Leafs winless in California with tough loss against Sharks

Sharks scorers: Kennedy (4), Marleau (8), Wingels (11)
Leaf scorers: Polak (5)

Goalies: Niemi (Win), 60:00 minutes played, 24 saves, 1 GA, Reimer (Loss), 58:51 minutes played, 39 saves, 2 GA

The Leafs were set to close out their California road trip on Thursday evening with the hope that they could end their trip with two points against the San Jose sharks after going both winless and scoreless against the Kings and the Ducks.

As the first period got underway, the Leafs looked better out of the gate than they had in their previous games, but the Sharks struck first before the halfway mark on a goal from Tyler Kennedy. Patrick Marleau appeared to score again just ten seconds later, but in what has now become a California tradition, the goal was at first waved off and it was later determined that the puck did cross the line. It was the third consecutive game in which a goal scored against the Leafs had come under further review.

But the Leafs weren’t discouraged by the Sharks quick goals and Roman Polak finally got the Leafs on the board less than three minutes later. The Leafs came close to tying it up shortly after Polak’s goal, but they just couldn’t seem to find the back of the net.

The Leafs had several chances on the man advantage at the start of the second period, but didn’t manage a shot on a goal. Although they were playing with an intensity and speed that seemed to be lacking in their previous games, they couldn’t come up with a tying goal and it remained 2-1 heading into the third.

With just one period remaining to try and tie the game, the Leafs needed to have a fast-paced start to the third, but they struggled offensively in the opening minutes. The Leafs didn’t seem to get as fatigued as they did in their game against the Ducks and dominated in the Sharks end as the period wound down, generating several chances that were just shy of entering the net.

The Leafs pulled Reimer for the extra man with less than two minutes remaining, but Tommy Wingels scored in the empty net to complete the 3-1 victory for the Sharks.

After losing to the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday evening, Phil Kessel spoke to the media after the game about how the busy schedule is taking its toll on his team. “This is obviously a really tough trip. You’ve got three of the best teams in the league and then St. Louis coming up, so this is a hard stretch. I don’t think our schedule this year has been very favourable to say the least, but we’ve got to just get better.”

The Leafs will head to St. Louis on Saturday evening before playing another five of six games on the road.

(Roman Polak photo credit: Lockerdome.com)