SAN JOSE – The Sharks and Ducks were each playing their fourth game in a week sandwiched around the holiday, including the second of a back-to-back, and there was distinct lack of energy and animosity that’s typically evident when these two Pacific Division rivals face off against one another.
One play stood out among the rest, though, in Anaheim’s 3-2 win. In the first period, with San Jose ahead thanks to Logan Couture’s power play goal, Ryan Garbutt stormed towards the crease and plowed over Martin Jones. The puck crossed the line during the violent collision, and a video replay confirmed that it did so before the net came off of its moorings.
Pete DeBoer promptly challenged the play, but the goal was upheld, as the Toronto war room determined that Brent Burns pushed Garbutt into Jones. The Sharks, with visions of Joe Pavelski’s overturned goal in a Nashville playoff game last spring under similar circumstances still in their heads, didn’t agree with the call.
“That’s the rule that I guess we’ll never understand, because last year we were told in the Nashville series that Pav was pushed in and he should have made the effort to stop,” Couture said. “Tonight they just said he was pushed in even though he didn’t make an effort to stop. I don’t understand what the league is doing with the rule, so maybe some more clarification is needed.”
DeBoer said: “I still think you have to make some intent to try to stop and avoid the collision. I didn't see that, but they obviously saw something I didn't."
The goal was hardly a backbreaker, as it came in the first period with plenty of time left. Anaheim struck again later in the first, but the Sharks responded with a brilliant shift in the second period by their fourth line. Ryan Carpenter, making his season debut and playing in just his second career NHL game, screened Jonathan Bernier on a Dylan DeMelo shot, tying it at 2-2.
DeMelo was playing in just his second game of the season, filling in for a sick Brenden Dillon.
“Great pass by [Kevin Labanc] and even better screen by Carpy, so [Bernier] didn’t see a thing,” DeMelo said.
Pavelski said: “It was awesome to see [DeMelo] get that one. He made a great shot. Couple nice plays on that shift. … They definitely did their job.”
Ryan Getzlaf scored a power play goal in the second period, though, and the Sharks were never able to get another. They managed just five shots on goal in the third period, as the energy tanks were perhaps just a little too drained in their fourth game in six nights.
Further complicating matters was DeBoer’s decision to shorten his bench. Carpenter, Micheal Haley and Mikkel Boedker all remained planted on the pine, with Boedker’s omission from the game the most noteworthy.
The forward, who signed a four-year, $16 million deal in the offseason, has been nothing short of invisible most nights. With just two points (two goals) in 22 games, Boedker may be giving some Sharks fans (and maybe even some in the front office) fears that they may be witnessing the second coming of Marty Havlat.
DeBoer didn’t call Boedker out by name after the game, but when asked about his decision to sit certain guys late, said: “We were behind going into the third. Some guys it was just circumstance. Some guys didn't deserve to play."
The coach wasn’t necessarily pleased with the forwards that were playing, either, other than the top line of Pavelski, Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau.
“The best legs on the ice were our veterans, Jumbo and Marleau and Pavelski, which is a little inexcusable if you're a younger guy and you don't have legs when those guys are going,” DeBoer said.
The defense was also shorthanded, but that wasn’t a coach’s decision. Marc-Edouard Vlasic left after the second period due to injury and did not return, and there was no update on his status after the game.
“As a unit we did pretty well being down a guy,” Justin Braun said.
Of the Sharks’ 23 shots, only 12 came from forwards. That’s where this game was lost – a lack of second chances, especially from close range.
“We didn’t really sustain much pressure until the very end there,” Couture said. “We had some shifts in their end. Would have liked to generate a couple more shots.”