If you watched the Sharks tonight in an effort to get your mind off the Super Bowl, you didn’t get much in the way of a consolation prize. After losing their first game of the year Saturday night to the Nashville Predators, San Jose dropped its second straight, this one 2-1 to the Ducks in Anaheim.
It was the first time this season the Sharks lost after scoring the first goal of the game. Aside from Logan Couture’s goal in the first period, it was a sleepy effort offensively for both teams. It all started for the Anaheim at 16:07 in the third, when a routine dump-and-change from the Ducks took a funny bounce on the boards by the trapezoid. The puck shot straight out into the goal mouth for Saku Koivu, who crashed the net hard and scored perhaps the easiest goal of his life.
Then the Sharks fourth line got caught on two consecutive icing calls, and a beautiful feed from Ryan Getzlaf to Sheldon Souray set up a one-timer that deflected off of Scott Gomez’s stick and ended up top shelf over Thomas Griess’ left shoulder. San Jose made a late push, including a power play in the final three minutes and a 6-on-5 for the final 1:10 of the game, but they were stoned by Ducks’ backup Victor Fasth and couldn’t knot it up.
A big reason for the Sharks’ issues: the power play has gone ice cold. After scoring at a 37.5% clip on the man advantage in the first five games, they’ve only scored on 5.5% of their power plays since. Some blame could be placed on the loss of Dan Boyle, who missed time again due to illness, but there are four other players on the ice responsible for setting up and capitalizing on those opportunities. They’re just not getting it done now. The Sharks went 0-for-5 on the power play in Anaheim; couple that with the already lackluster 5-on-5 performance and it’s no surprise they could only muster one goal tonight.
This game brought another very disappointing effort from Ryane Clowe, who continues to show signs of frustration after going goalless through the first nine games of the season. Clowe’s inability to put the puck in the net wouldn’t be a big deal if he didn’t let his emotions get the best of him. Clowe was penalized 17 total minutes in the first period after instigating a fight with Matt Beleskey, and he now leads the league in PIM.
– Jason Demers was back and better than ever. He played over 16 minutes and was integral in keeping some dangerous Ducks’ scoring chances out of the net. James Sheppard was also impressive on the third line tonight, showing a good nose for the net on more than one occasion.
– Thomas Griess looked great yet again, and the Sharks certainly have a luxury in their backup goalie. Knowing the next man up will play comparably good hockey when Antti Niemi needs a day off will be important in this sprint to the finish and beyond.
– Brent Burns continues to skate in practice at full speed and should be back sooner than later. With Boyle only out due to some ridiculously pesky flu bug, the Sharks appear to have escaped the first few weeks of the season relatively injury free.
– THE PENALTY KILL. 27 straight penalties killed. It’s unbelievable, really. When the Sharks opened their season, taking penalties meant automatic goals. Certainly not anymore. The addition of Larry Robinson is paying off in spades, and much earlier than any of us expected.