SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA (TICKER) —New coach, same result.
With his team falling into eighth place in the Eastern Conference after posting five wins in its previous 17 games, O’Connell fired Robbie Ftorek and added the coaching duties to his responsibilities as vice president and general manager.
“I’m not one for memories,” O’Connell said. “This will fade, I’m sure, as my first game as an NHLer faded. I kind of forget what that was, too.”
With overtime looming, Sturm gained control off a faceoff and made a cross-slot pass to Damphousse, who slipped it past former Shark Steve Shields with 4:33 remaining in regulation for his third multi-goal game of the season.
“Vinny got open a little bit and kinda figured out all night that we had some draws there, and that `D’ on the wall always went to the net and was always wide-open,” Sturm said. “So before I went in there (for the faceoff), I told (Scott) Hannan to just try one more time.”
“They have a couple of variations to (the play) and this time, it worked,” San Jose coach Ron Wilson said. “Occasionally, the play works. You have to win the faceoff and their center lost Vinny entirely when he got to the net.”
Vesa Toskala stopped 28 shots, including 13 in the third, to help snap San Jose’s two-game skid.
“It’s good to come back,” said Damphousse, whose team plays its third game in as many nights Saturday against Anaheim. “We haven’t done that pretty much all year, and a comeback win is always nice in front of our fans.”
Boston remained six points ahead of the New York Rangers for the final playoff berth in the East. The Rangers have played one more game than the Bruins.
“It’s disappointing,” O’Connell said. “It happens, and I thought our team worked hard. You can’t fault the effort. Some nights, it’s not going to go your way.”
With Boston on the power play, Joe Thornton carried to the bottom of the right faceoff circle before dishing to Murray, who directed the puck past Toskala from the left side at 14:40 of the first period for his 39th goal.
Zamuner gave the Bruins a 2-0 lead 89 seconds into the second when he grabbed the rebound of defenseman Bryan Berard’s shot on the doorstep and slipped it by Toskala.
With the Sharks already on the man advantage, Patrick Marleau was awarded a penalty shot after former Shark defenseman Dan McGillis covered the puck while in the crease. But Shields came up big, stopping a wrist shot from the slot.
“Marleau shot it where I gave him a little bit of room on the stick side,” Shields said. “I thought he was going to shoot it or go to his backhand. I thought it was a pretty easy save. I thought he made a nice shot, but I felt good where I was.”
The Sharks finally broke through with 6:18 remaining in the period.
Damphousse came away with the puck from a crowd in the right corner and went up the right boards before passing across the slot to Sturm. Crashing the net, Sturm knocked the puck between Shields’ pads for his 25th tally.
A favorable bounce allowed the Sharks to tie it 69 seconds before the second intermission.
Getting the puck from Teemu Selanne in the left corner, Damphousse put a backhander toward the slot. The puck deflected off Zamuner’s leg and sneaked between Shields’ pads for a power-play goal.
“Damphousse shot the puck from behind the net right off (Zamuner’s) shin pad,” Shields said. “It’s one of those plays it’s tough to react to, and you’re not expecting it to get past your defenseman.”
Selanne nearly broke the tie with 7 1/2 minutes left in the third, but his shot on a shorthanded breakaway rang off the right goalpost.