Playoff Birth Clinched Despite Shootout Loss- The Sharks will focus on the positive of their 2-1 shootout loss to the host Calgary Flames Monday night. The positive is that the Sharks by picking up a point in the league standings clinched a playoff birth for the tenth consecutive season, and their 17th on the franchise's 22 year history. Team Teal again will participate in the NHL’s post season party which starts on April 16th. As for the game Monday night, once again it was the case of the Sharks running into another goalie who picked this night to put on one of his best performances of the season. Calgary goalie Karri Ramo made 33 saves on the evening and stopped all three shootout attempts he faced from Team Teal shooters Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski and James Sheppard. In fact, it was Sheppard who was the only member of the Sharks to get any rubber past Ramo in scoring his fourth goal of the season late in the first period. It was not a matter of the Sharks not getting enough scoring chances as they had more than their fair share. This was just another night when for whatever reason the Sharks faced a goalie who was on top of his game all evening. The Sharks with a point in the standings gained now lead the Anaheim Ducks 101-99 in the Pacific Division. However Anaheim has two games in hand, and not to mention will be playing several non-playoff teams down the stretch.
Stalock Barely Outdueled- The Sharks short comings in this game certainly cannot be blamed on Alex Stalock who for the most part did his job. Stalock’s performance between the pipes was every bit as on mark was his counterpart Ramo. The only Calgary Flames’ player to beat Stalock for the entire game up until the shootout was Joe Colborne. With Calgary somewhat dominant in the second period, it was Colborne who was able to get a puck past a diving Stalock top shelf after getting a perfect feed pass from Tyler Wotherspoon. Outside of that Stalock put on one of his best performances of the season as he made 26 saves during regulation and the overtime period. In the shootout period Stalock denied the first two shooters he faced in former Red Wing Jiri Hudler and then Colborne. However Stalock was cleanly beaten by the Flames third shooter in seasoned veteran Mike Cammalleri. In spite of the end result, Stalock’s performance certainly did not disappoint.
Couture Injury Apparently Not Serious- Logan Couture had a strong first period as he had three shots on goal and also blocked three shots defensively. However it may have been that third blocked shot that stymied Couture for the evening. The Team Teal left winger left the ice just before the first period and did not come out for the second period with the rest of the team. Couture later appeared out of the dressing room and played a shift. As soon as he his shift ended he would go back to the Sharks' lockeroom and did not return for the rest of the game. Team Teal certainly missed his presence over the last two periods too. Head Coach Todd McLellan in the post game press conference said that Couture was fine and that there was no serious injury.
It’s Time To Roll- Overtime or Shootout losses can be tough even though over the last two games the Sharks have gained a point in the standings. The point they gained in Calgary Monday night helped to clinch a playoff spot. The Sharks ended Monday with a two-point lead over their arch rivals in the Anaheim Ducks. However this lead is somewhat precarious as the Ducks also have two games in hand. If the Sharks want to win the Pacific Division and not draw a very difficult to play LA Kings team in the first round they’ll need to start thinking about getting on a role. The Ducks have a favorable schedule over their final 11 regular season games and could easily surpass Team Teal if the Sharks can’t get enough wins over the next two and a half weeks. After a recent team slump the Ducks appear to have righted themselves just in time for the stretch run. The Sharks are going to need to do the same thing in order to get the Pacific Division title. This needs to start happening for Team Teal Tuesday night in Edmonton.
Next Sharks Game- The Sharks take on the Oilers in Edmonton Tuesday evening (3/25) at 6pm PDT (7pm MDT). The game can be seen in Northern California on CSN-CA, and heard over the Sharks Radio Network.
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