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Postgame Notes #35: Sharks Beat Wild 4-2, Just 4 Points Behind Blues

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Credit: Sheng Peng

Period 1

Minute in, good Couture line chance initiated by Burns beating two Wild forecheckers with exit pass from corner.

2 minutes in, Viel challenges up top, wins puck. Looks like he read it, good instincts.

7 minutes in: Textbook backchecking switch executed by Vlasic and Couture. Couture can’t catch his man, but Vlasic in full support with better angle, takes Couture’s man, while Couture tracks Wild speed coming down the middle.

8 minutes in: Don’t like that aimless Gambrell pass from NZ wall to middle. Or maybe just a puck battle win that got batted out there. Obviously if latter, no one at fault. But regardless, dangerous puck to nobody, could’ve been launch pad for Wild counterattack.

Following shift, Kane takes puck off Wild defenseman at point, 2-on-1. Sharks playing fast so far tonight. They’ve had more dangerous chances, I think.

Wild penalty killers more aggressive up ice than say San Jose Sharks PK’ers. See more of a 2-2 NZ forecheck, whereas Sharks are definite 1-3. Wild will come with 2 forecheckers at times when PP trying to break out.

6 minutes left: Simek had a chance all alone to blast it out on PK, but that clear dies at blueline. That has to go out. But Simek gets another chance, his clear this time is deflected by Wild and barely out, ends up being perfect pass and a breakaway for Kane. Hockey.

5 minutes left: That Ferraro pass to Hertl telegraphed, can’t happen. Trying to hit San Jose Sharks entering with speed but sniffed out. Lucky nothing comes of it.

30 seconds left, that’s a tough backhand stretch pass from Burns to Meier. By tough, I mean it’s challenging but executed perfectly by Burns. Not a lot of people could’ve pulled that off so precisely, hits Meier in stride.

Thought Sharks had better of scoring chances and Natural Stat Trick agrees, SJS 5-2 High-Danger at 5-on-5. Just gotta keep pounding Kahkonen.

Period 2

Opening shift, Balcers does good job defending slot from Wild pass. San Jose Sharks, I think, have been mostly solid with their coverage in this series.

Minute in though, Balcers has puck on his stick after some Wild pressure, enough time and space, he just throws it off boards, right to Minnesota point. He has enough time to make a better play there, skate up a couple steps or something to at least ensure it goes out if there are no offensive options. Instead, San Jose hemmed in.

2 minutes in: Like that Gambrell pick on Donato entry. Next shift, really nice work by Viel, lays out Eriksson Ek in NZ, then quick pass to Marleau all alone in front for chance.

I haven’t loved Balcers’s game tonight, but then he does that. That keeps you in the NHL, you get that chance, bury. What a pass by Hertl.

6 minutes in, mature puckmoving by Ferraro. Hounded by Wild on both sides, Burns yelling at him (for the puck, I presume), Ferraro makes his own decision, holds, able to shake and bake his own way to get puck out. I’m not saying ignoring your partner is necessarily right move – or maybe Burns was directing Ferraro? – but regardless, shows poise with puck. That’s what I like, he made his own decision, read it right, he was elusive, puck got out.

7 minutes in, Karlsson shows his elusiveness, loses Fiala at blueline, draws slash. That’s a great individual play.

10 minutes in: San Jose Sharks are on the ball tonight. Sharks going for change, Ryan Suter probably thinking he has time to hit a stretch pass, Kane still on the ice bats down pass.

Big save by Jones on Eriksson Ek!

8 minutes left, love Meier on breakout leaning into Greenway on breakout.

3 minutes left: Ferraro with back-to-back stick checks to break up incoming Wild breakout passes. He’s been on the puck tonight at both ends. Love his game tonight.

Seconds left, electric shift from Donato. More of that, he’s not leaving San Jose for a long time.

Period 3

4 minutes in: More good work by Meier to initiate contact, create space for himself and Balcers in OZ.

5 minutes in: Behind Jones, Karlsson breaks through insistent Rask stick check. That’s the Karlsson you love to see, fast and assertive.

Kaprizov goal: This is a crossroads for this San Jose Sharks team. They’ve been phenomenal tonight. With a win, can cut, if you can believe it, gap between themselves and fourth-place Blues by four points, next seven games versus just LA/Anaheim. Can they buckle down mentally and on the ice?

10 minutes in: Loose Wild stick near boards, clever Kane play, he just bats it toward center ice, away from San Jose Sharks bench but also to potentially gum up Wild breakout.

Fake shot-pass by Karlsson buys Knyzhov an extra split-second. Karlsson having a great night.

3 minutes left: Huge shot block by Gambrell on PK, he’s hurt.

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Alaskan_ice

This is the way our boys can play. Tough, skill, passes and good goaltending.
If they can keep this up, they could be on fire heading into the playoffs. One can dream.
That backhand shot by Donato was wicked. Congrats to Knyzhov for his first.

Go Sharks!!

[…] They’ve both been inconsistent this season, as I alluded to here. There’s no surprise that San Jose is essentially a .500 team – their two greatest players, accounting for nearly a quarter of their cap space, haven’t been great this year, merely good. On a shallow roster, the Sharks needed great. But that’s what they were last night, at both ends of the ice, churning out highlight play after highlight play. […]

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