Highlights: Sharks fall to Sabres in shootout
After winning 10 of their first 12 games, the Sharks have dropped three in a row -- all in OT or shootout fashion. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
SAN JOSE – On paper, it should have been a comfortable victory. Instead, the Buffalo Sabres, owners of the league’s worst record, stunned the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center on Tuesday night, 5-4 in a shootout.
Cody Hodgson scored in the fourth round of the skills competition to end the game, after the Sharks should have been credited with the victory. Tommy Wingels pushed home what would have been his second goal of the night in overtime before Tyler Myers quickly kicked it out of the cage, but the referees missed it and no calls to the NHL's War Room in Toronto were made.
The Sharks (10-1-4) lost their third straight (0-0-3), while Buffalo (3-13-1) snapped a four-game losing streak.
After fighting back from a pair of third period deficits, the Sharks had the better of the chances in overtime, but Tyler Kennedy hit the post and Ryan Miller stopped Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s shot on a rush. San Jose had a 6-3 advantage in shots in the extra session.
The teams combined for five goals in a wild third period.
Leading 2-1 after the second period, the Sabres increased their lead on their first power play of the night. Tyler Ennis deposited a Hodgson pass at 1:20 of the third period on what was a two-on-none rush, coming after Buffalo won a board battle and the Sharks’ penalty killers were caught out of position.
The Sharks fought back to tie it, though. Kennedy tapped in a bouncing puck that originated off of Vlasic’s stick from the point at 3:19, and 70 seconds later Tomas Hertl’s wraparound made it 3-3.
Already a fan favorite, Hertl’s ninth goal brought the crowd to life, but it didn’t take long for the Sabres to sap the energy from the building again. More soft defensive zone play – a bad habit creeping into San Jose’s game lately – resulted in a Henrik Tallinder slap shot that beat Antti Niemi at 7:28 to give Buffalo the lead back.
The Sharks tied it just after a power play expired. Hertl took a pass down low and directed towards the net. Marty Havlat took up space in the crease and allowed Wingels to dive in and poke home a loose puck with just 3:46 to go in regulation.
The Sharks fell to 5-0-2 at home. A three-game homestand concludes on Thursday with the Vancouver Canucks.
Buffalo erased a 1-0 deficit with a pair of second period goals.
The Sabres took advantage of a turnover in the Sharks’ defensive zone, when Jason Demers was unable to compete a short pass to Kennedy. That led to Drew Stafford squeaking a puck through Niemi’s wickets at 2:36 to make it a 1-1 game.
Just seconds after a Kennedy-Johan Larsson fight, Cody McCormick found a loose puck after an offensive zone draw and again Niemi was beat through the five-hole at 5:53.
San Jose scored the only goal of the first period, when Marty Havlat backhanded a puck off of Miller’s pad after the Sabres couldn’t clear the puck away from the front of the net at 8:48. The goal was Havlat’s first point of the season in his third game since returning from offseason pelvic surgery.
The Sharks outshot the Sabres for the game, 51-36, reaching the 50-shot plateau for the second straight game and fourth time overall.
The Sharks visit Buffalo on Feb. 28.
San Jose was 0-for-4 on the power play, while Buffalo was 1-for-3.
Leading 4-3 in the third, the Sabres failed to convert on a two-man advantage for more than a minute. They came closest when Jamie McBain rang one off of the far post.
The Sharks nearly tied the game at 2-2 on a power play midway through the second. Wingels’ turnaround shot from just outside of the crease hit the cross bar and the post, and Miller got his arm down just in time to deny Justin Braun on the loose puck for his best save of the night.
Niemi, starting for the 14th time in 15 games, looked shaky for much of the game and stopped 32 of 36. He has never beaten the Sabres (0-2-1).
Miller made 47 saves in regulation and improved to 7-1-1 career against San Jose. He allowed only Couture to convert in the shootout.
Matt Irwin was scratched for the second straight game. Mike Brown, who got into a first period fight with McCormick, returned in place of James Sheppard on the fourth line.
Joe Pavelski’s three-game goal scoring streak came to an end.
After Thursday’s game wit the Canucks, a five-game road trip begins on Nov. 10 in Winnipeg and continues with stops in Calgary, Vancouver, Edmonton and Chicago.