Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Ryane Clowe gets the Gordie Howe Hat Trick as Sharks beat Gaborik/Nolan-less Wild, 3-1

Elsewhere in the nation, some Irishman named O'Bama landed a pretty sweet gig tonight... but here in San Jose, I daresay the puckheads had other things on their minds. Namely, having the San Jose Sharks (10-2-0) stay unbeaten at home as they faced the Minnesota Wild (7-2-1).

It couldn't have hurt the Sharks any that both the Wild's superstar, Marian Gaborik, AND former Sharks captain and current Wild Child, Owen Nolan, were out with lower body injuries. Of course, the rest of Jacques Lemaire's team is no push over, as evidenced by their strong start, good for the lead in the Northwest Division.

The Sharks learned this the hard way as the Wild got on the board first just 4:49 minutes into the game. Krys Kolanos, i.e. Mr. I-Haven't-Scored-in-the-NHL-since-2005, was assisted by Kim Johnsson and Benoit Pouliot.

Evgeni Nabokov's save percentage was looking like it would take a big hit again, as the goal came on the 5th Wild shot of the night (hellooooo .800). If it's any consolation to Nabby, the great Patrick Roy has seen Kolanos do worse things to him when the latter was with the Phoenix Coyotes.

It took almost 13 minutes, but the Sharks managed to even the score on a goal that was eventually credited to Mike Grier (his 2nd of the season), though it was initially stated as Ryane Clowe's goal. Clowe ended up with the assist, along with Tomas Plihal, after it was determined that the puck was deflected off of Grier's skate. From what I could tell (I sit in 205, above where the goal happened), it was Clowe all the way as he beat Niklas Backstrom, but the eyes in Toronto know better than I do. The re-crediting also took a point away from Dan Boyle (rats), who was originally given the second assist.

No matter. The Sharks were looking like they were ready to stay unbeaten on the home front, and finished the period with more shots on goal (14 to 8). In the closing minutes, Douglas Murray gave a nice shove to Antti Miettinen near the bench, reminding the Wild that the Sharks are the literally the biggest team in the NHL.

The second period was scoreless, but hard fought. The Sharks narrowly edged the Wild in shots, 13 to 11.

Jamie McGinn got his 2nd NHL goal (Jeremy Roenick getting his second point of the season, while Marleau also notched an assist), retrieving the rebound off of Backstrom to knock it in the net. McGinn was robbed of the game-winner in the final minute of the Detroit game on Thursday by Brian Rafalski, but tonight, this G.W. would stand up.

Not that the Sharks were content to let the Wild back into the game. Ryane Clowe got a *legitimate* goal just two minutes later, when he fired in his own rebound. The reaction from the Sharks fans was humorous - there was a delayed reaction to our celebration. I'll speak for Section 205, at the least (once again, right on top of the action) - we were in blissful disbelief that it went in.

Though failing to convert on a 5-on-3 was slightly ignominious, the Sharks did manage to pile on 22 shots, keeping Minnesota to just 5 of their own for the period. I was praying that the Sharks would crack 50 (it seemed unlikely that they wouldn't), but I still was satisfied with 49 s.o.g. Nabby's 23 saves were good for a .958 save percentage (woo hoo!).

Lest I forget the reason for the headline, Ryane Clowe earned the fabled "Gordie Howe Hat Trick" (goal, assist, and fighting major in one game) by rocking Erik Reitz's little world at 9:20 of the 3rd, behind the Minnesota net.

Also -somewhere in the game, Dan Boyle gave us a scare by falling by the boards and failing to get up quickly. He had been hit in the face somehow, but skated it off.

Also worth noting is the funny "Super Joe" clip played on the Jumbotron - Joe Thornton Sharks highlights, along with clever analysis / glorification of his superpowers (x-ray vision!).

Lest we become too prideful, the Sharks won less faceoffs tonight, 20 to 26. We also failed to convert on all six of our power plays (ouch...). HOWEVER, we kept the #1 line of Burnette-Koivu-Miettinen entirely scoreless tonight... recall that when that line scores, the Wild are 6-0. Their record for when the line doesn't score = 1-3-1 after tonight.

Finally, the Sharks are now at the head of the NHL in points, as the New York Rangers lost 2-1 to the crosstown Islanders at MSG tonight (two shorthanded goals - ha!). The Sharks have 22 to the Rangers' 21, with 2 games in hand.

San Jose continues the homestand with 4 more home games in 9 days beginning Thursday against the St. Louis Blues. They then face the Dallas Stars (now featuring slumping goaltending!) on Saturday, before taking a brief sojourn to Phoenix to face the Great One's Coyotes on Sunday. The following week will see visits from two usual post-season opponents: the Nashville Predators and Calgary Flames.

As always, GO SHARKS!

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