12/18/07 anaheim 2, SHARKS 0
Well, ok. So round 2 goes to the Ducks.
A strong defensive effort by the birds coupled with an all-too-familiar disappearing act by the fins, and we find ourselves looking at the first shutout of the Teal on the year. As open as Sunday's matchup was, Tuesday's game was a grind it out battle that saw much fewer scoring chances and even fewer shots and goals. There were no Sharks goals to speak of, Evgeni Nabokov, Prince of the posts, Ayatollah of the iron, guy who's really good at standing in the net a lot and stopping pucks, hit start number 33 of the year (in 33 Sharks games), making 14 saves in the losing effort.
Despite getting shut out by a very strong defensive corps, the Sharks did have their chances Tuesday night. Mike Grier tried the Torrey Mitchell special, attempting a forehand deke to backhand move on J.S. Giguere on his shorthanded breakaway in the first period. Another shorthanded opportunity came when the puck jumped over the back of Giguere and twirled on the goalline before being plucked off by a Ducks defenseman.
With the two points, the Ducks inch closer to the Sharks in the standings. As of Thursday (12/20) morning, Anaheim sits one point back of San Jose. However, the often overlooked Games Played column gives the Sharks an advantage, as the Ducks have their 39 points in 37 games, while the Sharks have 40 points in just 33 games played. While it is only December, the standings watch is ongoing, as the halfway point of the year is just around the corner. The Sharks currently sit 2 points back of first place Dallas with one fewer game played. The Stars play at Vancouver at 7 tonight. Go Canucks.
As for the Sharks, they have their hands full earning the two points tonight, as the surging Phoenix Coyotes (there's some words I neve thought I'd say) come to town (7:30). The 'Yotes enter this contest winning 4 of their last 5 games, all of which have been played on the road. Ilya Bryzgalov is still strong in net, while Fredrik Sjostrom and Radim Vrbata have recorded 5 points in their last 3 games. 4 games have been played between these clubs this year, and the Sharks have won all four (two in Phoenix, two in San Jose). The last one was much closer than the rest, with the Sharks eeking out a 1-0 victory. Tonight could be a bigger margin, and I don't think any of the 17496 in attendance would complain.
GO SHARKS (Welcome back JR [probably back this evening])