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Defensive focus tames Bruins
Good Sharks show up
3/22/12 - By Mike Lee -

The Sharks gave their fans another reason to be frustrated on Thursday night. Having laid eggs against Anaheim and Los Angeles on back to back nights earlier in the week, San Jose played like world beaters on Thursday to knock off the defending Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins 2-1 at HP Pavilion. Applying a vice-like clamp on the Bruins for a majority of the game, the Sharks showed everyone what they're capable of. Problem is, they just can't seem to do it on a consistent basis. You never know what team is going to show up, and Thursday was no different.

After giving up a combined 10 goals in their last 6 periods of hockey, there was little reason to believe that they were going to hold the suddenly surging Bruins to a single goal. Somehow the Sharks defense suppressed the Bruins. Boston only mustered 17 shots on goal and 8 of those came in a desperate 3rd period. The shot total was the fewest allowed by San Jose this season.

Sharks head coach Todd McLellan has made it clear to his players that their road to recovery starts with an emphasis on protecting their own end. That's what San Jose did, and good things happened.

"You can't open it up against that team," said McLellan. "Everybody knows them for their physicality and their board play. A lot of teams underestimate their speed, also. I didn't want to get into a track meet with them. I thought late in the second with about four minutes to go we got in that track meet and got a taste of it and didn't like it. We managed the puck pretty well in the third. It was a tight game; not a lot of chances."

Joe Pavelski made things easier by getting the Sharks on the board first. Pavelski was the benefactor of a rebound off a Patrick Marleau shot from the doorstep 3:57 into the game. San Jose got aggressive in the Boston zone, cycling he puck for a good minute before Joe Thornton fed Marleau from behind the Bruins goal. Marleau haked at the puck from outside the left post, but Boston netminder Tim Thomas made the save. Lurking on the opposite post, Pavelski gobbled up the rebound and fired a shot past a sprawling Thomas.

"We are going to need all four lines to contribute to make the playoffs right now," said Thornton. "We'll take any win. It was a good win tonight, but we still have eight games to go. And we still have a lot of work to do."

Shots on net came at a premium for both teams the rest of the period. San Jose generated 8 shots in the period, while the Bruins were held to a paltry 5 shots. Pavelski generated one of those shots, backhanding a puck off Thomas' right shoulder. The puck deflected dangerously toward the goal, pinging off the crossbar.

Bruins centerman Gregory Campbell was sent off for the Sharks only power play in the game midway through the period, but Thomas bailed him out with a pair of quality saves.

San Jose almost found itself staring down the barrel of an unpleasant situation early in the 2n period when Brent Burns coughed up the puck in the offensive zone, then allowed the Bruins to breakout on a 2-on-1 break. Brad Marchand couldn't get around defenseman Douglas Murray who also took away the pass, so he decided to shoot. Antti Niemi made the save preserving the Sa Jose's slim lead.

The shot was only one of four the Bruins were able to take on Niemi in the period.

At the other end Thomas was earning his paycheck, stopping all 12 Shark shots he faced in the period.

Justin Braun was called for a slash after he broke Brian Rolston's stick as the two jostled for a puck. San Jose limited the Bruins to a Zdeno Chara shot that Niemi turned aside easily on the power play.

The closest Boston came to scoring in the period came off a Milan Lucic shot that Niemi got a piee of before it grazed he crossbar.

Daniel Winnik gave the Sharks some breathing room with his first goal as a Shark, which also happened to be his first tally in 44 games. The Sharks forward carried the puck up the left wing after Andrew Desjardins forced a Bruins turnover in the neutral zone. With his shooting angle quickly disappearing, Winnik snapped a wrist shot from the left corner, squeezing the puck between Thomas and the left post.

The goal turned out to be the game winner after Boston cut the Sharks lead in half later in the period.

That goal turned out to be Niemi's lone mistake of the evening. Boston charged the zone and sent a puck wide of the goal, but Brian Rolston gathered the rebound in front of the goal and fired another shot on net. Niemi got his skates tangled up and fell flat on his back. Stuck on his back like a wounded Armadillo, the Sharks netminder just laid flat out in his back as Chara skated around a Sharks defenseman, recognized Niemi's precarious position, then threw the puck at the Sharks netminder from behind the goal line. The puck hit Niemi in the chest, banking perfectly into the goal with 4:15 left in regulation.

A smattering of groans filled the arena, voicing what everyone in the building was thinking. Were the Sharks going to cough up the lead? The Sharks spent the rest of the game answering that question by keep the puck away from Niemi.

The Bruins Thomas with a minute to play, but couldn't generate a quality scoring chance.

"We were playing a lot on the outside and as the game went on we were better to get through and create some traffic and some shots," Chara said. "If we wanted to score more goals we needed to put more pucks on the net."


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1 2 3 T
BOS 0 0 1 1
SJ 1 0 1 2
1st period - 1, SJ, Pavelski 27 (Marleau, Thornton), 3:57.
2nd period - None.
3rd period - 2, SJ, Winnik 6 (Desjardins), 2:17. 3, BOS, Chara 11 (Kelly, Rolston), 15:45.
1st period - Campbell, BOS (tripping), 11:10.
2nd period - Braun, SJ (slashing), 11:27.
3rd period - None.
Shots Saves
BOS - Thomas 27 25
SJ - Niemi 17 16
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
BOS 5 4 8 17
SJ 8 12 7 27
Power Play Conversion
BOS 0 of 1
SJ 0 of 1
3 Stars of the Game
Joe Pavelski
Danniel Winnik
Antti Niemi
Referees: LaRue, Kimmerly. Linesmen: Sharrers, Rody.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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