12/16 SHARKS 4, anaheim 3
Speaking on behalf of Sharks fans everywhere, that's more like it. The second installment of the increasingly entertaining Sharks/Ducks rivalry produced a much more exciting contest than the previous meeting between the teams (and not just because the Ducks beat the living snot out of the Sharks 5-0). In a match-up that very well could be a playoff preview, the Sharks showed that they aren't as far off from Anaheim as the analysts think. Despite facing a 2-0 deficit midway through the second, the Sharks did what no team had done to the Ducks yet this year; come back after being behind following the first 20 minutes of play.
Evgeni Nabokov backstopped the victory by making 30 saves, enough for his 10th of the season. Patrick Marleau scored his team-leading 15th goal, and added an assist in a game that saw the Sharks win with a full team effort. Mark Smith (first game back from IR), Jonathan Cheechoo (11th goal of the year), and Joe Thornton (with help from Scott Niedermayer's leg) also added goals.
It may only be December, but the Tank was playoff loud last night, an atmosphere that definitely enhanced an already intense game. From 209's "you suck" chants to the infamous "Pron-ger" chants that filled the building, electricity was in the air all night long.
As I sit here, still with a partially raw throat, I feel great pride in seeing that the way I conduct myself in opposing buildings isn't for naught. Sitting on the other side of my father was a pair of Duck fans, who were decked out in Duck garb, sitting with a pair of Sharks fans. For each of the first two goals, the Duck fan (only the man, as the woman was much milder in her celebration, for whatever reason) clapped for a few seconds following the goal. However, as the game grew more intense, he did as well. From shaking his head from side to side following the goal that tied the game at 2 to hiding his head fully in his hands after the Sharks tied the game at 3, he was in to it. But, as he proved when the Ducks took that 3-2 lead, he may have been a bit too into it.
When Dustin Penner scored and gave the Ducks the edge, he stood up and screamed in excitement. Now, doing that once is permissible, at least in my book. I do the same thing following a Sharks goal on the road, coupled with about ten seconds of clapping and then sitting; that's my post goal celebration routine. But when you turn around to the opposing fans behind you, and just generally scream in excitement ("woo-ooo" style, like the WWE wrestler Ric "The Nature Boy" Flair) 6 times, you paint a very large target on your back. So large, in fact, that when the home team ties the game 31 seconds later, and then scores the eventual game winner with just a couple minutes left, you have several groups of people focusing all their excitement upon you, and you alone. I am in no way attempting to teach etiquette to anyone who attends a game with their team in an opposing building, but all I can say is, what goes around, comes around. And, when it comes down to it, teasing and taunting 17,000 people wearing different colored shirts than you is probably not a good idea.
The Sharks and their fans have a few days to unwind and recover from the emotional roller coaster that was last night. Off until Thursday, the Sharks will have plenty of time to prepare for the third head of the triple-headed monster that sits in the Pacific Division, the Dallas Stars (7:30 PST game time). Fresh from a 1-0 defeat in the Hangar (American Airlines Center) at the beginning of the month, the Sharks will be eager to face a Marty Turco who made the Sharks look like the most snake-bitten team in the world, making a few of the League's best saves this season. Another big game, it'll be important for the Sharks to come out with as much jump as last night's contest.
Again, a reminder that tomorrow, Monday, I will be posting a list of my superstitions, mainly sports related, but with a few general ones thrown in. As a bit of an exploration into the world of interactivity, I hope that you, my loyal lot, will chime in with some of your superstitions, whether they be futile or successful, common or not, or even legal (old-timey animal sacrifice anyone? [hopefully no one]).
Go Sharks (go tea and honey, curing sore screaming throats since whenever tea and honey were invented)