The Sharks needed an opponent like the Ottawa
Senators to come to town. After dropping their last two games on home ice, the
Sharks squared off with the worst team in the Eastern Conference on Monday
night at SAP Center. San Jose scored a trio of 2nd period goals to take a 5-1
win over the Senators. The win was only the 2nd on home ice for San Jose this
season and 1st regulation win in their own barn.
Kaapo Khakonen made 37 saves, including some big stops in the opening period to
lead San Jose. The key to the goaltender's big night was his ability to secure
the puck and not give up big rebounds.
Noah Gregor made a rare lineup
appearance after both Evgeny Svechnikov and Nico Sturm were scratched for upper
body ailments. The forward made good use of his ice time early in the game when
he scored his 1st goal of the season. Gregor tried lifting a shot past
goaltender Cam Talbot, but the puck rang off the crossbar. Luke Kunin would get
him the puck back to him where he snapped a shot from the slot to beat
goaltender Cam Talbot.
Tim Stutzle evened things up at 13:14 with a
shot from the slot after Brady Tkachuk fought off two defenders along the end
boards and made the feed out front. Stutzle simply gathered Tkachuk's pass and
snapped a wrist shot past Khakonen.
The Finnish goaltender was making
his first appearance in net for San Jose since November 10th when the Sharks
lost at St Louis.
Both teams would trade tripping penalties later in
the period, but nothing would materialize from the infractions. Kevin Labanc's
minor carried over into the 2nd period for a brief respite, which partially
contributed to the Sharks meager shot output in the opening frame. They would
only generate 3 shots in that opening period, compared to Ottawa's 13 shots.
The quality over quantity mantra carried over to the middle frame,
where the Sharks would generate a pair of goals early in the period on 4 shots.
Timo Meier bagged his 9th of the year at 1:18 with a shot from the
bottom of the left circle that found a gap between Talbot and the left post.
Erik Karlsson earned the only assist on the goal as he dished Meier the puck
from the end boards.
The head hunting that has resulted in a couple of
Shark injuries continued when Mark Kastelic ran rookie Nick Cicek with a hit up
high behind the Sharks goal. Cicek took exception to the hit and immediately
engaged with Kastelic for his 1st NHL fight.
Matt Nieto was credited with his 4th goal of the
season at 4:53 after Matt Benning ripped a shot from the right point that found
the back of the net. Nieto was jostling in front of Talbot, and may have
touched the shot to get credit for the tally.
Ottawa head coach D.J.
Smith was not content with the 3 goals Talbot gave up on only 7 shots, so he
inserted Anton Forsberg in net after Nieto's goal.
Travis Hamonic was
sent off for tripping at 14:01 and the Sharks would capitalize. Logan Couture
ripped a shot from the high slot to beat Forsberg for his 10th of the season.
The play was kept alive after Karlsson back skated to retrieve a clearing
attempt by the Senators. Couture used a screen by Tomas Hertl to slip the shot
past Forsberg and a 4-1 Sharks lead.
Smith pulled Forsberg with 3
minutes to play for the extra attacker. That allowed Logan Couture to score an
empty net goal to cap the game's scoring. Game Notes:
* Nico Sturm was a scratch, likely due to the hit he took on Saturday night in
the loss to the New York Rangers. Sturm was hit from behind by former Sharks
Ryan Carpenter. The shot crumpled the forward, who had contact with the side
boards. The Sharks are still without Radim Simek who is recovering from
concussion like symptoms.
* Speaking of Simek, he has now missed 4
games after catching an elbow in the head against Minnesota on November 13th.
Oskar Lindblom may be joining him in the infirmary after the forward was caught
with a stick up high in the middle period.
* Timo Meier has 9 goals in
his last 12 games. Logan Couture has scored 8 points in his last 7 games. Tomas
Hertl has 14 points in his last 11 games.
* Meier recorded 9 shots on
goal, and has eclipsed the 100 shot mark for the season just 21 games in. Erik
Karrlson added 6 shots and Logan Couture recorded 5.
* For as poorly
as the Sharks have played they sit a mere 3 points out of a playoff spot. A hot
run or two could actually put the Sharks in the playoff picture. Stranger
things have happened.