Sharks Fall to Leafs 5-3, Matthews Scores Two In Return

Photo credit: @SanJoseSharks

By Mary Walsh

The San Jose Sharks were defeated 5-3 by the Toronto Maple Leafs Wednesday at the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.

Leafs goals came from John Tavares (2), Patrick Marleau and Auston Matthews (2). It was the first game back from injury for Matthews after a 15-game absence.

Sharks goals came from Tomas Hertl, Joe Pavelski and Melker Karlsson. Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen, made 38 saves for the win, while Sharks goalie Aaron Dell made 24 saves in the loss. Both teams did well on the power play, with Toronto scoring three times in four tries, and the Sharks scoring twice in three power plays. The Sharks dominated on the shot clock 41-29, but the Leafs won in the faceoff circle, winning 60% of them.

After the game, Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer identified special teams as the story of the game:

The story was the three power play goals. I mean they went three for four. So, you’re not going to win on the road giving up two power play goals, never mind three. Our attention to detail on the P.K. is as good as anybody in the league. You know, it wasn’t tonight. You’ve got to give them credit, they’ve got a pretty potent power play and they executed and they stuck it in the net.

Sharks forward Timo Meier was out with an injury Wednesday. Asked how that changed things, DeBoer said: “It changes, you know. But guys gotta get the job done. I thought it’s an opportunity for some other guys to jump in and do the job. I didn’t feel like we could play four lines tonight and that’s unfortunate because you want guys to grab opportunity.”

The first period was fast and furious for both teams. The neutral zone saw a lot of traffic and puck possession was hotly disputed. The first goal came just 3:38 in on a Toronto power play with Kevin Labanc in the box for tripping Mitchell Marner.

The Sharks penalty kill started pretty well, with Tomas Hertl keeping the puck behind the Toronto net so that the Leafs didn’t get set up in the Sharks zone for almost 30 seconds. Once in, however, it only took Toronto about 15 seconds to score. The play started with a point-to-point pass between Morgan Reilly and Mitchell Marner. Marner made a cross-ice pass to Auston Matthews in the faceoff circle, who passed it to John Tavares in front of the net. No one was there to give Tavares any grief and he tapped it in. It was Tavares’ 16th of the season, with assists to Matthews and Marner.

The Sharks responded with their own power play goal at 10:40, after Andreas Johnsson was called for interference on Joonas Donskoi. The Sharks had a couple of good chances before finally scoring. Tomas Hertl had already spent a lot of time fighting his way to the front of the net when Logan Couture found Kevin Labanc near the boards. Labanc moved the puck quickly to Hertl who was able to put it away neatly. It was Hertl’s 6th of the season, with assists went to Couture and Labanc.

Less than 30 seconds later, Toronto took the lead again with another power play goal. The penalty was to Barclay Goodrow for holding Auston Matthews. This time the shot came from Auston Matthews, almost the top of the faceoff circle. The puck had moved from behind the Sharks net to the point and back down to Matthews for the shot. Assists went to Reilly and Marner.

John Tavares scored his second of the game with just 18 seconds left in the period. The Leafs came through the neutral zone at speed three-on-two, making two cross-ice passes before Tavares took the shot. Assists went to Marner and Zach Hyman.

Toronto lost no momentum going into the second period and got a power play just 54 seconds in. It was Kevin Labanc’s second tripping penalty of the game. Patrick Marleau made them pay with a goal at 1:53. Gardiner’s shot from the blue line touched the stick of Tyler Ennis and turned into a pass from Andreas Johnsson away from the net. That pass went to Marleau in the faceoff circle. Marleau had an open net and did not miss. It was his first goal against his former team. Assists went to Ennis and Johnsson.

Moments later, the Sharks were back on the power play, this time a tripping penalty to Travis McDermott against Melker Karlsson. Toronto had a little short-handed time but spent it on a quick shot that Dell stopped. With the faceoff in the defensive zone, the Sharks had to make their way through the neutral zone. That gave them some trouble, once interrupted by an off-side call. Once they did get in the zone, they took their time moving the puck around the outside until finally Joe Pavelski saw an opening from the below the faceoff circle. He took a quick shot and beat Anderson to the short side. Assists went to Brent Burns and Logan Couture.

That was it for goals and penalties for the second period.

The Maple Leafs were back on the power play just 33 seconds into the third, when Justin Braun went for holding Zach Hyman. The Sharks killed that off, their first successful kill of the game. Evander Kane had a good breakaway chance near the midpoint of the period, but two Leafs caught up with him and hauled him down before he could shoot.

At 10:59, Auston Matthews scored again to give the Leafs their three-goal lead back. Aaron Dell had just fought off a deflection on a shot from the blue line. The puck went back to the blue line, where Jake Gardiner caught up to it and sent it back below the goal line for Kasperi Kapanen. Kapanen brought it out the other side of the net and passed it to Johnsson, who took a shot that hit Matthews on the way in, beating Dell over his left shoulder. Assists went to Johnsson and Kapanen.

The Sharks tightened up the score in the final two minutes with a goal from Melker Karlsson at the 18-minute mark. Evander Kane’s pass found Joonas Donskoi just as he crossed into the offensive zone with Melker Karlsson steps behind. Karlsson went to the net and Donskoi’s pass hit his stick just as he arrived. It was Karlsson’s second goal of the season, with assists to Donskoi and Kane.

The Sharks next play on Saturday in Ottawa against the Senators at 10:00 AM PT.

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