During Thursday night’s 2-0 victory over the Anaheim Ducks, Sharks center Jeremy Roenick ended up on the wrong side of a brutal boarding hit. While the 38-year-old was battling for the puck behind the Ducks net, he was hit into the boards and came up gripping his shoulder. But that didn’t matter to him because at the end of the night, the Sharks ended up on the right side of the score sheet.
“The shoulder came right out,” explained Roenick about the injury he sustained in the first period. “I’ll get an MRI tomorrow and see how it feels after that. But we won the hockey game and that’s all that matters.”
Roenick returned to the game in the second period, but his blow was just the beginning in a game that revolved around enforcers enforcing and unlikely defenders defending the defenseless. But all this chaos is expected when the Ducks play the Sharks. Thursday’s game marked the third meeting between these Pacific Division rivals and anytime you have two feisty teams together that much, there’s going to be fireworks.
“We knew it was going to be a physical hockey game,” said Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabokov who earned his first shutout of the season with 31 saves on the night. “They play every game on the edge. This was a more playoff like atmosphere and it’s always tough to play against them. It was a challenge for us and I thought we did a good job.”
Although Nabokov was on the opposite end of the ice during Roenick’s hit, he had ring side seats for all the scuffles during the closing seconds of the game. Twenty seven minutes worth of penalties were handed out, including a five minute spearing penalty to Sharks defenseman Rob Blake and a ten minute misconduct to Sharks left wing Milan Michalek.
“I was just kind of a spectator,” joked Nabokov. “We obviously want what they had, the Stanley Cup, and that’s where we’re going. They’re a team with a lot of pride and a lot of character and I think that’s why it’s been such a rivalry.”
After a sloppy and lackluster start to the game, the Sharks jumped on the board first with a goal by Patrick Marleau at 17:00 of the first period. In a Bermuda Triangle style of attack, right wing Mike Grier was shifted up to the point alongside Marleau while Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle was heading towards the front of the net. Grier gloved a bad clearing attempted and fed the Sharks captain for his thirteenth goal of the season.
But the itch that ignited the Sharks was the boarding hit on Roenick by Brett Festerling at 5:52 of the first.
That started the drama.
On the next shift, Sharks enforcer Jody Shelley was out on the ice. He stared down George Parros, standing within arm’s length of his bushy moustache, but only words were exchanged.
“We were kind of flat on our heels and he just skated off,” explained Shelley in response to Parros’ actions. “It was actually a kind of smart play by him because we were flat and for him to give me a fight there would have got the fans going. We would have taken over. So he let it go.”
Marleau gave San Jose the lead at 17:00 and 36 seconds later Shelley and Parros started swinging at each other.
“We just said, ‘what do you think about now’,” added Shelley. And I said ‘perfect’. We both agreed on it. I had asked him a couple times before and then we just agreed upon it at that point in time.”
The Sharks insurance goal came courtesy of Devin Setoguchi at 9:45 of the second period. Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan accredited Setoguchi’s 14th goal of the season to his quick release.
“One of his greatest assets is that he has a quick release and he’s willing to shoot the puck,” said McLellan. “As soon as he starts to go away from it and tries to beat guys, he’s not quite as effective. So that’s a good reminder for him.”
For McLellan, Thursday night’s victory was about toughness, but not about the fighting. It was the little things the Sharks did that proved they were strong.
“When you talk about team toughness, you talk about winning faceoffs, you talk about going to some of the hard areas to play in, whether that’s the net front or the corners,” said McLellan following the win. “You talk about blocking shots, you talk about bearing down late in a shift and sticking together when it does get rough. I thought our club did a very good job of that tonight.”
Marleau – Thornton – Setoguchi
Michalek – Pavelski – Clowe
Plihal – Goc – Grier
Shelley – Roenick – Cavanagh
The Sharks will finish their five-game home stand by playing hosts to the St. Louis Blues on Saturday, Dec. 13. The game will be broadcast at 7:30 PM on CSN+, 98.5 KFOX FM and SJSHARKS.com.