“Hits and Misses” for Sharks at Blue Jackets 2/9/11
Antti Niemi – Niemi was spectacular between the pipes, stopping 42 shots out of a possible 44, which was a new club record for the Blue Jackets for shots against the Sharks. In his last three outings, Niemi has posted two shutouts while stopping 93-out-of-a-possible-95 shots for a 98.7% save percentage. Several of his saves tonight were jaw-dropping, especially considering that he played last night in Washington. His shutout streak was just seconds short of 130 minutes.
Logan Couture – Even though Couture didn’t have a goal tonight, he did have an assist, which extended his point streak to seven games.
Kent Huskins – A minor hit here since I’m not a big fan of his but he did get the Sharks on the scoreboard with a wrist shot from the blue-line that was helped by Dany Heatley skating into the path of the shot and blocking Steve Mason‘s view of the puck. The goal was Huskin’s first goal of the season and first goal since Feb. 10, 2010 vs. the Buffalo Sabres.
Kyle Wellwood – Wellwood’s goal, which was assisted by Couture, was scored on a very unorthodox play but Sharks fans cannot argue with the result. It was his second goal since being claimed by the Sharks and his line with Couture and Ryane Clowe was one of the most consistent lines all game.
Ben Eager – Drew Remenda said it best during the game…..Eager is the type of player that you don’t have to tell twice, or even once for that matter, for him to understand what he’s doing out there. He’s bringing an edge to the Sharks that they severely lacked at the start of the season and is becoming a steal of a signing along with Wellwood.
Patrick Marleau / Joe Pavelski – Marleau scored his 20th goal of the season at 15:09 of the third period that gave the Sharks the lead and turned out to be the game winner. The goal was set up by Pavelski, who won the battle for the puck behind the net, got the puck over to Marleau and then screened Mason as Marleau took the shot from a sharp angle. Pavelski finished with two assists for the game.
Sharks Team – With the win, the Sharks have won a season high five in a row, four of which have come on this road trip, and nine of the last 10 games for a possible 19-out-of-20 points. This game was the second of a back-to-back for the Sharks and while both teams did play last night, the Sharks were the only team traveling as they had to fly from Washington to Columbus while the Blue Jackets stayed put. Also, while you don’t want to make it a habit of surrendering the first goal of the game and digging yourself a hole, down 0-2, the fact that the Sharks were able to comeback and win shows how resilient this team is becoming.
First Period – Let’s be honest, the opening 20-minutes of the game were not the best 20-minutes the Sharks have played all season. The Sharks were lethargic, their break-out passes were horrible and sloppy, a plethora of turnovers in their own zone and the penalty killers were 0-for-2, which accounted for both Blue Jackets goals. Maybe their was some lag from playing last night but the Sharks at the point of the season where excuses are out the window.
Joe Thornton – Anyone who saw the game knows what I’m talking about. The Sharks captain had a breakaway on Mason, all alone, and after deking Mason out, Thornton didn’t shoot the puck! All he had to do was lift the puck on his backhand over Mason, who was down and sprawled.
Antero Niittymaki – What on God’s green earth is going on with Niittymaki’s injury? One day he’s cleared to play, next day he’s injured. The Sharks had to recall Carter Hutton from Worcester because Niittymaki was injured during warm-up’s last night, which was never mentioned during the broadcast. Is there something more going on we don’t know about? Should the Sharks have made a claim on Ray Emery, who Anaheim signed and assigned to Syracuse? Only time will tell.
Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson announced tonight that the Sharks have traded Jay Leach and Steven Zalewski to the New Jersey Devils for Patrick Davis and Mike Swift, both of whom will be assigned to Worcester.