Coming into their second of three contests in the 2013 NHL season, the San Jose Sharks were closer to home ice in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs than the Calgary Flames were to squeaking in as the eighth seed in the Western Conference. But if they had turned a corner by earning seven points in their last four games, it led to a dead end Wednesday night, March 6 in Alberta, Canada.
It was the Sharks who were overwhelmed, not the Flames. The home page of the team website seemed to point the blame with their lead, "On the second leg of back-to-back games," but that could spell trouble for a team fighting to make the playoffs with four more on of them scheduled.
In the first period, Calgary got on board early when a fortuitous bounce put the puck right on Roman Cervenka's stick for the put-back. San Jose came out strong in the second with the first four shots of the period, but then went 10:01 before their next shot. Their next would be set-up by Joe Pavelski, who signaled Joe Thornton to head to the slot before stealing the puck in the corner and feeding it to him for the one-timer.
The Sharks came out with 17 shots in the third period, but the Flames were the ones putting the puck in the net. They scored on half their six shots, including one shot from above the circle Thomas Greiss should have had and an empty-netter in the final minute.
The captain was less negative: "Pucks were bouncing a little bit. I thought we played well in the third, I don’t think the score indicated that. We pushed and we pushed hard in the third, and just unfortunately we didn’t get the points."
The numbers would seem to back him up. San Jose attempted 15 more shots and got seven more on net. They won four more draws, yet Calgary had eight more giveaways and just two more takeaways, three more hits and six more blocks.
But the reality is this was not a 60-minute effort. There was no back-check on the first goal allowed, meaning all three units were guilty on one of the three goals—no back-check from the forwards, a soft goal and no clear from the blue line. Worse, the main source of the Boyle's frustration remains: San Jose has now gone 12 straight and 16 of 17 games overall without scoring more than two goals (excluding shootout).
Last season, the Sharks entered February with the Pacific Division lead and faltered into March to almost miss the playoffs. A key win over the struggling Phoenix Coyotes could have convinced them to trade Shane Doan, who could have been convinced to accept the trade.
A chance to get an even better Jarome Iginla to fill their power forward void once again passed them by Wednesday. Now Calgary is just two points back of the final Western Conference berth into the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs, and San Jose lost a chance to jump to fourth.
Examiner.com's three stars of the game:
- Miikka Kiprusoff was easily the best player on either side even if he was against an anemic offense. He stopped 32 of 33 (.970 save percentage) and withstood intense pressure from the Sharks throughout the final stanza.
- Iginla had a goal and an assist and even won four of seven draws.
- Jiri Hudler had a block and two takeaways, including the one that led to his assist that put the game away.