Good teams overcome the odds and bad calls. The San Jose Sharks did both Tuesday night at HP Pavilion.
While the Sharks had the best second period goal differential in the NHL and the Flames the worst, Calgary attained their lead just past the game's mid-point. Chris Butler put a slapshot into the upper corner of the net that was difficult for Antti Niemi to read because it had been on end.
Thus the Sharks entered the third period down 1-0. They had won just twice all season when facing the last 20 minutes at a deficit. The Flames had lost just twice when leading after the second intermission, both in overtime.
San Jose was being out-shot 17-14 despite having the only two power plays and blocking three more shots. They finished with one more hit, six more blocks and three more shots on goal. They won 10 more face-offs but were careless with the puck, with 11 more giveaways and two fewer takeaways.
Torrey Mitchell came from behind the net to backhand home a rebound of a Michal Handzus shot with just over nine minutes left in regulation to extend the game. Then an overtime shot by Justin Braun went in, but Tommy Wingels was incorrectly called for interference and the score was disallowed.
But the Sharks still got the win. They are well behind any of the other teams they are vying with in the standings in regulation and overtime wins, so that one call is unlikely to change their tie-break status.
Special teams were not a factor. San Jose's power play continues to struggle, but they were never short-handed in the game. They were playing without Ryane Clowe because of difficulties he was having with a facial injury sustained four games back.
What is the biggest current obstacle to the Sharks success?
The next team on its way into the Shark Tank is the Ottawa Senators Thursday. It will be a meeting of two hot teams, with the Sharks 7-1-2 in their last 10 and the Sens 8-1-1.
Ottawa has the 10th best point percentage in the league despite giving up more goals than they have scored. Only three teams in the league are worse defensively and only seven on the penalty kill, including the San Jose Sharks.
However, San Jose has allowed only four goals in nearly 40 kills dating back to late December. They are also one of the most consistent defensive teams, with only four teams giving up fewer goals per game even though the Sharks have only two shutouts over the season.
Meanwhile, with their faltering power play (now 17th at 14.2 percent), San Jose has dropped to 11th in scoring. Ottawa has a power play in the middle of the pack, but is one of seven teams in the NHL scoring three goals per game—the exact number they scored in coming back from a 2-0 deficit over the rival Toronto Maple Leafs Tuesday.