The short-handed Sharks looked like a team
that ran out of gas in Winnipeg as San Jose dropped a tough 4-1 decision in
Saskatchewan on Thursday night. The youngsters who have been cast into the NHL
spotlight because of the Sharks COVID protocol situation were outgunned as the
Jets avoided a sweep in the season series between the two teams. San Jose had
taken the first two games between the teams, and Thursday night's match up was
the last time they would face each other in the regular season.
Winnipeg goaltender Connor Hellebuyck had a reasonably light load, as he
stopped 26 shots to lead the Jets. The Sharks grabbed the lead in the game, but
then it was all Jets in the scoring.
The Sharks really started to turn
up the heat at the 5 minute mark, which paid dividends. Andrew Cogliano scored
his 2nd goal of the season at 6:28, converting a Brent Burns feed into a
scoring chance from the slot. Burns looked as if he was going to crash the net
from the right point, but he dished to Cogliano as the Sharks forward made a
beeline for the left post. Cogliano lifted Burns feed past Hellebuyck for the
Kyle Connor answered 5 minutes later when he tapped home a
deflection from the doorstep. Pierre-Luc Dubois put a shot on net from the slot
as he bore down on netminder James Reimer. Nick Bonino trailed Connor who
busted in to the slot where the puck bounced right to him for the easy tap in.
The goal was Connor's 10th of the season.
The Jets opened the middle
period with a big chance that Reimer shutdown, when Blake Wheeler found himself
with nothing by space between him and the Sharks netminder in the opening
minute. The Jets winger skated in on net, but his scoring chance was deflected
away by Reimer.
Jonah Gadjovich and Adam Lowry, the son of former
Shark Dave Lowry, dropped the gloves 2:24 into the period. The two turned in a
spirited dance, earning a 5 minute respite.
Like Wheeler, Rudolfs Balcers had a breakaway chance
of his own, but his shot clanked off the left post. San Jose generated a 3-on-1
scoring chance moments later, but Hellebuyck was able to stop threat with a
stick save before smothering it with his backside.
Nate Schmidt gave
the Jets the lead at 14:11 with a blast from the right point right off a
faceoff. Reimer was late to react to the big blast which slipped past the
Sharks neteminder on the near side.
The Jets scored a back breaker
with 44 seconds left in the period. Jansen Harkins tapped home a Lowry feed
from the left post after the Sharks coughed up the puck in the neutral zone.
Defenseman Nick Meloche was caught on the 2-on-1 break but he decided to cover
Harkins then failed to tie up the centerman, allowing the goal.
Sharks didn't help themselves early in the 3rd period when Nick Bonino took a
bad tripping penalty just 16 seconds in. The Sharks killed the penalty, but it
was valuable time burned.
A 3-on-1 chance was squandered at the 4
minute mark when Nick Merkley couldn't pull the trigger as he skated with two
teammates flanking him on the left side.
The missed opportunities
prevented the Sharks from clawing back, but they never seemed out of the game.
That would change when Pierre-Luc Dubois buried an empty net goal to cap the
scoring. Game Notes:
* Brent Burns assist was in 11th
helper of the season and extended his point scoring streak to 6 consecutive
* Centerman Lane Pederson left the game midway through the 2nd
period after sustaining a hit. He had to be helped from the bench and across
the ice to the tunnel to the visitor's locker room.
* The Sharks were
likely not thrilled with several missed holding or interference calls in the
first half of the game. The Jets were guilty of a trio of infractions that went
unaddressed by referees Eric Furlatt and Corey Syvret, which denied the Sharks
of any power play opportunities in the game.
* Nick Bonino continues
to struggle for San Jose. The veteran forward has been held off the score sheet
through the first 13 games of the season, with the exception of 10 penalty
minutes. Bonino hurt the comeback cause when was whistled for a tripping
penalty just 16 ticks in.
* The cast of young players who have been
forced to pick up the slack while the Sharks have a slew of skaters on the
COVID protocol have done a yeoman's job over the last two weeks, but the
cavalry looks like it's on the horizon. The Sharks will get several skaters
back on Saturday when the team travels to Colorado, which can't come soon
enough. The Avalanche have started to turn their season around after a slow
start. They pummeled Vancouver on Thursday night.