San Jose Sharks’ Logan Couture (39) scores past Vancouver Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017, in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
by M. Walsh
SAN JOSE– The San Jose Sharks defeated the Vancouver Canucks by a score of 5-0 Saturday. Sharks goaltender Aaron Dell stopped 41 shots in his second NHL shutout. Tomas Hertl scored first, while Logan Couture and Chris Tierney each scored twice. Vancouver netminder Jacob Markstrom made 26 saves on 29 shots.
The win stood in sharp contrast to the Sharks’ previous game, a 5-1 loss. Of the 5-0 win, Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer said: “It’s a huge divisional game. Deller was our best player, which is, you know, why we have him. He was great and we found a way. ” As the Sharks’ backup goaltender, Aaron Dell has only started four games this season. Of his performance Saturday night, Sharks forward Logan Couture said:
We believe in him in this room. And 40 saves or whatever it was tonight is pretty impressive. He was tracking pucks well, he’s been great every time we put him in so we have a lot of confidence in him.
Tomas Hertl finished the game with a goal and two assists. After the game, Couture said of Hertl:
He’s been good, he’s had so many chances over these past six or seven games where you just figured he was going to get an ugly one and, you know, we need goals so we hope that this is the start of something.
In all, the Sharks scored at even strength, short-handed, into an empty net and on a penalty shot. The only thing missing was a power play goal. Couture described that missing piece as an ongoing source of frustration:
Our power play’s really draining the energy from us. I mean it’s just getting frustrating. Us guys on the power play, we can’t let that happen. We need to create some energy instead of deflating our team.
The Canucks came to San Jose after an unexpectedly good start to their season, winning eight of sixteen games and adding a couple of points for overtime losses. Those 18 points are good for third in the Pacific right now. Their scoring leader is Derek Dorsett, who has met his second best season total in just 16 games. He has seven goals in this his tenth NHL season. His career best was 12 in 2011-12. Second in scoring for Vancouver is Bo Horvat, now in his fourth NHL season. He has six goals, putting him on track to easily eclipse last season’s 20.
The Sharks scored just 48 seconds into the game, a point shot from Justin Braun that went off of Tomas Hertl in front of the net. A second assist went to Melker Karlsson.
At 11:07, Timo Meier had a very good chance during a delayed Canucks penalty. His shot went just under Markstrom’s glove but hit the far post and bounced out. During the power play, the Sharks had just two shots. The powerplay units were Brent Burns, Tim Heed, Logan Couture, Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski, then Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Mikkel Boedker, Joonas Donskoi, Tomas Hertl and Joel Ward.
With 5:06 left in the first, Donskoi drew a hooking penalty to give the Sharks another power play chance. The sharks only mustered one shot during those two minutes, and a few seconds after the power play expired, the Canucks had their own chance with the man advantage. Timo Meier was called for slashing at 17:02. The Canucks bolstered their shot count by four but did not score. Though the Sharks led the Canucks in shots 11-4 in the middle of the period, the Canucks had closed the gap to 14-10 by the end of the period.
The Sharks had a third power play early in the second period, but it was cut short just 37 seconds in by a penalty to Joe Pavelski for hooking. During the four on four, a Brent Burns shot from the blue line hit the top bar and left the defenseman still waiting for his first goal of the year.
The Sharks drew a fourth power play at 9:30 of the second, an interference call against Alex Biega. The Canucks managed to thwart the Sharks on almost every entry, forcing them to mostly dump it in and never get set up. The Sharks did not get a shot on goal in that fourth power play. Brent Burns and Tomas Hertl were able to get in with self-passes off the boards but they were quickly stripped of the puck and sent back out by the penalty killers.
That penalty kill seemed to energize the Canucks and they put pressure on the Sharks for several shifts, racking up shots and wearing out the San Jose defenders. That push took a toll on the Sharks and resulted in a slashing penalty to Joel Ward at 15:30. The power play started with a short-handed chance for Couture and Hertl but Markstrom gloved Couture’s shot away.
That short-handed chance foreshadowed another chance for the same pair just seconds later. Hertl chased the puck down along the boards in the Sharks zone and nudged it in Couture’s direction near the Sharks blue line. Couture had enough speed to evade pursuit and take another shot at Markstrom. This time it went in. Hertl received the only assist.
The Canucks led the Sharks in shots during the second period, 14-6, but the Sharks still had the 2-0 lead where it counts.
The Canucks came out fast and furious in the third, firing five shots on goal in the first two minutes. The shot imbalance evened out as the period went on, until the Sharks scored three times in the final two minutes. Logan Couture scored into an empty net at 18:19. Assists went to Joel Ward and Tomas Hertl.
In the final two minutes, Timo Meier was charged with elbowing and given a five minute major and game misconduct.
With the net still empty, Chris Tierney scored twice in 20 seconds. The first was into an empty net and the second was on a penalty shot. It was his first NHL penalty shot goal.
The Sharks next play on Sunday in Los Angeles against the Kings, at 7:30 PM PT.