San Jose looked to extend their winning streak to five in a battle with Buffalo at HP Pavilion.
Evgeni Nabokov squared off with Ryan Miller in the nets as Sharks Head Coach Ron Wilson employed the same lineup he did the previous night in Phoenix.
Click here to view picture's from Saturday night's game (PICS
). Click here to see Postgame Quotes (RON WILSON
) (PATRICK MARLEAU
) (MIKE GRIER
) (SANDIS OZOLINSH
San Jose’s first offensive chance came while playing shorthanded when Milan Michalek and Joe Thornton
bolted out on a two-on-one rush. The pass by Michalek found Thornton in stride, but the puck sailed just wide. Team Teal did kill off the remainder of the penalty though.
San Jose had just four shots 14 minutes into the game, but Sandis Ozolinsh used what was not even originally a play on net to provide the game’s first goal. Ozolinsh was firing the puck to keep it in the offensive zone, but it found the skate of Nolan Pratt in the high slot and was redirected past the unsuspecting Miller.
Moments later San Jose had an alarming event when Thornton drew a penalty in the Buffalo zone and Nabokov headed to the bench for the extra attacker. As Craig Rivet looked to avoid an attacking Buffalo forward, Rivet threw the puck back to Nabokov, not realizing the Sharks netminder had left the crease. Fortunately for Rivet and the Sharks, the puck slid wide of the post and no harm was done.
The Sharks took their 1-0 lead into the first intermission.
San Jose, already playing with 11 forwards as they were dressing seven blueliners, would be down another forward when Jonathan Cheechoo left the game with a strained groin (he is listed as day-to-day).
An early second period Sharks power play turned sour as an Ales Kotalik penalty was expiring. At that point, Derek Roy chipped the puck behind the Sharks attackers and was off to the races. Kotalik came out of the box and hit the blueline at the exact same time, and then the two perfectly executed the odd-man rush.
The night of quirky plays continued when Buffalo took a 2-1 lead. It began with Devin Setoguchi leaving the puck behind the net for Ozolinsh. The Latvian defender began skating up ice, but tripped over the skates of Setoguchi, leaving the puck perfectly for Tim Connolly. The Buffalo centerman deked to the right and then used his backhand to score the go-ahead tally.
Buffalo soon made it 3-1 on a forced turnover behind Nabokov. Adam Mair came out with control of the puck and looked for a teammate out front. Not only was Mair open, but so was Michael Ryan who took the in front of the crease and used a quick release to beat Nabokov.
The game was spinning out of control for San Jose and with three left in the middle period, Paul Gaustad scored a power play goal to make it 4-1. The clock struck zero for the second intermission break and it could not have been fast enough for Team Teal as they had surrendered three unanswered goals.
Wilson hoped to shake things up by starting Dimitri Patzold in the third. The rookie goalie made a standout save midway through the period on just his second shot against, but Buffalo’s Roy would be the recipient of a two-on-one minutes later that put the Sabres up 5-1. Things got worse with four minutes remaining as Gaustad had a puck bounce right to him in front and he put in the Sabres sixth of the night.
Thomas Vanek capped off a perfect night for the Sabres with Buffalo's second power play goal of the evening with 2:17 to play as the Sharks had their four-game winning streak snapped, 7-1.
700 & 800
Mike Grier played in his 800th career NHL contest and Thornton skated in his 700th career NHL contest.
San Jose will not play until Tuesday evening when they tangle with the Minnesota Wild at HP Pavilion. There are still tickets available for the 7:30 p.m. start via the HP Pavilion Ticket Office and www.ticketmaster.com. The game will be available on FSN Plus, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.