Photos by Scot Tucker/SFBay
SAP CENTER — Preparing for their third game against the San Jose Sharks this season, the Calgary Flames knew they had to keep one thing absolutely in mind: Stop Joe Pavelski from scoring.
Such a task was easier said than done.
San Jose’s resident Team USA Olympic representative notched a two-goal game Monday night to help the Sharks hold off the Flames 3-2.
It was a win that the Sharks were lucky to get, said head coach Todd McLellan:
“The win is important, obviously when we start the night that’s what our goal is. When you look back and evaluate the game, that’s where it gets a little bit disappointing. We weren’t very good, obviously. I didn’t think we skated well. We didn’t move our feet … Had no rhythm or tempo in the game… It was a night we probably got away with one.”
Everyone agreed post-game that part of that difficulty skating well was how much the puck was bouncing. Joe Thornton laughed and explained:
“The puck was just, it wasn’t my friend tonight! … Sometimes you’re going to have nights like that… The ice was just so bouncy tonight.”
The only player who didn’t let the bad bounces get to him was, of course: Pavelski. Thornton complimented his linemate’s hot streak:
“The puck just seems to hit him right now. He’s going at a good pace right now, and it’s definitely (great) to watch him play and to be part of it.”
Calgary’s Jiri Hudler put the visitors on the board first with a soft backhanded shot that easily eluded a flattened-out Antti Niemi (21 saves).
San Jose notched two quick goals to take the lead with time to spare in the period.
Pavelski was credited with the Sharks’ first goal when he got his stick on a shot by Justin Braun and the puck skipped through traffic and past goaltender Karri Ramo’s block. Brent Burns tallied an assist as the game tied up 1-1.
21 seconds later, Tommy Wingels’ snap shot got the jump on Ramo to give San Jose a 2-1 lead. Brad Stuart and Patrick Marleau tallied assists.
The lead was brief, as Flames winger Kevin Westgarth wristed a rebound past Niemi’s left side, tying the game back up 2-2 with 6:26 left in the opening frame.
San Jose’s offense applied plenty of pressure on Ramo through the second stanza but couldn’t break through the tie until their first power play attempt—and the only power play of the game between both teams—of the evening with 5:32 left in the period.
Jason Demers past the puck up from the blue line to Thornton, who found Pavelski in front of the paint. No. 8 tipped the puck past Ramo for his second goal of the evening, giving the Sharks a 3-2 advantage.
When recalling the go-ahead goal, Demers turned attention back to how the puck was bouncing all evening:
“I got the puck, I tried to chip it. The ice tonight was kind of iffy, so it skipped on me. So I dove, gave it a second effort … It was a great play by Pavelski. So, wasn’t a great pass but Pavelski made a good play. Sometime’s it works out like that.”
Pavelski, as always, was subdued when asked about his two-goal night and current point streak:
“There are nights where you don’t feel your best, and you find a way to get one or two. It feels how you should play the game all the time, to be honest. It’s the way you picture it…”
The Flames inched their way up the shot clock in the third and kept pressure on Niemi right up into the last few minutes of regulation, but the Sharks were able to hold them off.
The San Jose Sharks homestand continues Thursday, January 23 against the Winnipeg Jets. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Tonight was the ninth time in franchise history the Sharks have had a penalty-free game. It is the fourth time they have done it at home in franchise history, and the second time they have done it this season (1/5/13 @ Chicago). … Joe Pavelski has 18 goals in his last 20 games and is now tied for 2nd in the NHL with 27 goals on the season. It is the second highest total during a 20-game span in Sharks franchise history [Credit: Elias Sports]. … Joe Thornton’s assist on Pavelski’s goal was his 1,171th career point, moving him past Bobby Hull and into sole possession of 48th place on the NHL’s all-time points list. … Brad Stuart’s assist on Tommy Wingels’ goal was his 129th assist of his Sharks career. Stuart now ranks 2nd in franchise history amongst defenseman in career assists with the team.