Roloson keeps Sharks at bay

 

Before the teams skated out, Jeremy Roenick's boy was out on the empty ice in his sneakers firing pucks at the empty net in his Sharks' jersey, a prelude to the father-son game.

 
 
 
 
 

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Before the teams skated out, Jeremy Roenick's boy was out on the empty ice in his sneakers firing pucks at the empty net in his Sharks' jersey, a prelude to the father-son game.

The Sharks, who'd chewed up one and all at The Tank, with 29 of of a possible 30 points in 15 home games, losing in overtime on a 57-shot blitz at Nashville Predators goalie Dan Ellis, manhandled the Edmonton Oilers, too, on Saturday. But they ran into Dwayne (I Am Wall) Roloson.

With his team in full retreat mode for almost the entire 63 minutes, Roloson was the one and only reason they somehow beat the Sharks 3-2 in OT. Roloson made 41 stops, then jumped in the air at the other end when Kyle Brodziak sent the puck off Christian Ehrhoff's skate and behind Evgeni Nabokov to end the Sharks' nine-game winning streak.

Brodziak was on the ice on a four-on-three with Patrick Marleau in the penalty box for a hook on Gilbert Brule, who'd just been called up from Springfield.

After the morning skate, Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said it would be "a great test" playing the Sharks, who were were 14-0-1 at The Tank. It was an awfully one-sided yardstick game as the Sharks toyed with the Oilers for long stretches. But somehow it was 2-2 heading to the third because Roloson stood on his head in a replay of the last time the clubs played here in March, when he made 48 saves in a 2-1 Edmonton shootout win.

Roloson stoically kept the Oilers in the game through the first 40 minutes as they were outshot 31-10.

Afer Dan Boyle's fluke score in the dying seconds of the first, Roloson was absolutely helpless on Roenick's goal on his doorstep. Three Oilers kept fishing for the puck, as if they had their poles in the water, refusing to knock anybody on their backside. Roenick had a tap-in.

The Oilers, who only had one shot in the first but scored on Ales Hemsky's bullet on Evgeni Nabokov, snuck another one past Nabokov on a delayed penalty late in the second, with Dustin Penner tipping one home on a power play.

Sheldon Souray's blast broke Milan Michalek's stick and, when Michalek knocked the puck free with his shattered stick, he drew another penalty. Michalek was at Souray's mercy on the ensuing 45-footer that Penner deflected for his fourth goal in the last eight games.

Hemsky's goal nine minutes into the first proved that sometimes it's quality over quantity, because the Sharks had 16 on Roloson and each team got a goal. Nabokov tied an NHL record for fewest saves in a period: zero.

Hemsky serpentined his way into the Sharks end and ripped a 25-footer off the post and in, extending his point streak to eight games. But that was about the only time the Oilers got the puck into the San Jose end but for a couple of icings. They only had seven shots in the general vicinity of Nabokov, five going well wide and one blocked by former Oiler Alexei Semenov.

At the other end, Roloson had to be Gumby to keep it from being 6-1 as the Sharks poured into his end like shoppers on Boxing Day. They fired 28 shots at net (16 on, seven blocked, five wide) but needed a gift from the heavens on a power play with six seconds left in the first period.

Boyle's prayer from the corner somehow snuck under Roloson's pad and dribbled into the net to tie it. It was a thoroughly one-sided period, with the Sharks doing something they never used to do: shoot, shoot, shoot.

The Sharks have had 11 games this season with at least 40 shots, and are averaging over 36 a night under new coach Todd McLellan, who comes from shot-happy Detroit.

"Todd's given us the green light to be more creative and make plays and shoot. We've got out of the mould of dump-and-chase. We've always been a big team, more on the cycle, and we've gotten away from that," said Sharks assistant captain Mike Grier.

jmatheson@thejournal.canwest.com

 
 
 
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