Sharks-Canadiens: Early Mistakes Cost San Jose

Stop me if you have heard this one before: San Jose gives up the lead early on the road and cannot overcome the deficit they incur. You have heard that? Then you have been paying attention.

One question: is it too late to have Ron Wilson coach us on the road, where we were the best team in the league last year, and let Todd McLellan, who has coached the Sharks to the best home record this year, stay in charge at the Shark Tank?

So far in 30 road games this season, the Sharks have given up the first score 16 times, and still managed to trail at the end of one period, 3-1, in another. It is a wonder their record on the road is not worse than 16-8-6, a point percentage of .633. That is a testament to the Sharks talent and resilience.

And despite playing nine of 13 games on the road in February, they still have more remaining road games (11) than home games (10). On the plus side, this gives them time to figure out how to play a full game on the road, because they cannot start in a hole in the playoffs and win. Something must be done.

In this one, Jody Shelley took exception to a hit by Georges Laraque and the two tussled. Unfortunately, Shelley is no match for most of the league’s fighters, much less one of its three or four most capable ones.

Losing badly seemed to turn momentum in Montreal’s favour. Just over three minutes later, that increased pressure resulted in a hooking penalty by Christian Ehrhoff. It took less than 40 seconds for Andrei Markov’s slapshot to go through a screen and in; Tomas Plekanec and Matthieu Schneider got the assists.

Just over two minutes later, Matt D’Agostini took a Saku Koivu pass behind the net, drawing Brian Boucher (playing in the second straight game for the first time since November) horribly out of position. Circling around, he found former Shark Josh Gorges pinching up toward the crease uncovered, and Gorges matched his career total in San Jose against San Jose by getting a goal.

On the last goal of the period, 4:20 later, Markov faked a slapshot and knifed a pass through the defence (such that it was) to Koivu, who put the one-timer into the open net. Despite being out-shot 14-10, the host Canadiens had a 3-0 lead.

San Jose came out with a different concentration level in the second period. In the first 2:29, the Sharks had two goals and one shot off the post.

The first goal was scored by Joe Pavelski on the power play just 1:06 in. Dan Boyle shot the puck in, and it went off Milan Michalek. As always, Pavelski was Johnny-on-the-spot and poked in the loose puck.

The second goal was less than a minute later. Christian Ehrhoff got the puck to Patrick Marleau, who did a little role reversal with teammate Joe Thornton, going behind the net and passing from Gretzky’s Office to Joe screaming up toward the net. His one-timer went off the crossbar, off Jarolslav Halak, and in.

Joe also hit the post just 31 seconds later, and Marc-Edouard Vlasic had a shot blocked that went off the crossbar less than four minutes after that.

Unfortunately, Halak did not let anything else by him, and Montreal won despite being out-shot 48-21. Montreal out-hit the Sharks 17-15 and had 24 shots blocked to the Sharks 10; San Jose won 29 of 50 faceoffs.

My three stars:

  1. Jaroslav Halak stopped 46 of 48 shots (.958) and kept his team in the game for the 50-plus minutes they were being outplayed.
  2. Andrei Markov was +1 with a goal, an assist, and three blocked shots.
  3. Joe Thornton had a goal and was 10-15 (.667) in the faceoff circle.