What was a close one-goal game in the third period quickly went south on San Jose as Vancouver scored four consecutive tallies to take Game 2 by a 7-3 count.
San Jose was forced to kill of most of a left over minor penalty from the second period as the last stanza began. When that occurred, it looked like Team Teal would have a chance to rally as the score was only 3-2 at that time. However, four consecutive minor indiscretions doomed their comeback chances.
Sharks bench boss Todd McLellan was very direct about some of his players’ performances and blamed the loss as much on effort as the penalties.
“They had more battle in their game. At this time of the year when you have more battle and more of a tenacity to your game, you are going to win,” McLellan said. “Ben Eager’s hit started a bit of a frustration level on our team and we didn’t handle it very well and it grew from there.”
That his club lost its cool did not sit well with San Jose’s head coach.
“I’m not going to sit here and try to protect them,” McLellan said. “We lost our composure and were frustrated. When you are second, you tend to be frustrated. We’ve got some work to do, we’ve got some guys that need to ask themselves some questions and answer them and pull the skates a little tighter.”
McLellan stopped short of naming names.
“You (the media) guys get to decide,” McLellan said.
“We talk in numbers as coaches and we didn’t have enough players,” McLellan expanded. “We had some guys that really showed up and committed themselves to the team and then we had some guys that weren’t sure.
McLellan says it’s the small items that are creating the two game deficit. The game started well, but the attention to detail was not there for 60 minutes.
“I thought we did skate better tonight, it’s something we wanted to do,” McLellan said. “I thought we created more of a forecheck tonight, but the ability to sustain it wasn’t there again. All of a sudden, you’re chasing a game. You have to perfect the minor details and they’re doing a much better job of it, whether it’s faceoff coverage or whether it’s a set forecheck. On their first goal, it’s on our tape. 20 seconds left in the penalty kill and we want to play one-on-one in the neutral zone. They’re doing a much better job of those little details than we are.”
The players did not disagree with their coach and put a label to the game they played.
“We’re not playing the way we should be in the playoffs,” Logan Couture
said. “Tonight was just embarrassing. Hopefully it wakes us up a little bit. You lose 7-3, not many people played well. I didn’t play well. The list goes on. It’s embarrassing. That’s the only word that comes to mind. You’re in the conference final and the Stanley Cup Playoffs . . . you feel bad for the fans and the coaching staff that we gave an effort like that.
The goal that put Vancouver ahead for good came on a mini-breakaway by Kevin Bieksa and McLellan was very direct in the importance of that play.
“I thought one of the turning points in my opinion was their third goal,” McLellan said. “We have a set forecheck. We’ve practiced that since September and a player gets (outskated) and all of a sudden it’s in the net. You can’t chase this team, they are too good. You have to play with them or ahead of them.”
The Sharks would clearly rather not have had to kill of Ben Eager’s first two penalties (one resulted in Vancouver’s fourth tally), but Eager’s coach said he would like to see some of Eager’s passion instilled in others on the club.
“Ben Eager is one of our faster forwards, one of our more physical forwards,” McLellan began. “I think he has the ability to win battles and create scrums. I do believe the other team knows when he's on the ice. The fact that Ben played a lot more minutes tonight was rewarding for us. Now the negative. He can't march to the penalty box on an ongoing basis. The tradeoff obviously didn't work in our favor tonight. I'd like him to play that game, without going to the penalty box. Simple as that.”
FIVE FOR FIGHTINGPatrick Marleau
and Bieksa fought in the second period and while it’s not normally part of his arsenal, Marleau felt the moment was called for as he was taking some lumber in the back from the Vancouver defender.
“It happens in hockey,” Marleau said. “We exchanged shots and decided to drop the gloves. At that point we were still trying to get our game going. I haven’t fought too many times, but I’m the one who dropped my gloves, it was my decision too.”
The effort drew praises from the Sharks bench.
“He wants to win, he’s a gamer,” Captain Joe Thornton
said. “It’s too bad we didn’t have more gamers tonight. The game would have been a little bit different. He wants to win, he wants to play.”
“He stepped up,” Couture said. “Patty is a leader. He’s a quiet guy and he doesn’t show his emotion too much. You see how badly he wants to win. He stepped up and made a statement tonight.”
Marleau was asked if a mark on his face was from the fight and he said it was nothing he couldn’t handle.
“I’ve got an older brother so I’m used to it,” Marleau said.
Eager was clearly not happy that Kevin Bieksa fought with Patrick Marleau
instead of others.
Nothing positive can be taken from Vancouver as the Sharks are down 2-0. However, the good news is they will have the home support in Game 3.
“A really wise man once told me you’re never really in trouble in a series until you lose a game at home,” McLellan said. “We haven’t done that and we don’t plan on doing that. We’ve got to regroup and we’ve got to find some composure and take our battle level up. And as I’ve mentioned, there are a few people in our group, and I’m not going to hide them anymore, they have to ask themselves whether or not they want to keep on competing.”
The players know they will get a little extra lift from the home crowd.
“We’ve got to go home and get ready for one game,” Marleau said. “If we do that, the results should show up. Right now we’ve made some mental mistakes and they’ve been able to capitalize.”
San Jose may be down a couple of games, but they know how talented their lockerroom is and they know what the task at hand is.
“Very capable,” Thornton said of his team’s ability to rebound. “We’ve bounced back all year and we’ve got to be ready to go in Game 3.”
Game 3 will be Friday at 6 p.m. and will be on Versus, 98.5/102.1 FM and www.sjsharks.com.