The San Jose Sharks are perfect so far in 2013, and for some reason, I have a feeling the team will be taking out Antti Niemi and Patrick Marleau for a drink pretty soon. The Sharks traveled to Calgary to take on the Flames, and the Flames did not want to go down easy.
The beginning of the first period was a fast paced one, and it looked like the Sharks were going to fall behind very quickly. Calgary was dominating, but Antti Niemi, the 29-year old goalie from Finland didn’t want to start his season off the wrong way. He held off Calgary for the first 12 minutes and 21 seconds of the period until Lee Stempniak put an almost unstoppable powerplay shot past him. After that goal, Nemo was perfect. He allowed 1 goal on 32 shots, and made a few excellent saves along the way. The Sharks looked dull the entire first period, and after the game, Head Coach Todd McClellan described the 1st, and 2nd period as “two different games”.
Coach McClellan’s remarks about the second period were as accurate as can be. The Sharks were much more energetic and played with more emotion starting that period, and managed to put three shots past former Shark Miikka Kiprusoff. 13:52 into the 2nd period, the former captain, Patrick Marleau, took a fancy pass from current captain Joe Thornton, and maneuvered the puck around Kiprusoff for the powerplay goal. Just over a minute later, the healthy Martin Havlat got in on the scoring as well, putting one past the former Vezina winner. Then, 3 minutes later, Patrick Marleau takes advantage of the struggling Flames, and scores another one. Unfortunately, all good things come to an end, and the buzzer sounded for the end of the comeback period.
The third period was dominated by Antti Niemi again, and the Flames just could not figure out how to score on him. Kiprusoff didn’t let anything in until there was one minute left in the game, but by then, it didn’t matter anymore. The Sharks essentially won the game by then, and started the season off the way it was drawn up.
The Sharks penalty kill was a disaster last year, and after the 1st goal was allowed, it did not look good for that branch of the special teams. Luckily, that was the only weak penalty kill of the night, and it looks like a promising year for the new and improved unit. They finished 2-3 on the night, and were a lot more energetic than last year.
The Sharks will now travel to Edmonton to play their next opponent, the young and speedy Oilers. After defeating the defending Western Conference Champions in enemy territory, the Oilers will not be a walk in the park to beat. If the Sharks can maintain their current style of play, this battle of undefeated teams will be a great one.
UPDATE ON SCOTT GOMEZ: Scott Gomez, who was recently bought out by the Montreal Canadiens, has been talking to the Sharks about signing with the team. He has been skating with the team that past couple of days wearing number 23. Stay tuned for more updates.