Antti Niemi

Sharks put 59 shots on goal, get shut out

antti niemi sharksThere isn’t much to say about this game. It was absolutely stupid, and a throwback to the Craig Anderson Show in the 2009-10 playoff series against the Colorado Avalanche, except worse. The Sharks threw out everything they had, but new Edmonton Oiler goaltender Ben Scrivens set an NHL expansion era record with 59 saves in a 3-0 shutout of the Sharks.

Look, the Sharks put everything they had on Scrivens. Despite their three-game winning streak, Edmonton isn’t a good team, especially defensively. They were awful against San Jose too, which didn’t even play down to their opponent’s level for once this season. The Sharks put a ton of really good shots on Scrivens, and he stopped all of them rather easily.

To put San Jose’s offensive barrage in perspective: the Oilers had 22 blocked shots to go with Scrivens’s 59 saves, and 19 shots missed the net according to Todd McLellan. That’s 100 shots without a single one finding the net, and that doesn’t count the handful San Jose fanned on. The shooters were headlined by Brent Burns with eight, Tommy Wingels with six, Patrick Marleau with five and three different defensemen with at least four. In fact, every Shark had a shot on goal except for Joe Pavelski, who might have been hindered by his linemate Burns’s dominant showing.

Of course, the game wasn’t won without some scoring from Edmonton. Justin Schultz scored on the Oilers’ fourth shot of the game, a well-screened wrister from the point that Antti Niemi still shouldn’t have let in. Then it was Taylor Hall with a pretty tape-to-tape from Jordan Eberle. The icing on the cake was a late goal from Eberle, but at that point the game was pretty much over and most Sharks fans were probably rooting for the shutout record just so there was something to laugh about.

In hindsight, it’s a credit to the Sharks that they’re capable of pulling off such a ridiculously pathetic feat. Think about it: San Jose is frequently criticized for being too pass-happy, and yet when I searched “shots on goal record” midway through the third period, Google pulled up a bunch of different articles and tidbits about the Sharks without me prompting it. The truth is that along with all the passes, this team loves to throw pucks and the net, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Sure, in some games the quality of the shots belies the quantity, but you really can’t really call them on that tonight. Scrivens was just out of his mind, simple as that.

Off the Post

— The Sharks are still solid, but now they’ve been shut out in two-straight games. They’ll need to get off the schneid in Calgary tomorrow, because they’re going to need the offense when they face Chicago at the SAP Center on Saturday.

— We enjoyed the magnificent return of Martin Havlat tonight. No, really, I’m being serious. Havlat was great in his almost 16 minutes TOI, with 4 shots on goal and a couple eyebrow-raising opportunities. He still looked like he was playing a little … scared, but you can’t really blame him. He’s been snake-bitten and we’re all pretty much counting the minutes until he’s injured again.

— Mike Brown had a nice little scrap with Matt Hendricks at the end of the first period. He popped Hendricks’s helmet off and rocked him so hard that the Oiler left the game with a head injury. Of course nobody wants to see an injury happen, but it is nice to see a rare scrap from a Shark.

What I don’t understand is the timing and, ultimately, the fight itself. What was the point of it? Brown has to be leading the league in pointless fights this season. The Sharks never retaliate for dirty play, but sometimes Brown will come out of nowhere and drop the gloves on someone right when the period is about to close. Fights should be momentum stealers, and Brown hasn’t been doing that.

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