(Originally published at Sports Radio Service)
BOSTON– Tuesday, the San Jose Sharks fell to the Boston Bruins 5-3 at TD Garden. In many ways, the game was uncharacteristic for both teams. While it was a predictably close game, the score did not reflect a game between two defensively exceptional teams. After the game, Joe Thornton said:
The game went back and forth, back and forth. We thought we had it, we had a good chance on the four minute power play. In the end we just didn’t bury it. Tough game to lose.
The shot count was a little high on both sides (34-33), and five goals were scored in the first two periods. It is the third time Tuukka Rask has bested the Sharks, and the Bruins have yet to lose to San Jose with Rask in net.
Sharks head coach Todd McLellan said, after the loss:
If we’re comparing it to the last game in New York, it was a much better effort. I don’t know if that’s a wise thing to do or not but we have to take steps forward so that’s a positive. We still got to get better. We’re giving up four games a night we’re not going to win very many games at all doing that.
The Sharks did improve their power play numbers, scoring once in two tries, or once in three tries if you count the second as two since it was a four minute power play. Either way, better than before the game. Beyond that, the game was a step back in most areas.
After the 5-3 loss, Logan Couture said:
We needed to get at least a point. We kind of let that one slip away. With this team you can’t be doing that. So we need to get a lot better.
The first whistle for more than icing came with just under seven minutes left in the first period. That whistle blew to send Brent Burns to the box for tripping. It was a peculiar sort of trip, more of a shoving the feet from behind, but he did interfere pretty overtly with Seth Griffith’s feet and cause him to fall.
Seconds in to the power play, 17 and 47 drew attention to themselves by cycling the puck around a bit. When Brad Marchand took control of the puck near the point, 17 and 47 had the Sharks penalty killers slightly out of position. Marchand’s shot went cleanly over Niemi’s blocker to put the Bruins on the board first.
At 15:56,the Sharks got their own power play when Marchand went to the box for cross checking Justin Braun. After the second faceoff of the power play, Patrick Marleau took a shot from the point and Logan Couture redirected it in from his spot just in front of the blue paint. Assists went to Marleau and Burns.
The Sharks came out with a little more punch to start the second, earning a couple of good chances on the first shift for Logan Couture’s line with Patrick Marleau and Tommy wingels. The fourth line of Adam Burish, Eriah Hayes and John Scott, however, could not hold the zone and then got trapped in their own zone for too long a spell. The Sharks were lucky to escape without giving up a goal.
That second line was by far the most effective through the first seven minutes, consistently getting shots and giving the Bruins defense grief.
Almost seven minutes in, Desjardins went to the box for tripping Loui Eriksson. This time, the Bruins did not do much cycling before Torey Krug put the puck past Niemi, again from above the faceoff circle. Assists went to Milan Lucic and David Krejci.
Tomas Hertl followed Desjardins to the box for tripping, less than two minutes after the Bruins’ second goal. The Sharks managed to kill that penalty off.
With just 3:45 left in the period, that second line came back with some fight. Patrick Marleau got to the net and Wingels got the puck to him. Marleau’s back was to Rask and a Bruin was in his face but he held his ground and the puck until Couture came in to help out. He helped out nicely and put the puck in the net.
Seconds later, the top line followed suit and gave the Sharks their first lead. Joe Thornton scored that one, assisted by Joe Pavelski and Justin Braun.
To start the third period, James Sheppard was on a line with Eriah Hayes and Tomas Hertl. A line of Adam Burish, Andrew Desjardins and Tommy Wingels foolowed that. Then Thornton came out with Pavelski and Nieto for a touch of normalcy.
Seth Griffith, David Krejci and Milan Lucic for the Bruins came out against Couture, Marleau and Hertl, and tied the game. The goal was Griffith’s first NHL point. Assists went to Lucic and Torey Krug.
The Bruins’ fourth goal came after Vlasic failed to control the puck (his stick slipped from his hands as he tried to catch a pass from Braun) and Paille got control along the boards. Unfettered by any Shark, he was able to shoot. Two other Bruins were crowding the crease and the puck slid through them and under Niemi. One of those was Gregory Campbell. He got credit for the goal, so evidently it touched him on the way through.
After that goal, the Sharks’ lines fell back into a more familiar order, with Hertl on a line with the Joes, and Nieto with Marleau and Couture. Hayes joined Sheppard and Wingels. This seemed to be working pretty well, and then Justin Braun took a stick to the face, putting the Sharks on a four minute power play. That would give the Sharks most of the rest of the game with a man advantage. Unfortunately, it also sent Braun to the dressing room for repairs. He was gone for over two minutes of play.
The Sharks pulled Niemi with about a minute left to play, but that did not work out. Instead, the short-handed Bruins scored an empty net goal with 24.5 left. Goal scored by David Krejci.
John Scott only played five minutes. Whether or not he allows goals or shots against, if he cannot skate more minutes than that, his teammates have to make up the difference, in minutes and line adjustments. The Sharks, like most of the top teams right now, are moving to a more balanced four line system. Having a player they cannot or will not use evenly seems like a terrible handicap. That handicap is no less of a problem for being entirely predictable before the season started.
Scratches: Tye McGinn, Mirco Mueller, Chris Tierney.
Sharks next face the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday October 23, at SAP Center.