Coming into Tuesday night’s game San Jose was riding a five game losing streak against the Buffalo Sabres. For the last few years the Western Conference Champion Sharks have been baffled by the struggling Buffalo Sabres. The Sharks have been unable to break the hold Buffalo has on them. Riding a blazing hot streak, San Jose hoped to be able to burn away the “Sabre curse."

Sharks out of sync

For the first period and a half of Tuesday’s game Sharks fans’ heads were hung like overripe fruit. Sitting in the stands watching the Pacific Division-leading San Jose Sharks play like they were blindfolded with plugged ears, I couldn’t believe this was the same team that beat the NHL-leading Capitals last week.

The Sharks could not buy a connected pass and their defense resembled the terra cotta warriors. They did manage twenty shots, but even those looked more like drunken pirates than pro-hockey players.

The crowd was all but mute as Jack Eichel scored his twentieth goal of the season only 1:10 into the game on a beautiful passing play across the front of the net. Matt Moulson directed a quick pass across the face of the goal that caught Martin Jones desperately scrambling into the splits. Even the magnificent Jones couldn’t stop Eichel, who wouldn’t miss the nearly open net. The arena was deflated as we collectively felt the Sabre curse plaguing the Shark Tank. San Jose seemed doomed as their answering goal was waived off for goal tender interference.

They call him Captain America

Halfway through the second period the Sharks were pounding the Sabre zone, but couldn’t get a clean pass or shot. After falling to his knees and deflecting the puck to Joe Thornton, Pavelski leapt up and drove home a Logan Couture pass at 11:47 of the second. Pavelski was surrounded by three Sabres, but shook them off like water droplets as he buried the puck in the back of the net.

The release from the crowd was palpable, and every Sharks fan knew the curse was in trouble. Lady Luck decided to shine on the Sharks in the closing seconds of the period. The Sharks’ Michael Haley barely deflected a pass into the skates of the Buffalo defense. The resulting caroms ended in an own goal that was awarded to Haley, his second of the season.

Clearly, the hockey gods favored the home town team.

Captain America added his second goal of the game at 5:28 of the third to give the Sharks a 3-1 lead. The Sabres’ edge was permanently blunted by Logan Couture at 14:57 of the third, giving San Jose a 4-1 lead. As time expired, fans cheered as much for the win as for not seeing Buffalo embarrass our beloved Sharks again.

The Sharks’ next game is Thursday against the St. Louis Blues. St. Louis is clinging to the second Wild Card in the Western Conference, and needs to win to solidify their playoff hopes. Thursday promises to be an energetic slugfest of two powerful conference rivals. Don’t miss the 7:30 puck drop.

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