The San Jose Sharks were clearly fatigued in suffering just their third regulation loss in their last 19 games Friday, Feb. 19. The Carolina Hurricanes were also coming off a game the night before, but had most of the pictured stars of the game because their younger legs were obviously more up to the task.
That San Jose was within a goal in the final five minutes was remarkable considering Carolina’s event summary advantage is more representative of the action on the ice: 32-18 faceoffs, 4-1 giveaways, 10-6 takeaways, 24-14 hits, 37-24 shots, 60-43 attempts and 8-14 blocks.
The Sharks went with Martin Jones in net for the second consecutive night and he did his best Alex Stalock impersonation in allowing a soft goal. Even if that was not because of fatigue, one has to wonder what good a backup goalie is if he cannot spell the starter on the second of back-to-back nights against a non-playoff team on the second of back-to-back nights.
The Hurricanes got a lucky bounce on their first goal just over seven minutes in: Noah Hanifin got the puck from Riley Nash and shot if off a defender’s stick toward the slot where Chris Terry batted it up over Jones. Joel Ward got the puck from Matt Nieto just over seven minutes later and fed Brent Burns, who toe-dragged free and shot it past Cam Ward to tie it up.
It stayed that way until intermission, but Carolina took over in the second period with a 19-4 edge in shots. While the only score was the soft goal slapped home by Joakim Nordstrom (assists to Jordan Staal and Brett Pesce), San Jose’s Mike Brown (in because of an injury to Tommy Wingels) committed an extra penalty just before the second intermission that became the game-winning goal for Jeff Skinner following the shot of Eric Staal and giving a secondary assist to Kris Versteeg.
Ten minutes later it was time for a net-minding mistake by Ward to give the Sharks a goal. As he went behind the net to play the puck, Patrick Marleau did his best Joe Thornton imitation with a steal and feed to the crease that Tomas Hertl tapped in to draw within one.
That held up for nearly five minutes, but the Hurricanes put the game away with 4:28 remaining when Skinner got the puck from Jaccob Slavin, fed Victor Rask and then headed to the net perfectly to put away the rebound of the wide-angle shot. A couple minutes later, Andrej Nestrasil got the puck out of the zone where the younger Staal could hit the empty net to cap the scoring.
The win was Carolina’s 27th (none coming in a shootout) and leaves it two games back of the final wild card. The loss dropped San Jose half a game behind the Anaheim Ducks and in third place in the Pacific Division.