Three of the first six 2012 playoff contests have gone past the third period, but this was the first that felt like the first true overtime battle. Antti Niemi deserves a lot of credit for keeping the Sharks in this game despite the fact that they were heavily out shot in the first overtime period. However, the man of the hour is Martin Havlat, who spent the better part of the season on the sidelines. He has been great since his return from a hamstring injury and has a five-game point streak dating back to the regular season. Havlat scored a double-OT goal to give the Sharks a 3-2 win against the Blues.
So what did you think of the game? Here’s a few points to keep in mind:
- San Jose Sharks got just three goals in four games against St. Louis during the regular season. They didn’t exactly overpower the Blues on Thursday, but they did prove they can beat their defense and goaltending.
- After a relatively quiet first period, things heated up. They drew four minor penalties each over the second and third periods and they traded power-play goals.
- St. Louis’ Patrik Berglund stepped up in this game after getting no points during the Blues’ brief playoff run back in 2009.
- Speaking of youngsters stepping up, Andrew Desjardins scored the goal that sent this game to overtime with just 5:16 remaining in the third period. He has five goals in 93 career regular season games, but two goals in four postseason contests. Could we have the making of a playoff hero?
- Antti Niemi’s final playoff game of the Sharks’ 2011 playoff run went to double overtime. So starting off his 2012 playoff campaign with a double overtime win seems somehow appropriate.
You can’t blame Mike Babcock for siding with the relatively unknown when the other option is Jonathan Bernier, a goalie who’s 0-8-1 so far in 2015-16.
With that in mind, meet Garret Sparks, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ expected starter for Monday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers.
Sparks was a seventh-round pick (190th overall) in 2011, a guy who was off to a great start in the AHL. That much wasn’t lost on Babcock.
Let’s face it, though; this is as much about the Leafs’ other two goalies as it is about Sparks (whose name inspired a very obscure reference in this post’s headline).
In Bernier’s case, there’s an “enough’s enough” feel:
Meanwhile, James Reimer‘s not quite healthy enough to play yet, so the window of opportunity is open for Sparks … a little bit.
Sparks will get a chance to make an impression, even if it’s just a small one.
So far, the 2015-16 crop of rookies is living up to the hype, if not exceeding it. Connor McDavid‘s unfortunate injury hasn’t even derailed this year’s crop.
The Detroit Red Wings are watching their own blue chip blossom, as Dylan Larkin is making an instant impact.
No. 71 scored his 10th goal of the season against the Florida Panthers on Sunday, fattening his rookie goals lead.
He still needs five points to match rookie points leader Artemi Panarin, though.
There’s one thing we seem to know about Carey Price‘s injury situation: he first got hurt stepping on a puck on Oct. 29, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.
Contrary to earlier reports about him missing about a month, it sounds like his window of recovery is still up in the air (which, to be fair, could mean that he’ll still miss about a month when it’s all said and done).
ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that Price underwent testing with Montreal’s team doctor on Saturday and is expected to go through more; we may not know more about his expected injury timeline until early this coming week.
So, basically, Price’s situation is fuzzier than his mustache right now.
Leg injuries can be tricky anyway, so we shouldn’t be too surprised that there are mixed signals regarding Price, and this may remain a fluid situation for some time.
(But we’ll hopefully know more soon enough.)
The Tampa Bay Lightning have plenty of time to rise above mediocrity, yet it still must be deserving to finish at .500 for two straight months.
After last night’s 3-2 loss to the New York Islanders, that’s exactly where they find themselves:
Record at the end of October: 5-5-2
Record at the end of November: 11-11-3
As of this writing, the Lightning found themselves on the outside looking in at the playoff picture. It all stands as a pretty tough thing for the reigning Eastern Conference champs to swallow.
The uncomfortable-yet-vital question is: can the Lightning break out of this funk?
Looking at their schedule, it won’t be easy, at least not right away.
They crawl through California during a three-game road trip to start December, and they also face six of eight on the road from Dec. 2 – 18.
The Lightning soak up home dates to finish 2015 after that, but what damage will be done by then?
Frankly, the Bolts will need to dig deep to break this pattern. If nothing else, they’ve fought with their backs against the wall before.