2/7 sharks 3, ANAHEIM 2
Hoo buddy. That was a hockey game. There were flashes of exciting hockey on Tuesday in San Jose, but last night's game was what we were all expecting each and every time these teams were to meet on an NHL sheet. Good skating, good hitting, good goaltending, and two strong PK units that were able to handle their stronger PP counterparts (except for the game winner). A game that was appreciated by all (except the Ducks "fans" who left with 11, 6, and 3 minutes remaining in the 3rd, and some of those who remained to do nothing but hound me and fellow Sharks fans with poor sportsman like whining after the game). The second leg of a back-to-back (home and home yet), the Sharks improved to 7-1 in such games (record in back end of consecutive games this season).
Jonathan Cheechoo (who,before Tuesday's game, had gone 7 games with out a goal) continued his recent hotness, recording 2 more goals [19,20] (Joe Thornton, Ryane Clowe) (Ryane Clowe, Joe Thornton). Both goals were in and out of the net within, what seemed like, a millisecond. The first one came out so quick, neither the goal judge (red light guy) nor the referee called it a goal immediately, and it was not called a goal until a couple minutes later after play stopped and the goal was reviewed. The second goal, however, was seen by both the goal judge (red light guy) and the ref, who acknowledged the tally right away. Milan Michalek  notched the other goal, the eventual game winner (Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Ryane Clowe), a powerplay goal tip off a Vlasic shot, slipping through the pads of goalie Ilya Bryzgalov. Vesa Toskala played the second end of the back to back, showing little signs of fatigue, stopping 20 of 22 shots for his 23rd win of the season.
It's pretty safe to say (now that it's over, of course) that the second visit to the Pond(a) was much more fun than the first. 1) The score was much closer (5-0 Ducks and 3-2 Sharks). 2) Sharks fans were out in full force (maybe not quite as many as last time, but still alot) to witness a great game, and a big win. 3) After getting shown up on home ice, it was nice to steal one in Anaheim, a building that has only seen a Ducks loss 10 times (5 regulation, 5 overtime).
Entering the two game set, the Sharks were 3 points back of the Ducks for first place in the Pacific Division, equal in Games Played. The aftermath of the games could have seen the Sharks up by 1 point, tied for first, or behind the Ducks by anywhere from 1 to 7 points. Call it a reasonable compromise, having lost the first one on home ice, to come out of the set just as they had entered, 3 points back of first place, with the same number of Games Played.
The Sharks now take (what seems like a year is really just) 6 days off to regain some composure, and hopefully build on their solid game play from last night. They will return home, in actuality, while not playing another home game for a long time. This break will rest them (and me) for something, I have just called "The Trip" (from hell). Simply put, it's 7 games (7 cities) in 13 days. In that time is a stretch of 4 games in 6 days, tough to do anywhere, tougher on the road. The Trip (from hell) begins on Tuesday, February 13th in St. Louis. The final meeting between the teams this year, the Sharks hold a 2-1 edge, splitting games in SJ, and taking the one game played at Scottrade Center by a score of 3-0. The most recent game saw the Blues squeak out a 1-0 win in the Tank on January 20th. In the next couple days, look for the last two installments of the arena reportcards, as I have nothing else to do but pack in that time.
Go Sharks (oh, and, if I can whine here for a second, the Pond(a) sounds like ambient noise from a kid's birthday party. There's horns, and cowbells, and duck calls, and tambourines, and a giant white duck with a old school goalie mask and no pants. Scary stuff)
The Trip (from hell)
Tue 2/13 St. Louis
Wed 2/14 Nashville
Fri 2/16 Columbus
Sun 2/18 Dallas
Wed 2/21 Washington D.C.
Thu 2/22 Chicago
Sat 2/24 Calgary
Nighttime outside the Honda Ponda