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Defensive lip service fails to deliver
Devils romp in lone visit to SJ with 5-2 win
1/19/15 - By Mike Lee -

The Sharks talked about making more commitment to defense after their overtime loss to the Calgary Flames on Saturday night. More accountability. More emphasis on the little things. Talk is cheap. After all the hot air that was spewing in that locker room, the Sharks went out and did exactly the opposite on Monday night, dropping a 5-2 stinker to the cellar dwelling New Jersey Devils before a sellout crowd at SAP Center.

San Jose's commitment lasted all of 6 minutes, then it was all Devils in a embarrassing loss to a team that has struggled to stay out of the basement in the Eastern Conference. It's just baffling that a team can play so poorly after having a lesson dictated to them by the Flames just 48 hours earlier, especially to a tam as weak as the Devils.

The Sharks jumped out to the 1-0 lead just 4 minutes into the game, when Joe Pavelski notched a goal with a shot from the right dot. The Sharks centerman started the scoring sequence by fighting for control of the puck with a strong forecheck in the Devils zone, then had the opportunity to put the puck on net after joe Thornton made the feed out of the right corner. Pavelski placed his shot in the upper right corner of the net, sending his shot over goaltender Cory Schneider's left shoulder.

The Sharks either went to sleep, or the Devils got religion after Pavelski's goal. The Devils went on to out play the Sharks for the rest of the period, outshooting them 17-8 in the frame.

Brent Burns didn't help things by taking an unnecessary holding penalty at 11:33. The Sharks were able to kill the penalty, but the Devils became acclimated with the Sharks zone and decided to camp out there the rest of the period.

Jordan Tootoo tied the game 15:29 into the period, after the Devils got off 5 shots on goaltender Alex Stalock, while the Sharks defense stood around and allowed New Jersey to hack at will at the puck.

Former Shark Steve Bernier put the Devils up 2-1 35 seconds later, after Scott Gomez forced Brenden Dillon to cough the puck up behind the Sharks net. Gomez stripped Dillon, then flipped the puck out to the front of the net where Bernier got a shot off on Stalock. The sharks netminder denied the first shot, but Bernier punched home the rebound as Dillon stood and watched the play unfold right in front of him.

Matt Nieto tied the game at 2-2 4 minutes into the 2nd period after the Sharks took advantage of an odd-man break on the Devils. Tyler Kennedy skated up the left wing and used Burns as a distraction in slot, hitting Nieto on the off wing with a pass for a one-time chance that Schneider had no chance on.

Burns killed the momentum once again by following his team's goal with a penalty. Burns was sent off for hooking, although it was a suspect call. Mike Cammalleri almost gave the Devils the lead right back when his shot at the 6 minute mark rang off the post.

Burns was sent off for a phantom illegal check to head penalty at 13:32 of the middle frame, which setup a Mike Cammalleri goal. The Devils worked the puck to the slot where Cammalleri snapped a shot that found a hole through traffic for the 3-2 Devils lead. Bernier was originally credited with the goal, but the official scorekeeper adjusted his call during the 3rd period.

Entering the 3rd period down a goal, the Sharks needed to open things up in order to score the equalizer. Things got easier when the Devils took 3 penalties in the period.

All that did was allow the Sharks to pump up their shot totals, because the special teams generated no goals from the 6 minutes of advantage time on the ice. Things got even harder when Travis Zajac scored seconds after Jon Merrill's hooking minor expired to push the Devils lead to 4-2.

Marek Zidlicky's high sticking penalty gave the Sharks one last chance at clawing back into the game, but the Sharks laid down to their opponent. New Jersey turned the game upside down when Jacob Josefson capped an odd-man rush with a short-handed goal at 14:32. Adam Henrique stripped Tomas Hertl along the left wing boards then accelerated away from the Sharks forward as he raced in on net before sliding a pass to Josefson.

There was 5 minutes left in the game at that point, but nobody in the building had any misconceptions about how this would end. The Sharks threw in the towel at that point, helping to kill the clock.

Too add injury to insult, Hertl took a puck to his lower abdominal area, which gave him the excuse to head straight for the locker room and avoid the wrath of the handful of spectators that chose to stay to the final horn.

Game Notes:

* Justin Braun and Tommy Wingels sustained injuries that McLellan said would cause them to miss some time.

* The Sharks have averaged 3.8 goals against per game in the Month of January.

* Jaromir Jagr did not play due to the flu.

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Scoring
1 2 3 T
NJ 2 1 2 5
SJ 1 1 0 2
1st period - 1, SJ, Pavelski 23 (Thornton, Karlsson), 3:59. 2, NJ, Tootoo 4 (Sestito, Josefson), 15:29. 3, NJ, Bernier 6 (Gomez), 16:04.
2nd period - 4, SJ, Nieto 4 (Kennedy, Hertl), 4:00. 5, NJ, Cammalleri 15 (Henrique, Gomez), 14:45, (pp).
3rd period - 6, NJ, Zajac 8 (Larsson, Havlat), 11:12. 7, NJ, Josefson 2 (Henrique, Merrill), 14:32, (sh).
Penalties
1st period - Burns, SJ (holding), 11:33.
2nd period - Burns, SJ (hooking), 4:28; Burns, SJ (illegal check to head), 13:32; Larsson, NJ (cross checking), 17:35.
3rd period - Henrique, NJ (tripping), 6:27; Merrill, NJ (hooking), 8:15; Zidlicky, NJ (high sticking), 13:11.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
NJ - Schneider 36 34
SJ - Stalock 34 29
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
NJ 17 12 5 34
SJ 8 10 18 36
Power Play Conversion
NJ 1 of 3
SJ 0 of 4
3 Stars of the Game
Cory Schneider
Adam Henrique
Adam Larsson
Attendance
17,562
Officials
Referees: Peel, Burchell. Linesmen: Cameron, Cvik.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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