Is the Sharks home dominance over?
Thursday night, the Sharks dropped their third in the last six at HP Pavilion, including their first two home losses in regulation. Prior to that, the Sharks had gone 20-0-2 in their first 22 games.
In this one, the Sharks had leads of 2-0 and 3-1, and were leading 3-2 going into the third period. But Carolina, a team not currently in the playoffs, came back to win in a shootout even though by then their best skill player, Eric Staal, was out with injury. (The Sharks were without defeceman Douglas Murray, as well.)
Early on, the Sharks were on top of their game. In the first period, they were getting sticks on loose pucks and even those being carried on Hurricanes’ sticks. This helped lead to a massive time on attack advantage that resulted in a 16-9 edge in shots on goal and a 1-0 lead.
San Jose’s goal came when Joe Pavelski got the puck to Milan Michalek who shot it on back-up goalie Michael Leighton. The rebound came right to Ryan Clowe, who put it home for his 20th goal of the season. He has hit that mark for the first time in his career, with 33 games remaining.
Pavelski and Michalek were the set-up men for the Sharks second goal 3:10 into the second period, as well. Coming into the zone, defenceman Alexei Semenov tapped his stick furiously, and Michalek found him for the one-timer just inside the blue line. Leighton got a piece of it, but it got through him for Semenov’s first goal of the season.
However, 1:45 later, Christian Ehrhoff drew a whistle by hooking Matt Cullen on a breakaway, and Cullen buried the penalty shot. But the Sharks answered 2:21 later on a power play, when Clowe threw a backhand pass from behind the goal line to a pinching Marc-Eduoard Vlasic on the far side for the easy goal. Michalek got his third point on the play with the secondary assist.
The Sharks gave up another goal with under five minutes in the period. Jakub Petruzalek took advantage of a Sharks turnover in their own end and shot the puck toward the net; Sergei Samsanov redirected it past Evgeni Nabokov to close the gap to 3-2.
The Sharks entered the third period having out-shot Carolina 30-18, but the game got away from them at that point.
Carolina kept the pressure on the Sharks and held a 9-7 edge in shots on goal, scoring the only goal of the period 7:30 in. After failing to clear the puck on several occasions and with the pressure on the defence intensifying, Cullen threw a beautiful backhand pass across the front of the crease to former Shark and current Shark-hunter Ray Whitney for the easy one-timer into the open net.
San Jose managed three shots to Carolina’s two in the overtime to finish with a 40-29 edge in that stat, but the Canes held the momentum. In the shootout, Clowe and Pavelski failed to score for the Sharks before Michalek kept things alive with a backhand reminiscent of the one he scored Saturday against Chicago. But Samsanov got the clinching goal after Tuomo Ruutu had opened Carolina’s shooters by getting it by Nabby.
San Jose was 1-6 on the power play with eight shots. Carolina was 0-2 with six shots.