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Home opener a lot like home finale
Former Blackhawks ruin the party again
10/16/10 - By Mike Lee -

After a return trip from Europe and a week off, the Sharks played like a jet-lagged team in their home opener on Saturday night. After taking a 2-0 lead in the opening period, the wheels would fall off in 4-2 loss to the visiting Atlanta Thrashers before a sellout crowd at HP Pavilion. The Thrashers looked a lot like last Spring’s Chicago Blackhawks that knocked the Sharks out of the playoffs, complete with a Dustin Byfuglien game winning goal.

The former Blackhawk picked up right where he left off as Sharks nemesis, giving his new team a big goal with 6:20 to play in the 3rd period. Having come off a shootout victory in Anaheim the night before, the Thrashers weathered an early run by the Sharks, then simply took advantage of San Jose’s mistakes to earn their second win in a many nights.

Things started well for San Jose, who tried to jump the Thrashers early. Joe Pavelski missed a pair of scoring chances in the first 10 minutes of the opening period. The Sharks forward narrowly missed on a tap in chance 5 minutes into the game, then a backhand chance from point blank range would be denied by Thrashers goaltender Chris Mason 5 minutes later.

“It was role-reversal really I thought we’d get better as the night went on but I think exactly the opposite happened,” said Sharks head coach Todd McLellan. “Perhaps things were a little bit too easy for us early in the game and then we weren’t prepared to buckle down and work hard enough to win the game.”

The Sharks would crack Mason with 4:40 to play in the period after the Thrashers got themselves into penalty trouble. First Freddy Meyer was sent off for holding, then Rich Peverley and Johnny Oduya would join him a little more than a minute later. The tripping infraction to Peverley was offset by a diving call to Devin Setoguchi, but the Sharks found themselves on a 5-on-3 for 37 seconds.

It would take the Sharks 35 seconds to convert, when Dany Heatley bagged his 300th career NHL goal on a put back chance at 15:20.

An interference call on Logan Couture 10 seconds after Heatley’s goal put the Thrashers on the power play, but the Sharks turned the tables on Atlanta when Ryane Clowe deflected a Torrey Mitchell shot from the right dot past Mason. Clowe got a stick on the shot, redirecting over Mason's left shoulder.

The Sharks would misplay a shorthanded chance by Atlanta early in the 2nd period after Alexander Burmistrov was sent off for interference at 1:11. A turnover by the Sharks in the offensive zone turned into a 2-on-2 situation with Bryan Little carrying the puck up the left wing. Patrick Marleau overcommitted defensively, allowing Little to get a shot off from the left corner. He puck was stopped by Sharks netminder Antti Niemi, but the rebound landed on Andrew Ladd’s stick in the slot. Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle failed to cover the former Blackhawk forward, who whipped the rebound into the Sharks goal.

The Thrashers would tie the game with 5:02 left in the period when Anthony Stewart cranked a shot past Niemi from the right circle. Ladd made a cross-ice feed from the left wing boards, setting up Stewart’s shot.

The game would be decided in the 3rd period on a pair of missed opportunities for the Sharks, and a pair of Thrasher chances that were would sink San Jose.

A too many men penalty to Atlanta at 5:32 of the period gave the Sharks an opportunity to retake the lead, but they would misfire on the man advantage.

Logan Couture then had a golden chance to put the Sharks up with 7:42 remaining after a puck deflected out of the Sharks zone. The forward found himself on a breakaway, but Mason would shut the door to preserve the tie.

Heatley would take a bad interference penalty at 12:48 and Byfuglien would strike. Chris Thorburn would send in a shot from the blueline, that Niemi denied with a kick save, but the puck bounced out into the slot. Byfuglien grabbed the rebound and whipped a shot over Niemi’s right shoulder after pivoting away from the goal.

Atlanta would finish things off with a 3-on-1 break that ended with an Evander Kane goal with 4 minutes to play. Peverley carried the puck up the right side after the Sharks got caught in the Atlanta zone, and sent a pass through the slot to Kane on the left wing. Marc-Edouard Vlasic couldn’t decide who to cover on the play, opening up the play for Kane.

San Jose would pull Niemi with 2 minutes to play but Marleau took a slashing penalty to end any chance of a comeback.

“Well they did enough to in it so we’ve got to give them full marks,” McLellan aded. “Their D(efense) are very mobile. They don’t play a lot in their end. They get active in the rush. And I think you can see that often they bring a four man rush, not a three, and that’s a very good team.”


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1 2 3 T
ATL 0 2 2 4
SJ 2 0 0 2
1st period - 1, SJ, Heatley 1 (Marleau,Thornton), 15:20, (pp). 2, SJ, Clowe 1 (Mitchell, Boyle), 15:41, (sh).
2nd period - 3, ATL, Ladd 2 (Little), 1:23, (sh). 4, ATL, Stewart 4 (Ladd, Little), 13:58.
3rd period - 5, ATL, Byfuglien 1 (Thorburn, Enstrom), 13:40, (pp). 6, ATL, Kane 3 (Peverley, Oduya), 15:51.
1st period - Meyer, ATL (holding), 13:22; Peverley, ATL (tripping), 14:35; Setoguchi, SJ (diving), 14:35; Oduya, ATL (hooking), 14:45; Couture, SJ (interference), 15:30.
2nd period - Burmistrov, ATL (interference), 1:11; Eager, ATL (fighting major), 1:11; McLaren, SJ (fighting major). 1:11.
3rd period - Bench, ATL (too may men), 5:32; Heatley, SJ (interference), 12:48; Marleau, SJ (slashing), 18:27.
Shots Saves
ATL - Mason 39 37
SJ - Niemi 28 24
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
ATL 4 9 15 28
SJ 12 18 9 39
Power Play Conversion
ATL 1 of 3
SJ 1 of 4
3 Stars of the Game
Chris Mason
Ryane Clowe
Andrew Ladd
Referees: Lee, Martell. Linesmen: Wheler, Pancich.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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