Photos by Aris Bernales/SFBay
SAP CENTER — The Sharks’ fan base was surely heading into Saturday night’s game against the Bruins hoping for a raucous tilt.
When the teams met in Boston in October, San Jose suffered a 2-1 loss that carried a lot of emotion. With how hot the Sharks have played as of late, a redemption win seemed very likely.
Heck, after their dominant performance over the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday, you would have thought that the Sharks were primed for another edge-of-your-seat tilt.
Plus, this was Antti Niemi and Tuukka Rask’s only meeting before they would suit up in the same sweater to represent Team Finland in the Sochi Olympics.
None of that factored into Saturday’s back-and-forth bout that stayed a scoreless deadlock through more than two periods of play.
And it would end with another heartbreaker, as the Sharks were shut out 1-0 by Rask and the first-place Boston Bruins.
The game was tight up until the Bruins third period goal squeaked by Niemi. Head coach Todd McLellan said to the media about the nature of the game:
“It was tight right from the beginning to the end … The top two lines on each team neutralized each other. Basically, what it came down to was a little bit of puck luck. Bounce went their way, it went to their stick, and it didn’t go to ours. Nothing we have to hang our heads over.”
The Sharks had plenty of good looks in the first two frames, but every shot went wide. A fight between Mike Brown and Kevan Miller halfway through the second period looked as though it might ignite both team’s offenses, but the tempo of the game remained the same.
Dan Boyle commented afterwards on the balance of play during the first two periods:
“I thought we probably had the better first. I think they they probably had the better second. They had more power play opportunities tonight…But it was a pretty evenly matched game.”
Bruin Carl Soderberg broke the deadlock at 12:25 in the third stanza when his shot took a nasty hop past Niemi’s block to put Boston on the board 1-0.
Rask had 26 saves to pick up his fifth shutout of the season, while Niemi turned away 21 of 22 Boston shots.
Captain Joe Thornton commented after the game on both goaltender’s performances:
“I thought both goalies were excellent tonight. It was kind of a lucky bounce, the goal they scored on. But I thought both goalies played great.”
The Sharks hit the road starting with a matchup Tuesday in Washington against the Capitals. They return to San Jose Monday, January 20 to host the Calgary Flames. Puck drop for that game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Tonight was only the second time the Sharks have been shutout this season (Other: 10/21/13 at Detroit) … The Sharks are now 5-3-1 against Boston since Joe Thornton was traded to the Sharks … Justin Braun, Tyler Kennedy, and Brent Burns led the Sharks with three shots each … Andrew Desjardins led the Sharks in blocked shots with three.