CALGARY – Alex Stalock hasn’t seen a whole lot of action this season, as starter Antti Niemi had played in 16 of the Sharks’ first 17 games.
Not much changed on Tuesday in Calgary, despite Stalock manning the crease for the full 60 minutes and overtime. The goaltender needed to make just six saves through the first two periods, and faced only 13 shots total, as the Sharks tied a franchise record for fewest shots allowed in a road game.
And, that might make Stalock’s performance in the 3-2 win over the Flames even more impressive.
“The other guy (Flames goalie Reto Berra) saw a lot of rubber, and he played a heck of a game. On my end, it was pretty quiet for two periods,” Stalock said after picking up his second win in as many starts. “They are a little tougher, you’ve got a lot more time to think about the next puck than just reacting.”
Todd McLellan said: “That’s a hard game to play in. … He stood his ground, and played very well.”
Stalock has started the last two Sharks wins, bookending a five-game winless streak. He allowed third period goals to Kris Russell on the power play and Mike Cammalleri midway through the third, but still had to make some challenging saves. He smothered David Jones’ open look from the circle with 4:56 to go in the first period, and just before Cammalleri tied it, Stalock stopped Lee Stempniak’s redirection attempt.
“You knew they were going to turn it up, whether it was going to be after the first intermission or second intermission. It was after the second, they got the penalty there and power play and got a chance and got some momentum and obviously built off that,” Stalock said.
In three games this season, the 26-year-old Stalock is 2-0 with a 1.57 goals-against average and .946 save percentage. He may get another start on the Sharks’ road trip, too, as the club plays Vancouver and Edmonton back-to-back, starting with the Canucks on Thursday night at Rogers Arena.
Niemi will presumably get every opportunity to work his way out of a slump, but Stalock has shown in the early going that he’s a very capable backup after winning what the team deemed an open competition between him and Harri Sateri in training camp.
He figured it was only a matter of time before the Sharks’ snapped out of their funk.
“I don’t think confidence is an issue with this group,” he said. “You look around the room at the leaders we have in here, and the collection of guys, it’s pretty remarkable. It was good to get two points again, that’s for sure. We’ll hopefully keep it going on this road trip.”
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The Sharks’ win featured two new top defense pairs, as Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Dan Boyle played together, and Brad Stuart was paired with Justin Braun.
How did they look, coach?
“We played a better game,” McLellan said. “We came out of our end better, we were faster, we had more offense created from the blue line. So, we have to be pleased.”
Stuart said: “I think it was good to freshen things up a bit. It seemed to work well.”