The big upside to the Sharks game on Monday,
was that they got it over with early. San Jose continued their 5-game East
Coast road trip with an early start in Buffalo as the nation honored Martin
Luther King Jr. with the national holiday. The Sharks struggled offensively and
fell to the Sabres 3-0 at KeyBank Center.
You can't win in the NHL if
you don't score any goals. San Jose didn't apply much pressure in the offensive
zone, which allowed goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen to cruise to the victory.
San Jose put 27 shots on goal, but they just lacked any sustained pressure.
It was a missed opportunity, coming against a team that has struggled
themselves. The Sabres haven't made a playoff appearance in 13 years, and this
season's underwhelming team doesn't appear to be on track to change that.
San Jose just couldn't generate any hop in their step and it cost
them. Their arrival in Buffalo was delayed by a day, so they missed practice on
Sunday. The kink in their schedule may have been one reason they were lacking
any pop in their game, but this is a team that can't afford to lean on excuses.
They need to find ways to generate positive consistency regardless of their
The opening period was uneventful for both teams. Each
squad put 8 shots on net, none of which were of the threatening variety. Kaapo
Kahkonen made his first appearance in net since January 9th when the Sharks
were run out of the building by Toronto.
Casey Mittelstadt finally
broke the ice with his 12th goal of the season at 11:34 of the middle period.
The Sabres forward collected a Kyle Okposo feed as Buffalo gained the zone.
Creeping in on net, Mittelstadt used traffic in front of Kahkonen to weave a
shot home low to the stick side.
A high sticking penalty to Fabian Zetterlund spelled
doom for the league's worst penalty kill 3 minutes later. Alex Tuch snapped a
shot from between the circles on the power play to push the Sabres lead to 2-0
at 14:37. Tuch's shot rang off the left post, but did so at a trajectory that
continued into the scoring area.
A Ryan Johnson holding penalty at
15:34 allowed the Sharks to try and match Buffalo's power play goal, but it
turned into an unfulfilled opportunity for San Jose. Anthony Duclair had a pair
of chances in front, but the Sabres defense squashed the chances.
sharks were forced to pull Kahkonen with 3 minutes left in regulation, but that
allowed Jordan Greenway to pot his 4th goal of the season on the empty net
Luukkonen finished the game with a 27 shot shutout.
* The start time to the game was moved up an hour in
response to the Buffalo Bills playoff game being shifted from Sunday to Monday.
The blizzard conditions that hit Buffalo left so much snow inside Highland
Stadium in Orchard Park unplayable. Rather than compete with viewers, the NHL
moved the game up, which meant a Noon start time locally, or 9:00am in the Bay
* Native son Justin Bailey made his return to his hometown on
Monday. Bailey was born in Buffalo and his father played for the Buffalo Bills.
* Mike Hoffman missed his second game of the season. It was unclear if
Hoffman was dealing with an injury, if the Sharks were giving him a maintenance
day or if it was disciplinary.
* This was the 7th time San Jose has
been shutout this season. They have yet to shutout an opponent. Their 6 road
shutouts is a franchise record.
* The Sharks conclude their 5-game
road trip with a quick turnaround, as San Jose will play the Blackhawks sans
Connor Bedard who is recovering from a broken jaw.