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Another head scratching loss to cellar dweller
Couture's gaff sets up Jets game winning goal
3/27/14 - By Mike Lee -

The schedule makers inadvertently setup the Sharks with prime opportunities to pad their point chances in the standings late in the season with games against teams like Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg. Too bad the Sharks failed to seize that opportunity to help themselves to home ice in the playoffs. San Jose sputtered against another underachieving team on Thursday night, dropping a 4-3 regulation loss to the Winnipeg Jets on home ice. The Anaheim Ducks trail the Sharks by 2 points in the standings, but have three games in hand on San Jose and looked poised to jump the Sharks in the standings.

* With what has become a disturbing trend, the Sharks once again miss against a team that isn't in a playoff spot, and setup their interstate rivals with opportunities to setup unfavorable playoff matchups. The Sharks don't match up well against the Los Angeles Kings, but a first round series with their Southern California rivals looks more and more likely. With 7 games to play, the Sharks will likely lose their hold on the 2nd see in the West, and likely fall to the 3 spot, where the Kings are waiting with the 6th seed.

* The Jets sit in the 12th spot in the West, unlikely playoff contenders. So why are the Sharks tripping every time they play a cellar dweller? The Sharks have lost to Calgary, Buffalo, Florida and Carolina in addition to the Jets over the past two months. 10 points ripe for the picking were essentially passed over.

* San Jose jumped out an early 1-0 lead when Dan Boyle deflected a Martin Havlat redirect past Al Montoya for his 9th goal of the season and first in an eternity. Boyle pinched on the left side and was cutting toward the left post when the puck hit him on the tape.

* San Jose's jubilation was short lived after Andrew Ladd tied things up 36 seconds later. Unable to focus and use the leverage of Boyle's goal, the Sharks let the Jets bum rush them offensively. Brad Stuart made the first of several poor decisions, pinching on a defensive play at the blueline, letting the Jets waltz in with numbers. Andrew Ladd lifted a deflection off Antti Niemi's left pad for his 22nd goal of the season.

* Brent Burns put the Sharks back on top at 14:27 of the 1st period after Dustin Byfuglien put San Jose on the power play with an interference infraction. Burns took a drop pass from Joe Pavelski and cut diagonally through the slot before flipping a backhand shot past Montoya.

* Somebody forgot to wake Niemi from his 1st intermission nap at the start of the 2nd period and Blake Wheeler made San Jose pay. Wheeler raced up the right wing, then threw a puck on net from the right corner. Niemi simply failed, missing on a shot that had no business crossing the goal line. Wheeler's shot hit the inside of Niemi's right pad, then crept over the goal line as it trickled between the netminder's pads. Poor execution essentially let the Jets back in to the game.

* Joe Thornton was sent off for tripping at 8:19, but it was clear that Wheeler stepped on Thornton's stick and fell like a ton of bricks. Winnipeg converted on the ensuing power play when Wheeler carried the puck from the left point to the top of the right circle before sending a diagonal pass to Byfuglien on the left side. Byfuglien ripped a one-time chance that Niemi could only flail at.

* Logan Couture tied the game at 3-3 on a Sharks power play, when James Sheppard bounced a long slap shot off the centerman's chest and into the Jets goal. It was a painful way to score, but San Jose wasn't in a position to be choosey.

* Brad Stuart's poor positioning ended up requiring the Sharks defenseman to take a holding penalty at 14:07 of the 3rd period. Logan Couture tossed a clearing attempt over the glass to setup 11 seconds of 2-man advantage time for Winnipeg. More importantly, it extended the Jets power play time, which turned out to be the deciding factor.

* Defenseman Tobias Enstrom deposited another Wheeler feed past Niemi from the left side with what turned out to be the game winner. Wheeler stick-handled the puck from the right corner then skated toward the right post. As two Shark defenders collapsed on him, Wheeler slid a pass out to the left side through the crease, where Enstrom pinched for the easy deposit.

* Thornton played in his 1200th NHL game. He is the 100th player to eclipse the mark.


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1 2 3 T
WPG 1 2 1 4
SJ 2 1 0 3
1st period - 1, SJ, Boyle 9 (Havlat, Sheppard), 1:57. 2, WPG, Ladd 22 (Frolik, Little), 2:33. 3, SJ, Burns 21 (Pavelski, Marleau), 14:27, (pp).
2nd period - Wheeler, WPG (unassisted), 1:45. 5, WPG, Byfuglien 20 (Wheeler, Frolik), 9:32, (pp). 6, SJ, Couture 20 (Sheppard, Havlat), 11:23, (pp).
3rd period - 7, WPG, Enstrom, 9 (Wheeler, Little), 16:24, (pp).
1st period - Pardy, WPG (holding), 8:44; Byfuglien, WPG (interference), 13:30.
2nd period - Desjardins, SJ (holding), 2:08; Postma, WPG (holding), 7:19; Thornton, SJ (tripping), 8:19; Trouba, WPG (slashing), 9:47; Boyle, SJ (holding), 15:56; Stuart, WPG (cross checking) 19:06; Sheppard, SJ (roughing), 19:06.
3rd period - Stuart, SJ (holding), 14:07; Couture, SJ (delay of game - puck over glass), 15:57.
Shots Saves
WPG - Montoya 30 27
SJ - Niemi 31 27
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
WPG 10 9 12 31
SJ 11 10 9 30
Power Play Conversion
WPG 2 of 5
SJ 2 of 4
3 Stars of the Game
Blake Wheeler
Bryan Little
James Sheppard
Referees: Hebert, Watson. Linesmen: Brisebois, Sericolo.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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