“Hits and Misses” for Sharks at Stars 3/15/11
Joe Thornton – The Sharks captain recorded his 37th career multi-goal game with two goals, his 18th and 19th of the season, to lead the Sharks to victory. Thornton’s first goal came at 6:23 of the second period and got the Sharks back into the game after falling behind 2-0. Thornton controlled the puck along the boards in the Stars zone and pushed the puck out to Sharks defensemen Dan Boyle at the blue-line. After making the pass, Thornton worked himself back to the front of the net in the high slot and with Sharks forward Devin Setoguchi screening in front, Boyle fired the puck from the blue-line that Thornton tipped into the net as the result of great hand-eye coordination. Thornton’s second goal of the game was a short-handed, empty net goal at 18:52 of the third period that put the Sharks up 5-3 as the Stars had pulled goalie Kari Lehtonen for a 6-on-4 Power Play advantage after Sharks forward Logan Couture was called at 17:59 for a “Delay of Game” penalty.
Dany Heatley – Heatley had himself a two goal night as well, his 23rd and 24th goals of the season. Heatley’s first goal came with the Sharks on the Power Play at 12:40 of the second period to tie the game at 2-2. With the Sharks on a 5-on-3 Power Play advantage as the result of two Stars penalties, the Sharks won the face-off inside the Stars zone and after Stars forward Mike Ribeiro broke his stick on the play, the Sharks moved the puck around, which was eventually put on net by a shot from Sharks forward Patrick Marleau at the side of the goal crease. Lehtonen made the initial save but Heatley was there to put the rebound in the net. Heatley’s second goal of the game was a short-handed, empty net goal at 19:19, just 27-seconds after Thornton’s empty net goal, to seal the win for the Sharks.
Ryane Clowe – Clowe scored his 23rd goal of the season, a new career high, at 1:51 of the third period to put the Sharks up 3-2. The goal was set-up as the result of an aggressive forecheck by Sharks forward Joe Pavelski, who stole the puck from behind the Stars net after putting a hit on Stars defenseman Jeff Woywitka on the end-board. With possession, Pavelski passed the puck out in front to Clowe, who was all alone in the slot in front of Lehtonen, and banged the puck into the net.
Torrey Mitchell – Mitchell scored his sixth goal of the season at 3:31 of the third period to give the Sharks a 4-2 lead, which held up as the game-winning goal. The play started in the Sharks own end, where Mitchell chipped the puck out to center. Sharks forward Jamal Mayers played the puck in the neutral zone and was held up at the Stars blue-line. Pavelski, who was supporting on the play, took the puck at the blue-line and skated in 2-on-1 with Mitchell. Pavelski dished the puck over to Mitchell, who was cutting in front of Lehtonen, and Mitchell finished the play with a goal after starting the play with a great defensive play. The goal was Mitchell’s second in his last four games and and third goal in 10 career games against the Stars.
Joe Pavelski – “The Big Pavelski” had himself a four point night with four assists, giving him a career high 38 for the season, marking the first time ever Pavelski has had a four-assist game in his NHL career. Pavelski now has seven points this season against the Stars and 20 points in his last 20 games.
Antti Niemi – Less than 24-hours after being pulled in the second period last night in Chicago, Niemi was back in net for the Sharks tonight and responded by coming up HUGE, especially down the stretch the final 10 minutes of the game when the Stars applied tremendous offensive pressure in the Sharks zone. With the Sharks struggling and playing horrible in their own end, evident by their inablity to clear the puck out of their zone, Niemi stood on his head and made huge saves, robbing the Stars on several shots that were headed for the back of the net. Niemi finished with 34 saves on 37 attempts.
Dan Boyle – With his assist on the first Thornton goal, Boyle surpassed Mike Rathje as the top scoring defenseman in Sharks history with 156 points.
Douglas Murray – Murray gets a “hit” because not only did he lay the lumber on Stars forward Loui Eriksson with a huge, clean and legal shoulder hit in the neutral zone, but Murray also worked over and dispatched Stars forward Steve Ott in their scrap at 4:12 of the second period. Ott, who instigated the fight and challenged Murray following the Eriksson hit, learned quickly what others in the league are learning…..you are not going to finish a hit on Murray nor win a fight against him.
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – “Pickles” gets a “hit” for taking one for the team by blocking a shot with his throat! While battling Stars forward Brenden Morrow for positioning in front of Niemi, Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski wound up and fired a shot that caught Vlasic in the throat. A whistle blew for an immediate stoppage of play as Vlasic was down on the ice and despite being shaken up, Vlasic went back on the ice moments later to finish the game.
Penalty Killers – The Sharks Penalty Killers went 3-for-4 while short-handed and came up huge the final four minutes of the game, killing off two penalties and scoring two empty net goals to seal the win for the Sharks.
Sharks Team – It wasn’t a flawless or pretty win by any means but the Sharks showed their metal toughness and resiliency by bouncing back after last night’s debacle in Chicago to defeat a division rival on the second night of a back-to-back. With the win, the Sharks remain in first place of the Pacific Division with 88 points, three ahead of the second place Los Angeles Kings, and only trail the Detroit Red Wings by two points for the second overall seed in the Western Conference.
Dany Heatley – Heatley gets a “miss” for that STUPID, UNDISCIPLINED and SELFISH penalty he took at 15:54 of the third period that could have been disastrous for the Sharks. I don’t care if Ott embelished the hit by Heatley, which appeared to be a glancing blow, because there was no reason on God’s green earth for Heatley to have done what he did, especially since the puck was already out of the Stars zone and Heatley telegraphed his intention by coming in on Ott with his elbow up high.
Referees – Again, not to sound like a homer but this was another example of the referees putting their stamp mark on the game. Honestly, how could two referees not see or call a “boarding” penalty on Stars forward Jamie Lagenbrunner, who blasted Sharks defenseman Niclas Wallin into the boards with a hit from behind? Lagenbrunner even looked back at the referees to see if he was going to get a penalty for the hit and both of the referees shrugged the penalty off! Wallin, whose head smashed against the glass, did not return to the game. As the result of the no call, the Stars were able to capitialize and take a 1-0 lead as Ribeiro took the puck around the Sharks net and fired a shot from in front in the slot that went passed Niemi for his 16th goal of the season at 3:28 of the second period.
Penalty Killers – Even though the Sharks Penalty Killers were huge the final four minutes of the game, the Penalty Kill unit has now given up seven Power Play goals in their last five games after Stars forward Jamie Benn scored on the Power Play at 8:11 of the third period to cut the Sharks lead to 4-3 and have plummeted all the way down to 23rd in the league. The Sharks have to improve upon this down the stretch because if not addressed, this could be a downfall for the Sharks come playoff time.
Stars SH Goal – Toby Petersen put the Stars up 2-0 with his short-handed goal at 5:08 of the second period to that should have never happened. Petersen was the beneficiary of a breakdown in the Sharks Power Play unit and a pass from Benn, who faked Niemi out by circling behind the Sharks net with the puck and found Petersen at a sharp angle, who put the puck in the net before Niemi could get back in his crease to stop the shot. It didn’t help matters that Boyle was over-aggressive and took Niemi out of the play entirely by crashing into him.