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Implosion
Sharks fall flat on their faces in 3rd period
1/5/17 - By Mike Lee -

If you thought two straight losses to the Los Angeles Kings stank, then you may want to buy some air freshener. The Sharks stank it up on Thursday night, blowing a 2-goal lead in the 3rd period to the visiting Minnesota Wild, dropping their 3rd straight game. San Jose did about everything possible to implode in a game they had in the bag. Minnesota scored 4 goals in the final 20 minutes after they failed to lockdown on a team that has been red hot.

The most glaring hole was the lack of defensive awareness in that 3rd period. On just about every Wild goal, there were black jerseys standing around watching. The NHL rule book stipulates that the contest is comprised of three 20 minute periods, but the Sharks decided that two periods was sufficient.

It was an epic collapse.

Those first 20 minutes were solid, which is what makes the loss so bewildering. After having their 12-game win streak snapped on Saturday, the Wild were expected to fight to get back in the win column, but the Sharks had a choke hold on them for the first 38 minutes of the contest.

San Jose didn't score in the 1st period, but the controlled the tempo of the game and held the Wild in check. Minnesota only put 5 shots on the Sharks net in the opening frame.

Joonas Donskoi solved Wild goaltender Devin Dubnyk 8:22 into the 2nd period, rifling a shot from the top of the right circle. Kevin Labanc took a drop pass as the Sharks crossed the Wild blueline then slid a pass across the high slot from the left side. Donskoi laid into the shot, beating Dubnyk high.

Joe Pavelski made it 2-0 Sharks 3 minutes later by punching home a puck from the doorstep. Brent Burns fired a shot that was wide right, but Pavelski got a stick blade on the puck, deflecting it on net. Dubnyk stopped the redirect, but the puck dropped to the top of the crease. With Joe Thornton parked in front of Dubnyk, the Wild netminder couldn't reach the puck. Pavelski followed up by crashing the net and tipping it into the Minnesota net for his 13th goal of the season.

San Jose outplayed the Wild the entire period, but a late interference penalty to Dylan Demelo setup a Wild power play. The Sharks penalty kill has been an Achilles heel and the Demelo chance allowed the Wild to cut the Sharks lead in half when Eric Staal knuckled a shot from the high slot past Martin Jones. Logan Couture, Burns and Paul Martin were all positioned in front of Staal but neither of the trio could get in front of the shot, which seemed to handcuff Jones.

Defense went out the window in the 3rd period. The Wild tied the game 2:08 into the period when Zach Parise punched home a rebound from the left side after Nino Neiterreiter bounced a shot off Jones.

San Jose responded with a pair of quick goals to push their lead back to 2-goals. Joel Ward swept a deflection past Dubnyk after a shot hit him at the top of the crease at 3:49. Ward gathered the puck with his back to the Minnesota net, then wrapped the puck around Dubnyk's left pad for his first goal in over a month.

Patrick Marleau made it 4-2 Sharks 32 seconds later, snapping a shot from the left wing to beat Dubnyk through the 5-hole. Ward setup the Sharks forward with a pass that Marleau uncorked from 15 feet out.

Then the wheels fell off. All four wheels. And the chassis went barreling down the highway.

Staal answered 45 seconds later after Justin Braun failed to clear the puck fromt eh front of his net. The Wild swooped in where Parise tried sweeping a shot on net from the slot. Jones made the stop but Staal was perched outside the right post, easily pushing the puck home for his 11th goal of the season.

Mikko Koivu tied the game at 4-4 at 8:23 when he beat Logan Couture to a deflection out in front of the net. Koivu cut across the top of the crease from right to left, wiating out Jones before sweeping the puck home. Couture decided to try and defend on the play by diving at Koivu's ankles from behind the Wild captain, but he was two strides short.

Couture was on the ice for 4 of the Wild's 5 goals.

Koivu scored the game winner on the very next shift, sniping a shot from the right dot after the Wild moved the puck all over the Sharks zone as everyone in black stood and watched.

Game Notes:

* Forward Matt Nieto was claimed by the Colorado Avalanche before the game. The Sharks had placed their former 2nd round draft pick on waivers on Wednesday.

* Rookie Kevin Labanc had a tough night, accounting for two of the three Wild goals with defensive lapses.

* Goaltender Martin Jones was particularly sharp in net, as a large number of shops defended resulted in juicy rebounds.

* Dylan Demelo struggled defensively, earning a pair of trips to the penalty box including a penalty with 3:20 remaining in the game with the Sharks trailing by a goal.





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Scoring
1 2 3 T
MIN 0 1 4 5
SJ 0 2 2 4
1st period - None.
2nd period - 1, SJ, Donskoi 5 (Labanc, Dillon), 8:22. 2, SJ, Pavelski 13 (Burns, Couture), 11:27. 3, MIN, Staal 12 (Parise, Coyle), 18:59, (pp).
3rd period - 4, MIN, Parise 7 (Niederreiter, Staal), 2:08. 5, SJ, Ward 3 (Marleau, Burns), 3:49. 6, SJ, Marleau 11 (Ward, Tierney), 4:21. 7, MIN, Staal 13 (Parise), 5:06. 8, MIN, Koivu 10 (Granlund, Zucker), 8:23. 9, MIN, Koivu 11 (Granlund, Zucker), 10:18.
Penalties
1st period - None.
2nd period - Karlsson, SJ (high sticking), 8:37; Dumba, MIN (holding), 11:23; Demelo, SJ (interference), 18:37.
3rd period - Demelo, SJ (holding), 16:40.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
MIN - Dubnyk 34 30
SJ - Jones 26 21
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
MIN 5 6 15 26
SJ 8 15 11 34
Power Play Conversion
MIN 1 of 3
SJ 0 of 1
3 Stars of the Game
Miku Koivu
Eric Staal
Zach Parise
Attendance
SAP Center - 17,562
Officials
Referees: Luxmore, Hanson. Linesmen: Murray, Gawryletz.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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