The Sharks have been offensively inept lately, so perhaps the Olympic break coming over the next few weeks will be exactly what the doctor ordered. That being said, San Jose couldn’t mentally check out just yet, especially after losing four of the last five games. While they didn’t quite get off the schneid against their former division-rival Dallas Stars, they got just enough from Martin Havlat and Tommy Wingels in a tight 2-1 overtime victory.
In keeping with a trend that we’re getting used to, there wasn’t a lot of offense to be had. Neither team enjoyed lengthy zone possessions and scoring chances on both sides got gobbled up easily by Kari Lehtonen and Alex Stalock. The Sharks and Stars were just about even on the shot clock — 21-20 in favor of Team Teal — and both penalty kills were perfect. The Sharks fell short on three power play opportunities.
Havlat was the man who finally broke the stalemate after over 38 minutes scoreless by tipping in a slap shot from Scott Hannan at the point. It was a pretty play from both of them, and credit to Bracken Kearns for the screen on Lehtonen:
The goal was a rare blemish for the Dallas net-minder, who was nails otherwise while giving his team a chance to jump back in it at 6:27 in the third period with a goal from Valeri Nichushkin. Regulation wouldn’t be enough (because, again, of course), so we went to 4-on-4 overtime.
That didn’t take long. A near-turnover by the Sharks in Dallas territory translated into a fantastic opportunity when Hannan again found Havlat camping nearby the net. This time though, Havlat used his play-making skills to find Wingels crashing for the game-winning goal:
Off the post
— Adam Burish was back for the first time this season Wednesday night, and he played surprisingly well a.) for Adam Burish and b.) for someone who hasn’t played in several months. He and Mike Brown combined with Andrew Desjardins to field the most underwhelming fourth line ever (not Desi’s fault, by the way), and for all of our sakes let’s hope those two alternate nights or something as time goes on. Not that they weren’t effective, but the Sharks just don’t need that much “energy.”
— Speaking of Mike Brown, he laid a vicious hit on Antoine Roussel that CSN failed to get a proper shot of. I made a GIF anyway:
— More GIFs for you — check out Brad Stuart face plant into the boards!
— I said Alex Stalock was good, but at this point his 2013-14 resume has been equipped with flashes of brilliance. Take this save for example:
As The Neutral of Fear The Fin pointed out on Twitter, only four goalies in the NHL have a higher 5-on-5 save percentage than Antti Niemi between 2010 and 2013. Translation: he’s a damn good goaltender who’s been having a rough go of it this season. Independent from Niemi’s situation, it’s hard to argue with what Stalock has shown. He’s been playing confident hockey and he deserves to be rewarded with starts until he regresses (or doesn’t, which is totally fine too).
— Almost time for Sochi! Hopefully Joe Pavelski, Patrick Marleau, Niemi and Marc Edouard-Vlasic have better digs than the reporters!