Sharks tie game in third period, lose 3-2 to Los Angeles Kings in OT Shootout
#20 EVGENI NABOKOV ENTERS THE RINK WEDNESDAY NIGHT
#4 ROB BLAKE GRABS A HOLD OF #14 JONATHAN CHEECHOO'S STICK
SHARKS SET UP IN THE OFFENSIVE ZONE 5-ON-5 IN THE 3RD PERIOD
The San Jose Sharks and head coach Ron Wilson came into Wednesday night's game with Los Angeles wanting to shake up the status quo. After dropping two games to last place Los Angeles at home, where the Sharks were 3-5-1 this season, Wilson stressed the fact that he did not want his team complacent in the face of adversity. He wanted his team to approach problems differently, practice at unusual times, and to not remain comfortable when playing at home.
In his pre-game chat with radio host Dan Rusanowky, Wilson described the reason behind moving defenseman Matt Carle from the left to right side. "What you are doing is making a guy think instead of throwing it into automatic. When you are uncomfortable, you think more" Wilson told Rusanowsky. Ron Wilson also mentioned that preperation was the #1 thing that determines whether a shot from the point gets on net. "If you haven't thought about what to do with the puck before you get it, it is already too late" Wilson said.
The Sharks came out with an early goal by Joe Thornton (assist Marc-Edouard Vlasic) in the first period, but two unanswered goals by Anze Kopitar and Patrick O'Sullivan gave the Kings a 2-1 lead after 40 minutes. Defenseman Craig Rivet, who may have delivered his most impassioned performance of the season, tied the game at 2-2 on the power play 3:41 into the third period. The Sharks outshot Los Angeles 18-12 in the final period and overtime, but solid goaltending by Evgeni Nabokov and Jason LaBarbera sent this game to an OT shootout. The Sharks were 1-3 this season in shootouts, and 4-12 alltime (worst in the NHL).
All three shooters for the Kings scored on Evgeni Nabokov; Patrick O'Sullivan, Anze Kopitar, and Dustin Brown. Jeremy Roenick and Joe Pavelski scored on Jason LaBarbera, but Milan Michalek's attempt was stopped to give Los Angeles the 3-2 OT shootout win. Michalek was the only player to attempt a deke.
Jason LaBarbera (6-8-1) made 34 saves on 36 shots, and took one more step towards bumping his record to .500 with the win. Evgeni Nabokov (11-8-4), the only NHL goaltender to start every one of his team's game this season (23 games), made 29 saves on 31 shots. The Los Angeles Kings (10-13-1) are tied with Edmonton for last place in the Western Conference with 21 points, although the Kings have 1 game in hand. The San Jose Sharks (11-8-4) are tied for second place in the Pacific Division with Anaheim, behind the Dallas Stars, and tied for the 8th and final playoff position in the Western Conference with Columbus a quarter into the 2007-08 NHL season.
A belated game liveblog:
LA Kings 3, SJ Sharks 2 OT shootout
11/28/2007 - HP Pavilion
An interesting pre-game graphic on the SJ-LA broadcast from FSNBA noted a recent surge from teams in the Pacific Division; Sharks 6-3-2 during stretch of divisional play (+12 goal differential), Dallas 6-1-0 since last game vs San Jose (fired GM Nov. 13), Phoenix 4-1-0 since last game vs San Jose (claimed Bryzgalov off waivers Nov. 17), Ducks 7-7-2 in November (2 SO wins over SJ), Kings 2 road wins in SJ (1 SO).
Television color commentator Drew Remenda also noted that Kyle McLaren was a healthy scratch for the first time in his 300-game tenure in San Jose. NHL media also noted that the Sharks have outshot LA 102-72 in 3 games so far (1-2 in that span), that the Sharks have the worst home record in the Western Conference (3-5-1), and that San Jose leads the all-time series with Los Angeles 44-37-9.
SAN JOSE SHARKS LINES:
LOS ANGELES KINGS LINES:
The Sharks came out in the first period with a high tempo, and the defense is moving the puck up ice to the forwards with authority. Joe Thornton evades Michal Handzus's attempt to block a shot, and rips a shot up high over Jason LaBarbera's right shoulder for the first goal of the game at 3:58. On the play, Michalek manoeuvres in front of LaBarbera for a perfectly executed screen. Mike Grier builds on the momentum with a solid forecheck, forcing Los Angeles to move the puck backwards three times on a single shift.
Joe Thornton sets up Milan Michalek for a point blank shot, then retrieves the puck and intiates two more scoring chances for his linemates. Cheechoo, Pavelski and Marleau have a 3-on-1 in the Kings zone, LaBarbera makes the initial stop allowing the Kings defense to regain position. Jason LaBarbera uses a leg pad tight against the post to stop Cheechoo, before closing the 5-hole in quick succession to shut down Pavelski. Joe Thornton spins of a defenseman to gain possession of the puck, and finds a streaking Rob Davison in the slot. Davison is tied up, but he spins off of the check to get his stick on the ice and wrist a shot on goal.
Late in the period, Craig Rivet tries to poke the puck past Patrick O'Sullivan to keep it in the Kings defensive zone, but O'Sullivan anticipates the play and breaks up ice with possession. Rivet pulls O'Sullivan down at the last second and draws a hooking penalty, which could easily have been called a penalty shot. Sharks kill it off. Near the end of the first, Rivet breaks his stick and Moulson has a clear breakaway opportunity when the end of period horn sounds.
Toronto Maple Leafs general manager John Ferguson Jr. was a guest on FNSBA for the first period intermission, Ferguson's blog on mapleleafs.com is available here. JFJ talked about his father John Ferguson, who served in several capacities with the Sharks organization for 10 years before his death in July. John Ferguson Jr. described the Sharks organization's treatment of his father as "classy to the end, and after". He also expressed support at the upcoming NHL Board of Governors meeting for a change in the schedule. "We support every team playing in every building at least once. We support that. Our fans want more variety in our building. What's better than coming out here, or to bring Joe Thornton, Sidney Crosby, and Alexander Ovechkin to our building" Ferguson Jr. said to Sharks television broadcaster Randy Hahn.
Sharks start the second period forechecking well, but there is a little more panic with the puck on the stick. Rivet is dynamic in the offensive zone, skating much quicker this season that he was at the end of last year. There were reports that he had not recovered fully from a bout of pneumonia when he was traded from Montreal to San Jose for defenseman Josh Gorges and a 1st round draft pick on February 25th. Rivet cycles the puck from the left point down low behind the net, firing a pass in front of LaBarbera. Rivet gathers the rebound, takes it behind the net along the boards to the right point before reversing direction. He dumps the puck in down low, and Los Angeles eventually has to clear the puck after an extended shift in their own zone. On a subsequent power play, Michalek and Setoguchi are in front of the net without a lot of movement. Ozolinsh, Rivet and Thornton are moving the puck well on the perimeter.
While on the power play, Douglas Murray mishandles the puck at the point and Dustin Brown takes off like he is shot out of a cannon. Excellent poke check by Nabokov as Brown is tied up on the breakaway, but the puck drops between Nabokov's legs as the play continues. A backchecking Murray skates to Brown, who already has a man on him, while Anze Kopitar glides in and pokes the puck into the net passed Evgeni Nabokov, who looks as if he stopped for a whistle. But there was no whistle. Short handed goal for Kopitar at 10:39, assist by Dustin Brown, game tied 1-1.
A defensive breakdown resulted in the second goal for Los Angeles. Patrick O'Sullivan gets the puck in deep. Douglas Murray battles with Dustin Brown for possession in the corner, with Mitchell and Carle also in close quarters. The puck is moved to O'Sullivan in the slot, who dekes around Derek Armstrong (who was taking a long wind up for a slap shot), before wristing his own shot on goal. Tom Preissing gets the rebound and fires another shot on goal that is blocked by Mike Grier. Brad Stuart gets the rebound, drives the puck down the right side and finds O'Sullivan for a backdoor tap-in goal. No chance on the play for Evgeni Nabokov. Jeremy Roenick let O'Sullivan skate to the front of the net unchecked.
New NHLPA Executive Director Paul Kelly, also in town prior to the NHL Board of Governors meeting at Pebble beach on Thursday/Friday, was interviewed on the Sharks television broadcast for the second intermission. About the possiblity of another strike during his tenure, Kelly said, "It's my number one priority to make sure there are no more labor interruptions. No more talk of lockouts, or strikes. I think we owe it to the fans and the game to work out our problems in a professional way, to work together with the owners. I am going to do everything in my power to make sure that does not happen."
Randy Hahn mentioned attendance concerns, and the struggle the NHL has had trying to garner larger television ratings. Hahn asked what roles should the players have in selling the game. Kelly responded that the players needed to provide access and interviews, and contribute in the community. He also mentioned that the players understand the business of hockey more than they ever have, and that they are willing to do their part to market and help promote the game. Hahn's final question was about Kelly's first opportunity to address the owners. The new NHLPA head Paul Kelly said that they would stress working together in partnership with the owners, instead of butting heads. "The Cold War between the players and the owners, we can't go back to those days. If we work together, I think we can grow the game."
The Sharks are moving the puck well to start the period, but the question at this point is if it will continue for 20 minutes, and will defensive breakdowns sabotage any offensive gains. Penalty on Brad Stuart for hooking 1:14 into the third period. San Jose wins 1-on-1 battles in front of the crease, but LaBabera and the Kings are able to hold the puck out of the net. Jack Johnson hammers Joe Thornton to the ice for a penalty. There will be a 6 second 5-on-3 for the Sharks.
Sandis Ozolinsh shoots the puck on net from the right point. Cheechoo and Thornton are on either side of goaltender Jason Labarbera, with Rob Blake and Brad Stuart trying unsuccessfully to check them. Puck bounces to Rivet who lets loose with a shot from the left point. LaBarbera can not get across, PP goal for Rivet, his first goal of the year. Game tied 2-2 at 3:41.
Craig Rivet cross checked O'Sullivan to earn a roughing penalty at 9:05, Kings are 0-3 on the power play so far in the game. Matt Carle checks Ladislav Nagy along the right boards in the Sharks defensive zone, and Carle is called for a hooking penalty. There will be a 1:37 5-on-3 power play for Los Angeles. Fans at HP Pavilion boo loudly as they think Nagy went down early, and the noise level increases after the replay on the new high definition scoreboard. Ehrhoff-Vlasic-Grier are the first unit out for the Kings 2-man advantage, followed by Ozolinsh-Murray-Brown. The Sharks successfully kill off the 5-on-3, only to have Torrey Mitchell called for tripping at 11:53. Mitchell is visibly frustrated by the call. The Sharks kill off the minor penalty, and Los Angeles will remain 0-6 on the power play for the game. John Zeiler is called for tripping at 15:37, and on the subsequent power play defenseman Craig Rivet hits the post with a point shot. The Sharks finished 1-4 on the power play, with 6:27 of PP ice time.
Best play of the 5 minute overtime period was an end-to-end rush by San Jose rookie Torrey Mitchell. The puck was left for him behind the net, and Mitchell took possession and accelerated through the defensive and neutral zones. Torrey Mitchell blew by Anze Kopitar, who had Jack Johnson to pick up coverage deep in the Kings defensive zone. Johnson stumbled as Mitchell streaked around him on the outside, and Kopitar weakly tried to prevent him from getting a backhand shot on LaBarbera. Mitchell got the shot on goal, but LaBarbera was there to make the save.
SJ - #27 J. Roenick, goal (1-0)
LA - #12 P. O'Sullivan goal (1-1)
SJ - #9 M. Michalek save (1-1)
LA - #11 A. Kopitar goal (1-2)
SJ - #8 J. Pavelski goal (2-2)
LA - #23 D. Brown goal (2-3)
POST-GAME COMMENTS BY SHARKS HEAD COACH RON WILSON:
"It is simple type errors that pop up on us. Our sticktoitivness just isn't there. The first ten minutes of the game we were doing everything we executed in practice, and then something does not go our way and we just seem to not want to stick to the plan, or want to have everybody committed to it. You have one or two guys who make a silly mistake, and it seems to affect the whole team. We have to find a way to battle through that."
"You are at home and you try too hard, it gets a little frustrating. Right after we score for example, Matty Carle tries a blind, behind the back pass in the neutral zone. As an example, you think why would you do that. You keep the game as simple as you can, you pass the puck to people who are open and who you are looking at. That is an example that happens as the game goes on all over the place. The best thing to do, I don't know if we came into the game thinking we were automatically going to win 5 or 6 to nothing because they beat us the last game. If the game is only 1-0 you should be satisfied with that and keep on plugging. Be patient with what you are trying to do. Don't change what gave us the lead. In the second period we did."
"We obviously play best when we get a lot of games going, we find our rythmn. We will keep harping on the same things in practice. Our power play we had a lot more movement established, got some shots, hit the post a couple of times, and scored once, so there is some improvement there. We had better movement early in the game, and late in the game, but we have to figure out why it slides away in the second period. Especially in home games, that is where you see us fall off a little bit."
"It is just a matter of us trying to find some traction. I want to see players more upset with what our record is, and as individuals what their numbers are. A lot of them it is just unacceptable, and you should be angry about it. Then you do something about it. Not wait for somebody else to do it."
POST-GAME COMMENTS BY KINGS HEAD COACH MARC CRAWFORD:
"I don't think (playing the same team within a few days) is that difficult. We're used to it since they changed the schedule to play eight divisional games. Last year we did a lot of two games in an opposition rink. Usually they were in the space of sometimes two days, sometimes three days. This one, we had a game in between- we played Anaheim. It's familiarity for one thing, and from a preperation standpoint, it's a little bit easier because you're preparing for the same style of game, and you're just trying to make adjustments."
"I thought it was a realy gutsy effort, which is what you're going to need in games and playoff-like games. You have whoever you have in your lineup come out and battle, and I was really pleased with the guys because they battled so hard tonight."
A photo gallery from the game is available here, youtube video highlights are up here.
[Update] Comeback Falls Short, Sharks Fold, 3-2 SO - SJsharks.com.
[Update2] Lombardi on hot seat? - Inside the Kings.
I know a Ducks comparison won't be popular here, but you have to look at what they did. They brought the kids (Getzlaf, Perry, Kunitz, Penner, etc.) along and made veteran acquisitions (Selanne, Niedermayer, Pronger, O'Donnell, Beauchemin, etc.) that panned out. If a team is going to have success, they go hand in hand. Lombardi's challenge, particularly next summer, is to make some smart veteran acquisitions. So far, I think that's been his clear weakness.
[Update3] New union chief talks about new strategy - SJ Mercury News.