(Originally published at Sports Radio Service)
SAN JOSE– The San Jose Sharks lost to the Buffalo Sabres by a score of 3-1 on Friday. The game was remarkable for being a loss the Sharks could ill afford as the regular season ticks away. The game was also noteworthy for being the first in Sharks history without a penalty called on either side. Head coach Pete DeBoer had some thoughts on how the teams got through the game without drawing or taking any penalties:
We’ve gone two games now without drawing a penalty. So I think that’s… we’ve got to figure out why. Obviously we’re not attacking enough holes, we’re not creating enough chances. That’s when you draw penalties. You have the puck, you get people in bad positions, you attack a hole and somebody has to haul you down. So we’re not doing enough of that.
It was an off night for Pacific Division teams. For the Sharks, a regulation loss was exactly what they did not need, and more disappointing: they lost the Buffalo Sabres. Down south, the Anaheim Ducks also underperformed somewhat, needing overtime to beat the Edmonton Oilers by a score of 2-1. Instead of creeping closer to second place in the division, the Sharks lost ground for a second game in a row.
The Sharks line adjustments featured Patrick Marleau moving to the wing again, with Logan Couture at center and Joonas Donskoi on the other wing. After the game, coach DeBoer was asked about the new lines. He said: “It was a tough night to judge lines. I thought they were really good defensively. I thought we worked at it. Again, we got one goal from a defenseman so it’s not a good night to ask me how the lines looked.”
The Sharks seemed to be off to a good start in the game. They scored the first goal just 1:28 in. Matt Nieto’s pass across the slot found Marc-Edouard Vlasic. After the game, Nieto confirmed that his pass was meant for Nick Spaling, who over skated it. Luckily, it was well-placed for Vlasic to collect as the fourth man in. He took the puck a little ways back to the slot and put it on net. It went by Buffalo goaltender Chad Johnson’s shoulder and in. It was Vlasic’s eighth goal of the season and Nieto’s eighth assist. That was into the first period.
The Sabres went to the room leading on the shot clock by one, but trailing on the scoreboard.
The Sabres tied the game well into the second period. The puck skipped by Brenden Dillon’s stick and was picked up by Brian Gionta. Martin Jones stopped Gionta’s shot but it slipped under him and sat near the goal line behind him long enough for Larsson to get to it. He had to dive for it and was tripped on the way, but Larsson did get his stick on the puck and push it in before Jones could get a glove on it. It was Larsson’s third goal of the season and Gionta’s 13th assist, at 13:38.
The teams were tied at the second intermission: 15-15 in shots and 1-1 in goals.
Dillon was not the only one having trouble catching long passes. The puck was bouncing pretty badly all night, and by the third period both teams were being more conservative with their passes and even their shots. Still, it was Zach Bogosian’s shot from the point that broke the tie. The puck went off of Tomas Hertl’s skate and seemed to hit Sam Reinhart too before going into the Sharks net. The goal was given to Bogosian with assists to Zemgus Girgensons and Reinhart.
The Sharks pulled their goaltender with just over two minutes left in the game. The additional skater did not help their passes connect or their shots improve. With 1:19 remaining, the puck bounced past Brent Burns at the Buffalo blue line and Evander Kane caught it bouncing through the neutral zone. He put it in the empty net. An assist wet to Zach Bogosian.
The Sharks now fly to Vancouver to play the Canucks on Sunday at 4:00 PT.