When the Sharks returned to Calgary’s Pengrowth Saddledome on Monday for an off-day practice, they had begun putting the disappointment of Sunday’s 4-3 loss behind them.
“There’s nothing better than the playoffs,” said Mike Ricci, who now serves as a special advisor to Sharks Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson. “No one’s happy about last night, but it’s only one game. Another one comes tomorrow.”
San Jose will take one big positive out of Sunday in preparation for Tuesday. When the Sharks looked back on the elbow to the face of Patrick Marleau
delivered by Flames defenseman Cory Sarich, they became even more impressed with their captain.
“That’s one of the gutsiest performances I’ve seen from a player,” veteran center Jeremy Roenick said. “To go through what he did and jump up on the ice and want the puck, that’s what you need out of a captain. If a guy is not inspired after that, he should go work in a library.”
“Seeing Patty get back up was nice,” defenseman Kyle McLaren said. “He showed the type of captain he is. He’s one of our better players. He stepped up at the right time.”
“It was huge,” defenseman Douglas Murray
said. “If you want to talk about leadership, that’s it. Patty is a great player and when he’s on top of his game, he’s one of the top players in the League.”
Head Coach Ron Wilson was just as impressed.
“It was unbelievable to watch Patty bounce back,” Wilson said. “It was a devastating hit that was borderline illegal. He was the best player before and after that. After the two hits, the guy who played the best and wanted to be on the ice the whole time was Patty. He sure impressed me. Patty competed and now it’s up to the rest of the guys to respond.”
Marleau just seems to keep coming back in the playoffs, leading Stanley Cup goal scorers since the 2004 playoffs with 21.
“He brings his ‘A’ game in the playoffs when you need it most,” McLaren said.
As for Marleau’s take on Sarich’s elbow after viewing the tape?
“It kind of looked like he was going for the head, but that’s hockey,” said Marleau, whose eye, in addition to the stitches, was extremely swollen. “I ended up with cuts on my face. Whether it was an elbow or whatever, it’s over with.”
Goaltender Evgeni Nabokov was very direct in his postgame comments about some “boys needing to act like men” and his teammates backed up those thoughts.
“Some guys aren’t pulling their weight,” Marleau said.
Wilson was more than fine with Nabokov’s comments.
“I’m not going to comment, but I’m glad ‘Nabby’ said something,” Wilson said. “The most important thing for the guys right now is to challenge each other and rise to the occasion.
As for the game, the Sharks feel ready to even the series.
“I don’t think it’s any secret this is a competitive team,” defenseman Craig Rivet said. “We believe in our ability and our goal.”
And despite some light snow flurries, the sun did eventually come up in Calgary, both literally and figuratively.
“Today is fresh and new and the guys are loose and smiling,” Rivet said. “The only thing we can do is go out for Game Four and give our best effort.”
“We believe we’ll be better,” center Joe Thornton
said. “It’s not a five-game series, it’s a seven-game series.”
The Sharks won’t hit the panic mode when trailing by just one game.
“(Our morale) is good,” McLaren said. “We haven’t lost anything. You can’t let what happened one or two days ago affect things.”
Roenick looked back on a Game Three loss he experienced while playing for Chicago in the first round of the 1992 playoffs.
“In 1992, we led Game Three in St. Louis and ended up losing,” Roenick said. “We didn’t lose again until the Finals. There’s still a lot of hockey to be played. We have to put that behind us and get ready to compete. It’s time to lace up the boots.”
GET IT DONE
The Sharks definitely came out on the short end of the power play situation on Sunday by going 1-for-5.
“Our power play needs a little more effort,” Wilson said. “Even if we don’t score, we need to look in control.”
“If we cut down on our mistakes and not sit back, we’ll be all right,” Marleau said.
TAKING BACK HOME ICE
If the Sharks can take Game Four, they will have regained control of home ice.
“We have to win the game to get home ice back,” Marleau said.
Defenseman Christian Ehrhoff was on the ice at practice, but is still listed as day-to-day after missing the entire series.
A BLAST FROM THE PAST
After today’s practice, Wilson was asked who he thought Calgary would start in goal for Game Four.
“Mike Vernon,” Wilson said with a smile about the former Sharks and Flames goaltender. “I don’t know. I hope it’s Mike Vernon. If I had to guess, I’d say ‘Kipper’ (Miikka Kiprusoff). We’ve got to worry about our own game.”
Game Four will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday and will be on CSN Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX and www.sjsharks.com.