The captains of inconsistency wrapped up their
4-game road trip with a deflating 6-3 loss to the worst team in the Eastern
Conference in the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday night at KeyBank Center in Western
New York. Playing on the tail end of back-to-back games, the only thing the
Sharks were consistent with was the way in which they lost both games. San Jose
carried a 2-1 lead into the 2nd period on both nights, and a flurry of
penalties and mistakes turned the tables on them. Buffalo scored 3 times in the
middle period to grab the lead and twice more in the final period to kick the
Sharks in the teeth.
Entering the weekend, one of San Jose's strengths
was their penalty killing. By the end of Sunday's game, they had surrendered 5
power play goals in a 24 hour period. With the Sabres firmly seated in the
Easten Conference basement, the Sabres seemed ripe for picking. That wouldn't
The question now stands at what Sharks head coach David Quinn
does about it. We've all heard the repeated narrative that the tem is focused
on steering away from poor decisions that have led to catastrophic goals
Even with all the rhetoric, this one cost San Jose because
the penalty killer has suddenly sprung a leak. The league's top ranked unit
allowed the Sabres to take a 1-0 lead at 9:19 after Kevin Labanc was sent off
for lobbing a puck over glass. Sabres scoring leader Tage Thomson ripped a
one-time chance from the left side, beating goaltender Aaron Dell for his 16th
goal of the season.
Nick Bonino finally got on the score sheet less
than 4 minutes later, bagging his 1st goal of the season. Luke Kunin tracked
down a puck destined for the neutral zone on a clearing attempt by Buffalo. The
Sharks forwarded pivoted at the blueline and sent a pass to the mid-slot where
Bonino was parked. The veteran forward faced the net and lifted a shot that
beat Sabres goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen to the upper right corner of the
Dylan Cozens was sent off for boarding Evgeny Svechnikov at 14:50
of the period to give the Sharks their first man-advantage of the game. Labanc
atoned for his delay of game penalty by snapping a shot past Luukkonen from the
left dot for his 5th goal of the season.
San Jose was late to answer
the bell at the start of the 2nd period. Buffalo sent the puck out of their own
end when Cozens led JJ Peterka with a pass up the left side. Peterka raced past
Erik Karlsson then ripped a shot that hit Dell in the glove, but it popped out
and into the Sharks net to tie that game at 2-2 just 16 seconds into the
Timo Meier took a tripping penalty 17 seconds later to put the
Sabres on the power play, but San Jose's kill escaped without any further
Buffalo reclaimed the lead at 4:21 on yet another Sharks
turnover. San Jose coughed up the puck in the offensive zone before Henri
Jokiharju fed Jeff Skinner who was steaming up the right side. As Skinner cut
across the slot from right to left, Sharks defenseman Nick Cicek lost an edge
and cut Dell down allowing Skinner to fire the puck into a wide open net.
Rasmus Dahlin laid out Matt Nieto with a legal open-ice hit later in
the period, which prompted Sharks head coach David Quinn to call his team over
to the bench at a stoppage to remind them that physicality is part of the game.
Alexander Barabanov missed teh memo on staying out
of the penalty box, which he visited at 12:09 after another puck over glass
penalty. The Sabres promptly converted the chance into their 2nd power play
goal of the game when Jack Quinn fired a shot from the right circle right after
the Sharks had changed their four penalty killers.
It was the second
time in the last 24 hours that the Sharks gave up 2 or more goals in the 2nd
period to blow a lead and surrendered multiple power play goals.
added his 2nd goal of the game at 11:23 of the 3rd period, firing a feed from
Cozens as the duo raced up the ice. Cozens left Jaycob Megna in the dust as he
raced up the right side before sliding a pass through the slot to Quinn on the
Oskar Lindblom recorded his 1st goal as a Shark 29
seconds later, chipping at the puck from the backhand side as he sat outside
the left post. Lindblom's 3rd attempt at the shot finally slipped past
Luukkonen to make it a 5-3 game.
David Quinn pulled Dell with 4:26
left in regulation in an attempt to get back into the game. That served up Alex
Tuch's 12th goal of the season on the empty-net situation at 16:37.
* Sharks trainer Ray Tufts worked his 2000th NHL
* Giving up shots is certainly an issue for the Sharks. San Jose
surrendered 38 shots in the game. Buffalo had 29 shots through the first two
periods. Penalties influence that, but the Sharks are just not shutting down
opponents from putting pucks on net.
* Aaron Dell got his second start
of the season after Kaapo Kahkonen started in Ottawa on Saturday night. Tough
to blame this one on the netminder. He did have one shot hit him in the glove,
but he failed to control it and it ended up in the Sharks net.
Speaking of Sharks goaltenders, James, Reimer traveled with the Sharks on all
four games of their recent trip, but remains on the injured reserve. It's not
clear when Reimer will return.
* Rasmus Dahlin's hit on Matt Nieto
seemed to add energy to the Sabres game. It certainly did not snap the Sharks
out of their funk. The back-to-back's played a part in the Sharks flat play
over the final 40 minutes, but the hit should have inspired more of a response
from San Jose.