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Back to basics
Sharks turn the tables on Islanders
11/1/14 - By Mike Lee -

Funny thing happened on Saturday night, as the Sharks focused on getting back to basics. They won. They did it in an inglorious way, but they won and that's all that matters. Forget pretty wins. The Sharks need to focus on establishing an offense that can deliver in crunch time and a defense that will clamp down on opponents. They got both of those on Saturday night, beating the New York Islanders 3-1 at SAP Center.

The timely scoring came in the form o f a pair of 3rd period goals that helped San Jose snap a 1-1 tie. The clamp down defense came after Kyle Okposo staked the Islanders to a 1-0 lead 8 minutes into the game. Front that point on, the Islanders never challenged goaltender Antti Niemi.

New York was held to 20 shots on goal, never eclipsing 8 shots in any one period.

The one shot they did fail to control was Okposo's 4th tally of the season. The Islanders right winger took a drop pass from Nick Leddy then evaded two Sharks defenders before whipping a shot past Niemi from 8 feet out. Brent Burns seemed perplexed on the play, allowing Okposo to fly past him as Scott Hannan was locked on to Leddy.

That defensive miscue would be the last of the night for San Jose.

Tomas Hertl relieved the Sharks of some of the pressure of that early Islanders lead by tying things up 2 minutes later. Hertl was relegated to the Sharks 4th line earlier in the day after his offensive struggles early in the season, but he responded with a tally on the power play after Ryan Strome was sent off high sticking Mirco Mueller.

Hertl was lurking in the slot when the puck was cycled behind the net to Tommy Wingels, who slid a pass out to the front of the net, for the bang-bang play potted Hertl's 3rd goal of the season.

"Oh yeah, I'm very happy I scored," and elated Hertl said after the game. "Tommy Wingels had a very nice pass to me, so it was a really easy goal. Hopefully, I start more (scoring) and just keep going."

Both teams engaged in a game of chess in the 2nd period, restricting each other from navigating through the neutral zone. They combined for 11 shots in the period. Even when New York drew a holding penalty on Wingels, they could only muster a single shot on Niemi, and that came as the penalty was expiring.

San Jose didn't exactly light up the middle frame, but they overcame that in the 3rd period.

Logan Couture busted out the advanced Geometry to put the Sharks up 2-1 at 11:50 of the 3rd period. The Sharks moved the puck around the Islanders zone, positioning it at the right point where Justin Braun fired in a hybrid shot / pass to the right of Hallak and the Islanders goal. Couture zeroed in on the puck and placed his stick blade to perfectly redirect it from a crazy angle. Hallak and the Islanders defense immediately gestured to the on-ice officials that Couture redirected the puck with his skate blade, because it seemed improbable that the Sharks forward could position the shot from his spot outside the right post.

A brief replay review confirmed that Couture had in fact used his stick rather than his skate, so the goal stuck.

"I was trying to tip it and get it up, but it was lucky it got in," said Couture. "I saw it go off the back bar right away. It was a big win for us. We haven't played very well at home, other than our first game. We have a couple days to rest and get ready for Vancouver."

James Sheppard pushed the Sharks lead to 2-goals by capping a pretty sequence with his 1st score of the year. San Jose intercepted an Islanders pass just inside their own blueline and turned up ice. Adam Burish drew defenseman Tomas Hickey over to the right wing when he caught Sheppard busting down the slot. Burish had an option to shoot, but elected to wrap a pass around Hickey to Sheppard who beat Matt Martin to the front of the net. Sheppard got his stick blade on Burish's pass, lifting it over Halak's right shoulder.

The Islanders were forced to pull Hallak with 1:30 left in regulation, the Burish spiced things up by taking a holding penalty to put New York on a 6-on-4 power play.

San Jose diffused the crisis by preventing New York from entering the Sharks zone cleanly. Their trap at the blueline created turnovers that burned crucial time.

The win sets up a 4 day break for the Sharks who don't play until Thursday to close out their brief homestand against Vancouver.

"They are good at home and their fans are obviously behind them the whole way," added Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk. "It's a good place to play infront of, this crowd is loud. When they get the chance to score they capitalize on it and their goalie plays well, and they are stingy so it is a tough combo. They played well tonight. We did have our chance to go ahead in this game and we had to take advantage of it, and we didn't."

Game Notes:

* Joe Pavelski led all skaters with 7 shots on goal.

* The Sharks blocked 25 shots, which contributed to New York's limited time around the Sharks net.


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1 2 3 T
NYI 1 0 0 1
SJ 1 0 2 3
1st period - 1, NYI, Okposo 4 (Leddy, Boychuk), 8:06. 2, SJ, Hertl 3 (Wingels, Nieto), 10:23, (pp).
2nd period - None.
3rd period - 3, SJ, Couture 6 (Braun, Vlasic), 11:50. 4, SJ, Sheppard 1 (Burish, Desjardins), 15:35.
1st period - Stome, NYI (high sticking), 8:49.
2nd period - Wingels, SJ (holding), 2:45.
3rd period - Demers, SJ (illegal check to head), 1:55; Conacher, NYI (10 min misconduct), 16:10; Burish, SJ (holding), 18:47.
Shots Saves
NYI - Halak 31 28
SJ - Niemi 20 19
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
NYI 6 6 8 20
SJ 17 5 9 31
Power Play Conversion
NYI 0 of 3
SJ 1 of 1
3 Stars of the Game
Logan Couture
Mirco Mueller
Antti Niemi
Referees: Dwyer, Kowal. Linesmen: Brisebois, Gibbs.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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