Sharks Season Ends With 6-0 Loss to Vegas, Head into Pivotal Offseason

Vegas Golden Knights right wing Keegan Kolesar scores, right, is congratulated by left wing William Carrier (28) as the San Jose Sharks goaltender Alexei Melnchuk is spread eagle in front of the net (AP News photo)

By Matthew Harrington

It was a forgettable ending to a forgettable season for the San Jose Sharks, falling to the Vegas Golden Knights 6-0 at home. Marc-Andre Fleury shut out the Sharks on just 19 shots, Dylan Sikura scored a pair, and Alex Pietrangelo, Keegan Kolesar, William Carrier and Jonathan Marchessault all scored for the Golden Knights. Vegas finishes their season 82 points( including sweeping the season series against San Jose), sitting two points ahead of the Colorado Avalanche for the President’s Trophy with one game remaining for general manager Joe Sakic’s team. San Jose has missed the postseason for a second consecutive season after missing out on the expanded Bubble playoffs last season, not necessarily an unexpected result, but disappointing nonetheless.

“This organization had to take a step back to take a step forward,” said Sharks coach Bob Boughner when asked to reflect on the season. “I know that’s a bit of a cliché but that’s the absolute truth. There was a path set out early on, that started last year at the trade deadline, last hockey season. We had to live through it this year. I really believe moving forward it will be a different situation, a different set of expectations.”

The Sharks finish the season with 49 points and a 21-28-7 record, 11 points shy of the St. Louis Blues (who could add still with a game remaining on their schedule) for the last playoff spot in the West Division. While the loss brings finality to a difficult season, most questions about the team’s future remain.

“We talked about our journey and where we need to be in September when we come back to work,” said Boughner. “I talked about the young guys getting the opportunities and not expecting a job when they get back to camp. They’ve got to earn it again. The veterans, the last message I sent was ‘We can’t get anywhere as an organization if those players aren’t our best players every night. That didn’t happen every night this season.”

Wednesday night Patrick Marleau played 13:01 in the final game of his 23rd season. He finished the year with 9 points in 56 games, another season without missing a game. He played the central role in the Sharks greatest achievement on the season, appearing in career game 1,767 to match Gordie Howe for all-time games played April 17th in Minnesota.

He broke the record the following Monday in Sin City. He was on a one-year contract and hasn’t hinted if he’ll return at age 42 to add on to his 910-game Iron Man streak. If not, the Sharks 2nd overall selection in 1997 would walk away from the game with 522 goals and 589 assists over 21 seasons with the Sharks and career totals of 566 goals and 631 helpers when you add in his stints with Toronto and Pittsburgh, a surefire Hall of Fame career

Who will the expansion Seattle Kraken take in their player selection draft in the offseason? The favorite is Brent Burns who wrapped up his season with a -2 over 22:49 of ice time. He finished the season with 29 points (7g, 22a) over 56 games. He has 540 points over 715 games in teal.

Even the Sharks best player, Evander Kane, has a murky future. There has been talk about nullifying his contract mutually as he works through bankruptcy. He finished the campagin with 22 goals and 27 assists (matching a career high) and would have surely eclipsed his best single-season totals in a full-length campaign.

Alexei Melnichuk made 38 saves in just his second career NHL start. The import from the KHL Melnichuk with the Barracuda. Who will join Martin Jones at the NHL level will be the question in net, or rather one of the questions. If Jones returns or is bought out remains to be seen. He went 15-14-4 with a 3,27 GAA bolstered by a hot stretch in January where he looked like the goaltender the Sharks bet on for six years, $34.5 million for the 2018 season.

Among the bright spots for the Sharks is the fact that only one player missed time for a positive Covid-19 case in a year when teams saw their whole year derailed by widespread cases. This despite opening the year with training camp in Arizona with County health officers not permitting professional sports in Santa Clara until right around the Sharks delayed (by Covid, of course) home opener.

Also noteworthy were the jumps that second year pro Mario Ferraro and rookie Nikolai Knyzhov made on defense. Both were asked to represent their respective countries in this month’s world championships, though Knyzhov will miss it as he goes under the knife for a sports hernia. An offseason of more advancements by the young players mentioned above and others given opportunities will go a long way towards ending a two-season playoff drought.

On the upside, again, is that the Sharks own their own first round draft pick this year and could be selecting somewhere in the top ten in a draft deep in upper echelon talent at the top. They also took care of some business Wednesday morning, inking Alexander Barabanov to another one year deal at just a hair over $1 million. It’s a cap-friendly deal for a player that showed top-six talent (7 points in 8 games with San Jose) when given an opportunity to play big minutes after not getting a fair shake in stacked Toronto.

“We got to see some prospects,” said Boughner, reflecting on the season. “We went through a trade deadline, restocked the shelves. We got a guy like Barabanov. That was a positive. Being able to experience the (Patty) Marleau breaking the record was amazing. There were a lot of good things that happened along the way. I thought that our dressing room is a better room than it was in training camp. This is a good learning experience for everyone.”

Avs Erase Pair of Two-Goals Deficits, Eliminate Sharks from Contention in 5-4 OT Win

It’s a Avalanche of Colorado players celebrating a win against the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center and eliminating the Sharks from playoff contention on Mon May 3, 2021 (@mckinnons photo)

By Matthew Harrington

The San Jose Sharks (20-26-6) couldn’t play spoiler Monday night against the Colorado Avalanche (34-12-4), falling to the visiting Avs 5-4 in overtime to face mathematical elimination from the playoffs for a second straight season and allow Colorado (34-12-4) to move within two points of Vegas for the Division lead.

“A lot of young guys are getting chances,” said Sharks coach Boughner when asked to reflect on a second consecutive year without playoffs in San Jose. “Calling it a ‘reset’. It’s not a surprise. You look around the league. , out of 31 teams, the teams that missed the bubble last year are still out. It just goes to show you don’t flip things around in this league in six months or eight months. It takes time. There’s pain involved in that. There’s some growing to do.”

Evander Kane scored a pair, Tomas Hertl picked up two points and Alexander Barabanov picked up his fifth point in five games with the Team Teal, but San Jose (20-26-6) blew a two goal lead. Philipp Grubauer was denied a fourth shutout of the Sharks this season but picked up the win allowing four goals on 27 shots. Andre Burakovsky scored the winner in overtime for a two-point night and the Mikko Rantanen-Gabriel Landeskog-Nathan MacKinnon lined combined for five points.

Trailing 4-2 with almost halfway through the third period, Colorado showed why they’re clear cut Stanley Cup favorites. Mario Ferraro had an opportunity to clear the puck from the Sharks end on the left boards, but MacKinnon picked it off and fed Landeskog in the slot. The Colorado captain right a wrister that beat Sharks goalie Martin Jones to cut San Jose’s lead to 4-3 with 11:01 left in regulation.

In what felt like an inevitable outcome, the Avs pressured the Sharks down the stretch, using a failed Brent Burns clearing chance to tie the game 4-4. Nazem Kadri beat Martin Jones on a sharp angle shot over the near post shoulder with 3:39 left in regulation.

Burakovsky beat Jones just 41 seconds in to the overtime period that was controlled entirely by the Avalanche from the opening faceoff. Burakovsky hopped on the ice, received a Makar pass and sped right down the middle of the ice. He wired a wrister that squeaked through Jones and into the net for a 5-4 win.

“It’s tough to see the way that game ended,” said Boughner. “I thought we should have been celebrating the two points.”

Kane put the Sharks on the board early after Barabanov picked off an Avs pass at their own blue line. He dropped the puck from below the goal line to the slot where Kane was streaking, but Valeri Nichushkin was waiting to clear the puck. His effort rolled to Kane though, he wired the puck past Grubauer for an unassisted goal and a 1-0 lead 3:20 into play.

The Avs took control of the 1st period, answer back just 2:18 later in play, with Gabriel Landeskog winning a faceoff in the Sharks end clean to Nathan MacKinnon waiting on the halfwall. Mackinnon fired a pick on net that rebounded right to Mikko Rantanen for a backhand strike and his 29th goal of the season, with his linemates picking up the assists.

The tie remained in place, but Colorado peppered Sharks netminder Martin Jones, outshooting San Jose 13-5 over the first 20 minutes of play, including an Avs power play. Jones withstood the tilted ice to keep the Sharks and visitors knotted at 1-1.

“The second period I thought we did a better job of managing the puck,” said Boughner. “Our changes were good tonight. We did a lot of good things structurally, bottled up the d zone and did a good job in the neutral zone. There were some good things in there, just unfortunate how it ended.”

Hertl rewarded his goaltender’s first-period heroics, scoring another period opening goal 1:57 into the second period. Patrick Nemeth’s pass went into Tyson Jost’s back skate, allowing Hertl to pick up the errant pass in front of Grubauer. He then put Nemeth on skates with a deke before going back hand to score his 17th of the year and give the Sharks a 2-1 lead.

Kane added to the Sharks lead after being hit with a breakaway pass by Hertl. Kane managed to get a step on Avs stud defenseman Cale Makar, again going backhand on Grubauer while Makar wiped out the Sharks power forward. The puck went into the net though, and Kane picked up his 22nd goal of the year 7:47 into the period and, more importantly for the penalty-ridden Kane, maturity won out as he didn’t seek retribution on Makar for the takeout.

Nichushkin pulled Colorado within one after some sustained offensive pressure. Andre Burakovsky fired a puck that beat Jones but hit off the post and popped up. The Avs forward was ready and waiting for the rebound, beating Jones on his tenth tally of the season 1:18 into the third.

Timo Meier hit the release valve on the mounting third-period pressure at the time, scoring his tenth of the season just 2:14 later, with the top pair of Brent Burns and Mario Ferraro assisting.

“I thought he was more physical,” said Boughner on Meier. “I thought he held on to more pucks and used his speed a little more, his size. That’s the way he has to play. It paid off with a nice shot on that goal.”

The Sharks wrap up the final homestand of the season with a final game against Colorado Wednesday night. Fresh off the loss Boughner couldn’t confirm any lineup changes, but the expectation is that the Sharks will skew towards youth as the play out the string.

Sharks Ride 3-Goal 1st Period to 4-2 Win Over Yotes

The San Jose Sharks get their celebration on after a two game sweep over the Arizona Coyotes at SAP Center on Wed Apr 28, 2021 (@SanJoseSharks image)

By Matt Harrington

The San Jose Sharks playoff hopes, while dimming, still live on after the Sharks 4-2 victory over the Arizona Coyotes Wednesday night in San Jose. Logan Couture and Tomas Hertl had two points each, Kevin Labanc scored in his return to the lineup after missing Monday’s game with an injury and Evander Kane scored to continue a streak of six 20-goal seasons. Josef Korenar made 28 saves for his second career and consecutive win to keep San Jose (20-24-5) 5 points back of St. Louis, another victorious team Wednesday, for the final spot in the West.

The Sharks did most of their damage in the first period, scoring three goals on Darcy Kuemper. Kane scored first just 1:12 into play on the rush. Tomas Hertl wheeled into the zone, pulled up and hit Alexander Barabanov on the far post. Barabanov dished the puck to Kane cross-crease for the one-timer. Barabanov now has points in both games he’s appeared in for San Jose.

Rudolfs Balcers beat Kuemper 10:06 into the frame after the Sharks continued to gum up the neutral zone and force turnovers. Balcers caught Niklas Hjalmarsson flat-footed and sped around him for an open lane to the net. Logan Couture and John Leonard assisted on Balcers’ seventh of the year.

The Sharks third goal was a combined effort of Noah Gregor, Alex True and Kevin Labanc. Gregor picked up a homerun pass that would have gone for an icing for a slower skater and fed true net front. The pass drew Kuemper out so that True’s rebound would go to Labanc for an easy empty net goal and a 3-0 lead with 5:52 left in the first. It’s Labanc’s 11th goal of the season, and first since April 9th. He missed Monday’s game with an injury.

Phil Kessel joined rare company, becoming one of three players to score eight goals against the Sharks in a season. He accomplished the feat with 4:13 left in the period for a 3-1 Sharks edge. He joins Teemu Selanne and Luc Robitaille in the outer club and has nearly as many goals against the Sharks as the rest of the league (10) this year. Johan Larsson scored 4:40 into the second to cut the lead to one at 3-2. Hertl’s empty-netter sealed the game for San Jose and gave him an Couture (secondary assist on the play) multipoint nights.

Next up for the Sharks is a road trip to Colorado. They’ll play a two game road set against the Avs before welcoming the second place in-division Colorado side for two at home as the season moves to the final weeks.

Notes: Brinson Pasichnuk made his NHL debut for the Sharks. He’s the first skater and second player from the fledgling Arizona State hockey program to make their NHL debuts this year. Joey D’accord played in net for the Ottawa Senators earlier this year…Matt Nieto skated in practice but a return date is still unclear…Alex True appeared in the lineup for the first time since March 3rd. He had his first point of the season…Evander Kane has seven career 20 goal seasons in total….John Leonard has his first point since an assist April 10th against Los Angeles.

Sharks Hang On, Beat Coyotes 6-4 for Korenar’s First NHL Win

The San Jose Sharks Noah Gregor (73) scores a goal and gets congratulated from John Leonard (43) in the first period against the Arizona Coyotes at SAP Center on Mon Apr 26, 2021 (photo from Bay Area News Group)

By Matthew Harrington

The San Jose Sharks snapped their eight game losing streak, winning a pivotal contest 6-4 against the Arizona Coyotes in front of an audience of fans for the first time all season. Evander Kane picked up four points, Josef Korenar made 21 saves to secure his first NHL win and Alexander Barabanov netted his first career goal. By winning in regulation, the Sharks (19-24-5) kept the gap between fourth-place St. Louis, who won earlier in the night, at five points and kept Arizona (21-23-5) from jumping out eight points ahead of the Sharks. The Sharks had a 4-0 lead in the second but Arizona clawed their way back in.

“It was a lot closer than it should have been, let’s put it that way,” said Sharks coach Bob Boughner. “That’s no disrepesct to the other team. There’s just a couple of goals we would like to have back but it didn’t rattle us tonight.”

The Sharks took control early, with Noah Gregor scoring just 17 seconds into play after Dylan Gambrell pressured Coyotes netminder Darcy Kuemper on a play behind the net. Kuemper hopped back in the net but the shot went in Kuemper’s feet for Gregor’s fifth goal of the year.

Brent Burns doubled the lead a few minutes later, beating Kuemper on a bomb through a Tomas Hertl screen from the point at the 3:07 mark. Hertl and Evander Kane assisted on Burns’ seventh goal of the season and second in his last five games.

Sharks captain Logan Couture stayed hot, scoring in a second consecutive game after going goalless for 16. Couture picked a rebound from a Greg Pateryn shot out of his skates and beat an out-of-position Kuemper for a 3-0 lead 1:54 into the second. Erik Karlsson then added another on a another long distance shot, chasing Kuemper 3:19 into the second.

“We’re getting some bodies in front of the net,” said Boughner. “Which is allowing us to get some second, third opportunities. Our D are doing a better job of getting pucks through. I thought we were good off the rush today. I thought we created some chances off the rush.”

With Adin Hill in net, the Coyotes started to dig out of a hole with Michael Bunting, Clayton Keller and Jakob Chychrun all scoring for the Arizona on Korenar.

“He battles hard in there,” said Boughner. “He’s a young guy. He’s still finding his game. There’s a couple I’m sure he’d want back.”

They would then go on the power play 6:41 into the third period after Timo Meier took down Chychrun with a trip, but the Sharks penalty kill stood up the Arizona’s man advantage.

“They got a power play, he came up with 2 or 3 big saves,” said Boughner on his netminder. “That just shows that he has the ability to brush that off, the ability to battle back and be aggressive still and not sit back and be conservative in net. That’s what I like, I like a guy that’s going to get in there and fight.”

With Ryan Donato and Kevin Labanc both out, recent trade acquisition Alexander Barbanov drew in on the second line with Tomas Hertl and Evander Kane. He made the most of his opportunity after appearing in just 13 games with the Toronto Maple Leafs coming into the game with just the lone assist, scoring in his Team Teal debut to give the Sharks breathing room. Barbanov parked himself in the crease for a Kane rebound 11:17 into the final period for his first career NHL goal and a 5-3 lead.

“I’ve seen him play in Toronto a little bit before,” said Erik Karlsson about the new forward inserted into the line up. “I’ve heard good things about him. he came in and stayed true to himself. He played a hard game, he has some skill too. He wasn’t afraid to play with the big guys on the second line. He came in and it was a good first game for him and obviously nice for him to get a goal right away to get things going for him. It’s always nice to see.”

The goal would be needed after Chychrun added to his defenseman-leading 16th goal with 4:44 left in regulation. Chychrun, the Coyotes top defenseman, played through some pain after taking a couple of painful shot blocks in the second period. Evander Kane release the pressure after scoring an empty netter with 8.1 seconds left for a 6-4 Sharks win.

The Sharks will face Arizona at home yet again looking to keep that final playoff spot in striking distance. They’ll once again have the added boost of a handful of fans back in attendance.

“It was nice to see a little bit of normalcy,” said Karlsson on what the fans in the building meant. “Even though there weren’t that many you could hear how excited they were to be back. They supported us the entire time.”

Notes: The Sharks had 500 fans in attendance, considered a sellout in the current ticketing model…Barabanov came to the Sharks at the deadline for Antti Suomela as a bit of an unknown, he was the odd man out in Toronto, needing to play a skill role on a team with a loaded top-six…Kevin Labanc’s small ironman streak of 263 games was snapped after being scratched with an injury….Evander Kane scored his 19th goal of the season. If he scores a 20th this season it will be his 6th straight season of 20 or more goals…Both teams combined to go 0-7 on the power play.A

Sharks Drop 4-1 Decision to Ducks, End Homestand 1-4

Anaheim Ducks goaltender Anthony Stolarz (41) stops a shot from the San Jose Sharks right wing Kevin LaBanc (62) as he’s defended by the Ducks center Adam Henrique (14) at SAP Center in San Jose on Wed Apr 14, 2021 (AP News photo)

By Matthew Harrington

A closed door meeting Tuesday. Shuffling of lines. Players inserted back into the lineup after for their first game action in weeks. The first career start for Josef Korenar. A last place opponent starting their third-string goalie. Both teams ahead in the standings losing. Everything was point to a make-or-break performance from the San Jose Sharks against the Anaheim Ducks (14-23-7) Wednesday night at home.

Instead, the Sharks (18-20-4) were nearly shut out for the second time in as many games by Anthony Stolarz, falling to the Anaheim Ducks 4-1. Korenar made 23 saves in his maiden start (he appeared in one other game in mop-up duty earlier this week for his pro debut).

The Sharks sit four points back of the final West Division playoff spot once again, but after Wednesday’s contest, that gap could feel like a chasm for Sharks fans. Stolarz wasn’t as busy as he was Monday in a 46-save effort, making just 27 stops in his 21st career start.

After scoring a pair last game, Alexander Volkov scored once and assisted on another Ducks goal. Ryan Getzlaf and Derek Grant also scored for the Ducks to hand the Sharks their third-straight defeat against a Southern California rival. San Jose has now gone 1-4 in their recent homestand.

“I don’t know if we hit rock bottom,” said Sharks coach Bob Boughner when asked. “It’s funny, we were on top of the mountain a few weeks ago. Now we’re scraping the bottom of the barrel. We knew that, we talked about that the last few days. This is a tough feeling because the games are so important. Everybody around us that we’re chasing is losing as well so it’s a squandered opportunity.”

Switching Rudolfs Balcers to the top line with Logan Couture and Evander Kane, moving Kevin Labanc to line two with Tomas Hertl and Timo Meier didn’t produce a goal, nor did inserting Nicolas Meloche, Noah Gregor or Frederik Handemark but there were some signs of life for the Sharks.

Defenseman Radim Simek picked up a roughing minor for a scuffle with Troy Terry, then fought Max Comtois, a Shark killer who picked up an assist earlier in the game. Dylan Gambrell stepped up after Sam Steele pushed a puck under Korenar’s pad into the net, punching up a weight class or two against the Ducks Josh Manson, but the effort as a team was mostly missing, highlighted by an 0-for-3 power play night.

On Anaheim’s first goal, Erik Karlsson went in the corner for a failed dump in as the Ducks attempted to change. His clearing reverse died on the boards, allowing Troy Terry to scoop up the puck and dish it to cagey veteran Ryan Getzlaf for his 278 career goal 8:08 into the first.

“Without picking one guy or another guy, I think we need to play better as a team,” said Boughner. “But if you ask (Karlsson) you’d hope that he’d be honest that he’s got better than that. Especially in those crucial situations, we have to make better decisions with the puck and we have to manager our game better. I think he’s guilty of that and it gets contagious.”

Grant scored 2:29 into the second after the Sharks couldn’t advance the puck through the neutral zone. Volkov worked through Ryan Donato entering the zone, hit the brakes to shake Simek then past the puck to Manson at the point before Donato could close the gap. Manson’s shot was tipped by Grant for a 2-0 lead.

The Ducks second goal of the period followed a scramble that saw Korenar make a tremendous in-close toe save Comtois only to be asked to do it again against Volkov. He couldn’t stop the Ducks trade acquisition to put the Sharks down 3-0 with 26:20 left in regulation.

The Sharks broke Stolarz’s goalless streak at 117:44 when Erik Karlsson’s point shot beat him with the extra attacker on the ice and 2:16 remaining in regulation to pull within two 3-1. Jakob Silfverberg scored in the dying seconds on the power play to twist the knife one last time.

Perhaps the Sharks could do well with a change of scenery. They’ll hit the road for a pair in Minnesota. While the scoreboard watching may be a subplot, the main story in the State of Hockey from a Sharks’ perspective is Patrick Marleau’s quest for the all-time games played mark. #12 would tie Mr. Hockey Gordie Howe with 1,767 games played, more than any other person in the National Hockey League’s history in game two of the series.

Stolarz’s 44-Save Shutout Leads to 4-0 Ducks Win Over Sharks

San Jose Sharks center Ryan Donato (16) jumps to get out of the way of Anaheim Ducks goaltender Anthony Stolarz (41) in the second period at the Honda Center in Anaheim on Mon Apr 12, 2021 (AP News photo)

By Matthew Harrington

After mostly keeping the band together after Monday’s trade deadline, the San Jose Sharks missed out on a prime opportunity to move closer to the final playoff spot in the West Division Monday night. Team Teal fell to the visiting Anaheim Ducks 4-0 after seeing that the Coyotes (ahead of San Jose by two points) fell to the Avalanche early in the night. Ducks third-string netminder Anthony Stolarz made 44 saves, Max Comtois had two points and Alexander Volkov scored a pair of goals in the penultimate contest between the California rivals.

The Ducks (first goal came after Radim Simek failed to clear the puck out of the Sharks end and partner Christian Jaros likewise failed to advance the puck. After sustained offensive pressure, Comtois was able to redirect a shot-pass from Derek Grant just 1:59 into the first period.

Alexander Volkov then took advantage of slow reactions by Tomas Hertl who had the puck in his own end facing Martin Jones in net. Volkov hit Hertl’s stick, forcing the puck on net and past Jones for his first goal of the game 8:12 into the first. Volkov added his second of the period 12:19 into the period for a 3-0 lead.

Rickard Rakell, a player identified as a prime trade target heading into Monday’s trade dealine, wound up staying put with the Ducks. He rewarded his team’s inactivity by capping off the win with 3:26 off the clock in the third period.

“Even at 3-0 we knew that they played last night,” said Sharks coach Bob Boughner. “We felt in the second period that we were grinding them down, they were starting to turn pucks over. We were getting a lot of offense off that.”

“We thought this game was far from over,” added Boughner. “We couldn’t solve Stolarz and that fourth goal probably capped it off.”

Whether the Ducks had scored one goal or 100 wouldn’t have mattered with how Anthony Stolarz performed in net. The Ducks tender turned away 44 Sharks shots, a career high for the 27-year-old net minder. He came one save away from matching the Ducks franchise record for saves in a shutout in just his 30th career NHL game dating back to 2017.

The Sharks offense turned it on after a dismal first period that saw them outscored 3-0 despite outshooting Anaheim 14-13. They held the Ducks to just six shots on goal over the final two periods, but couldn’t crack Stolarz on 32 shots in the final pair of periods.

“I think it’s our job as a staff to get in there and address the situation,” said Boughner after his team’s third loss in four games. “To make the proper changes and adjustments. To show them the things we did well, but to continue to harp and teach on the things we didn’t do well.”

“It’s a funny game,” said Bougner. “Last week we were on top of the world and all the sudden you hit a couple games like this and you start gripping the stick tight. Maybe over thinking things. We need to get back to our structure.”

The Sharks get a chance to rebound against the Ducks (and presumably not Stolarz in net unless Ducks coach Dallas Eakins chooses to ride the hot hand) Wednesday night at San Jose. Boughner didn’t have an update on Tomas Hertl after the game, he headed to the dressing room late in the third period with an injury. There will surely be more on him in the coming days.

Ducks Beat Sharks 5-1, Snap Four-Game Winning Streak for San Jose

San Jose Sharks center Ryan Donato (16) chases Anaheim Ducks center Isac Lundestrom (48) in the third period at SAP Center in San Jose on Tue Apr 6, 2021 (AP News photo)

By Matthew Harrington

The San Jose Sharks failed to keep pace with the team above them in the West Division, dropping Monday night’s home contest against the visiting Anaheim Ducks 5-1. Patrick Marleau scored the lone goal for San Jose who failed to bridge the five point gap between the fourth place Arizona and themselves with the cellar-dwelling Ducks (12-21-7) in town. John Gibson made 34 saves for Anaheim and Adam Henrique, Maxime Comtois, Isaac Lundestrom, David Backes and Nicolas Deslauriers lit the lamp for the Ducks.

The Sharks (17-17-4) entered play Monday night with four consecutive wins in their pockets and newfound swagger that they could be in the playoff chase. While the box score will make the contest look close, San Jose came out flat, a surprise given they had two days off in a season filled back-to-backs and three games in five night scenarios.

 Just 5:55 into play the Ducks caught San Jose flat-footed. Henrique worked his way into the center lane unmarked, took a Danton Heinen pass and beat Martin Jones for his 11th goal. If that wasn’t an indicator the Sharks didn’t have “it” Monday night, the Ducks 31st ranked power play struck 24 seconds into the second period on Comtois 11th of the year.

Marleau answered with a Sharks power play goal of their own on some pretty passing just over a minute later to make it 2-1 Anaheim, but in a sequence where the Sharks thought the puck was frozen put Jones never had possession of it, Lundestrom was able to take the puck behind the net and put it in on the other side 2:44 into the second.

Emblematic of the night San Jose was having, Ducks pugilist Nicolas Deslauriers had a Troy Terry shot bounce off a Sharks defenseman horizontally and land perfectly on his stick. Even a player known for what his hands do off the stick more than on it could finish this play with the gaping net, so in it went for Deslauriers’ fourth with 4:41 left in the second. David Backes scored an empty netter early in the third period for the final score.

If the rest made the Sharks rusty, then their next contest may be of concern. The Sharks are off until Friday when they welcome the Los Angeles Kings to town for a Friday-Saturday set. The two games will be the final two before Monday’s trade deadline.

Notes: Marc-Edouard Vlasic was out of the line-up Monday, Christian Jaros took his place and made his Sharks debut…Jeffrey Viel and Anaheim’s Desluariers dropped the gloves at the 13:51 mark of the first period…Sharks coach Bob Boughner was aggressive with the goalie pull, pulling Martin Jones with over seven minutes left trailing by three…Noah Gregor returned to the lineup, his first game action since March 6th.

Karlsson Stars in Sharks 4-3 Shootout Win Over Wild

Photo credit: @GettySport

By Matthew Harrington

The San Jose Sharks beat the visiting Minnesota Wild 4-3 in a shootout after Erik Karlsson beat Cam Talbot ion a slapshot in the eighth round of the skills competition to cap a big night for the former Norris Trophy winner. Patrick Marleau appeared in his 1,757th career game, passing Mark Messier for second all-time and trailing Gordie Howe by just 10. Erik Karlsson scored a pair, fellow d-man Radim Simek potted one as well and the youthful couplet of Ryan Donato, John Leonard and Dylan Gambrell combined for four assists. Kevin Fiala scored a pair for the Wild and Nick Bonino struck for a mark as well. The Sharks (14-16-4) dominated on the shot counter, flinging 39 pucks on netminder Cam Talbot, while Martin Jones saw 25 shots in the San Jose net.

The Wild (21-10-2) scored first after Ryan Hartman screened Jones in a broken play that had the Sharks scrambling in their own end. Marcus Johansson had easy pickings with the screen, beating Jones for his fourth goal of the year 12:41 into play.

The Sharks answered back with a screen of their own when Radim Simek’s point shot appeared to kick off Dylan Gambrell or Jonas Brodin with 3:56 left in the period. Ex-Wild Ryan Donato and John Leonard assisted on the goal, leaving Gambrell, who also led the rush down the ice, pointless on the play.

Nick Bonino gave the Wild the lead just a minute before the first intermission after Joel Eriksson Ek first put Nikolai Knyzhov on a poster He toe dragged around the defense after Knyzhov went for an agressive poke check, giving Eriksson Ek the clear path to a 2-on-1 with Bonino. Bonino buried the tic-tac-goal on the cross-crease pass.

Karlsson scored his first of the game with 4:15 left in the second period after burying a 2-on-1 pass from Evander Kane. Kane blocked a shot in the Sharks end to start the rush and Karlsson saw the play developing and went full speed ahead to the Wild zone to finish the play.

4:11 into the third, Karlsson fired a rocket that hit the inside of the post, then the camera imbedded in the net on a point shot to give the Sharks the then 3-2. Donato and Gambrell assisted on the goal, Karlsson’s 4th of the year. Karlsson hadn’t had a two-goal regular season game since December 19th, 2017, his last season with the Ottawa Senators. Gambrell again was screening Talbot and this time nabbed an assist.

Fiala tied the game 9:48 into the third when Matt Dumba fed him with a puck that found a seam through the slot. Fiala was waiting a stride outside the crease to bury the tying goal and push his season total to double-digits with 10 goals.

The two teams meet again Wednesday night at the SAP Center. Presumably rookie phenom Kappo Kähkönen will be in net for former Shark Dean Evason, while former Wild tender Devan Dubnyk may get his turn in the Sharks net.

Notes: Jeffrey Viel made his NHL debut, playing 7:28 and registering two hits. He got on the scoresheet, dropping the gloves with Minnesota’s Luke Johnson 2:57 into the game. It was also Johnson’s first career fight. Viel came out the clear winner….Jared Spurgeon appeared to score in overtime, but his touch came above the crossbar for a quick no-goal call on the ice…Evander Kane’s assist broke a tie for the team lead with Timo Meier. Both players had 15 entering play…Marleau centered the fourth line with Viel and Marcus Sorensen on his flanks….The Sharks didn’t commit a minor penalty in regulation and only went on the power play once…The Wild hadn’t gone to the shootout entering play Monday night…Prior to the game, the Sharks moved Matt Nieto to the IR. He hasn’t appeared in a game since March 19th.

Jones The Difference-maker Again, Sharks Top Kings 4-2

Photo credit: @SanJoseSharks

By Matthew Harrington

It was a different night, but a similar result for the San Jose Sharks in a 4-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings at the SAP Center Wednesday night. Martin Jones followed up his 41 save effort with a 42-save showing and Evander Kane scored a pair of goals to give San Jose (13-14-4) the sweep of the two-game series. Alex Iafallo and Adrian Kempe scored for the Kings (13-13-6). The victory came with a price for San Jose though after Logan Couture took the butt end of Jeff Carter’s stick to the jaw and exited the game late in the third period.

The Sharks were leading by a slim 2-1 margin heading into the third period, but widened the chasm on the scoreboard in the first two minutes of the final frame. Evander Kane tipped a Mario Ferraro shot past Kings netminder Cal Petersen 21 seconds into the period for his 14th of the year and second of the game. Then, at the 1:43 mark Tomas Hertl beat Petersen for his ninth of the year and a 4-1 Sharks lead. Adrian Kempe scored his 12th to cut the lead at the 4:27 mark but the Kings would not beat a sharp Jones again for the remainder of the game.

Rudolfs Balcers opened the scoring 2:14 into the second after both Petersen and Jones were flawless in the first. The Latvian finished off the tic-tac-goal after Marcus Sorensen’s drive down the left wing pulled Petersen to the left. His feed cross-crease left a gaping net for Balcers, who scored in his second game back from an injury.

Kane potted his first goal of the game on a similar play off the rush, only this time he was coming down the left wing. He took the Labanc pass from the right wing and waited for Petersen to commit on the desperation push across the blue paint before beating him up top for a 2-0 Sharks lead with 6:21 left in the second.

Jones was 21 seconds away from his fourth straight game of one goal allowed, but a set play with just a couple dozen seconds left in the second led to Iaffalo’s late goal. Drew Doughty entered the Sharks zone and dropped the puck to Dustin Brown on the blue line. Brown ripped a shot from the point that Iaffalo redirected in for his eighth of the year.

The Sharks will play their fourth consecutive Friday-Saturday back-to-back when they travel to Glendale to face the Arizona Coyotes. For a quasi-weekend set. The Coyotes currently sit three points ahead of San Jose just below the cut line for the Western division’s last playoff spot.

Jones’ 41 Saves, Flawless PK Push Sharks Past Kings 2-1

The Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick (32) feels the pain quick after the San Jose Sharks Logan Couture lights the lamp with a first period goal at SAP Center in San Jose on Mon Mar 22, 2021 (AP News photo)

By Matthew Harrington

The San Jose Sharks beat the Los Angeles Kings 2-1 Monday night, riding an outstanding Martin Jones performance and a herculean penalty killing effort to victory and a snap out of a four-game skid. Jones made 41 saves, Ryan Donato and Logan Couture scored for the Sharks (12-14-4) and Patrick Marleau tied Steve Larmer for fourth place on the all-time iron man list with 844 consecutive games played.

“We looked a little sluggish,” said Sharks coach Bob Boughner. “I attribute that to taking too many stick infraction penalties. We tried to roll our bench. LA was a team that played last night and we wanted to roll our bench and grind them down a bit. Everytime we killed a penalty, we got our lines going then we got another penalty. It was a choppy game but our penalty kill was really strong.”

When the Sharks were able to roll their lines, they did get a good result that directly impacted the outcome. Ryan Donato made the most of his first opportunity with the Sharks this year down the middle, centering the fourth line in his first appearance in the center’s role with Kurtis Gabriel and John Leonard on his wings. Donato scored his fifth of the year on a wraparound backhander that slipped through the five-hole of Jonathan Quick 3:48 into the third period. Leonard picked up an assist on Donato’s second goal of the three-game homestand.

“I liked him there,” said Boughner of his fourth line center.” I liked that line. Put in proper positioning. They gave us exactly what we needed at the right time of the game.”

The Sharks were coming off their fifth penalty of the game just seconds before after Nikolai Knyzhov picked up his second penalty of the game just five seconds into the period. He joined play after a fifth-consecutive minor to pick up the secondary assist. The penalty kill really was the Sharks MVP after a flawless showing that including Martin Jones making five saves short handed.

“He’s playing bigger in his net,” said Boughner of Jones. “He’s coming out of his net a little more, trying to get to the top of that blue paint. I think that’s helping his game. He’s been working hard at making the proper adjustments. For me, I’m not a goalie guy, but it’s about getting the save you need at the right time of the game and he did that.”

The Sharks had the early lead after Logan Couture snapped his five-game scoreless skid 8:22 into the game. His shot hit Quick and ricocheted off Kurtis MacDermid into the Kings net. Kevin Labanc and Evander Kane assisted on the goal. To atone for his mistake, MacDermid fed fellow Kurtis Gabriel a couple knuckle sandwiches in a first period fight.

The Sharks had one of their better faceoff performances of the season, winning 57 percent of draws but it was a faceoff loss that led the Kings’ goal. Gabe Vilardi won the faceoff against the Sharks best faceoff man Tomas Hertl, hit Austin Wagner on the half-wall who slid it to Matt Roy at the point. Roy’s slap shot beat Jones to tie the game with just 2:29 left in the second period for his first of the year.

The Sharks continue the four-game homestand with a contest Wednesday night against the Kings (13-12-6) again. Presumably Devan Dubnyk will be in net, but Boughner could ride the hot hand with Jones.

Notes: Marleau moved up to the second line, on the wing with Timo Meier sandwiching Tomas Hertl….Rudolfs Balcers was back in the lineup after missing the last two games and five of the last six…Kurtis Gabriel and Kurtis MacDermid’s fight was premeditated, the two had discussions along the red line during warm-ups…Dylan Gambrell and Tomas Hertl both won 70 percent or better of their draws Monday night…Matt Nieto was out for the second consecutive contest.