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5 minutes isn't enough
Sharks drop 2-1 decision to Wild
12/6/11 - By Mike Lee -

The Sharks have a problem. After losing last Saturday night to the Florida Panthers, head coach Todd McLellan put them through a grueling practice the next day as punishment for their unwillingness to work. The message that McLellan sent lasted all of 5 minutes on Tuesday night in the Sharks first game since their Saturday debacle, as they dropped their 4th game in their last five in a 2-1 lackluster loss to the Minnesota Wild at HP Pavilion.

San Jose came out of the gate like gang-busters, peppering Wild goaltender Josh Harding with 8 shots in the first 76 seconds of the game. It appeared as if the Sharks were bound to right the wrong that was their stinker of a performance last weekend.

Joe Pavelski even scored a rare 1st period goal for San Jose, swatting Dan Boyle deflection past Harding a minute into the contest. Boyle rifled a shot from the right point that bounced off Harding and rainbowed out to the slot where Pavelski was patrolling. The Sharks forward spun 180 degrees to his left, punching his 12th goal of the season home.

The Sharks were off to the races, and things looked peachy, until Pavelski decided to crash the Minnesota net. As he buzzed Harding, Minnesota defenseman Nick Schultz trailed and caught his goaltender in the head with his shoulder.

The glancing blow knocked Harding's helmet off and sending him sprawling to the ice. Trainers tended to the goalkeeper, then decided that was the end of Harding's evening.

Queue Matt Hackett, a prospect that was recalled by the Wild on December 2nd after starter Niklas Bakstrom was injured. Hackett had no NHL experience, was coming off the bench cold and was about to face a Sharks offense that smelled blood.

Then the power outage hit, and the Sharks offense went dark.

The first sign of distress came when Sharks captain Joe Thornton was clipped by Cody Almond with a high stick that drew blood. The ensuing 4 minute power play was a exhibition of futility and the antithesis of the opening 5 minute of the game. It was almost as if Hackett had a block of Kryptonite stuffed into his goalie pants.

San Jose would muster no serious chances on the extended power play, essentially letting the foot off the gas, and allowing an opponent to get back into the game. The shark repellant that is the no-name goaltender also kept any serious scoring chances away from the Sharks net even though San Jose put 23 shots on net in the opening 20 minutes of play.

"There were a lot of missed opportunities I think," said Boyle. "This team has been successful at finding ways to win this year. That's why they're in first." Minnesota used the last 3 minutes of the period to not only get back into the game, but generate all the offense they would need to win their 5h straight game. Mikko Koivu tied the game at 17:41 of the opening period by sweeping a Dany Heatley deflection past Antti Niemi, after the Sharks failed to get any support in front of their own net.

Pierre-Marc Bouchard put the Wild up for good 2 minutes later after Torrey Mitchell took a poorly timed tripping penalty right in front of his own net. Bouchard snapped a cross-ice pass from Koivu under Niemi's right arm with just 12 seconds left in the period.

It was a killer goal given the shot advantage and how the Sharks had opened the game. Unfortunately for San Jose, games aren't 5 minutes long. They're 60 minutes in duration and San Jose wasn't prepared to put in a full 60 for the win.

"We have to find a way to score goals and win games and we're just not doing that right now," added Logan Couture. "We're really playing well but we have to get to those areas where we're scoring dirty goals."

Hackett looked like a world beater in net, but that was aided by the Sharks insistence on trying to score fancy goals from crazy angles. That wouldn't pan out.

They squandered their best chance to knot things up late in the 2nd period when former Sharks Dany Heatley was sent off for boarding. Once again, the Sharks power play failed to create any quality chances. The boos rained down on the Sharks players headed for the locker room at the 2nd break.

Minnesota went into prevent mode in the 3rd period and locked down on the Sharks offense. Hackett finished the evening to earn the win in his first NHL contest, stopping all 34 shots he faced.

"It's tough for my first NHL game," said Hackett. "I was shaking. I am still shaking. It is my dream to play in the NHL and it is a good feeling. I didn't even have much time to stretch. I just went in there."


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1 2 3 T
MIN 2 0 0 2
SJ 1 0 0 1
1st period - 1, Sj, Pavelski 12 (Boyle), 1:00. 2, MIN, Koivu 5 (Heatle, Wellman), 17:41. 3, MIN, Bouchard 5 (Koivu, Spurgeon), 19:48, (pp).
2nd period - None.
3rd period - None.
1st period - Almond, MIN (higsh sticking - double minor), 10:45; Mitchell, SJ (tripping), 19:11.
2nd period - Heatley, MIN (boarding), 18:08.
3rd period - Marleau, SJ (boarding), 8:17.
Shots Saves
MIN - Harding 8 7
MIN - Hackett 34 34
SJ - Niemi 21 19
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
MIN 10 6 5 21
SJ 23 10 9 42
Power Play Conversion
MIN 1 of 2
SJ 0 of 3
3 Stars of the Game
Matt Hackett
Mikko Koivu
Joe Pavelski
Referees: Rehman, Sutherland. Linesmen: Henderson, Wheler.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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