Photo credit: @SanJoseSharks
By Mary Walsh
SAN JOSE — The San Jose Sharks defeated the visiting New York Islanders 4-1 Saturday night. Sharks’ goals came from Timo Meier, Joonas Donskoi, Brent Burns and Logan Couture, while Tomas Hertl earned three assists. Sharks goalie Martin Jones made 22 saves for the win, while Islanders goalie Robin Lehner made 37 saves on 41 shots in a losing effort.
The lone Islanders goal came from Brock Nelson. The Islanders did not take the loss quietly. As if in tribute to the Elton John tune, the game devolved into numerous fights and skirmishes before it was over.
The Sharks scored first as Timo Meier notched his fourth of the season at 7:59. Despite two Islanders crowding him, and eventually helping him fall to the ice, Tomas Hertl got the puck to Logan Couture at the top of the faceoff circle. Couture sent a quick pass to Meier, who was right at the edge of the blue paint. Lehner stopped Meier’s first shot but Meier was able to pick the puck back up and put it over Lehner’s outstretched pad. Couture and Hertl got the assists.
After a busy but unsuccessful power play at 16:59, San Jose gave up a goal with just 33 seconds left in the period. Josh Bailey skated into the Sharks’ zone and neatly avoided Justin Braun to make a pass to Brock Nelson. Nelson had avoided Burns and wound up with a clear shot at the net, which he took and hit his mark. Assists went to Bailey and Anders Lee.
At the end of the period, the Sharks had a slight lead in shots, 11-6, but a significant advantage in the faceoff circle at 67%-33%.
Evander Kane and Timo Meier both had good chances early in the second, but it was Joonas Donskoi who got the first second period goal at 4:59. Antti Suomela rushed the net and took a shot that was blocked by a sliding Scott Mayfield and Lehner’s stick. Suomela was too far beyond the goal line to get a good shot, so he sent it in front of the net. Donskoi was there in a flash to tap it over the line. Suomela got the only assist.
Just past the halfway mark, a scuffle followed a collision with Lehner in the Islanders’ net. After it was sorted out, Kane went to the box for roughing and Mayfield went to the box for cross-checking Kevin Labanc. The teams played four-on-four for two minutes. With three seconds left in that, Brent Burns took the puck and skated away from Jordan Eberle on the boards, and then took a shot around Tomas Hickey and Lehner to give the Sharks a 3-1 lead. Assists went to Hertl and Donskoi.
With 3:50 left in the period, Barclay Goodrow and Scott Mayfield engaged in some fisticuffs, then left for intermission early.
The Islanders got a late power play when Kane was called for slashing at 17:29. The Sharks’ penalty killers did an exceptional job in the first 1:15 of the penalty, spending a lot of time in the Islanders’ zone. That was thanks in large part to Hertl getting the puck across the line and carrying it all the way down and around the offensive zone.
At the end of the second period, San Jose had the 3-1 lead, a shot advantage of 26-14 and were still ahead in the faceoff circle, winning 61% of the draws.
Hertl helped Couture score the Sharks’ fourth goal. Hertl bounced the puck off of the back of the net while he made a quick reversal to lose an Islanders defender. Free of that burden, he was able to get back in front of the net and took a shot that went under Lehner and out the other side. Couture was there waiting for it and put it over the line. Assists went to Hertl and Joakim Ryan.
At 9:52 of the third, Kane was given a four minute roughing penalty after being taken down at the blue line and objecting strongly. His objection drew like responses from Lee and Mayfield, who each got two minutes for roughing against Kane.
At 12:08, a Cal Clutterbuck hit inspired just about everyone on the ice joined in to the fighting/roughing club: Clutterbuck, Burns, Matt Martin and Casey Cizikas all received misconducts. Burns also got a tripping penalty. Martin and Clutterbuck also got roughing penalties.
The sum total of the penalties put the Sharks on a power play, but it did not produce any more goals.
Shortly after Kane’s penalties expired, Kane was back on the ice and challenged Lee to fight right off the next faceoff.
The Sharks next play on Tuesday in Nashville against the Predators at 5:00 PM PT.