I guess it would not be a proper introduction for Antii Niemi to San Jose Sharks’ hockey unless he suffered a defeat at the hands of Dustin Byfuglien. Four unanswered goals by the Atlanta Thrashers propelled them to a come-from-behind victory spoiling the Sharks’ home opener. Dustin Byfuglien was credited with the game-winning goal – his first of the season and as a Thrasher- at the 13:40 mark of the 3rd period for the franchise’s first victory at HP Pavilion.
Byfuglien’s goal came on a powerplay minutes after Thrashers’ goaltender, Chris Mason, stopped Logan Couture on a breakaway when the score was still tied 2-2.
The Sharks got off to a good start scoring two goals 21 seconds apart including a 5 on 3 poweplay goal by Dany Heatley. Joe Thornton made a cross-ice pass in the offensive zone to Patrick Marleau, who’s quick release allowed Heatley to score his 300th career goal off the rebound. Shortly after, Ryan Clowe redirected a Torrey Mitchell shot after he dropped the puck to Mitchell on the wing and drove to the front of the net. The Sharks outshot the Thrashers 12-4 in the first stanza.
Though the Sharks outshot Atlanta again in the second period 19-8, the Thrashers tied the game on goals by Andrew Ladd and Jonathan Stewart. Ladd’s goal came shorthanded when Bryan Little drove the net, put the puck off Niemi’s left pad, and Ladd put home the rebound. Sharks’ defenseman, Dan Boyle, could have done a better job in picking up Ladd. Jonathan Stewart, fresh off a hat-trick a night ago against Anaheim, blasted a slap-shot from the right face-off circle that beat Niemi low blocker. Heatley, Clowe, and Couture played great together on in the 2nd period but could not convert on their scoring opportunities.
Down 3-2 in the 3rd period, the Sharks took chances trying to tie the game and Dan Boyle got caught pinching in the offensive zone, resulting in a 3 on 1 rush led by Rich Peverley who set up Evander Kane for his third goal of the season. The game would end 4-2 and Chris Mason was stellar for the Thrashers stopping 37 of 39 shots. Antii Niemi lost his first game as a Shark stopping 24 of 28 shots. The Sharks (1-1-1) will host the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night.
About the Author
Written by Alex Wasserstrom
Native Californian, former minor league pro, and current men's league superstar, Alex Wasserstrom is ProSportsBlogging.com's San Jose Sharks correspondent. Wanna talk puck? Shoot him an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or follow him on Twitter (@Awassers).