The San Jose Sharks had a rookie goaltender making his NHL debut Sunday, and the Carolina Hurricanes wanted to ruin the moment for him.
The Canes loaded up and sent 45 shots at goalie Troy Grosenick, but Grosenick had the answer 45 times and the Sharks came away with a 2-0 victory at PNC Arena.
“We threw a lot at him,” Canes forward Jeff Skinner said. “He played well and we couldn’t finish. That’s the difference.”
The Hurricanes, playing their last home game until Nov. 29, were coming off a 2-1 road loss to the Bruins on Saturday. But San Jose, with the NHL’s most road-heavy schedule so far this season, also played Saturday and dropped a 2-1 decision to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
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Grosenick, 25, was recalled Wednesday from Worcester of the American Hockey League when San Jose placed backup goalie Alex Stalock on injured reserve. Sharks coach Todd McLellan gave goalie Antti Niemi a rest day Sunday and gave his rookie a shot.
Canes coach Bill Peters said before the game he wanted his team to be hungrier in the offensive zone. Cram the crease, get bodies in front.
The Canes got the 45 shots on goal, had another 22 blocked and 22 that missed the net. But there wasn’t enough traffic around Grosenick for Peters’ liking.
“He did his job, obviously, but we probably need to make it harder on goaltenders, not only tonight but most nights,” Peters said. “Somebody in the blue paint, somebody in the goaltender’s eyes.”
The Canes (5-9-3) did do that at times, although not often enough. In the final 10 seconds of the second period, defenseman Andrej Sekera fired a shot from the point that Grosenick stopped with his chest. Victor Rask took a whack at the rebound, but Grosnenick made a pad save, then moved across to get a piece of Skinner’s backhand.
The Canes had two power plays and a 16-6 shooting edge in the first period, but Tomas Hertl’s goal late in the period gave the Sharks a 1-0 lead in their 15th road game of the season.
Catching Canes defenseman Ron Hainsey pinching down in the offensive zone, the Sharks put together a two-on-one rush. Hertl attempted to pass to Joe Thornton, but the puck bounced off Sekera and back to him and Hertl beat Canes goalie Anton Khudobin.
It was a fluky kind of goal. The Bruins’ first goal Saturday came when Sekera turned over the puck, then had it glance off his skate and into the net.
“We can’t give away freebies,” Peters said. “Tonight’s winner may have been a little bit of a freeebie on the two-on-one. What led to the two-on-one was probably a decision made by us.”
The Canes continued to push, to pressure Grosenick in the third. A Jiri Tlusty tip was just wide of the net. Zach Boychuk ripped a heavy shot. Skinner had a late shot.
“That goalie was on fire,” said Khudobin, who faced just 18 shots in his first home start of the season.
Late in the game the Canes pulled Khudobin for a sixth attacker. But Grosenick kept his cool, and the Sharks (10-8-2) battled hard in the defensive zone until Thornton clinched it with an empty-net goal with a few seconds left.
“We got a young man to come in and steal a game when we didn’t have our ‘A’ game,” McLellan said. “I thought as the night wore on, we wanted it more and more for him.”
The Sharks moved on to Buffalo to finish up a six-game road trip. The Canes, meanwhile, have lost three straight and now begin a five-game swing.
“It’s tough coming in the locker room after that effort and having nothing to show for it,” Skinner said. “Hopefully we can continue to play like that and it will pay off in the end.”