Taking a look at the box score of the Sharks’ 5-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Saturday, it’s easy to think San Jose never stood a chance to win.
But the Sharks were steamed after the game when discussing a controversial faceoff violation against Patrick Marleau about four minutes into the third period. With the score tied at 2-2, Marleau earned a quick whistle from the linesman and was sent to the sin bin for a two-minute timeout.
The Blues only needed 12 seconds to score a go-ahead power-play goal on the other side of the rink.
Marleau might have turned his shoulders a bit early, but enough to warrant a penalty? Sharks coach Bob Boughner didn’t think so.
“There was really no explanation for it there,” Boughner told reporters in his postgame video conference. “Just a horrible call. I guess he spun too early or something? I don’t know. I’ve watched it three times. It’s completely fine. It’s Patty Marleau, by the way. The guy’s going to set Gordie Howe’s [games played] record and you threw him in the box and it affected the whole game. Just use your head. ...
“It’s frustrating for me and I don’t want to say the wrong thing. But what went on there was a travesty.”
The NHL made faceoff violations a focus of refereeing in 2017 but linesmen generally don’t blow the whistle unless it’s something egregious. For something that doesn’t get called often, there is a lengthy explanation for possible infractions in the rule book.
Still, Sharks goalie Devan Dubnyk said he couldn’t remember an official making such a call, not since the exhibition preseason in 2017.
“It’s embarrassing,” Dubnyk said. “It’s Mickey Mouse. I don’t care if you want to say ‘Follow the rule book.’ It’s completely ridiculous to make a call like that in a 2-2 hockey game in the third period in the middle of the season. I don’t know what else to say. It’s incredible.”
Marleau wasn’t as inflammatory with his postgame comments, but the sage veteran was clearly perturbed by the whistle.
“Extremely shocked,” Marleau said. “I thought it was a good, clean draw. Then you see on the replay, I still think that way. Their player’s stick was even on my side of the dot before the puck was dropped. It is what it is.”
The Sharks let an early 1-0 lead disappear quickly but Tomas Hertl’s pretty teamwork-driven goal evened the score before the second intermission. But the call on Marleau and subsequent goal cut down any momentum San Jose was building and the Blues tacked on three goals in the third, including an empty-netter in the final two minutes.
Marleau said the Sharks still took some positives from their effort on Saturday.
“We did a lot of great things,” Marleau said. “But in the end you need to win these games and get those points. There’s things we can build off of, but it stings, losing. Losing when you play fairly well.”