Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Sharks Win Again, Sweep the Avalanche At Home

San Jose Sharks forward Ryane Clowe’s shootout skills win it again for the Sharks in the second straight game, putting the Sharks’ win streak at seven games in a row. The Sharks endured a nail-biting battle against a much-rejuvenated Colorado Avalanche team, hungry for revenge after their domination by the Sharks less than two weeks ago at the Shark Tank to the tune of a 4-0 loss. During the contest, Devin Setoguchi managed his first ever NHL hat trick.

Due to the defensive prowess of both teams, the first two periods remained scoreless. Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson quickly changed things with a power play goal just 1:18 into the third period to put the Avalanche up 1-0. Due to the slow scoring pace of the game, Johnson’s goal proved to be a significant game-breaker for the Sharks. The Johnson goal continued to be so until a very late third period goal by Joe Thornton tied the game up at 1-1, adding the much-needed energy to the San Jose fans in the Shark Tank and sending the game into overtime.

Overtime remained more of the same with an edge in puck control by the Sharks. Once the overtime period ended scoreless, the Sharks took control in the shootout, beginning with a Ryane Clowe goal, and followed up by Niemi successfully stopping all three Avalanche players from scoring.

Niemi again proved to be a much-valued asset for the Sharks organization. (No wonder the Sharks jumped at the opportunity to extend his contract.) Earlier this afternoon, Niemi signed a $15.2 million, four-year contract extension.

(It also helps that San Jose happens to be a wonderful place to live. Just ask any NHL player who has ever spent time here.)

For the Sharks, honorable mentions go to:

- Defenseman Ian White, who displayed his solid offensive skills by pinching in properly and effectively breaking out of the defensive zone to give the Sharks’ offense proper momentum.
- Antti Niemi, although facing only nineteen shots (as opposed to the Sharks’ thirty-five on Avalanche netminder Brian Elliott), the great majority of the shots he faced were dangerous. To top off his dominant play during regulation, he denied all three Avalanche shooters in the shootout to seal the Sharks’ win.
- Forward Joe Pavelski, contributing greatly to the Sharks’ dominant puck control. In addition, he almost scored when his shot beat the Avalanche netminder, but failed to beat the hard, iron crossbar.
- Captain Joe Thornton, playing another fantastic set-up game and scoring the goal that sent the Sharks into overtime.

As for the Avalanche, honorable mentions go to:

- Newly acquired defender, Erik Johnson, who went first overall in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft to the St. Louis Blues. Johnson proved to be a massive thorn in the Sharks’ side by not only blocking many shots and turning away scoring opportunities, but scoring the Avalanche’s only goal. Most notably, during a rush by Joe Pavelski in the overtime period, it was Johnson’s stick that kept Pavelski from succeeding.
- Goaltender Brian Elliott only allowed one goal (not including the shootout goal) out of the thirty-five shots from San Jose. He was the key in keeping the Sharks off of the scoreboard.

Catch the Sharks next Thursday, the 3rd, as the Sharks again face the Detroit Red Wings at home.