Looking at the schedule for the season long five game homestand for the Sharks was not pretty. Specifically the last three games. The Sharks had the Kings, Blues, and Ducks coming to town. Those three outstanding teams would play against the Sharks in a span of only four days.
Since the Sharks had to play back to backs against the Blues and Ducks, arguably two of the best teams in the leagues, let’s focus on those games.
Friday against the Blues was a fun game. While everyone was out Black Friday shopping, I decided to spend my day at SAP Center watching the Sharks. They didn’t disappoint. They came out of the gates with a bang, hammering home 4 goals in the first 11 minutes, two of which came from Brent Burns. I’m still not sure who decided it was better to make Brent Burns a defenseman, because what started out as an experiment to bring Burns as a wing to spark the team last season has turned into the greatest thing since sliced bread.
The end of the first period came, and with those four goals the Sharks were outscoring opponents 36-13 in the first frame. How did coach Todd McLellan react to that period?
“Hell of a period. Really happy with it.”
The Sharks seemed to get a little lazy in the ensuing two periods, surrendering three goals to the Blues. What looked like a rout all of a sudden was a one-goal game. Brent Burns would have none of it, and about a minute later buried his third goal of the game, completing his first career hat trick. The arena was loud. Almost playoff loud. I could barely hear myself think but Sharks fans were happy to have a two goal lead again. Tomas Hertl then scored an empty netter to finish off the game.
The next day the Ducks came to town. Pre-game, Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau was asked a question about Brent Burns, and how the Sharks haven’t lost in regulation with him in the lineup.
“He’s hurt? I was hoping.” said Boudreau.
The first period was extremely eventful. A couple minutes into the game Joe Thornton was hit in the eye by an errant puck. He quickly skated to the bench and went to the dressing room for repairs. He only missed a couple of shifts while getting stitches. He had a shiner and his eye was half closed, but he continued to play. While talking to a linesman about the injury, Joe Thornton said, “That’s hockey baby.” Corey Perry beat goalie Antti Niemi for the first goal of the game a little later in the period. With five seconds left in the period, controversy broke out.
A scrum began, and it looked like Daniel Winnik was the third man into the fight. That is an automatic ejection and 10 game suspension in the rulebook. Scott Hannan then jumped on Winnik to pull him out. At the end of the scrum, it appeared that there would be matching roughing minors to the fighters and an ejection for Winnik, but in the end, the Ducks managed to get a power play. The Ducks didn’t score while on the advantage, a relief for Sharks fans.
The Sharks managed to score three goals to go up 3-1, but coughed the lead up. The Sharks would go to the skills competition, and win on a controversial goal by Joe Pavelski, who may have stopped the forward motion of the puck. The review panel in Toronto looked at it, but said that it was a good goal. The Sharks won, completing a perfect homestand.
After the game, McLellan was asked about coughing up the lead. He wasn’t too happy about it, but he said that playing three games in four days against good teams and still getting three wins out of it is satisfying.
The Sharks embark on a four game road trip, and will play 15 of their next 23 on the road.
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