Sharks winning streak ends at five

by Ivan Makarov

photo credit: Ottawa Citizen smartphone app–Sens were protecting in front of their net to help narrow their game against the Sharks

SAN JOSE, CA — Coming into the game on a five game winning streak, Sharks looked to continue building on all good things they have been doing lately. But the streak came to an end when it was visiting Ottawa Senators that skated away with a 4-3 victory in the end, with the game ending in a shoot out.

The game went back and forth between two teams, so it was only logical that it ended how it did.

The visiting team scored the first goal in the game in the second half of the first period. The puck was dumped into Sharks zone and was rolling towards the goal off the boards. Sharks’ net minder Alex Stalock left his net to intercept it but miscalculated the distance and Ottawa’s Max McCormick beat him to it and put the puck past Stalock.

The Senators doubled their lead at the start of the second period when Bobby Ryan scored a power play goal, catching Stalock out of position on the play and having his closest corner of the net wide open.

Sharks responded right back on the very next shift when Tomas Hertl scored his eighth goal of the season redirecting a pass in front of the net which came from the corner from Joe Thornton.

The tying goal came at the start of the third period when Logan Couture scored on a great individual effort inside the Senators zone when he picked up what looked like a loose puck, paused and shot it over two defensemen and into the net, making it 2-2.

Sharks took their first lead in the game half way through the third period and that goal was a beauty.

This time it was Matt Nieto who got himself on the scoreboard. Joonas Donskoi broke through a couple of players with a nifty move, and passed the puck to Nieto who was skating towards the net with full speed. Neito got a hold of it, and put it above Anderson’s pads right as he was falling down, scoring his sixth goal of the season.

With seven minutes to go in the game, Sharks were awarded their first power play of the game. This could have been the time when they put the game away, but instead they let the Senators come back. Zack Smith stole the puck in the neutral zone and took away on a breakaway. Brent Burns tried to catch him but couldn’t and his stick tripped Smith right in front the net, giving the Senators a penalty shot. Smith did not miss on his try – although not without controversy and video review that followed, as he seemed to have stopped right before taking a shot. But the puck kept moving, so it was ruled a good goal.

The game went into overtime. Sharks had the best chances during 3-on-3 format, but got an even better oportunity when Bobby Ryan tripped Brent Burns behind Anderson’s net, giving the Sharks 4-on-3 power play for the last two minutes of the overtime. Sharks controlled the puck, but could not find an opening in Anderson’s net, with Ottawa also playing good defense and clearing the puck several times, and not allowing the Sharks to move too much.

The shoot out did not go in Sharks favor, with Joe Pavelski, Joonas Donskoi and Logan Couture failing to score on their chances, while Mika Zebanejad scoring the game winning shot for the Senators.

While it was not the two points the Sharks were hoping for in this game, they played well enough to earn them, and the loss of a single point should not affect their confidence too much going into their next game when they face Arizona Coyotes in Arizona on Thursday.

Sharks Hire Peter DeBoer – Risk or Safe Bet?

By Ivan Makarov

The search for the new head coach to lead San Jose Sharks is over and today the Sharks introduced Peter DeBoer as the new man in charge of the hockey team.

DeBoer is replacing Todd McLellan who stepped down from the Sharks on April 20 in what was announced as a “mutual decision” by both the coach and the club. McLellan took the Sharks to two Western Conference finals, won the President’s Trophy, but failed to advance the team to its ultimate goal – Stanley Cup Finals – while having one of the best rosters the team have put together. Sharks missed the playoffs in the most recent season, so McLellan’s departure did not come as a surprise.

With the limited choices of available head coaches, the Sharks ownership and management are going with the younger coach but yet the one who does have some experience under his belt. DeBoer coached Florida Panthers and New Jersey Devils, taking the Devils all the way to the Stanley Cup finals during 2011-12 season where they ended up losing to the eventual champion Los Angeles Kings.

And yet DeBoer is a risky choice for the Sharks. In his seven seasons as an NHL coach he has a mixed record of 217-200-77, and only managed to lead his teams into the a postseason once. According to some, he’s also got a mixed record with young players, so it remains to be seen whether he manages to grow the increasing number of young prospects inside the Sharks organization – a direction that team’s management indicated they want to head.

With the Sharks missing the playoffs last year, and the aging of its two best players and former captains Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton, the Sharks may not need a coach with significant postseason and Cup winning experience. If viewed from that angle, the hiring of DeBoer might be a safe one. But it is also clear that Sharks are no longer competing for the Cup in the near future – otherwise the hiring of Dan Balysma, Randy Carlyle or Mike Babcock would have made more sense.

Time will tell.

Sharks beat Avs, keep their hopes alive

By Ivan Makarov

SAN JOSE, CA — It took San Jose Sharks nearly two periods to score the first goal in the game, but once they got going, they couldn’t be stopped.

Prior to the first goal, not much was happening at the ice at the SAP Center, as both teams struggled to create any good offense and both goaltenders were sharp. The crowd was quiet and it did not look like a game that would end with anything but a one or three goals at best.

But the goal happened at last, at 16:35 mark in the second period when Sharks capitalized on the possession of the puck inside the Colorado’s zone. Brent Burns got open for a shot at the blue line. He took it and Scott Hannan redirected the puck into the net, standing just outside the crease. Hannan doesn’t find himself there often, as he is a stay-home defenseman, but it worked this time, and he scored his second goal this season.

Sharks found themselves in penalty trouble not long after when Brent Burns tripped Alex Tunguay with less then a minute left in the game, but they managed to kill that penalty off.

Chris Tierney doubled the Sharks lead in the third period when he scored off the rebound from Taylor Fedun’s shot off the rush at 08:01 mark in the third period.

Colorado cut the Sharks lead to just one goal when Matt Duchene scored 53 seconds later on the power play when Sharks’ Justin Braun was in the box for a delay of game penalty. Duchene had the puck around the face-off circle and decided to shoot it short side. That’s the puck that shouldn’t go into the net, but Stalock let it slip just above his shoulder and into the net.

Sharks responded just a minute later. Logan Couture took the puck away behind Avalanche net and saw Patrick Marleau open right in front. A quick pass resulted in a quick goal by Marleau, as he was shooting the puck point blank, putting the Sharks ahead 3-1.

Avalanche pulled the goaltender early in the third period, with more than 4 minutes left in the game, as their head coach Patrick Roy likes to do. The move did not pay off, as Logan Couture scored an empty netter to put the Sharks up 4-1.

Normally that would be the goal that seals the victory, but Roy pulled the goaltender again, and once again the Sharks scored. This time it was an unlikely hero John Scott. He was clearing the puck out of his zone with a backhander, but the puck went all the way into the net. This was Scott’s third goal this season – a career high for Sharks’ enforcer.

The win kept the Sharks playoffs hopes alive, but the chance for post season is still very slim. To make tournament, Sharks have to win the rest of the games, and hope that Winnipeg Jets and LA Kings lose more games that they win the rest of the way. The schedule doesn’t look hard for the Sharks the rest of the way, with three games against outsiders Arizona Coyotes and Edmonton Oilers and home games against the Dallas Stars and LA Kings. But they still don’t control their own destiny.

But the win keeps them motivated to finish the season strong.

Sharks stay alive in playoffs race, beat Penguins

By Ivan Makarov

SAN JOSE, CA — Every game matters for San Jose Sharks right now. With the string of poor results dating back to the start of February, they slid five points back out of the playoffs picture before their game on Monday night against Pittsburgh Penguins. The players knew it, and battled all night long like it was one of the last games of the season. Although it took winning a skills competition at the end, San Jose Sharks earned huge two points as they won 2-1 in a very close contest.

While they wouldn’t have won without a key goal in the first third of the game, the first star of the night was no doubt San Jose night minder Antti Niemi who stopped multiple sure scoring chances both during regulation and in the overtime, made 39 saves and was then brilliant in the shootout. He didn’t seem to mind that they were playing one of the best road team in the NHL in the Penguins (who lost just eight times so far this season), being lead by two of the three best players in the league in Sidney Crosby. Niemi rose to the occasion and played one of his best games of the season.

But it all started in the first period, when Sharks opened the scoring in the game with less than a minute left in the period. Ben Smith stole the puck away from Penguins defense behind their goal. The puck ended on Chris Tierney’s stick and he quickly found Matt Nieto just outside the crease. Nieto one timed it straight into the net, scoring his seventh goal of the season.

But as time went on, it was the Penguins who looked like a better team. They had more scoring chances, more shots on goal, and looked like a team more in sync for most of the night. They finally scored a goal in the third period. Sidney Crosby picked up the puck in the central zone, and took off on the wing, entering the zone. His speed proved to be too much for the Sharks defense, and Crosby put it inside the net with a powerful backhand shot. After playing in San Jose five times before, it was in the sixth game that Crosby broke through and scored in this arena.

Penguins continued to push (they would end the night outshooting the Sharks 40-30), but Niemi was stellar and steady in front of the net, reading the plays and making huge saves.

Visiting team almost ended it all with 5 seconds left in the overtime when Derrick Pouliot had a great open chance on goal. He shot the puck well, but it bounced off the goal post, capping off an exciting overtime that saw both teams creating good chances.

Sharks didn’t fare so well in the shootouts this season (going 2-4), but they did prevail this time. Melker Karlsson was close to ending it all scoring on the third Sharks attempt, but Kris Letang evened out the score. Tommy Wingels went on to score in the eighth round and Niemi made one more big save on the night, stopping Steve Downie, and earning an extra point for the Sharks.

San Jose Sharks continue go dominate the Penguins, with Pittsburgh’s last win in regulation dating all the way back to 1997.

San Jose still has quite a hill to climb to get back into the playoffs picture, but the win helped them to stay in the game. The next big game is on Thursday when they face another powerhouse, the visiting Nashville Predators.

Sharks end home losing streak by beating a top team

by Ivan Makarov

SAN JOSE, CA — The long eight game home losing streak that San Jose Sharks got themselves into when they lost all the home games played in February is finally over. The Sharks played one of their best games of the season against the top Eastern Conference team Montreal Canadiens, dictating the play from start to finish, and beating them by the final score of 4-0.

The win was the all-team effort – from forwards who continually pushed the puck deep into the Canadiens zone and then played a strong forecheck, to the defense who limited the Canadiens to just 20 shots on goal and very limited scoring chances, to the solid play of Sharks backup net minder Alex Stalock, who earned a shutout to preserve the victory.

The kind of play that was telling of the night happened with just five seconds left in the game, when Canadiens got a rare 2-on-1 breakaway. Brent Burns was the lone defenseman and read the play well, intercepting the puck by going down on the ice, and keeping the Canadiens away from the scoresheet.

“Well it was a good effort from minute one,” said Sharks head coach Todd McLellan. “We still made mistakes, but the whole team handled it well. It was tremendous goaltending from Alex, really happy for him that he was able to have that type of game and get the shutout against a very good team. We played a very good puck moving game and our forwards didn’t cheat.”

New Sharks player Ben Smith, acquired from Chicago Blackhawks at the trade deadline early in the day in exchange for Andrew Desjardins, put the Sharks on the board at 6:51 mark in the first period. His goal came as a result of a bad attempt to clear the puck by Montreal. Marc-Eduard Vlasic intercepted it at the blue line, and shot it towards the net. Smith, who was standing half way between Vlasic and Montreal’s goaltender Carey Price, touched the puck just slightly but enough for it to change direction and go into the net.

Not a bad way to introduce yourself to San Jose hockey fans!

“There was an energy to the team that we haven’t seen in a while,” said McLellan. “I think some of that had to do with Ben Smith coming in and scoring right off the bat. He energized everybody. It’s one game and we’re pleased.”

Sharks doubled their lead in the last minute of the first period when Joe Pavelski scored on the power play, tipping the shot from Brent Burns, all the way from the blue line. This was Pavelski’s 32nd goal of the season.

Matt Irwin made it 3-0 for the Sharks before the game even crossed the half way mark. As he’s been doing ever since he broke into the NHL, he scored it on a powerful long range slap shot, putting his 7th puck of the season into the back of the net.

On the other side of the puck, Montreal were limited in their chances to score. It seemed like they did finally score on a play in the third period when the puck was cleared on the goal line by Brent Burns, but the video review did not show enough of evidence that the whole puck did cross the line, and the score remained 3-0 in favor of San Jose.

Not long after that the Sharks went on the power play after the delay of game penalty by the Canadiens, and Patrick Marleau made it 4-0 with his 15th goal of the season, which he scored in front of the net after a quick pass from Joe Pavelski.

It was a good win against a good team and two points that are much needed right now, after Sharks struggled with their game all of February.

“We took care of business tonight and it’s about building on it,” said Joe Pavelski. “It’s way better to win than lose. It feels good to see guys play well. That’s a good team right there.”

The win keeps their playoffs hopes alive, but it will be a challenge, as they will spend most of March on the road. The push continues on Tuesday night when they face the Canucks in Vancouver.

Sharks lead twice, but still lose to Red Wings

SAN JOSE, CA — San Jose Sharks rested and trained without playing for four days following their outdoor game against LA Kings on Saturday. But it was their opponent Detroit Red Wings who looked like the more rested team on Thursday, despite playing three games in four days. And it was Detroit who came away with a victory, defeating the Sharks 3-2 at home, having have to come back twice in that game.

It all started well for the Sharks, as they came out strong, like they would like at home. Detroit Red Wings did not get a single shot on goal in the first six minutes of the game, and were even forced to take an early time out to regroup after one of the long shifts. Sharks dominance translated on the scoreboard, and they took the lead seven minutes into the first period. Matt Irwin scored on a blast of a shot from the blue line – his signature whenever he scores. Joe Thornton had the primary assist on that goal as he dropped the puck to Irwin from around the face-off circle. Irwin paused and launched a missile, which made its way into the net.

Teemu Pulkkinen tied the game in the second period, 3:53 into it, when he scored on a power play. But Patrick Marleau helped the Sharks to get the lead back three minutes later, scoring a quick power play goal. They won the face-off, and swarmed the net, with Marleau scoring on the rebound in the crease.

But that’s when the Red Wings took over the puck and Sharks allowed the game to slip away from them. Sharks were playing slopping in the neutral zone, turning the puck over, and did not generate much of any scoring chances from then on. Antti Niemi worked hard to keep the game close, making great saves during the second period to keep the Sharks in it. But his armor eventually gave in, allowing Pavel Datsyuk to score on him on a backyard shot and between the pads, at 13:32 mark in the third period, tying the game for Detroit.

Sharks battled and tried to impose a physical game on Detroit, but that didn’t work in their favor and they managed just two shots in all of the third period. When Luke Glendening scored for Detroit with 75 seconds left in the game, San Jose crowd did not seem surprised that their team was letting another game slip away in the third period (just like they did against the Kings on Saturday). Last minute push with an empty net was just as unsuccessful as anything the Sharks tried in the the second half of the game, and Sharks finished it empty handed, with 0 points for the standings.

“They took it up a notch and we fell back into a real defensive mode, trying to protect, and you can’t do that,” said Sharks head coach Todd McLellan, assessing the game. “You can’t spend that amount of time in your zone and not make mistakes. It’s impossible. We made enough that they were able to come back. 1st period we were aggressive. We stopped the forecheck, we were aggressive in the offensive zone, and got pucks back. In the 2nd period, on our heels started right off the bat. We were warned that it was going to go up a notch. And we didn’t respond. So that was disappointing.”

Matt Irwin did not sugar coat the loss either, saying it was “as frustrating as it gets. We’re really happy with our first. And then the tables turned. They started doing what made us successful in the 1st period–getting on the d-man, getting on the forecheck, adding all the pieces up. They started doing that to us and we didn’t have a push back.”

With Minnesota Wild winning their game the same night, the Sharks are now three points behind the wildcard slot for playoffs. Since the beginning of February, the Sharks only won three games out of the 12 played, all of them on the road, losing 7 straight at home. From looking like a playoff contender, the Sharks now look like a team that deserves their spot in the standings – outside the top eight in the West.

With the recent string of bad results and trade deadline next Monday, is this the time the Sharks should give up on the season, and trade away the assets for draft picks? Only a few days left to find out.

Sharks honor Nabokov, but fall against Capitals

By Ivan Makarov
SAN JOSE, CA — On the night San Jose Sharks honored Evgeny Nabokov, their legendary goaltender, who announced his retirement earlier that day, the team missed some of his goaltending, allowing five goals in the losing effort against the visiting Washington Capitals. It wasn’t all Antti Niemi’s fault, but the team’s recent defensive struggles are starting to take the toll on the team.
Since shutting out Chicago Blackhawks on the last day in January, Sharks won just once in the next 6 games in February, allowing 22 goals in the process.
With Marc-Eduard Vlasic and Justin Braun still on injury reserve, Sharks defense continues to struggle against opposition, and this was on full display against offensive powerhouse Washington Capitals, lead by the league’s top scorer Alex Ovechkin.
Capitals scored first, in the first period. They had the puck behind Antti Niemi’s net, Michael Latta found Brooks Oprik with the pass who quickly threw the puck towards the net. The puck went off Sharks’ Matt Tennyson’s skate away from the net but Caps’ Jay Beagle was the first to rebound, putting the puck into the net.
Sharks tied the game and then took the lead during the first minute of the second period when Brent Burns scored twice. The first goal was a power play goal on the shot from the blue line, with Joe Pavelski screening Caps’ goaltender Braden Holtby. The second goal came on the very next shift when Burns put one fast shot from just above the face-off circle. The puck flew into the top corner.
But the lead is never safe whenever Alex Ovechkin is in the house. Sharks were killing a penalty with Ovechkin standing along the board. The puck flew his way, and bounced off the board. He stopped it and shot it towards the net. The puck wasn’t going in, but Troy Brouwer was in the crease, and fixed the direction of the puck to go into the net, tying the game at 2-2 at 6:67 mark in the second period.
Logan Couture gave the Sharks lead with 5:12 remaining in the second period when he scored a wrap around goal after grabbing a rebound from Matt Nieto’s shot and finding a whole between Holtby’s pads and a goal post. But it would not last once again, despite Sharks pushing the Caps hard in the first half of the third period.
With 8:42 remaining in the third period, Capitals scored a tying goal. Jay Beagle got a long pass from his defensive zone as he was positioned at the blue line. It was a 1-on-1 challenge against Sharks’ Mirco Mueller. But as Beagle picked up speed on that play, Mueller ran into a linesmen, who took him away from that play, and giving a breakaway to Beagle. Caps forward used that chance to his advantage, putting the puck away into the far corner. It was a bad break against the Sharks, but things happen.
Caps seized the momentum, taking the 4-3 lead two minutes later. This time it was John Carlson with the goal, which he scored off the offensive rush.
Their lead did not last long, however, with Joe Thornton tying the game once again with his 12th goal of the season. Joe Pavelski found Thornton with a nifty pass across the Caps zone, giving Thornton time to pick a spot and shoot it top shelf and over Holtby’s glove.
The game went into overtime, and Joel Ward went on to score the game winning goal for the Caps, 2:42 into it.
Sharks will next look to rebound against the Coyotes in Arizona on Friday.

Flames a better team in the win over Sharks

By Ivan Makarov

This time of the year with two months remaining in the NHL regular season, all games are important for those still fighting for playoff spots. But even then, some games matter more than the others, especially those that are played in the same division. Such was the case on Monday, when San Jose Sharks faced Calgary Flames – a team that was only two points behind in the standings.

But it was Calgary Flames who looked like a better team for most of the night, and they were the ones who left the arena with two more points for the standings, as they defeated the Sharks 4-1.

Sharks gave up the first two goals in the game. The first one was scored by Mason Raymond on a fast breakaway. Sharks’ forward Tomas Hertl attempted to keep up with the play and skated back as the pick was advancing up the ice, but he was out there on a long shift, and when puck was in front of him, he did not attempt to block it, looking too tired to make the last play. The second goal was another defensive lapse by the young Mirco Mueller who couldn’t prevent Lance Bouma from scoring on a rebound off the Mark Giordano’s shot that went off Antti Niemi’s pad. Mueller’s skill level might not be enough for the NHL right now, but Sharks don’t have too many options with Marc Eduard Vlasic and Justin Braun injured, so the young rookie has to play.

With three seconds remaining in the second period, Sharks got a face-off inside the Flames zone after icing was called on the play. Joe Thornton won the pace off and the puck bounced out to Brent Burns on the blue line. Mindful of the clock, Burns shot it hard on the next. It wasn’t the prettiest shot, as puck seem to have been flying on a strange trajectory, but it went into the top corner, making it 2-1. Sharks were desperate for a goal, and going into the third period with a one goal deficit is easier than two goals.

But the Flames went on to increase their lead at 5:28 mark in the third period. Their third goal came on a power play, with Brent Burns in the box for roughing. Jiri Hudler shot the puck into the net from between the two face-off circles as Sharks failed to cover him and let him shoot wide open. The goal gave the Flames two goal lead once again.

The Flames went into the defensive mode from then on, and did not allow too many scoring chances for the Sharks for remainder of the game, even when Sharks were on a power play with six minutes left in the game or when playing with an extra man (instead allowing an empty net goal with full two minutes still remaining on the clock). The visiting team seemed to have controlled the puck better for most of the game, and skated harder. Sharks forwards struggled to put together the same quality of passes, and were shaky on defense, giving away odd man rushes, and not clearing rebounds. The special teams disappointed again, going 0-3 on the power play, and allowing the Flames to score a key goal on their own.

After beating LA Kings, Anaheim Ducks and Chicago Blackhawks, San Jose Sharks only won once in the following five games. While the playoffs spot looked solid at the start of February, it is now coming into question, given recent results and overall lack of good play from the Sharks.

Sharks comeback falls short against Oilers

By Ivan Makarov

SAN JOSE, CA — Some things are hard to understand about this year’s San Jose Sharks.

Consider this one… Prior to this game, the Sharks record against 1st place teams was 7-0-2, but it was 5-6-1 against bottom six teams.

It is hard to understand why Sharks play so poorly against poor competition, and they did not do enough to reverse that strange trend just yet, falling 5-4 to another bottom dweller, Edmonton Oilers, even despite a big and spirited come back in the third period. That happened after they beat the current Stanley Cup champion and the top two teams in the league in the past three games. When asked why this keeps happening, Logan Couture said he couldn’t explain it and that they’d fixed it if they knew why.

Joe Pavelski scored a quick power play goal half way through the first period to open the scoring in the game. Joe Thornton just won the face-off, giving the puck to Patrick Marleau who skated with it and threw it towards the net. Pavelski was right there with a timely tip-in.

With a couple of minutes remaining in the first, the Oilers tied the game on a goal by Jordan Eberle who picked up the pick near the face-off circle, dangled past Patrick Marleau and Brent Burns and put it into the net. It was a nice goal by a young skillful player with great hands.

Sharks appeared to have scored another goal with 39 second remaining in the period when Tomas Hertl put it into the net, but it was quickly waived off as referees ruled an interference on the Oilers goaltender at the moment of the goal.

Eberle scored again at the start of the second period. Justin Shultz had the puck as Oilers skated into the Sharks zone, and he fired it on target. It wasn’t the most dangerous of shots, but Antti Niemi gave up a bad rebound off the pad, straight into Eberle who had no trouble converting it into a goal.

Derek Roy gave the Oilers two goal lead when he scored from the close range on a great feed from Nail Yakupov who skated from behind the Sharks net, unchallenged, and quickly delivered it to Roy. It was the play the Sharks defense wanted to forget quickly and this they did.

Sharks came within one goal when their top line produced another goal to start the first period. A surprising character – Scott Hannan – who is known as a stay-at-home defenseman, joined an attack in a rare move for him, and was crashing the next with Joe Thornton holding the puck. Sharks center threw it into the crease and it was Hannan who pushed it into the net, scoring his first goal of the season, and his first since November of 2013.

Matt Tennyson followed it up with another goal two minutes later scoring on a blast from the blue line, tying the game at 3-3 for the Sharks. That was a timely goal that woke up the fans in the stands and seemed to have finally woke up the Sharks offense which was skating as of half asleep up to that point in the game, losing battles along the boards, struggling to enter the zone or hold it for very long.

All of a sudden, things started to click. Joe Pavelski put the Sharks ahead at 9:28 mark in the third period. Brent Burns had the puck at Oilers blue line and could have shot it from there, but he spotted Pavelski just to the left of Viktor Fasth. The pass surprised the Oilers defense and Pavelski had a time to stop the puck with his skate and shoot it into the net from that angle, with very little opposition against him. Joe Thornton was credited with the secondary assist on the play, which was his third assist on the night and 600th as a Shark.

One would think this would have been a good point to build on the goal and score another one, but the Oilers took the puck back and tied the game with 2:37 remaining, when Justin Shutlz put one into the net from mid-range.

Joe Pavelski came within inches of scoring another one with less than two seconds of remaining in the game in a mad scramble inside the Oilers crease, but his puck never reached the net and flew wide.

Overtime resulted in no goals, but the Oilers won the game in 13-round long shootout.

Sharks finished the home stand with 10 out of of the 14 points earned and are next facing Calgary Flames.

Sharks win big against Ducks

By Ivan Makarov

SAN JOSE, CA — Ilya Bryzgalov was one goaltender San Jose Sharks never liked playing against, as he caused plenty of headaches for them over the years, especially when playing for then-called Phoenix Coyotes. Bryzgalov is now with Anaheim Ducks and was back at the SAP Center as their starter on Thursday. Unlike in years past, Sharks had no problem scoring on him from all sorts of angles and in all kinds of situations. All of that resulted in six goals before Bryzgalov was pulled out of the game, with Sharks winning the game in the end by the score of 6-3.

The bulk of the action happened in the second period. After the first period ended 1-1, with Anaheim dominating the shot count and perhaps the scoring chances, the Sharks went on a tare and scored five unanswered goals in the next period, and that proved to be too much for the NHL-leading Ducks.

It was a variety of scorers for the Sharks – Joe Pavelski, Barclay Goodrow, Patrick Marleau, James Sheppard were the forwards with goals, while Matt Irwin and Brenden Dillon contributed from the blue line, with Dillon’s goal being shorthanded. Tomas Hertl and Joe Thornton both recorded two assists each on the night.

Andrew Cogliano was the first to score in the game, just five minutes into it. Redirecting a puck in front of the net, he picked up the puck off his rebound and put it inside the net on the second attempt.

The Sharks got right back into the game on the tying goal by Joe Paveksi, with Anaheim’s Kyle Palmieri sitting in the penalty box. Great passing on their first power play attempt had Joe Thornton getting the puck cross ice to Marleau who needed just one touch to find Pavelski in the crease. Sharks forward didn’t waste any time putting the puck into the net. When those three combine for passes on the power play, good things usually happen.

Sharks took the lead at the start of the second period. Barclay Goodrow was down in Worcester  during the All-Star Game break, playing AHL hockey, and it showed. He flew past Anaheim defensemen after he picked up the puck around the blue line and shot the puck low into the far corner on Ilya Bryzgalov, finding the net. This was Goodrow’s their goal of the season.

“A really good way to start the second half,” said Sharks head coach Todd McLellan.  “We were four lines deep, all six defensemen, solid goaltending, so everyone contributed.”

Another solid passing play later in the period resulted in another goal for the Sharks. Brent Burns shot the puck low from the blue line towards the net, and Patrick Marleau touched it just enough to have it change direction and fly into the far corner.

Matt Irwin made it 4-1 for the Sharks when he scored from short range when joining the attack and skating deep into the zone with the puck. That goal seemed to have taken away any confidence Bryzgalov had left in his ability, and he allowed two more in the short time that followed before finally being pulled for Frederick Andersen, Anaheim’s main net minder who was supposed to get the night off before facing Chicago Blackhawks the following night.

“I think we were moving the puck really good tonight,” said Andrew Desjardins. “It seemed like we were controlling the pace of the game. We were getting through the neutral zone and getting pucks in deep, creating turnovers and when you control the pace like that, it leads to success.”

With the five game lead heading into the third period, the Sharks went into the maintenance mode for the rest of the game. Matt Beleskey was able to put one in past Antti Niemi at 8:58 mark in the third, but the goal had no impact on the way the game was going. Patrick Maroon scored another one with less than two minutes remaining.

Sharks continue their home stand on Saturday when they face another Western Conference powerhouse Chicago Blackhawks.

NOTES

  • After the story broke in the news earlier last week, San Jose Sharks officially announced that they are moving their AHL affiliate club to San Jose from Worcester, Massachusetts where it currently is playing as Worcester Sharks. The new team will be renamed so as not to confuse itself with the main NHL squad, but will also share the arena with the NHL’s Sharks. “This is an exciting day for the San Jose Sharks organization and for hockey fans throughout the state of California,” said Sharks COO John Tortora. “Having our AHL club playing in close proximity to our NHL club has innumerable benefits for the development for our young players and prospects. It also provides an opportunity for the Sharks organization to grow Sharks Territory and enhance our footprint into what is an already hockey-crazy market.”