Thursday’s contest against Chicago was one of the wildest of the season at HP Pavilion. Chicago jumped out to a 3-0 lead before the first period was halfway complete, but then San Jose started their long haul back. The Sharks scored once in each period to force overtime before finally succumbing to the Blackhawks in the overtime stanza.
There was a lot to be happy about with the rally as the extra point gained by playing more than 60 minutes allowed San Jose to maintain first place in the NHL’s overalls standings, but the coaching staff and players were definitely focused on the game’s first several minutes.
“I take away from this one that the start was not acceptable,” said Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan. “We’re all going to talk about how hard we fought, and that we worked our way back into the game, but that start was unacceptable. That is not a characteristic of ours. It’s unacceptable.”
The players completely agreed with McLellan’s assessment.
“With that start, spotting them three goals, it’s tough to come back,” said Joe Pavelski
“We didn’t do ourselves any favors,” said Manny Malhotra. “We just made mental mistakes and it cost us three goals.”
Things finally began to settle down when McLellan wisely used his timeout following the third Blackhawks tally.
“That was an easy timeout to call,” said McLellan. “We weren’t very good. We worked hard all week. (I just said) let’s regroup, we’ve got 55 minutes left, and we did just that.”
“It was a ‘let’s get going” (timeout),” said Pavelski. “We worked on things all week and we knew what we missed.”
Once things settled down, the Sharks began their methodical climb back.Patrick Marleau
started the rally when he carried the puck across the offensive blueline and pulled up to a stop. He hit Marc-Edouard Vlasic
skating hard and he in turn found Pavelski driving the net. “Little Joe” did the smart thing in having his stick on the ice and redirected the shot through Cristobal Huet.
“Patty make a good play and drew a defender and Vlasic (did the same),” said Pavelski.
San Jose’s second goal did not come as quickly as Chicago’s, but it did eventually come and it pulled the Sharks within one with 2:20 left in the second. Pavelski was again the goal scorer and this time it came on the power play. Holding the point on the man advantage, Pavelski cranked up a one-timer that took a beneficial bounce.
“I was pretty much trying to miss the first guy and it just clipped him,” said Pavelski. “It was just one of those plays.”
The final Sharks tally of the night completed the regulation comeback and it came with 15:04 left in the third. Team Teal had been buzzing around Huet all period, but had not managed to find the equalizer. As the Sharks pulled the puck back to Rob Blake at the point, he paused for an opening and put the puck toward the net. Malhotra was the man on the spot in the slot and altered the shot’s direction and potted the tying goal.
“I know I touched it, but I wasn’t sure if Pavs did on the way to the net,” said Malhotra referencing the traffic in front of Huet.
Hockey players will never celebrate losing a game, but they know the importance of an overtime point.
“It’s good to get one point out of the game,” said Pavelski.
McLellan noted some game tape would be looked at to try and fix what ailed the team at the game’s start.
“If I knew then we would fix it tonight and not tomorrow,” said McLellan.
The HP Pavilion crowd delivered on their reputation, vocally cheering on their club even when the 3-0 deficit looked like a steep hill to climb.
“The crowd was into it,” said Pavelski.
McLellan acknowledged he considered making a netminding change to try and shake up his club, but stuck with his starter and it paid dividends as Nabokov was dynamite in ensuring Chicago would not find a tally the rest of regulation play.
BONE RATTLERDouglas Murray
definitely had the hit of the night when he stepped up at the blueline and flattened Dustin Byfuglien.
LIKES THE MATCHUP
With his assist, Jason Demers
now has four points (2+2=4) in four games against Chicago this season.
Dany Heatley recorded his 600th career NHL point with his assist on Pavelski’s second goal.
Vlasic extended his point streak to three games (1+2=3) with his first-period assist.
Pavelski recorded his ninth multi-point game of the season and third two-goal game. He has four goals in his last two games.
CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS HEAD COACH JOEL QUENNEVILLE
“They are a good team and they are going to get their chances and they are going to get their opportunities. They got the building going and it turned out that we did settle it down and found a way with Brouwer and that was a nice finish.”
“You never know how these games are going to go. It was a good hockey game.”
The Sharks will host Minnesota Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. and tickets can be found at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office and at www.ticketmaster.com. The game will be on CSN California, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.