– Completing the first half of the 2010-11 schedule, the San
Jose Sharks dropped a 3-0 decision to the Buffalo Sabres Thursday
night at sold-out HP Pavilion.
SAN JOSE – Completing the first half of the 2010-11 schedule, the San Jose Sharks dropped a 3-0 decision to the Buffalo Sabres Thursday night at sold-out HP Pavilion.
After 41 games, San Jose is much closer, two points, to being out of the playoffs than the 10-point margin top-ranked Vancouver has established over the Sharks in the Western Conference.
By the mid-point of Thursday’s game, much of the suspense centered on whether Buffalo’s star goaltender Ryan Miller would earn his 20th career shut-out.
Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff became the 16th NHL coach to record 500 wins and only the second to accomplish this feat with one team.
The loss left San Jose with 47 points and a share of fifth place in the bunched conference standings. Three teams, Anaheim, St. Louis and Phoenix, share seventh place with 46 points apiece. Adding to the tension are Los Angeles, Chicago and Minnesota, each holding 45 points in 10th place.
The Sharks, on a two-game regulation losing streak for the fourth time this season, host Nashville Saturday night before heading to Anaheim to play the Ducks Sunday night.
The Sabres raced to a 3-0 lead by the close of the second period, despite a 25-17 edge in shots on net produced by San Jose.
Buffalo, 17-18-5 in 10th place in the Eastern Conference, posted two even-strength goals in the first period before closing out the scoring with a power-play tally in the second.
Luke Adam, a 20-year-old rookie left winger, scored his third goal of the season at the end of a 3-on-2 rush with 10:43 elapsed in the game. Cody McCormick, controlling the puck on the right flank, went into the San Jose zone before drilling a shot at goaltender Antero Niittymaki. The long rebound set up a trailing Adam in the low slot for the successful slapshot over a prone goalie.
Jochen Hecht scored 16:36 into play with a 25-footer inside the left post. Hecht was able to pull the puck away from several skaters at the right boards before reaching a clear spot in the high slot to record his seventh goal of the campaign.
The Sabres needed 44 seconds of power play in the second period to complete the scoring.
After Dan Boyle was called for tripping at 2:47, Buffalo’s first power play unit sliced passes through the San Jose defense for the 3-0 cushion. As Thomas Vanek set up in the low slot, defensemen Tyler Myers and Jordan Leopold passed the puck along the blueline. Leopold spotted Drew Stafford at the endboards with a pass. Stafford immediately directed the puck to Vanek for a one-timer past Niittymaki’s right shoulder.
Vanek had a breakeway 9:45 into the third period that Niityymaki stopped with a right kick save.
San Jose finished with a 40-22 edge in shots, including 11 by Dany Heatley.