CALGARY – The Sharks were already shorthanded on their blue line headed into Wednesday’s game in Calgary. Paul Martin was unable to go for unspecified reasons, Dylan DeMelo suffered a wrist injury in Edmonton on Tuesday that will keep him out for weeks, and David Schlemko is still on the shelf with an upper body injury.
But a mix up on the official lineup sheet that gets filled out by the coaching staff before every game further complicated matters.
Pete DeBoer and staff thought Martin would be able to play after he took warmups, and left him in the lineup while leaving off Mirco Mueller. When Martin was unable to go, the Sharks trotted out Mueller instead.
Only problem was the official scorers never got word, making Mueller ineligible. When they saw number 41 line up with Brent Burns in the first period they tossed him from the game six-and-a-half minutes in, after a long stretch of play with no whistles. The Sharks were down to five defensemen, one of which was rookie Tim Heed, making his NHL debut.
DeBoer took responsibility for the faux pas.
“That’s on us, the coaches,” he said after the game. “We have some checks and balances on our lineup, and went into warmup and we felt [Martin] could play. There was some last minute movement there obviously, and he didn’t play. Just got left out.
“Feel badly. Apologized to Mirco, it’s not a good spot to put him in. I thought the other guys did a good job.”
The Sharks did, in fact, play admirably, considering those unforeseen circumstances and that they were playing the second of a back-to-back. But after failing to build on a 2-1 lead despite outplaying the Flames for much of the night, Dougie Hamilton’s wrist shot from a bad angle with just 2:19 to go pushed the Flames to a 3-2 win.
Aaron Dell, making his first start against a Western Conference team, called playing at the Saddledome a “dream come true” after he grew up nearby and had more than a dozen friends and family in the stands. Still, he was disappointed with himself on the Hamilton goal, which he didn’t track off of the defenseman’s stick due to a few bodies in front of him.
“I saw it kind of late and it just kind of snuck through, but at the time of that game I have to make that save,” Dell said.
DeBoer said Dell “was alright. This is a tough building. Tough one on the last one, but they had some traffic on two of the goals. … He gave us a chance to hang around.”
The difference in the game from the head coach’s perspective was that the Sharks never increased their 2-1 lead after the first period after goals by Logan Couture (power play) and Burns. They had a number of chances, and even after the Flames tied it late in the second period on a power play, Mikkel Boedker had an opportunity to play hero for the second straight night when he was awarded a penalty shot with 5:27 to go in a 2-2 game.
Boedker, who had a hat trick on Tuesday night, failed to slip it through Chad Johnson’s five hole.
Remarkably, he got another try in the closing seconds with the Sharks down 3-2. He raced ahead untouched on another breakaway and this time he got the puck through Johnson, only to see the goalie get just enough of it after it had trickled behind him to keep it out.
“The last one there with [eight] seconds left, it went through [Johnson] and hit him and went wide,” Boedker said. “It’s good to [get] those opportunities, and getting those chances is what you want as a player. But, a different outcome would have been nice.”
Whether the outcome would have been different without the clerical error by the coaching staff will never be known, but the Sharks players weren’t making a fuss over the matter.
“That stuff is small,” Burns said. “Everybody gets to play more. You’re in the game. It’s not a big deal.”
Boedker said: “Our five [defensemen] today did a great job. I thought as a whole team we did a pretty good job. We just couldn’t finish it off.”