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Absence of offense costs Sharks
Minnesota Wild handcuffs Sharks for 4-1 win
1/22/21 - By Mike Lee -

Devin Dubnyk and Ryan Donato made their first appearances in the place they called home the last couple of years as the Sharks rolled into Minneapolis to take on the Minnesota Wild in a two game series. Both players were looking to make a difference against their former team, but the Sharks lack of inspired play resulted in a 4-1 loss at Xcel Energy Center.

Dubnyk played better than the score indicates. The Sharks netminder surrendered a pair of goals on 27 shots, but his teammates failure to generate any offense could not overcome that slim deficit. Hard to blame Dubnyk for either goal. The first was a seeing eye shot and the second came off a defensive lapse.

Donato tied Brent Burns with a team high 5 shots on goal, but he couldn't muster any quality scoring chances to make a difference.

Minnesota cracked the score sheet first when Joel Ericksson Ek got a stick blade on a Jordan Greenway shot. Greenway uncorked his shot form the left wing boards with Ericksson Ek parked just off the left post. The Wild forward redirected the shot, splitting goaltender Devyn Dubnyk's pads for his 3rd goal of the season.

The Sharks responded 71 seconds later when Matt Nieto converted a shot from the slot for his 1st goal of the season. The Sharks forward took a pass from Erik Karlsson as he circled between the circles from the right side then used a screen to beat Cam Talbot with a shot that hit the left post and banking into the Minnesota goal. Patrick Marleau earned the secondary assist for his 1st point of the season.

A Mario Ferraro shot late in the period appeared to catch Talbot behind his leg pad, possibly injuring his knee. The Wild goaltender did not return after the 1st intermission, making way for Kaapo Kahkonen to replace him in net.

Zach Parise put the Wild back on top 13:17 into the 2nd period after Dubnyk stoned the Wild assistant captain with a spectacular kick save moments earlier. The Sharks couldn't clear the zone, then defenseman Radim Simek lost track of Parise who slid to the doorstep. Nick Bjugstad threw the puck to the front of the net where Parise cleaned up on a rebound off Dubnyk's right leg pad.

That would be all the Wild needed to take the contest. San Jose could do nothing to generate any offensive chances. The score sheet would indicate a 19 shot performance for San Jose, but they really generated no pressure on Khakonen.

That was a tough pill to swallow. Kahkonen is an inexperienced netminder that entered the game cold, but the Wild built a wall around him defensively. What the statistics don't show is the absence of any quality scoring chances for San Jose. A power play late in the middle frame should have been an opportunity to generate some offensive leverage, but San Jose squandered the opportunity.

Minnesota put the clamps on the Sharks, forcing head coach Bob Boughner to pull Dubnyk late. That move accomplished the opposite of its intent, as San Jose allowed Kevin Fiala and Jordan Greenway to score empty net goals.

Game Notes:

* The Sharks continue to lose the 2nd period. They have been outscored in bushels in the middle frame this season. They would lose Friday night's 2nd period 1-0, but it was a loss nonetheless. That goal turned out to be the game winner.

* Erik Karlsson was plowed into the end boards by Joel Ericksson Ek in the opening period, resulting in a bloodied Sharks defenseman. No penalty was called even though the hit was clearly between the numbers.

* Brent Burns struggled on the power play, which resulted in three squandered chances. The defenseman battled the puck all night and seemed to try too hard to make the tough play when the easy option was called for.

* San Jose dominated the faceoff circle, winning 58% of their draws, but they couldn't do anything with the puck once they took possession. The Wild clogged up the neutral zone and steered the Sharks to the edges once San Jose gained the zone. The Sharks had fewer than three opportunities in front of the Wild net in that crucial 3rd period. Tomas Hertl won 19 of 25 draws (76%).

* Sharks head coach Bob Boughner split every line up in the 3rd period in an attempt to generate some offense The tactic was often employed by his predecessor Peter De Boer, but the change resulted in similar unfilled results.


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1 2 3 T
SJ 1 0 0 1
MIN 1 1 2 4
1st period - 1, MIN, Ericksson Ek 3 (Greenway, Hartman), 5:01. 2, SJ, Nieto 1 (Karlsson, Marleau), 6:12.
2nd period - 3. MIN, Parise 1 (Bjugstad), 13:17.
3rd period - 4, MIN, Fiala 1 (), 18:44, (en). 5, MIN, Greenway 1 (Ericksson Ek, Foligno), 19:34, (en).
1st period - Bonino, MIN (holding), 0:12; Couture, SJ (slashing), 6:27; Vlasic, SJ (tripping), 12:10; Dumba, MIN (holding), 15:34.
2nd period - Ferraro, SJ (roughing), 17:39; Greenway, MIN (roughing - double minor), 17:39.
3rd period - Gambrell, SJ (holding), 2:39.
Shots Saves
SJ - Dubnyk 27 25
SJ - empty net 2 0
MIN - Talbot 12 11
MIN - Kahkonen 17 17
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 12 8 9 29
MIN 7 13 9 29
Power Play Conversion
SJ 0 of 3
MIN 0 of 3
3 Stars of the Game
Zach Parise
Joel Ericksson Ek
Devin Dubnyk
Xcel Energy Center - attendance not available
Referees: Lee, Pochmara. Linesmen: Flemington, Suchanek.

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