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Sharks Shut Out Rangers

(Originally published at Sports Radio Service)

The San Jose Sharks finished up their three game road trip with a 1-0 win against the hungry New York Rangers. New York is in a close battle for a playoff position, just two points ahead of the Washington Capitals for the last wild card spot in the East. The Sharks were outshot 41-29 but San Jose goaltender Antti Niemi rose to the occasion. His 41 saves set a new franchise record for saves in a shut-out. His work was well-appreciated:

@jasondemers5: There’s a new king of New York and he ain’t swedish! #31isastud #suomi

This was the first time the Sharks shut out the Rangers. To make the win more exceptional, the lone goal in the game was a short-handed goal. That Logan Couture scored it was less unusual, but it was still a significant win.

Just over a minute into the game, Brent Burns was called for interference against the Rangers’ Brad Richards. At the midpoint of the first period, the Sharks were already being outshot 14-3. To make matters worse, Scott Hannan took a tripping penalty at 9:02. With all of that going against the Sharks, it was very surprising that the Sharks scored first.

As soon as the second Sharks penalty kill started, Joe Pavelski and Patrick Marleau charged into the Rangers’ zone for a short-handed chance. Under a minute later, Logan Couture beat two Rangers skaters and their goaltender for a short-handed goal. It was the Sharks’ seventh shot of the game. Couture managed to lift the puck over Henrik Lundqvist despite losing his footing and shooting from a seated position. As the only goal of the game, it was a good one.

Logan Couture after scoring a short-handed goal against NY Rangers on March 16, 2014 (From NHL.com)

Logan Couture after scoring a short-handed goal against NY Rangers on March 16, 2014 (From NHL.com)

The Sharks had the first four shots of the second period, keeping the Rangers mostly on their heels for the first three minutes.

The Sharks got their first power play at 8:52 of the second, after Derek Stepan was called for roughing against Pavelski. The Sharks applied some pressure but it did not represent much of a change of pace from their second period even-strength play.

The last five minutes of the period saw the Rangers pushing back. With 4:12 left in the second, the Sharks got very lucky when a cross-ice pass found Ryan McDonagh with an open net. Marc-Edouard Vlasic just managed to get his stick on the shot.

With 3:15 left in the second, the Rangers appeared to have scored, but the referee called it no goal. No camera angle could definitively overrule it. It was the first time this season that the Sharks benefitted from that type of call.

The second period ended with the Rangers leading 27-21 in shots, though the Sharks lead 10-7 for the period.

The Rangers came out fast in the third. A chance for Stepan was just thwarted by a block from Dan Boyle. Seconds later, Carl Hagelin had a very good chance that Niemi had to come way out of the crease to cover.

With just over eight minutes left in regulation, a Sharks give-away gave Brad Richards a great chance on an open net but he missed. The Sharks responded with Matt Nieto and Patrick Marleau going the other way, two on one. A questionable non-call helped quell that scoring chance.

Neither team could sustain much pressure in the second half of the third. The game became a series of one-and-dones with a minimum of whistles to break them up. Through the period, the Rangers outshot the Sharks 14-8.

It was a good sign to see Sheppard centering Wingels and Havlat again. That could be the first time this season that the same three players were on the Sharks’ third line three games in a row. If it has been done this season, it was a long time ago.

It was not a good sign to see Raffi Torres out again for a fourth game in a row. McLellan said before the game that they would see how Torres felt in the warm up, and if he felt well enough he would play. Luckily, the team has their game in hand. The Sharks are again even in points with the Division-leading Ducks, though the Ducks still have a game in hand over the Sharks.

Tyler Kennedy drew back into the lineup, replacing Mike Brown on the fourth line.

Patrick Marleau lead the Sharks in shots on goal with six. Jason Demers lead in ice time with 22:05. Ryan McDonagh lead the Rangers with six shots, and in ice time with 27:18. The three stars went to Antti Niemi, Henrik Lundqvist and Logan Couture.

The Sharks next play at 7:30 on Tuesday, in San Jose against the visiting Florida Panthers.

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