SAP CENTER — Inconsistency has felled the Sharks this season, and it reared its ugly head Saturday night in a 4-3 loss to the Flames in overtime.
Sean Monahan scored the game-winning goal 24 seconds into the extra session, tapping home a rebound off a backhand shot from the point by Mark Giordano. The puck eluded both Antti Niemi and Justin Braun in front, bouncing right to an unaccounted-for Monahan.
It was one of many breakdowns on defense for the Sharks, which the players lamented in the locker room.
Said Logan Couture:
“We had too many defensive breakdowns. Everyone’s got to play defense on this team if we’re going to win – it’s just not happening.”
Patrick Marleau had a chance to break a 3-3 tie midway through the third on a breakaway, but was denied by the glove of Flames goaltender Joni Ortio (W, 19-22 saves). With five minutes to play, Marleau generated two good shots on a 1-on-3 break, but was turned aside by Ortio twice.
In the final minutes, Joe Pavelski was open in the slot, but his one-timer went wide. The Sharks outshot the Flames 8-4 in the third, but could not get one past Ortio and the game went to overtime.
The Sharks found themselves down just 40 seconds into the game on a goal by Flames’ defenseman Dennis Wideman. After having a shot blocked, Wideman got a second chance after Joe Colborne retrieved the puck and set him up for a slap shot. Wideman buried it past Niemi, his shot going straight through and in.
Photos by Scot Tucker/SFBay
Couture elaborated on what went wrong defensively:
“We’re not getting pucks out. We’re not always in shooting lanes. Their goals – a couple of shots from the point, a guy gets a stick free in front of the net. If you want to be successful in this league, you’ve got to defend well.”
A rare penalty – their first in three games – taken by the Flames at the 4:09 mark gave the Sharks a chance to respond, but instead, they allowed a shorthanded goal after turning the puck over in their own end.
Brent Burns’ pass up ice for Pavelski was taken away by Colborne, who fought off the stick check of Burns and beat Niemi (L, 19-23 saves) with an inside-out move at the net.
Head coach Todd McLellan was blunt and not very pleased about the start:
“We got what we deserved. We were somewhat fortunate we got that. The start was unacceptable, to a man. There are nights where we don’t execute, where we are a little bit sloppy, but sometimes it’s only half the team. Tonight, it was the full team.”
Pavelski echoed those thoughts:
“We weren’t sharp enough. It’s not our game. We pride ourselves on good starts, and we didn’t have it. We followed suit on the power play and we just can’t have that. We waste minutes, we got to work to come back.”
Whatever McLellan said in the locker room after a sluggish first period must have worked. After being outshot 11-4 and outscored 2-0 in the first, the Sharks came out with a vengeance to open the second, recording two goals in three minutes.
The puck was barely dropped before Logan Couture took a pass from Marleau, sped down the left wing, and wristed one past Ortio 12 seconds into the period.
A little over two minutes later, on the power play, Joe Thornton tied the game, putting a rebound into a wide-open net after a scramble in front.
The momentum change in the period was palpable, and it paid off as the Sharks took the lead at the nine-minute mark. Receiving the puck down low, Pavelski found Melker Karlsson, who deflected it off his skate into another wide-open net. The goal was reviewed, but stood after it was determined there was no distinct kicking motion.
It turned out McLellan showed rather than yelled; as he explained, the coaching staff showed the players video clips of what went wrong during the first:
“I think that humbled a few people and made them aware of what was really going on in between periods. Changing the lines, trying to energize the group.”
The video clips only went so far, though, as the Flames withstood the Sharks’ surge.
Less than three minutes later, the Flames tied it right back up on a goal by Jiri Hudler. Beautiful cross-ice passing by Mikael Backlund and Mark Giordano found Hudler cutting into the middle, and his wrist shot went over Antti Niemi’s left shoulder and in.
Andrew Desjardins was scratched – along with John Scott and Matt Irwin – for the third straight game as Tomas Hertl centered the fourth line. … Thornton’s goal was his 1,229th point, tying him for 38th on the all-time scoring list…Logan Couture has 18 points in 17 games against the Flames…The Sharks are perfect (11-for-11) on the penalty kill in their last five games games…Ortio, a rookie goaltender, is 4-0 to start his career…The Sharks are 43-48-9-5 all-time against Calgary…Attendance tonight was 17,562, a sellout.