Ducks win New Year’s Eve battle

(Photo: Gary A. Vasquez, USA TODAY Sports)

By Pearl Allison Lo

 

ANAHEIM– Matt Belesky’s goal was the first consecutive goal for either team as the Ducks left for New Year’s Eve celebrations with a 6-3 win over the San Jose Sharks.

Belesky’s goal came at 18:30 of the second period, as he was aided by Nick Bonino, who had just scored about three and a half minutes earlier.

Anaheim’s now 15-0-2 record at home is their best such start in franchise history, as they snapped the Sharks’ four-game winning streak after losing to them Sunday.

San Jose’s Logan Couture commented, “We didn’t play very well tonight, you know, the second period, we were awful, one of the worst periods for our season, if not the worst…”

The 5-on-5 on ice with two players in the box became a 5-on-4 when the Sharks’ Matt Irwin was called for holding at 5:38 of the first period.

The Ducks’ Kyle Palmieri scored the first and lone goal of the period at 16:24, aided by Beleskey and Cam Fowler.

Antti Niemi made consecutive saves against Anaheim’s Corey Perry with just over 2:47 left in the period. As the first shot bounced off Niemi, Niemi’s second save became a glove catch from straightaway.

Perry then had a slashing penalty with 15 seconds to go to give San Jose a power play.

After a faceoff with about 14.7 seconds left, Couture thought the puck went in the net but it bounced off the goal post and then after a teammate’s missed attempt, Patrick Marleau got the rebound off Jonas Hiller and put the puck inside. However, the goal went under review and it was ruled that time expired before Marleau made the shot.

The Sharks made up for it though by scoring 35 seconds into the second period to tie the game. Dan Boyle was helped by Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton on the continuing power play.

A bouncing puck on top of the net as Niemi tried to find it and Boyle tried to prevent the puck from going in, almost led to an own goal.

The Ducks thought they scored later near the net but Niemi was able to stop the puck with his leg against the goal post.

Anaheim ended up outshooting San Jose 25-8 in the second period, after the Sharks outshot the Ducks 17-8 in the first.

Francois Beauchemin’s first goal of the season put Anaheim up 2-1 at 11:00 of the second. It was the third attempt by the team during the possession and went between Niemi’s legs. Ryan Getzlaf and Jakob Silfverberg assisted on the play.

About a minute and a half later, Couture switched stick sides and then aimed at the top of the net to retie the game, aided by Marleau and Marc-Edouard Vlasic.

The Ducks scored on the power play when Bonino was able to go around Niemo’s leg. Getzlaf and Fowler got their second assists of the game with Bonino’s goal to make it 3-2. This would be the first of four straight goals for Anaheim.

Before Beleskey’s goal, Thornton had an empty net but Ben Lovejoy was able to come up from behind and block Thornton with his stick.

Getzlaf got into a semi-breakaway and shot off the goal post and into the net to make it 5-2 at 1:14 of the third period. This gave him his fourth career 20-goal season and took Niemi out of the game.

Down shorthanded about 15 seconds later, Saku Koivu went into a clean breakway about a minute into San Jose’s power play. Koivu’s shot missed and Andrew Cogliano scored off the rebound against Alex Stalock, Niemi’s replacement.

The Sharks scored their second power play less than a minute later. Bracken Kearns got his second goal in two games against the Ducks as he tipped in Matt Irwin’s shot from the blue line in front of the net.

 

Game notes: Cogliano has started 500 straight NHL games, the fifth to do so in NHL history. San Jose starts the New Year playing the Edmonton Oilers January 2 at 7:30pm.

 

Two Milestone Goals Lift Sharks Over Ducks

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE- In a 3-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks, one Shark scored his first NHL goal, another scored his 100th, and the Sharks-Ducks home ice advantage grew a little more. In seven of the last eight games between the two, the win has gone to the home team. The Sharks’ win was tarnished, however, by an injury to Tommy Wingels. Wingels left the game in the first period and did not return.

Logan Couture’s recent trouble scoring goals might be explained in hindsight by the fact that it was his 100th he was trying to score. Such a milestone is bound to play a little hard to get. Bracken Kearns was chasing his first, though he hadn’t had may chances to score it. The audience at SAP Center was suitably appreciative of the occasion, and continued to respond enthusiastically every time Kearns turned up on the video screen.

The Sharks’ best line of late tore into the Ducks defense early, pelting Andersen with shots and staying just a step ahead of the Ducks defenders. Andersen did well to stop as many as he did but finally Brent Burns put one past him from just a few feet in front of the blue paint. The first goal of the game was scored just over a minute in. Assists went to Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton.

Pavelski was called for interference at 6:48. The second penalty killing unit to get on the ice included Andrew Desjardins, Joe Thornton, Justin Braun and Marc-Edouard Vlasic. The unit set up a good short-handed chance for Thornton and Desjardins, who made their way into the Ducks’ zone two on one and managed a couple of shots on Anderson, even after the Ducks’ defense caught up with them.

Logan Couture got off the schneid with panache, carrying the puck through the neutral zone, skating around two Ducks defenders and stick-handling his way to the net to score his 100th career goal with a backhand. The goal put the Sharks up 2-0, at 10:07 of the period. Assists went to Brent Burns and Jason Demers.

With a little over five minutes left in the first, the Ducks had a series of good chances in the Sharks’ zone, while the Sharks were caught mid-line change and unable to get the puck out. Finally Niemi was able to glove it. Kearns, Brown and Kennedy took the ice for the defensive zone draw with Stuart and Demers on defense. Kearns won the faceoff and got the puck back to Demerws but Demers couldn’t clear it the first time. They had to try again. The third line managed to move play into the Ducks’ zone, where the Couture line took over, but the Ducks quickly drove them into the neutral zone.

Todd McLellan moved Matt Nieto to the second line when Tommy Wingels went awkwardly into the boards early in the first. Wingels appeared for another shift but then went to the dressing room and would not return to the game.

First period ended 2-0 Sharks, with shots on goal at 14-13 Anaheim.

Almost ten minutes elapsed in the second, including the end of a San Jose power play to start the period, when Andrew Desjardins carried the puck behind the Ducks’ net. Under pressure he managed to pass the puck out in front where the late-arriving Bracken Kearns picked it up in the slot and scored his first NHL goal. Assists went to Desjardins and Mike Brown.

With 7:50 left in the second, Daniel Winnik was caught in the face with the butt end of a Shark’s stick. He stayed down for some time and got up with blood near his eye but no penalty was called. Logan Couture represented the Sharks in a brief conference with the referee at center ice. It did appear to be incidental contact, but Winnik and the Ducks were understandably agitated about it.

The second period ended with the Ducks still ahead on the shot clock, 24-19, but the Sharks ahead 3-0 on the score board.

The Sharks got their second power play of the game at 8:47 of the third period when Corey Perry went to the box for a high hit on Brad Stuart. The Sharks’ power play didn’t pay off and a successful penalty kill energized the Ducks. It still took them a few shifts to score.

Antti Niemi’s shut-out bid ended at 11:32 of the third, when a quick pass from behind the Sharks’ net found Patrick Maroon with no one in front of him. A shot just indside the far post brought the score to 3-1. Assists went to Corey Perry and Cam Fowler.

The game ended without any further scoring and the Sharks won 3-1. The final shot count had the Ducks still on top with 31 to the Sharks’ 23.

The Ducks’ shots leaders for the game were Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Kyle Pamieri, credited with three each. For the Sharks, Brent Burns led the team with 5 shots. Mike Brown led the Sharks in hits with five, followed by Kearns with four. Mark Fistric and Patrick Maroon led the Ducks with five hits each.

The three stars of the game were Brent Burns, Antti Niemi, and Bracken Kearns.

Larry Leavitt on Pro hockey: Bulls late scoring could inspire offense

by Larry Leavitt

DALY CITY–It was an interesting game that was very physical the game between the Stockton Thunder and the San Francisco Bulls on Friday which was the first of five in a row scheduled meeting between the two teams.The five game set up runs last Friday at the Cow Palace, then three games away in Stockton and then one game at home back at the Cow Palace next Saturday. So their going to see a lot of each other and it started out with some bad blood in the first period of the game.

The two teams didn’t take but 40 seconds to get the first fight in and there were a couple bad boardings from the Stockton players which led to more fisticuffs the Thunder and the Bulls weren’t really playing really great hockey they were just hanging in there and then comes the third period they came back and closed out the win and actually put in an empty netter so it looked better and it was a close game all the way to the end.

The Bulls stuck with it all the way through and came out with a 5-2 win which included a really good showing from coming from behind and playing the game. While it was that the Bulls Adrian Foster opened the game up with the first goal of the game you still have to play the full 60 minutes of hockey. This goes to show you you can’t let up you got to keep on playing. You got to play the game all the way through until the last buzzer the Bulls really did come with a complete game at the end.

To be fair the ice was tilted into the Stockton end quite a bit they were just missing that last pass to knock it in the net quite a bit there’s a lot of cross ice passes in front of the goalie they didn’t have the timing down and it could have been worse for the Bulls. Credit goes to where it’s due they really stuck with it and came from behind and had two quick goals which really turned it around and then Stockton was on their heels.

San Jose Sharks update: The Sharks who maybe are in a tie with the L.A. Kings in the Pacific division and they have their thrid straight win against the Coyotes Friday but their doing it in shootouts and it’s giving the other team a point there. The Sharks are not closing out games granted they came from behind a lot against the Coyotes.

The Sharks didn’t have the lead until until the third period, they finally got the lead and then they coughed up the lead where they really need to close it out. That’s a shame and the Sharks really need to get better at that if their going to continue and be an elite team they need to get that lead and shut them down.

When it comes to shootouts it’s purely whose hot now type of a thing could it be a freaky goal that happen to goaltender of the Coyotes Mike Smith at Phoenix where the puck dropped in the back of his jersey and went into his hockey pants and he backed into his own goal for the score which turned out to be the winning goal for the Buffalo Sabers.

Maybe that was in the back of Smith’s mind Friday night when he was starting to have some problems and when it comes to winning I’d rather be lucky than good. The Sharks are still putting it in the net. Right now the Sharks Patrick Marleau is gold for the shootout and he’s been one of the Sharks most consistent players of this year and the fact that he wasn’t invited to the Olympic camp might have been a way that he showed them that they might have missed something.

Larry Leavitt does Pro hockey commentary for Sportstalk each week

Joe Thornton, Power Play Ease Absence of Hertl

By Matthew Harrington

SAN JOSE, CA – On a day when Sharks fans received coal in their stockings it was a man known for his beard, larger-than-life figure and propensity for giving to others that delivered a present to San Jose fans. With the news that rookie-phenom, Youtube sensation and dream aficionado Tomas Hertl would require surgery on his knee, injured on a knee-on-knee hit by Los Angeles forward Dustin Brown last Thursday, Jumbo Joe delivered a Sharks victory over the red-hot Colorado Avalanche in a 5-4 shootout at the SAP Center Monday night. Jolly Old Saint Joe erased any fears of a dip in production without his usual running mate, wrapping up the second-straight Sharks win in games without Hertl with a bow on top.

The Sharks captain finished the night with what should be called a Joe Thornton hat trick, assisting on three of San Jose’s four regulation goals in 20:22 of ice time. His second assists of the night, coming on line-mate Brent Burns’ tenth goal of the season was an absolute work of art. Thornton curled along the boards to shake an Avalanche skater before feeding a streaking Burns with a backhand pass to the tape of Burns’ stick. Burns fired the trigger in the slot point-black to tie the game.

It’s not the first time Burns has been the prime beneficiaries of Thornton’s play this season, notching 19 points (10g, 9A) in just 24 games while skating primarily on a line with the Captain but it’s rookie Hertl’s chemistry with the two veteran forwards that had people taking notice. The youngster established himself as an offensive force with 15 goals already this season on the left wing beside Thornton and Burns. Now the Sharks, already struggling for offense amidst power play woes and a Logan Couture scoring slump faced the quandary of replacing another potent offensive weapon.

“I think you’ve seen it, we’re confident in our group,” said Brent Burns. “We have a lot of elite skill. Sometimes it’s just about switching it up.”

Coach Todd McLellan held open auditions to fill Hertl’s vacancy on the top trio on Saturday, shuffling lines in the Sharks 3-2 shootout defeat of the visiting Dallas Stars. While Jumbo Joe scored the game-winner in the skills competition Saturday, the more promising sign that the Sharks could sustain the loss of Hertl is Thornton’s connection with Joe Pavelski.

“He’s playing well,” praised Thornton of the Plover, Wisconsin Native. “He finds himself in front of the net wide open. He just has such a nice shot. Tonight he just complemented me and Burns so well. He’s such a smart player, he’s feeling it right now.”

How sizzling is Pavelski? Twice Pavelski and Thornton have combined to produce points in the standings out of nothing Pavelski received a Thornton pass for a dramatic goal to force a shoot-out Saturday night then again Monday the Thornton to Pavelski connected on late-game heroics, with diminutive Joe tying the game with Antti Niemi pulled and 20 seconds remaining in regulation.

“Pavs has been a real clutch player over the past two weeks,” said McLellan. “He’s the go-to guy. He’s been getting it done. We’re happy for him and we’re happy for us.”

McLellan is likely more satisfied with the sudden gelling of a power play that was empty on its last 13 opportunities. McLellan scrapped the stagnant groupings of five and introduced two new power play units Monday night, with the results paying immediate dividends to the tune of a 2-for-4 clip. Jason Demers and Matt Irwin each cashed in on man-advantage opportunities, with both blue liners scoring from point shots with traffic in front.

“That’s the reason, pretty much, why you win or lose in the NHL right now,” said Thornton. ”Your penalty kill has to be good and your power play has to be good. Our power play hasn’t been very good but we’ve been able to win a couple games without it but it’s something we needed.”

Other than recapping the play of the evening, McLellan played coy with the media regarding the more difficult questions regarding player confidence.

“It’s Christmas, let’s all go home and enjoy it,” ended McLellan. “I’ll answer those questions when we come back.”

Sharks win a thriller against the Avs

By Ivan Makarov

SAN JOSE, CA — Ever since San Jose Sharks played Colorado Avalanche in the playoffs series back in in the 2010 Stanley Cup, the games between the two teams had a rivalry feel to them. They were often packed with big hits, fights and back and forth scoreboard. The next matchup at SAP Center on Monday night was no exception, and had all that. The Sharks came out on top against the Avs, winning their ninth straight at home against them, this time by the score of 5-4 in a shootout.

Colorado Avalanche is a young team on the rise. Having not qualified for a playoffs spot since that series against the Sharks almost four years ago, they were rebuilding through lottery picks in the NHL draft, including picking up Nathan MacKinnon as the first overall pick last summer (he went on to score in the game). They also went through a coaching switch, hiring their former player and a hockey legend Patrick Roy who made his NHL head coaching debut this season. All the changes are now paying off, as Colorado were just two points behind the Sharks in the stranding coming into this game.

Avs got the first lead in the game. Their rookie McKinnon scored his eighth goal of the season to break the scoring in the game half way through the first period, with a wrist shot on the power play. Sharks’ Jason Demers tied the game three minutes later, also on the power play, scoring with a big heavy slap shot from just above the face-offs circle as Joe Thornton laid a great pass for him.

Colorado took the next lead in the game, with their captain Gabe Landeskog scoring at the end of the first period, capitalizing on a fast transition, leaving him wide open in front of Antti Niemi, who was unable to react in time. That’s how these new Avs play – counter attacking, and moving the puck fast throughout the ice. That left the game 2-1 in favor of the visiting team, going into the first intermission.

Besides the exciting action, the game also featured two fights in that period. First Mike Brown knocked out Cody McLeod with repeated punches, sending his opponent to the dressing room with blood all over his face. Few minutes after that former Shark Jamie McGinn dropped the gloves with Brad Stuart to get the crowd even more riled up.

Sharks came back firing on all cylinders in the second period. They played faster, more focused and went to the net at every opportunity. The increased pressure resulted in two goals – one by Brent Burns and another one by Cody Irwin – both from the top of the face-off circles. The home team did not give much room for the Avs to come back either, and Joe Thornton said after the game that he thought that the Sharks played the best single period of the whole season, as they took 3-2 lead going into the third period.

It seemed as if the Sharks would finish the game with a victory as the game was winding down, but that’s not how the Avalanche saw it. They not only tied the game with less than two minutes left, but took 4-3 lead scoring just 12 second after the tying goal. San Jose pulled the goaltender for an extra skater, and climbed back into the game on a goal by Joe Pavelski.

Sharks could have ended the game in overtime, getting a golden 4-on-3 power play opportunity, but came up empty, taking the game into a shootout.

Antti Niemi stopped all his two tries by McKinnon and Matt Douchene, while Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau scored on their tries, letting the Sharks earn the extra point over their opponent.

While it was frustrating for the team and for the Sharks coach Todd McLellan to end the third period like that, the fact that they came back and still won the game helped them go on a short Christmas break in a happier mood.

“A wild finish,” said McLellan describing the game. “It’s disappointing that we couldn’t hold on, for whatever reason. You saw it in the third – we went on our heels. We didn’t back off. To come back and respond with a goaltender pulled, it alleviates some of that.”

The Sharks next travel to Phoenix where they take on another divisional rival Phoenix Coyotes on Friday.

Sharks beat Stars in shootout

SAN JOSE, CA - DECEMBER 21: Joe Thornton #19 of the San Jose Sharks is congratulated by teammages after he scored the winning goal in an overtime shoot-out against the Dallas Stars at SAP Center on December 21, 2013 in San Jose, California. The Sharks won the game 3-2. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
SAN JOSE, CA – DECEMBER 21: Joe Thornton #19 of the San Jose Sharks is congratulated by teammages after he scored the winning goal in an overtime shoot-out against the Dallas Stars at SAP Center on December 21, 2013 in San Jose, California. The Sharks won the game 3-2. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

By: Phillip Torres

SAN JOSE-The San Jose Sharks (22-8-6) hosted the Dallas Stars (17-12-6) on Saturday night at the SAP Center in San Jose. This exciting thriller was worth the price of admission as it took a Joe Thornton goal in the fifth round of a shootout to decide the winner. The Sharks came away with the 3-2 victory as they rallied late to earn the W.

San Jose fell behind early as Ray Whitney and Antoine Roussel scored the first two goals in the game to take the early 2-0 advantage. Jason Demers put San Jose on the board at 11 :47 in the second period. Demers slapshot goal was his first goal of the season with assists from Tyler Kennedy and Andrew Desjardins.

Joe Pavelski tied the game up at 2-2 with his 14th foal of the season at 4:24 in the third and final period. Pavelski scored on a nice backhand shot. Thornton and Marc Edouard Vlasic.

Thornton scored the lone goal in the shootout and gave San Jose just its fourth win in December. The Sharks will be back on the ice Monday as they will host the Colorado Avalanche. The puck will drop at 7:30 P.M.

Back Where They Belong: Unchange the Sharks

(Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports)
(Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports)

By Mary Walsh

At the first intermission during the Sharks game Saturday, Jamie Baker said the Sharks seem to be missing something, possibly their mojo. If the Sharks have lost their mojo, it might be buried in Todd McLellan’s higgledy-piggledy line adjustments. It could be time to unchange all those lines.

Or maybe they found their mojo Saturday, in the process of being outshot 46-39 by the Dallas Stars, who average 31.6 shots a game. Maybe the Sharks found their mojo and that is how they survived going down by two goals, made it to a shootout and won 3-2. They won. That is important. But if a 4-2 victory in Toronto foretold of a losing streak to come, it isn’t likely that the Sharks will rest on those Dallas shootout laurels.

The Sharks started the season outstandingly well. To get back to that could be impossible, but to get back to winning more than losing is a reasonable goal. The key is to put the pieces back where they belong and leave them there for at least as long as they have been out of place. That would be nine games or so.

The Sharks’ coaching staff spent a lot of time thinking up forward lines during the off-season and training camp. The lines they started with might have some merit, even if you account for the insertion of players who came and went due to injury. During the ten game experiment the team just completed, only the Hertl-Thornton-Burns and Couture-Marleau connections lasted.

Those were dismantled Saturday against Dallas, beyond replacing the injured Hertl. John McCarthy took Pavelski’s spot as third line center, Pavelski moved to a new line with Thornton and Marleau, and Burns to Couture’s line with Havlat.

Putting McCarthy at center is not wrong per se. He played there in college and also in the AHL. But he’s been in San Jose for most of this season, playing wing. Maybe tossing him back to the middle isn’t the best way to stabilize the team.

When the Sharks started this rough patch after Toronto, San Jose started making line adjustments. Eventually, they made every line adjustment there was to make, until finally Martin Havlat was skating on a fourth line with Andrew Desjardins. The experiment may have provided some as yet unseen benefit to the team, but it certainly didn’t generate many wins.

Obviously, the inquiry into whether or not a pass can connect between Havlat and Desjardins was answered with an unequivocal “no.” But what about all those other adjustments? What about moving Pavelski to the wing? Pavelski is a perfectly capable winger, but moving him away from center punched a hole in one of the team’s most coveted qualities: daunting depth through center.

The decision to sit Tyler Kennedy for a game, then put him back in on the fourth line looked a lot like the path Havlat followed back to the second line. It’s all well and good to make a player watch a game to sort things out, then have him come back in with limited ice time.

Except it really isn’t well and good. Using the fourth line as a gateway back into the game can thoroughly handicap the fourth line if said player is not accustomed to fourth line duty. It’s hard enough for the energy line to do its job with limited ice time and the continuous changing of their membership.

When the rotation included McCarthy, Sheppard and Brown as wingers for Desjardins, at least it was just those four. They could get a feel for each other. Tossing Havlat and Kennedy in there didn’t do them any favors. They have to work fast and hard, they’re not a rehab service for top niners.

It wasn’t ideal for the top niners either. Martin Havlat, before Thursday’s game, was preparing to skate on a line with Couture and Marleau, the third line he’d played on in as many games. Despite playing all over the lineup, did Havlat think his game was becoming more consistent or not?

Not, but like you said, I’ve been all over the place. So we’ll see. I played with these guys half of the year last year at the end and it was great. So we’ll see how it is.

It went pretty well, better than other lines that night. It was the only line to score a goal and finish without a minus by their names. Tyler Kennedy was the only other skater without a minus.

Whether he sees it or not, Havlat’s game has been getting stronger. It may be taking longer than it would if he’d been left consistently with the same line-mates. While his game has suffered along with the team’s, he has at least maintained some defensive equilibrium. McLellan commented on that after the win in St. Louis last Tuesday:

When we look at Marty, I think since he’s been back in the lineup, he’s only been a minus player three nights. That’s pretty darn good. There’s not a lot of other guys that are in that situation. Would we like more offense from him? I think it’s coming.

Havlat isn’t the only player who might profit from a consistent line configuration. Kennedy did better than Havlat on the fourth line. He even got an assist in his second game there. Maybe all he needed was a little more time with his new linemates, a second game?

In Los Angeles, it looked like McLellan was ready to put the old bands back together, with Havlat and Marleau flanking Couture, and Pavelski back at center with Wingels and Sheppard. When Hertl went down, emergency changes had to be made, but otherwise the team was taking a familiar shape again.

Those lines did not win that game, but wins have been scarce for the kaleidoscope of line formations before and since. Those won three of eight games. Perhaps if McLellan gives the old lines a chance to find their footing again the team can reverse this losing trend.

Larry Leavitt on Pro Hockey: Bulls have to make most of this three game weekend

by Larry Leavitt

DALY CITY–The Colorado Eagles are a top three team in the East Coast Hockey League and they proved that on Friday night with a three goal win over the San Francisco Bulls 6-3 at the Cow Palace. They’re very fast and they’re a great skating club, they have great skaters. They look like an elite team. The Bulls played sloppy and if your going to play in this league you got to have your A game you got come out there with your best.

The Bulls didn’t really come out with their best unfortunately Bulls goaltender Tyler Beskorwany he had some quick goals put on him not all of them were quick passes. So if he’s moving from side to side in the net the other team just tapped it in. Multiple goals like that by the Eagles are practiced and obviously Colorado did very well. The Bulls tried to make their come back in the second period and scored a couple and then they scored one in the third. The Bulls cut it close and then unfortunately Colorado pulled away at the end, it was a decent showing at the end.

The goals that the Bulls scored were all really good goals they really worked the puck in there and on offense I was very impressed with the play in front of the Eagles net by the Bulls at the end of the game when they were shooting at that end. They were working the puck they were working the corners there was not a lot time and space the puck was bouncing pretty well. Bulls skaters Tyler Gron and Dale Mitchell looked pretty good carrying the puck and of course it was fortunate they looked real good.

The Bulls have to keep working at it and keep the grinding into it. They need to come out with a better start because playing with a three goal deficit is really tough to come out of it. Turning the page is what you have to do as a hockey team once the last horn sounds for a game and especially in the ECHL you have back to back games. In this case back to back to back. The Bulls played Friday and Saturday and finish up Sunday afternoon at the Cow Palace.

The only other league in sports where you play that many consecutive games without a day off is professional baseball.

San Jose Sharks update: The Los Angeles Kings played a very physical game and they won the Stanley Cup a few years ago and they still have a good number of those core players there and the Sharks are a good team and their getting good goaltending from this rookie who came in Alex Stalock.

Injured left winger Tomas Hertl checked with his father in the Czech Republic that he would be out for a week to a month and that was the night of the knee injury in Los Angeles on Thursday. When an injury happens it really takes a couple days for things to settle down to observe the full extent. I would expect this injury to Hertl to last a couple of months.

If the knee is torn or ripped he’ll be out awhile but if it’s just a bruise it might be three or four weeks and then you have to get into hockey shape of working out to get the game speed. As far as the hit by the Los Angeles Kings Dustin Brown on the knee on knee injury it’s amazing no matter who you ask that Brown should have been thrown out of that game.

Brown has done this multiple times to players and if this was a legal hit it’s unfortunate and it worked and the poor guy is getting blamed for something terrible. I’ve been skating for 40 years and if your making a left turn and your on your inside edge on your right foot you should be inward and and it was not on his inside edge and his knee wasn’t inward which tells me that he was trying to go right at Hertl.

Larry Leavitt does Pro Hockey commentary each week for Sportstalk Radio

Sharks Lose to Kings 4-1, Hertl Injured

By Mary Walsh

LOS ANGELES- It appears that the Visitor’s Curse still haunts the San Jose Sharks at Staples Center. The mischievous spirit might even be getting more violent. Thursday night, the Sharks lost to the Kings by a score of 4-1. They also lost star forward and rookie Tomas Hertl to a knee-on-knee hit from LA’s Dustin Brown. How long the team will be without Hertl is not yet clear.

The fact that the Kings won was not at all out of the ordinary for these teams, the home team has won going back 15 games now. What was unusual was the score: 4-1. It has been some time since a game between these two ended with such a lopsided result. Patrick Marleau, playing his 1200th NHL game, scored the only Sharks goal.

McLellan made a couple of lineup changes for Thursday’s game, including moving Martin Havlat to the second line with Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau. He put Scott Hannan back in, paired with Brad Stuart. He also put Tyler Kennedy in, on the fourth line with Mike Brown and Andrew Desjardins.

The first penalty of the game went to the Kings at 3:25, to Drew Doughty for holding. The Sharks had several good chances, a couple that looked like dead certainties (one for Couture, another for Irwin) but they missed. The Kings had a good short-handed chance late in the penalty but Niemi gloved it.

The Sharks lost a lot of races to the Kings in the first period. Dump-ins were about as effective as turnovers. As a result, the Sharks were outshot through most of the period, though by the end of it they were only behind 13-11.

With a minute left in the period, the Kings’ Dustin Brown collided with Tomas Hertl just inside the Sharks’ zone. The knee-on-knee hit earned him a five minute major. Hertl left the ice hobbling. During the ensuing delayed penalty, Brent Burns earned a penalty for interference. The teams finished the period playing 4-on-4. James Sheppard was tapped to fill in for Tomas Hertl on the Thornton line.

The second period started with the teams still at 4-on-4, and when Burns’ penalty expired the Sharks still had over 2:30 left on the man advantage. The Sharks finally found a way to sustain pressure, but two good chances in close and an Irwin shot off the post were all the Sharks had to show for the power play.

The Kings’ goaltender Martin Jones was very good, but the Sharks were unable to take advantage of the second chances they did create. As McLellan said before the game, how well Jones has played was not the Sharks’ biggest challenge:

I think for our group it’s more about preparing to face six players rather than one goaltender. The five others that are on the ice do a tremendous job for them defensively and they position themselves well around the net, it allows the goaltender to feel comfortable and make a lot of saves. They’ve been successful playing that way. It’s not just the guy wearing the pads, it’s the other five that you’ve got to beat as well.

The first goal of the game came at 5:26 of the second, scored from above the left circle by the Kings’ Alec Martinez, with an assist to Tyler Toffoli. The goal came from a shot made possible when the Sharks failed to clear the puck or control it despite several tries. At least three, maybe four Sharks touched it in the defensive zone before Martinez got it.

Joe Thornton was called for holding against Anze Kopitar at 9:03. Despite starting in their own zone, the Sharks’ penalty killers (including Mike Brown now) cleared the puck five times and even got a couple of short-handed shots off. As soon as the power play expired, however, Slava Voynov made a clean pass from the Kings’ zone, right onto Tyler Toffoli’s stick at the Sharks’ blue line. He skated in and put a shot in the far corner to give the Kings a 2-0 lead.

An impressive series of saves by Martin Jones was punctuated by three inexplicably failed shots from Sharks Joe Pavelski and Tommy Wingels. Wingels even tried from both sides of the net, and he almost poked it in behind Jones but the rookie goaltender twisted around and stopped it with his glove.

During the second period, the teams were even in shots at ten, with total shots being 23-20 for the Kings. Of course, the 2-0 score was more significant, especially since the Kings had not lost when leading after the second since March 30.

Instead of challenging that pattern, the Sharks gave up another goal 36 seconds into the third period. Jeff Carter was given far too much time in the Sharks’ zone, and an ill-advised slide to block a shot left Niemi alone with one of the better shots in the league. Assists went to Dwight King and Robyn Regehr.

The Sharks drew another penalty when Jake Muzzin pushed Martin Havlat into the boards from behind. From camera distance, Havlat didn’t appear injured but he was certainly shoved from behind. He was out playing a shift later on the second power play unit.

The Kings killed the penalty off, and then they scored again. This time it was Dwight King’s goal, with the assists going to Carter and Regehr.

The Sharks got another chance on the power play when Mike Richards went to the box for high-sticking at 6:37. As soon as the penalty expired, the Kings went the other way 3 on 2, but didn’t score.

With just over two minutes left in the game, San Jose’s second line made it in to the Kings’ zone and Marleau scored his 16th of the season. A lone assist went to Martin Havlat.

The final shot count was preposterously even at 32 for each team. The Sharks’ power play went 0-4, their penalty kill was 1-0.

The Sharks play their next game at home on Saturday against the Dallas Stars. Puck drop at 7:30 pm.

Big win for the Sharks in St. Louis

by Jerry Feitelberg

Big Win for the Sharks in St.Louis

The San Jose Sharks skated to a big win in St.Louis Tuesday night. The Sharks have had a rough stretch so far in December having won just two of seven games this month. The Sharks controlled the first period but St. Louis came back and had the momentum on their side late in the second period.

The Sharks knew that St.Louis played tougher in the third period but they played well and were able to score a goal to put them ahead 4-2 and they shut the Blues down the rest of the way. Final score 4-2

in favor of San Jose. The scoring summary follows below.

The Sharks played the final game of the regular season against the St.Louis Blues. The Blues have lost just six times prior to the game today in St. Louis but two of those losses were to the Sharks.

Jaroslav Halal in goal for the Blues while Antti Niemi tended the nets for the Sharks.

Joe Pavelski started the scoring when he put the puck in the net on a rebound with 10:22 left to play in the period. For Pavelski it was his13th goal of the year. Martin Havlat got the only assist on the play. The Sharks took a 2-0 lead when Matt Irwin scored on a rebound with 7:26 left. It was Irwin’s first goal of the year. Braun and Marleau assisted on the play. Irwin drove the net and was in position to bang in the rebound. The Sharks out shot the Blues 10-4 in the period.

Thee Sharks took a 3-0 lead with just two minutes played in the second period. Brent Burns scored his ninth goal of the year. Joe Thornton got the primary assist on the play. It was Joe Thornton’s 700th point as a Shark. Tomas Hertl got the second assist on the play. The Blues scored with 4:29 left. The Sharks

turned the puck over in their end and Kevin Shattenkirk capitalized and scored his fourth goal of the year to make it a 3-1 game. The Blues scored again with just 24 seconds left in the period. Both teams had a man in the penalty box and it was four on four when the goal was scored. The second period belonged to the Blues. 3-2 in favor of the Sharks after two periods of play.

The Sharks came back in the third period to take a 4-2 lead. Martin Havlat scored his third goal of the year with help from Justin Braun and Patrick Marleau. The score came at the 8:19 mark of the period.

The Blues tried to come back but the Sharks would not let them score. The Blues had a man advantage

with 2:01 left. It was six on four but the Sharks held them off for the win.

Final score Sharks win 4-2.

Notes- The Sharks have won all three games played against the Blues this year. They will not play again unless they meet in the playoff. The win was the 21st of the year. Their record for the year is 21-7-6 for a total of 48 points. After the game, Coach Todd McLellan said “ a win’s a win. I haven’t seen anybody play a perfect game this year no matter how many we watch. We did let the momentum get away on us,but we needed to take advantage of a team that was tired and beat up. And we did that.”

The Sharks finish the three game road trip Thursday in Los Angeles.