Buzzer Beater- First losses of the season whenever they happen are difficult. Some are tougher than others. What the Sharks experience in Boston Thursday Night was truly a heart breaker. David Krejci's tip in of Adam McQuaid's shot on goal with "point 8" seconds remaining (that's 0:00:8) gave the Bruins a 2-1 regulation win over the visiting Sharks. The Sharks who were averaging over three goals a game have been held to just one regulation goal in the first two games of this five game road swing. As the game's closing seconds were winding down and overtime appeared certain Krejci got in front of the net between Joe Thornton and Justin Braun and was in position to redirect a shot that got past Antti Niemi at the last possible second ... literally. The loss was the Sharks first regulation loss of the season after starting out the first nine games of the new season with a league best 8-0-1 mark. The Sharks for most of the game outplayed the Bruins however ran into a very red-hot goalie in Tuukka Rask who was lights out for Boston in making 38 saves. The Sharks in the first period alone outshot Boston 16-3 and as late as halfway through the final period had a 35-13 shot advantage on the Bruins. Because of Rask having arguably one of the best nights in his NHL career the Bruins were able to stay in the game long enough to do just enough damage late. This was not a matter of the Sharks not doing enough or not going hard at it and that is because they did most of these things and did them well enough to win. Sometime it comes down to which goalie has the hotter hand and Thursday night it was Rask. Niemi made 17 saves in the net for the Sharks tonight and was more the victim of some bad puck luck than anything else. In an 82 games schedule there will be nights like these.
The Bruins would break the scoreless seal on the goalies duel with just 1:12 remaining in the second period when Jarome Iginla scored on a shot that got inside of Niemi's leg pad and rolled into the net. This was especially hard for Niemi who just a moment earlier had made his best save of the game robbing Patrice Bergeron at near point-blank range. The Bruins would have the lead entering the third period but would only enjoy the lead for 17 seconds once the final period started. On the 18th second of the final period Patrick Marleau got the Sharks on the board when he took a rebound Mark Edouard-Vlasic shot on goal and knocked it past a diving Rask. The Sharks just a few seconds later had a great scoring chance and an opportunity to take the lead when Tomas Hertl put a point-blank shot on goal that Rask able to grab out of thin air before it found the twine of the net. The Sharks swarmed around the Bruins net for the next several minutes but came away with nothing for their efforts. In the opening period the Sharks had a number of chances to grab a lead and played about 75% of the period in the Bruins zone. The missed opportunities there and throughout the game would only come back to haunt Team Teal later.
Chara Takes Liberties- In the first period the Bruins' Zdeno Chara hammered the Sharks Tommy Wingles along the boards. Wingles left the game appearing to be a little fuzzy and he did not return. In the third period Chara crosschecked Tomas Hertl in front of the Boston goal crease heading him in the face with his stick. Hertl was okay. The officials were apparently too busy getting an update on the World Series or something and claimed not to have seen it (never mind that it was only replayed about 20 times on the NESN telecast, the Bruins own network). Head Coach Todd McLellan doing his best to avoid a fine from Gary Bettman deferred any questions regarding these hits or the officiating in the post game press conference. The Sharks had only one power play in the entire game and it came early in the first period.
Lessons Learned- We all knew that first loss was going to come at some point more sooner than later and should not be surprised that it would happen on this road trip. The Sharks are playing in some tough buildings against some very good teams and have their work cut out for them in each and every game of this five game swing. Nobody would have predicted it would come in fashion that it did in Boston. Though a loss like this stings keep in mind a few things. First off the Boston Bruins are a helluva hockey team and they will always show up and give you a game especially in Beantown. As for Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask, just tip your cap to him. He was on his game Thursday night and clearly was on fire. Niemi has had night's like Rask had tonight. There was a reason the Bruins went to the Cup finals last year and Rask was a big part of that. The Sharks played a strong game on the road in Boston just as they did a strong road game in Detroit. If you told any team in the NHL that they would have to go to play two games, one in Boston and the other in Detroit and that they would win just one of the two most would take that. The Sharks are heading to the Bell Centre in Montreal Saturday to play in another tough building against the Canadians. The Sharks have not won in Montreal since 2002 and will no doubt have their work cut out for them there too. The Sharks are also without Brent Burns, Dan Boyle, Raffi Torres which are three key missing pieces right there. All of this and they are 8-1-1 through their first ten games. What the Sharks take out of this one is simply this, (1) Hot goalie who played lights out not withstanding the Sharks just need to find more ways to make the most of their scoring chances which is something they collectively already know, and (2) maybe very late in a tie game not let an opposing player sneak past you and position himself in front of the goal. That's something McLellan and the coaching staff I'm quite sure will cover at the next morning/afternoon skate Friday in Montreal. If anything losses like these just make better teams even more focused. If that is the case here then the Sharks will not only be okay, I would expect them to even thrive. Cheer up, there's a long way to go here.
Twitter Quote- From Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan (courtesy of @SanJoseSharks) : "We can't leave here saying we could have & should have because "could have" and "should have" never won any games."
Next Sharks Game- Saturday October 26th, Sharks @ Montreal Canadians 4pm PT/7pm ET. TV- Comcast Sports Net (Northern California); CBC-TV (Hockey Night in Canada); Sharks Radio Network.
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