Byfuglien and Grant Clitsome cut it all the way to a tie by period’s end. Sure, Boyle scored his second power play goal of the game in the third period, but Andrew Ladd wouldn’t let it linger long enough. San Jose couldn’t even get the Jets to pull their goalie before giving up the lead.
What’s more distressing than their inability to escape regulation with a win is their inability to close in overtime. Over the last week, they’ve scored two goals in the extra frame and still managed to lose both games. Tonight’s disallowed goal came after Wingels lost control in the crease and barreled over Winnipeg goaltender Ondrej Pavelec. Patrick Marleau had a wide open net to put the puck in, but it didn’t count because … ya know … the open net wouldn’t have been there had Pavelec not been draped by Wingels.
The Sharks have been awful in the shootout this season, which is a problem because Logan Couture is the only Shark scoring in the NHL’s dunk contest. Even he couldn’t get it done tonight, and after Wingels and Boyle couldn’t manage a goal, Ladd’s beautiful shootout score was enough for the edge.
Off the Post
– Wingels was Todd McLellan’s honorary “why on God’s green earth is he in the shootout lineup tonight” player of the game. Boyle finally made an appearance and, although he couldn’t capitalize, he accounted for half of San Jose’s scoring. I think he gets a pass.
– Dustin Byfuglien is still one of my least favorite players in the NHL, despite the fact that he’s up in Winnipeg where I literally never have to hear about him. He scored his first goal of the season against the Sharks Sunday, probably just to make me angry.
– It was good to see Devin Setoguchi, but I’m sure Sharks fans are pretty glad he had a typical Devin Setoguchi game. He always looks really dangerous with the puck on his stick, but rarely seems to capitalize. I can’t imagine anybody is mad at that trade anymore.
– Speaking of that trade, the Sharks need Brent Burns back badly. They’ve gone 2-6 since his disappearance. It can’t be a coincidence.