The first twenty minutes of tonight’s game may have been the worst we have seen from the San Jose Sharks this season. Fortunately, for the Sharks and their fans there are sixty minutes to a game and when you are as well coached and as talented as San Jose is, you can pull off big wins by showing up for the last forty minutes.
“You have to give them credit they came out strong. We weren’t very pleased with our start; I didn’t think we were all in. We made the decision to compete a little harder. We found three or four more players in the second and then three of four more in the third and we had enough in the end,” said coach McLellan. “We have to prepare them, we have to motivate them, but ultimately they have to decide how much of an input they have in each of the games and I thought they responded well in the second and the third.”
The Ducks came into the game tonight at the HP Pavilion with an 8-2 record in their last ten games and own the seventh spot in the Western Conference. You can't mention the Ducks without making reference to the league's top star of the month, Cory Perry. Love him or hate him Perry deserves respect. His month of March reads better than some grinder’s careers. His numbers for the fourteen games he played last month read like this 15-6-21 and he was a plus nine. Perry had two-goal outings in five games to go along with four game winners. He jet past Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos to lead the NHL in goals with 46 and ranks 4th in total points with 89. Perry plays on a line with Ryan Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan and the Ducks success relies heavily on those three. Aside from that top line and Teemu Selanne, the Ducks do not have a lot of scoring threats. It makes sense that San Jose’s recipe for success was to shut down those four players and keep an eye on Lubomir Visnovsky from the point.
The first period was Anaheim taking it to the Sharks. They came out playing like a desperate hockey team. Anaheim did many things well tonight. They were constantly getting into the shooting lanes and blocking shots. They collapsed five skaters in front of their own net making it difficult for the Sharks to generate any momentum, and showed great discipline by taking only one penalty on the night. With three and a half minutes, left in the opening period San Jose had registered two shots on goal and could not get a sniff of a scoring chance on the Ducks goaltender Ray Emery.
Whatever was said in the San Jose dressing room in between periods worked, because the Sharks played with purpose and brought energy onto the ice to start the second. To the delight of the always-sold crowd at the Shark Tank, the home team scored two minutes into the period on a Dany Heatley backhand shot. Heatley showed great persistence by going to the net and recovered his own pass attempt before he buried a backhand shot past the stick side of Emery.
When you are on a scoring streak like Patrick Marleau is, things go your way. Marleau’s tying goal was scored when he found himself all alone in front of the net. The Shark’s leading scorer was by himself because the Duck’s Bobby Ryan took the puck in the face and went down leaving number twelve with all the time he needed to fake out Emery and score on the backhand side.
Marleau’s second of the night and 37th of the season was an empty net goal that he originally tried to give to Joe Pavelski. Pavs is the ultimate team player that he is, passed the puck back to Marleau for a better shooting angle.
The third period was just as exciting as the second was, if you were cheering for the home team. The Sharks stepped up their physical play with Douglas Murray leading the way. Murray recorded nine hits tying a franchise record for body checks in one game. The 230-pound Swede always plays physical, but one hit that stood out more than others was the one that put Ducks star defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky out of the game.
“Doug Murray takes a run at Visnovsky from halfway across the ice. I counted the steps, he took five steps, I just watched it. He comes halfway across the rink to run at the Guy.” is what Ducks Coach Randy Carlyle had to say about the check during post game interviews.
No penalty was called on the play and from where I sat; no penalty was deserved. Just because someone gets hurt when two players collide doesn’t mean that someone was at fault.
“He’s wide open and I’m going to close the gap and he shoots right before I hit him.” said Murray in the post game interviews “They were complaining it was late but I don’t think it was late at all.”
Devin Setoguchi scored the winning goal on the Sharks only power play of the game. Seto as the Sharks faithful call him wired a one-timer from the left circle and beat the Ducks net minder on his blocker side.
Dany Heatley - was a contender tonight for turning the momentum around and getting the Sharks on the board. The Sharks only opportunity with the man advantage came after the Ducks could not stop Heatley on an end -to-end rush where Jason Blake took a hooking penalty. Heatley’s game has improved as of late and he appears to be getting more involved in both ends of the rink.
Douglas Murray - once again deserves to be on the list. Are you kidding, nine hits including a couple that resulted in Cory Perry picking himself up off the ice. The mere presence of Douglas Murray on the ice changes the way the opposition plays and creates more space for his fellow teammates.
The Sharks team in the first period were pretenders tonight. Yes, they pulled out the win and got the two points but you can’t expect to play good hockey for forty minutes and come away with the win too often. If they played a better team like Detroit or Vancouver, who have more depth the end result most likely would have been different.
Randy Carlyle - was a pretender tonight for letting his team blow a two-goal lead and for over reacting the way he did to the one penalty called against his team and the Murray hit. The Murray hit was not dirty. The feet of the two players were tangled together as they went into the boards and Visnovsky took the worst of it. The Ducks coach was not happy with the one penalty his team received all night. One single penalty kill, which the Ducks were unsuccessful on. The Sharks were down a man on four different occasions, albeit the last one with four seconds left but the officials let them play tonight and although they didn’t make the contenders list….there was some consideration. The referees are not always consistent from game to game, but tonight their calls were consistent within the game.
The Sharks 8 game division run continues on Monday night when the last team to beat them the L.A Kings come to town.
Keep your sticks on the ice,