The San Jose Sharks were again undone by a third period Tuesday, Oct. 21. Their second consecutive regulation loss at the hands of the Boston Bruins brought the first Eastern Conference road trip of the 2014-15 NHL season to a close at 2-2-1.
Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau were able to sneak into the pictured stars of the game, but they could not carry the team to a point over the balance of Boston talent that took over in the final frame. After scoreless third periods in the first two games of the 2014-15 NHL season, San Jose was outscored in the third period 10-4 on this road trip.
The Sharks have no points in either game in which the opponent scored first. Brent Burns was in the box for less than a minute of the game’s first pernalty before Milan Lucic got the puck low from Torey Krug and fed Brad Marchand in the circle to the glove side of Antti Niemi. Skating in while checking options, the forward known more as a pest than a scorer whizzed a puck through modest traffic off the post and in with just over six minutes left in the first period.
Despite the goal, Marchand had a miserable day. He was on the ice for two goals allowed and called for a cross-checking penalty about two minutes after his score that led to a game-tying power play from San Jose.
It took just 32 seconds to get three tries at executing a faceoff scoring chance. Boston won the first draw but could not clear, then Tuukka Rask made two saves after the second faceoff. The third time was the charm for Joe Thornton, winning the draw back to Brent Burns who passed to Marleau in the stick-side circle. Couture was planted in front of the net and redirected the shot in.
However, Andrew Desjardins was called for another trip in the first seven minutes of the second period, and the Bruins needed just eight seconds to bank a man-advantage goal. Despite losing the faceoff, David Krejci got a secondary assist in the battle that eventually had Milan Lucic get the puck in the corner and feed Krug on the point, whose shot also went off the post and in.
That lead held for almost 10 minutes. Then Tommy Wingels helped get a puck low to Marleau, who skated back with two defenders until Couture could camp in the slot for the pass. Rask had no chance on the game-tying goal. Just 37 seconds later, Joe Pavelski got the puck from Justin Braun and sent it toward the net, where Joe Thornton tipped it in to take the lead over the team that drafted him first overall in 1997.
That lead held almost five minutes into the third. The Sharks were unable to get the puck out of the zone, and Krug sent it toward the net where it bounced to Lucic and then to an open area of the slot for Seth Griffin to get his first NHL goal.
Then the supposedly best defensive pair left the front of the goal undefended. Once Daniel Paille came up with the puck and threw it across in front of the net, Gregory Campbell had an easy redirect for the game-winning goal. Even with four minutes of power play and Niemi pulled at the end of the game, San Jose could not get the tying goal but did give up an empty-net shorthanded score to Krejci that gave Zdeno Chara and Chris Kelly assists.
For the game, San Jose won one more faceoff (35-34), both teams had six takeaways and the hosts had four more giveaways (11-7). Boston attempted five more shots (63-58) and had the same number of blocks (16) but missed the net more and actually lost the shots-on-goal battle to its guests (33-34).
The bottom line is the Sharks played tough competition in tough conditions. Not one of their opponents is under .500 and four were picked as probable playoff teams before the 2014-15 NHL season started. It was five games in just a few hours more than a week, and they came out .500 to stay within a game of the Pacific Division lead.
More importantly, they are doing it with younger players. Closing games out may be more difficult while they grow into their roles. San Jose was two posts away from winning one of the toughest games on its 2014-15 NHL season schedule.
One cannot be praised for losing a game that is about 15 minutes away from victory, but this performance is not worthy of real criticism. Five points in five games on the first tough Eastern Conference road trip of the 2014-15 NHL season is good enough for a passing grade.