Too Many Penalties On The Ice- The Sharks will look at the tape of this one Thursday and wonder "What if?" It's not all that unusual for a team to get a "Too Many Men On The Ice" penalty in a game. However when a team gets two of them it does not bode well for the outcome. The Sharks 4-3 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Kings at the Staples Center Wednesday night was particularly as frustrating as it was puzzling. With six minutes remaining in the third period and the Sharks nursing a 3-2 lead the Sharks drew their second too many men infraction of the evening. One of the problems with giving a team like the LA Kings a man advantage is that they are already too dangerous of a team to give a man advantage too. Because of either miscommunication or other factors this was the spot the Sharks placed themselves in and it did not end well. Justin Williams needed only 21 seconds to bury the game tying goal with 5:39 remaining in regulation, then Anze Kopitar drilled in the game winner after yet another ill timed Sharks penalty in overtime. The Sharks get a point in the overall standings for their efforts as they are still atop the Western Conference 10-1-2 for the month of October. However the Sharks have seen the Staples Center in Los Angeles become a Team Teal chamber of horrors and have only won once in their last 12 games there including last year's post season (1-8-3).
Quick Start- The Sharks only needed 13 seconds to get on the board against the Kings as Marc-Edouard Vlasic drilled the games first shot on goal past LA goalie Jonathan Quick after taking a feed pass from Logan Couture. However the Sharks would shortly find themselves being their own worst enemy as this was a lead they simply were not able to hold. Just over two minutes later the Kings' Drew Doughty tied the game on LA's first shot on goal as Niemi just looked stunned as the puck just simply got past him. Both teams settled in afterward and played a very tight first period with the Sharks getting a 9-8 shot on goal advantage. The Sharks were able to grab the lead back as a turnover by the Kings near the neutral zone would prove costly. Tommy Wingles was able to get ahold of a loose puck which the Kings were not able to clear out of their own zone off the stick of LA's Trevor Lewis. Wingles fed Joe Pavelski who immediately drilled it past Quick to give the Sharks a 2-1 lead with 8:33 remaining in the period. The Sharks had a chance to increase their lead after a Willie Mitchell interference penalty late in the period however just could not generate any forecheck of their own as the penalty which overlapped into the very early part of the second period went for not.
Sharks Try to Keep Pace- The Sharks as the game went on had a difficult matching up with the Kings speed on the ice and strong forecheck. The Kings would get the upper hand in the early part of the middle period and only need 3:15 to tie the game at 2-2 when Jared Stoll would tip a Slava Voynov slap shot that beat Niemi to his right. The Sharks despite playing a better portion of the period in their own defensive zone would tighten up and hold the Kings to just three shots on goals while the Sharks managed eight of their own. The Sharks would catch a break late in the second period when the Kings' Kyle Clifford was called for goalie interference when he collided with Niemi in the Sharks goal crease. Team Teal would proceed to cash in the opportunity as Couture would knock in his seventh goal of the season past Quick 46 seconds into the man advantage to give the Sharks a 3-2 lead with 1:56 before the intermission. During the power play the Sharks forecheck made maybe what proved their only appearance of the game as they were able to move the puck around very efficiently. Midway through the second period the Sharks would draw their first "too many men on the ice" penalty however were able to take care of it with a solid penalty kill effort.
Kings Forecheck Dominates Late- In the final period the Kings turned the tables on the Sharks defensively holding Team Teal to their lowest shot total of the season for one period with just three. Meanwhile the Sharks defensively were doing a fairly decent job holding the Kings at bay. With six minutes remaining however the entire game changed on the Sharks as they drew their second 'too many men on the ice" penalty which would prove to be their ultimate undoing. The Kings took the faceoff and were determined to make quick work of the opportunity they were handed. Williams drilled a shot that beat Niemi just 21 seconds into the power play. The Sharks would soon get a power play opportunity of their own when LA's Daniel Carcillo was called for boarding when he hit Couture from behind. However the Sharks could not generate much in the way of offense and only managed a single shot on Quick. In the overtime period it was all Kings as off the faceoff Dustin Brown was able to drill a slap shot that hit the post. The Sharks were never able to gain control of the puck at any point. Justin Braun 53 seconds into the overtime period would draw a hooking penalty. The Sharks held the fort as long as they could until Kopitar drilled a slap shot that frankly Niemi had very little chance at stopping. The Kings had the win, the Sharks had an overtime loss that from the moment the tying goal was scored seemed almost somewhat inevitable.
Lessons Learned- There are things the Sharks can take out of this game despite the result. The obvious item that comes to mind is that there has to be better communication between the players and coaches when shifts change or players come on the ice to spell others. What cost the Sharks in this game in as much as anything is simple and basic attention to detail. It just seemed the Sharks were not communicating as well as they had in the previous twelve games before. The Sharks got called for two "too many men" penalties. There were at least two other times where the Sharks came very close to having this same penalty. Giving an on ice powerhouse team as the LA Kings a man advantage is never a good idea, and more often than not it's a recipe for disaster. Wingles running into Quick in the second period was not a good penalty to take either. The Sharks just seemed to be either caught up in the moment of another Staples Center case of the jitters and at times just looked a little out of focus. This was still a winnable game despite the Kings third period domination however the Sharks in the end can only look to themselves here. Team Teal will have to own this one and learn from it.
Twitter Quote- From Logan Couture: “Too many penalties. We can’t give them those opportunities." courtesy of @SanJoseSharks
Next Sharks Game- The Sharks come to the end of their five game road swing and turn the calendar page to November. Team Teal now gets ready for a Saturday Night (Nov. 2nd) match up against the Phoenix Coyotes. The puck drops at the Shark Tank at 7:30pm.