Sharks fans got some good news before the game even started. San Jose got their very own shaved Wookiee back in the lineup. That meant the Sharks would finally have the defensive pairings we all hoped they'd roll with at the beginning of the year: Vlasic-Boyle, Stuart-Burns, Demers-Braun. In other lineup news, Todd McLellan decided to swap Patrick Marleau and Ryane Clowe in the top six - a move that almost paid off. Once the game got going, it took some time for the Sharks to get their feet under them. The line of Hanzal, Vrbata, and Boedker looked very good early on for Phoenix. The first good opportunity of the game actually came on a stretch pass to Raffi Torres, who took a slapshot right after crossing the blue line. Niemi easily grabbed it, giving Sharks fans a good chance to laugh at Torres. Giveaways were a huge problem for the Sharks, especially early on. Boyd Gordon nearly took advantage of a bad turnover in the Sharks defensive zone fiteeen minutes in to the period, but just shot it high. The third line responded with a great shift about a minute later. Burns chipped the puck in to the zone, and Smith was forced to make a bad pass with Tommy Wingels pressuring on the forecheck. Michal Handzus held it in the zone, and the Sharks worked it around the boards well. Eventually, Wingels would find Handzus all alone at the doorstep. Handzus tried some quick stick-handling, but Smith stacked the pads with extra maple syrup.
Mike Smith plays like Mike Smith always plays against the Sharks
Fear The Fin | Feb 10