Sharks take care of Bruins
SAN JOSE - Whatever breathing room the Bruins felt they gained in the standings with a recent wins over Philadelphia and Toronto, they came up short of wind last night, suffering a lackluster 2-1 loss at the hands of the far more aggressive and hungry Sharks in front of a sellout crowd of 17,562 at HP Pavillion.
Joe Pavelski and Daniel Winnik had the Sharks’ goals, while Antti Niemi faced a season-low Bruins’ total of 17 shots for the win. The Sharks, clinging to the hope of picking off one of the last playoff berths in the West, looked far more like a playoff contender than the Bruins, who fell into their familiar pattern of giving up the night’s first goal and never playing with a lead.
Zdeno Chara, playing in his 999th career game, potted Boston’s lone goal with 4:15 remaining in regulation. Even with the loss, the Bruins remained in second place in the East, but now only have one game in hand over the Senators, who sit in seventh place and trail the Bruins by three points.
After carrying a 1-0 lead into the second intermission, the Sharks put it out of reach early in the third when Winnik, the former UNH standout, ripped home his first goal since being dealt to San Jose by Colorado at the Feb. 27 trade deadline.
Winnik sniped home his shot from the left wing circle, seconds after Andrew Desjardins sprung San Jose’s attack out of the Boston end, disrupting a shot attempt off left wing by Tyler Seguin. Desjardins obstructed the shot, collected the puck, and quickly moved up ice before he shoveled off for the racing Winnik to nail it home at 2:17.
Fresh from their 8-0 annihilation of the Maple Leafs Monday night, the Bruins came here with a Leaf-like offense, challenged to land shots on Niemi in the first period. When the period ended, they were down by a goal and outshot, 8-5.
In their back-to-back wins over the Flyers and Leafs, the Bruins struck for the game’s opening goal. It reversed a disturbing trend in which they went down, 1-0, in seven straight games. But here they were again, slower to get off the mark in the first period than a Senate subcommittee and down by a goal when Pavelski nailed in his 27th of the season with only 3:57 ticked off the clock.
The Sharks’ goal was generated off a turnover by Milan Lucic, who errantly tossed the puck to ex-Bruin center Joe Thornton high in Boston’s defensive zone. Jumbo Joe ate up the feed and fired a quick shot from the top of the right wing circle and Tim Thomas made sharp pad save. But the Sharks kept up the heat, and only 10 seconds later Pavelski cashed in after Thornton centered out from behind the goal line and Thomas stopped an initial attempt by Patrick Marleau at the left post. Free puck, easy pot for Pavelski.
The assist lifted Thornton’s career point total to 1,070, slotting him No. 59 on the NHL’s all-time scoring list. He has played in 1,069 games.
Thomas stoned Martin Havlat at the left post with 4:30 gone in the second period, keeping it a one-goal game. It was San Jose’s 13th shot. Three nights earlier in Boston, Thomas faced a total of 13 shots by the Leafs.
If not for Thomas, Boston’s first stop on this trip would have been entered as an ‘L’ by no later than the middle of the second period. The Sharks won virtually all battles, especially along the walls and in the heavy areas of the ice.
Boston’s best chance in the first two periods came at the 17:12 mark of the second when Lucic rang the crossbar off the rush, directing a pass off the right wing by David Krejci. Had the angle been two inches lower, the Bruins would have tied it. But when the second intermission arrived, the Sharks still had the 1-0 lead and a healthy and indicative 20-9 shot advantage.
The Sharks actually attempted 39 shots in the first two periods, only to have 19 either blocked or go off net. Boston’s 12 forwards accounted for only five shots in the first two periods.
The Bruins only went on the power play once in the first two periods, finally getting their chance at 11:27 of the second when Justin Braun was sent off for hooking Brian Rolston. Not that it mattered much. The Bruins put only one shot on net, by Chara, and it was gloved easily by Niemi.
Boston dominated only one category in the first two periods, registering 22 hits while the Sharks managed only 9.
When Winnik’s shot zipped by Thomas, one the goalie probably should have stopped, the Sharks owned a commanding 21-9 shot advantage. One of those nights for the Bruins. One they can only hope stirs them to play with more zip and focus in their next two stops of this trip, Saturday night in Los Angeles and Sunday night in Anaheim.
Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at email@example.com.