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The Man in the Black Hat


Canucks @ Sharks, March 10, 2011

The sky clouded over for the umpteenth time: missed shots, failed power plays, zone entries choked by a merciless adversary holding a relentless lead.  Seconds were ticking down for the Sharks.

For the most part, the Sharks had played valiantly.  In the first period, the Canucks controlled the game, scored twice.  That was disheartening.  Still there was hope: the Sharks are at their best in the second period.  Accordingly, they jumped right out and scored twice.  Seto scored first, tapping in his own rebound after a hard shot that Schneider couldn’t hold onto.  Then Clowe bulled his way by two Canucks  to score a minute and seven seconds later.  His team came roaring to life.

That euphoria didn’t last long as the Canucks pulled ahead again.  The game dragged out, the Sharks struggling to tie it again.  All the big guns were shooting, they pulled steadily ahead on the shot clock.  Still the Nucks led on the scoreboard as the third wore on.  I was resigned to a loss.

Out of nowhere, a black uniform darted from the pack.  Mitchell? Mitchell of the no goal for 19 games? It was Mitchell.  Snaking his way between two Canucks, tucking the puck under and around them, he made his way all the way through their zone right into Schneider’s lap.  And scored.

Before the cheering died down, the refs called a penalty on Murray and put the Sharks on the penalty kill.

Before I could calculate how long the Sharks would have to kill to get to overtime, the Nucks scored.  I’m slow at math but it was really pretty fast.

With less than two minutes left, Couture drew a penalty.  The Sharks had gone 0 for zillion on their power play, and had about a minute and a half to fix that now.  Seconds still slipping away, visions of failed power plays blinded me to even the possibility that this would be different.  There was just too much pressure.  With 21 seconds left in the period, Thornton slid the puck across for Clowe to tap in.

They were on to overtime.  The Sharks started off convincingly in control of the puck, the Canucks were on their heels.  There is a reason the Canucks are at the top of the league standings.  It isn’t because they can’t find their feet under just about any circumstances.  They pushed back.

In total, the Sharks put 48 shots on goal through the game, to the Nucks’ 28. It still went to a shootout.

The duelists of Old West did not live long.  Shootouts are dangerous.  Old or young,  most gunslingers died on the job, as did the Sharks’ brave comeback.  But it was a good death.

Final score: 5-4 Canucks


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