On the night in which Star Wars: The Force Awakens premiers, it was only fitting that the Wookie would be the hero for this game.
In a roller coaster of a game that included nine goals, two blown two-goal leads, two injured players, two missed wide-open scoring chances, one breakaway, and one penalty shot, the Sharks ended up winners when Brent Burns wired home a goal 2:13 into overtime.
Lost in the loss, however, was the play of Jonathan Bernier. While the start belonged to Garret Sparks, he left halfway through the first period with a lower-body injury and would not return to the game. Bernier came in, and actually played decently in the 27 shots he faced. His .889 SV% may leave a lot to be desired, but none of the goals were his usual stinkers. It also doesn't account for a few timely stops that he made, including stops on a Joe Thornton breakaway and Chris Tierney penalty shot.
The Leafs simultaneously deserved and didn't deserve a better fate tonight. They missed two easy, open-net shots that could've put away the game; instead, the Sharks came back to win. On the other hand, their sleepwalking through the first period was what put them in a two-goal deficit to begin with. A better effort in the first might've prevented the Sharks from getting four goals at all.
Still, any day you let a team hang 42 shots on you- even if half are in the first period- you probably don't deserve to win, so taking the loser point is a decent enough outcome for a pretty meh game.
Ugly, ugly start for the Leafs. P.A. Parfenteau takes a penalty during a sequence in which the Leafs can't find their way out of the opposing zone. It takes six seconds on the ensuing power play for the Sharks to take the lead. Joe Pavelski rips a bullet past Sparks for his 15th of the season. A couple more scoring chances- including a couple of posts- made the ice pretty tilted.
The Leafs went down 7-0 in shots early, and just did not look good at all. You know when you play NHL 15 with the boosts turned way up on one team, and one team looks unstoppable while the other can't take two strides without seemingly falling over their shoelaces? That was how this one started. Yeah.
The Leafs penalty kill would continue humming along on their second penalty of the night. Patrick Marleau would beat Sparks glove side. He didn't quite look right during and after the goal, so Bernier would come out in relief after that.
In spite of an ugly period, the Leafs stayed in the game after Peter Holland scored to cut the Sharks' lead to one. Marc-Edouard Vlasic turned over the puck to Daniel Winnik, who then got a pass to Holland. Holland wired it past Martin Jones for the first Leafs marker- and really, the first evidence of their existence- of the game.
The Leafs allowed 21 shots in the first period, and as you can see here, a big part of that was taking 5 minutes to realize that there actually was a game on:
The Leafs decided to show up in the second, and wouldn't you know it, it showed in the results. Leo Komarov took a wide-angle shot on Jones and got a shot off to tie the game, 2-2. It would be Komarov's 11th of the season. He had 12 goals in his last two seasons combined.
The Leafs took the lead late in the second period, as James Van Riemsdyk retrieved the puck behind the net and trickled one past Jones' left pad and in. Joffrey Lupul almost padded the lead with an open-net buzzer beater, but ricocheted it off two posts. After 40, the Leafs battled back to a 3-2 lead.
The second was almost a mirror image of the first, with the Leafs outshooting the Sharks 13-7 and outattempting them 33-12. After a lopsided first period, the Leafs pulled almost even on possession and took the lead in a game that they looked out of just halfway through the first.
The Leafs picked up where they left off early in the third, as Peter Holland gets a turnover and dishes it to Michael Grabner. While Grabner did what he usually does on his first shot- not score- he caught the rebound and dished it home for the 4-2 lead. The 2-goal lead, however, would not last long, as Vlasic got one past Bernier.
The Leafs almost quickly gave the lead away, when Matt Hunwick hooked Chris Tierney on a breakaway, but Bernier coolly turned aside the ensuing penalty shot to preserve a 4-3 Leafs lead. The Sharks, however, would not be denied almost 12 minutes into the period, when Matt Nieto got one in all alone. Seconds later, Holland almost had a tap-in goal on an odd-man rush, but couldn't get his stick on it quickly enough.
The Leafs and Sharks traded chances, but nothing else came close in regulation. The Leafs would go to their third straight 3-on-3 overtime while banking at least a point for the fourth consecutive game.
Burns would win the game for the Sharks in OT, after his point shot took a funny deflection off Holland and in the net. Bernier will have to wait another day for his first win of the season; he now drops to 0-8-3. Unlike the last few, however, this one isn't his fault.
Good, Bad, and Ugly
Good: Jonathan Bernier's confidence. Yes, he's 0-8-3. Yes, he still was only an .889 tonight. But he needed an opportunity to play a solid game and not colossally screw anything up, and he did that tonight. It's sad that just not making a mistake is considered a moral victory, but here we are.
Bad: Matt Hunwick with another ugly game. The Sharks' first goal was in part on him due to some bad PK coverage. He then would go on to take a dumb penalty and take the hook that led to the San Jose penalty shot. Babcock may want to take a look at the ice time he's giving this guy. Hunwick is a decent third pair D, but he's clearly in over his head here.
Ugly: 21 shots in a period? 21 shots?! Hell, the Sharks had 7 shots and scored before the Leafs even got their first shot of the game. The Holland goal late in the first was the first shot all game that looked the least bit threatening. What an awful period.