Sharks, Jones, Shut Out Wild 2-0; Sharks win four out of last five

photo from

By Mary Walsh

The San Jose Sharks shut out the Minnesota Wild 2-0 Saturday at Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul. It was Martin Jones’ first shut-out of the season. He made 39 saves in the win, with goals from Dylan Gambrell and Melker Karlson. Alex Stalock made 19 saves on 20 shots in the loss.

After the game, Sharks interim head coach Bob Boughner said:

I think you have to give credit to the players. Facing the injuries that we were facing, and, I think, a little bit of adversity, and Jonesy coming in there and doing the job. I know they wanted to play hard for him. I thought we really defended well. You know, we gave up 39 shots and they threw a lot at us but I thought we played hard and I thought Jonesy made the saves that he had to.

Asked about Dylan Gambrell’s goal, he said: “That whole line, the True line, I think they did their job. I had to put Dylan out there as a right-hand shot on a couple of key face-offs against some really good players and he did a really good job. And they chipped in with a goal 5-on-5 and that always helps, if you’re getting some depth scoring. And a lot of our skill is out and guys like that have to step up.”

The Sharks went into Saturday’s game in Minnesota down two more players as well as Tomas Hertl and Logan Couture. Evander Kane received a three-game suspension for an elbow in Friday’s game against the Jets. Kane’s comments on the NHL’s decision can be found on Twitter. The NHL may have a public response to those comments but they have not made one yet.

Erik Karlsson injured his hand in the same game and the team declared the defenseman out for the rest of the season. The Sharks filled out the roster with Antti Suomela and Tim Heed, who have both played with the Sharks this season. Heed last played on January 16 and Suomela played on February 1.

The Wild out-shot the Sharks in the first period 10-8, though the Sharks had two plus power plays, including a two man advantage for 1:52. They had four shots in those combined power plays. The Sharks also had to kill one penalty, allowing one shot to Minnesota’s top-ranked power play. The Sharks did very well in the face-off circle, winning 74% of them.

The shot disparity continued in the second period, with the count at 14-6 Wild. There was a single penalty in the second, an illegal stick penalty to Kevin Labanc. Labanc lost his stick in a collision along the boards and Timo Meier pushed it back to him with his own stick. The move by Meier made it illegal for Labanc to use that stick. the Wild got credit for one shot on that power play.

The face-off contest went to Minnesota in the second, with the Wild winning 67% of them.

The Sharks scored at 3:08 of the third when Brent Burns’ shot went off of Dylan Gambrell in front of the net. It was Gambrell’s third of the year with Burns and Antti Suomela getting the assists.

The Sharks had one more penalty to kill in the third, and again they allowed just one shot on goal.

The Wild pulled Stalock from the net for the extra skater with 1:36 to go in the third. Melker Karlsson and Patrick Marleau had shots at the empty net but the Wild defense was there to prevent those goals. Karlsson and Barclay Goodrow had another chance, this time as a two-man breakaway. Goodrow gave the puck to Karlsson for the shot and Karlsson took it. Goodrow got the assist.

The third period face-off battle went to the Wild as they won 62% of them. The shot count was also in their favor 15-7. The lion’s share of the Sharks face-offs were taken by Joe Thornton (won 13 of 19) and Barclay Goodrow (won 9 of 22).

The Sharks will next play on Monday in San Jose against the Florida Panthers at 1:00 PM PT.

Sharks Come Back to Pick Up Point, Lose to Wild in OT 4-3

Minnesota Wild’s Nino Niederreiter, left, celebrates his game-winning goal with teammate Eric Staal during overtime of an NHL hockey game against the San Jose Sharks Sunday, Dec. 10, 2017, in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

by M. Walsh

SAN JOSE — The San Jose Sharks fell in overtime to the Minnesota Wild 4-3 at SAP Center on Sunday night. The point was hard won as the Sharks had to come back from a three goal deficit. Eric Staal scored twice for Minnesota, Ryan Murphy added another goal and Nino Niederreiter notched the overtime winner. Brent Burns and Tomas Hertl scored two goals for the Sharks. San Jose goaltender Martin Jones made 20 saves on 24 shots, while Minnesota goaltender Alex Stalock made 31 saves for the win.

After the game, Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer said:

It was a gutsy effort by us. It was our sixth game I think in ten nights, including traveling back from the East last week. Back to back, against a team that was rested and waiting for us. I knew we would probably start slow, we didn’t expect to be down three but I thought it was a gutsy effort to get some points tonight.

Three times in the past four days, the Sharks fell behind by three goals and came back to tie the game. In Sunday’s game, there was no back and forth in the score. It was all Wild, then all Sharks.  DeBoer was asked why the Sharks tend to score in bunches after falling behind by two or more goals:

We have a resilient group, a confident group. In all those situations, we’ve shortened the bench and we have our top players are top players. And when they get that extra ice time and the ability to play without worrying about the score, thy have the ability to create some offense and put a lot of pressure on the other team. Unfortunately though you can’t ride those guys 25 minutes a night. So we’ve got to stop putting ourselves in those holes and for me, get a little but more out of the depth of the lineup.

The Sharks gave up two goals early in the first period. The first was a power play goal from Ryan Murphy at 4:19 with assists to Jason Zucker and Eric Staal. Murphy scored after a beautiful two pass sequence starting at the blue line, then going to the goal line and back up to the far side of the net. The execution was perfect, but the Sharks probably should have gotten in the way of one of those passes.

The second goal came at 10:27 from Eric Staal with assists to Ryan Suter and Mikael Granlund. A key factor was a bump to Brent Burns near the blue paint from Staal. He pushed Burns into Jones and the two Sharks both went down. Staal retrieved the puck and took the shot before Jones could get back in position.

The third Minnesota goal was a wraparound from Staal. Staal jammed the puck between Jones’ skate and the post. The NHL reviewed the play and confirmed it. DeBoer followed up with a challenge for goaltender interference, but it was rejected. Assists went to  Murphy and Granlund.

The Sharks got a surprising opportunity during a penalty kill with less than three minutes left in the second period as Dylan DeMelo was in the box when Eric Staal and Ryan Murphy went to the box at the same time. Murphy’s penalty was delayed and Staal’s holding penalty came during the delay. With just six or seven seconds left in the five-on-three portion of the power play, Burns took a shot from the faceoff circle and scored. Assists went to Joe Thornton and Tomas Hertl.

Two minutes into the third period, Gustav Olofsson went to the box for tripping. Forty seconds into the penalty, Burns took a shot from the center of the blue line and beat Al Stalock over the left shoulder. The lone assist went to Joe Pavelski.

The Sharks tied the game after a series of three astonishing attacks on the Minnesota net. Tim Heed took a shot that Stalock stopped, but he dropped the puck and it was in play again–with the Sharks swarming. Finally, Hertl’s shot found its mark. Assists went to Kevin Labanc and Dylan DeMelo.

At the end of regulation, the shot count was 33-22 Sharks, with the third period count 14-7 in favor of the Sharks.

Overtime started with some energy from the Sharks, but in the second minute it fell into a lull with the Wild, circling the Sharks in the Sharks’ zone. After what seemed an interminable period, the Sharks finally broke out, but they had barely been able to change when Niederrieter broke in and took a shot for the win.

The Sharks next play on Thursday in Calgary against the Flames at 6:00 pm PT.

Sharks Acquire James Reimer and Jeremy Morin

By Mary Walsh

photo credit: goaltender James Reimer dealt from the Toronto Maple Leafs to the San Jose Sharks will not be joining the team on Sunday night in Vancouver

The San Jose Sharks have acquired goaltender James Reimer and forward Jeremy Morin from the Toronto Maple Leafs, in exchange for goaltender Alex Stalock, forward Ben Smith, and a conditional fourth round pick in the 2018 NHL draft. The move is a good one for San Jose. It adds depth up front and experience in net that the team needed, in exchange for players who were not getting much ice time with the Sharks.

From today’s press release:

“James is an experienced NHL goaltender who will help add to our depth at that position as we head down the stretch run of the season,” said Wilson. Jeremy gives our group another versatile forward and a player that our coaching staff is familiar with.  We’re excited to add them both to our organization.”

Reimer, 27, has played in 207 NHL games with Toronto, posting a .913 save percentage and 2.83 GAA. He has 11 shutouts and played in seven playoff games in 2013.

Morin, 24, has played this season with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies, and previously played 82 NHL games with the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Chicago Blackhawks. He was drafted by the Atlanta Thrashers in 2009 and played under Sharks assistant coach Steve Spott with the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL.

Goaltender Al Stalock played in 62 games for the Sharks and posted a .911 save percentage and a 2.37 GAA for a record of 24-19-7.  Ben Smith was acquired last Spring from the Chicago Blackhawks and scored two goals and three assists in 25 games. Of the departing players, the press release said:

“Alex and Ben have both been important members of our team on the ice but even more importantly, they are both tremendous teammates and first-class individuals,” said Wilson. “They will be missed and we want to thank them for everything they have  given to the San Jose Sharks organization and our fans.”

Barracuda Shoot Down Stars 5-1

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE-The San Jose Barracuda defeated the visiting Texas Stars by a score of 5-1 Sunday. The game featured Nikolay Goldobin’s first AHL hat trick, and a fine performance from goaltender Al Stalock. Stalock made 21 saves on 22 shots. Jeremy Langlois and Ryan Carpenter each scored a goal, and Gus Young had three assists.

Both teams had played the night before, the Barracuda in Bakersfield and the Stars in Stockton. Even the recent arrivals, Stalock and Tierney, played Saturday with the Sharks. The Barracuda won their Saturday game 5-4 in a shootout. The Stars lost theirs 7-6, also in a shootout. Both teams had reason to be a little weary Sunday, but it did not show. Sunday’s game was fast and entertaining.

The first penalty of the game went to the Barracuda’s Jesse Mycham. The Barracuda killed it off with alacrity.

8:40 into the game, Nikolay Goldobin scored to put the Barracuda up by one. Chris Tierney sent the puck up from behind the goal line, where Goldobin’s arrival was well-timed. With a quick lift, he put the puck over the Texas goaltender’s glove. Assists went to Tierney and Gus Young.

The Barracuda set the pace for the rest of the period. Several shots on net went right into Deslauriers’ clutches, as the Barracuda did not have enough traffic in front of the Texas goaltender.

With just 2:25 left in the first, the Stars caught San Jose off guard and tied the game. Stalock caught Dickinson’s wrap-around shot with his pads but only by diving across the crease. The puck went under him, changed direction somewhere underneath the goalie, and trickled across the goal line. An assist went to Greg Rallo.

San Jose’s Jeremy Langlois took the lead back when he caught a long pass near the faceoff dot in the Stars’ zone, deked his way around Brennan Evans and then beat the goaltender with a backhand from in close. Assists went to Goldobin and Young.

The Stars took a penalty early in the second period, and Brendan Ranford went to the box for delay of game. The Barracuda power play had some good looks but their best chances were for tip-ins that did not work.

As the penalty ended, the Stars went the other way immediately, then got pushed back, only to get a breakaway chance, followed by more o-zone time. The Barracuda were very much on their heels but Stalock kept the puck out.

As the game reached its midpoint, San Jose pulled themselves together. At 10:35, Tierney beat a Texas defender near the faceoff circle and got a pass to Goldobin for a shot. Desrosiers stopped the first shot but Goldobin picked up his rebound and put it around the goaltender to give the Barracuda a 3-1 lead.

The Stars took another penalty, this time to Travis Morin for tripping. San Jose’s power play was less dangerous-looking than it had been, but it was not a liability. After the penalty expired, the Barracuda continued to keep Texas at bay, limiting their shots mostly to the outside and getting the puck out quickly.

By the end of the second period, the score was 3-1 Barracuda, the shot count was 17-14 Barracuda.

San Jose jumped right back in to start the third period. They skated in three on two to extend the lead. Ryan Carpenter carried the puck to the hash marks and passed it to Barclay Goodrow. Goodrow’s shot came back out for Carpenter to pick up and put in the net. Assists went to Goodrow and Trevor Parkes.

A few minutes later, Goldobin escaped the neutral zone and darted unfettered to the Texas net where he wrapped the puck around the goalie and in goal for a hat trick. The goal was unassisted.

The Texas team had a power play opportunity at 9:49 when Alex Gallant went to the box for interference. It was a much better power play than their first and they held the zone relentlessly. They still failed to gain any ground on the four goal deficit.

Final score: 5-1 San Jose. The win puts the Barracuda in the playoff picture for the moment. They are in third place out of seven teams in the Pacific Division.

The Barracuda next play on Wednesday against the Stockton Heat.


There was plenty of roster activity from the Sharks on Sunday. As the Sharks started a four day break in their schedule, they sent forward Chris Tierney and goaltender Alex Stalock to play with the Barracuda. Matt Tennyson was sent down a couple of days earlier, and officially Stalock’s and Tennyson’s assignments are for “conditioning” purposes. This limits the stay to 14 days. Historically, these assignments were used to bring players back from injury, but there is no strict language in the rules saying that a conditioning assignment cannot be used to keep a player tuned up when he is not playing much with the NHL club. It is likely that both Tennyson and Stalock will be back with the Sharks soon.

Lightning Strike Early And Often, Beat Sharks 4-3

By Mary Walsh

photo credit: AP of Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov skates as he scored twice aginast San Jose Saturday night

SAN JOSE: The San Jose Sharks finally scored a power play goal at home. They scored three, but lost 4-3 to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday. Tampa Bay’s 20th place penalty kill probably jumped up a couple of ranking spots after killing seven penalties on Saturday night. Or maybe not, since they also gave up three power play goals. The first one was to Matt Tennyson, who broke the cursed power play scoring drought for the Sharks. The second went to Joel Ward, and the third to Brent Burns.

Al Stalock made 16 saves on 20 shots for the Sharks, while Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop made 24 saves on 26 shots before leaving the game with an injury. His replacement, Andrei Vasilevskiy made seven saves on eight shots. Tampa Bay goals were scored by Eric Condra, Nikita Kucherov (two) and Brian Boyle. There were some bright spots in the Sharks’ game, but not enough.

Tampa Bay wasted no time getting the scoring started. Just 2:19 into the game, Nikita Kucherov was able to skate through the slot, avoiding one Sharks defender and using the other as a screen, to put a shot right under Stalock. An assist went to defenseman Victor Hedman.

Near the halfway mark, Joe Pavelski was called for high sticking. Really, the infraction occurred as much as a minute before the time of the penalty, as Tampa Bay tried to make something of the delayed call, skating at length with their net empty. Despite their efforts, they were unable to launch an attack until the power play was under way. Even then, they only recorded one shot with the man advantage.

It was not until after that power play expired that the Lightning struck again, this time with a pass from the wall, near or below the goal line, that seemed to bounce off of a well-placed stick in front of the blue paint. The goal went to Eric Condra, with assists to Andrej Sustr and J.T. Brown.

The Sharks drew a hooking call with 3:27 left in the period. Brian Boyle was the culprit. The Sharks had some difficulty getting their power play in order, and Tampa Bay’s penalty killers were aggressive.

Karlsson, Donskoi, Hertl, Braun and Martin took the ice with less than 30 seconds left in the penalty. The first power play unit was made up of Thornton, Pavelski, Ward, Marleau and Burns. The power play expired and the Sharks went into the first intermission down by 2-0. The Sharks were also trailing on the shot clock, with just four to Tampa Bay’s six.

The Lightning took another penalty, this time for too many men on the ice, but Tommy Wingels was called bout 30 seconds later for goaltender interference.

During the four on four time that followed, the Sharks kept the Lightning hemmed in their zone, and put a few shots on net to boot.

Around the seven minute mark of the second, the Lightning overwhelmed the Sharks’ fourth line of Chris Tierney, Dainius Zubrus and Mike Brown. The Lightning did not score, but the Sharks were trapped in their zone for too long.

The Sharks had another try on the power play at 9:20, when Braydon Coburn was called for holding. Tommy Wingels drew that call. The Sharks recorded a few shots during the power play but did not get anything past Bishop.

At 12:55, the Sharks seemed to have scored after a wild scramble, but the goal was called off as the referee lost sight of the puck and blew the whistle before the puck crossed the line.

That was followed by a holding call to Andrej Sustr, and again the bulk of the power play time was given to the top unit. They could not do anything with that time, but the second unit, if indeed that is what they are, did score. Matt Tennyson’s shot from near the point got by Bishop, with assists to Justin Braun and Tomas Hertl. The other skaters on the ice were Donskoi and Karlsson.

With just over five minutes left, Chris Tierney went to the box for tripping. The Sharks were doing a great job killing the penalty, often stopping the Lightning at the blue line. Half way through, Joel Ward was called for tripping as well, putting the Sharks down by two men for 50 seconds. The Sharks held them off for 30 of those seconds but Steven Stamkos and Kucherov took advantage of the Sharks being a little too far from their goal and found a 2 on 1 chance. A late pass from Stamkos set Kucherov up perfectly. He picked a corner over Stalock’s shoulder and gave Tampa Bay a 3-1 lead.

At the end of the second, the shots were 18-14 Sharks, the score 3-1 Lightning.

The Sharks’ belaguered power play had another shot 40 seconds into the third period, when Tomas Hertl drew a tripping call on Anton Stralman. Donskoi, Hertl and Karlsson started this one, but had no luck. The Ward-Marleau-Thornton unit came out for the second minute of the power play. No joy there either.

DeBoer put the third line out after the power play expired, with Wingels, Hertl and Nieto. They started well but Brian Boyle broke away with Brown in a two on one. Stalock stopped Brown’s shot but lost track of the puck. As it sat there behind his skate, Boyle tapped it in.

Jason Garrison went to the box next, 5:42 in, for interference. That power play started with a two on one chance for Tampa Bay. Burns and Stalock stopped them from scoring but the Sharks never gained any traction.

Victor Hedman went to the box at 8:13 for cross-checking Chris Tierney. Thirteen seconds into the power play, Brent Burns’ shot went off Joel Ward and by Bishop. Marleau was acting as a screen, and Bishop claimed there was some interference but the goal stood up after a review. Assists went to Brent Burns and Joe Pavelski.

With 11:10 left in regulation, Ben Bishop took a stick through the mask and left the game, being replaced by Andrei Vasilevskiy.

With the penalty count becoming ridiculous, Tampa Bay’s Alex Killorn went to the box for boarding Brenden Dillon.

Brent Burns was clearly on a tear as he took control of the power play, caught a puck at the point, skated backwards around the Lightning zone to pick his spot, and shot it over Vasilevskiy’s shoulder from the faceoff circle.

The Sharks had a couple fo chances after that but even with an empty net they could not truly control play in the offensive zone and no more goals were scored.

The Sharks next play on Tuesday at 6:00 PT, a road game against Calgary.

Six Win Road Trip First In Sharks History

By Mary Walsh

The San Jose Sharks ended a perfect six-win road trip on Sunday, with a 5-3 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets. It was the first time the Sharks swept a road trip longer than four games, and the first time they won six games on a single trip.

Al Stalock got his first start since November 10, making 28 saves on 31 shots. Sharks goals came from Patrick Marleau, Brent Burns, Brenden Dillon, and two from Joe Pavelski. It was Brenden Dillon’s first goal of the season and the game winner. After missing Saturday’s game for a personal matter, Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer was back behind the bench in time for the game.

After the game, Sharks captain Joe Pavelski said the team did not set out on this trip thinking of a win streak:

We didn’t talk about it. We talked about one day at a time. You look back now, it’s just a long time from then. Six in a row. You know, it’s good but it’s… we need that. It’s what we expect. We expect to win on a nightly basis and give ourselves that opportunity. Once we’re here it’s “take the good from it and now we gotta translate it back home.”

The Sharks started the game well, out shooting the Blue Jackets 10-5 in the first period. Each team had a power play in the first but the only goal scored came at even strength from Patrick Marleau. Joonas Donskoi took a shot that resulted in a small rebound. Marleau was in front of the blue paint, where he could tap the puck under Sergei Bobrovsky and into the net. Donskoi and Ward got the assists.

Micheal Haley and Mike Brown both fought in the first period, within four seconds of each other, against Dalton Prout and Gregory Campbell respectively.

The Blue Jackets pushed back early in the second period, out shooting the Sharks 7-1 in the first five minutes. Their efforts paid off when Ryan Johansen, surrounded by Sharks in front of the net, poked the puck between his feet and through Stalock. Assists went to Kerby Reichert and Josh Anderson.

Seconds later, the home team took the lead with a goal from Boone Jenner. An odd-man rush drew Stalock to the left, and a cross-ice pass left an open net for Jenner to shoot at. Assists went to William Karlsson and Brandon Saad.

The Sharks’ struggles continued through the first half of the period, until they got some respite from a power play. Joe Pavelski took a stick to the face from Rene Bourque at 8:57. The power play was short-lived as Brent Burns was called for interference just a minute in. Half a minute later, Justin Braun was called for holding.

The Sharks survived the brief four on three and the five on three that followed. Some seconds of five on four followed but the Sharks weathered it.

The Sharks got another chance on the power play at when Dalton Prout was called for cross-checking Mike Brown. The Sharks did not score but it was still an improvement over the previous attempt. By the end of the second, Columbus had the 2-1 lead on the scoreboard, and a 19-7 lead in shots for the period.

Late in the period, Tommy Wingels went to the dressing room. He had blocked a couple of shots earlier and seemed to be suffering the effects. He was back on the bench for the third period.

The Blue Jackets put the puck in the net at 2:23 of the third. DeBoer challenged the goal, as Scott Hartnett was standing in the blue paint for some time before the goal, impairing Stalock’s ability to move freely. Donskoi was blocking Hartnell’s exit, if he wanted to make one. The challenge came up empty, giving the Blue Jackets a 3-1 lead. The goal was Cam Atkinson’s, with assists to Nick Foligno and Hartnell.

The Sharks cut the lead to one goal, with a Justin Braun shot from the blue line, deflected in by Joe Pavelski at 6:13. The assists went to Braun and Marc-Edouard Vlasic.

The Sharks then tied it up with a power play goal. Joel Ward was at the point and gave every indication he was looking for a shot. Brent Burns was lurking in the circle on the other side of the ice. Ward sent a quick pass through the penalty killers to Burns, who knocked it in before Bobrovsky could get across.

1:50 later, San Jose’s Chris Tierney won an offensive zone draw and Brenden Dillon caught the puck on its way to the blue line. He took a shot that Bobrovsky probably could not see, as Tierney was screening him as he made his way to the net.

The Blue Jackets pulled Bobrovsky with less than two minutes left. Seconds later, Pavelski stole the puck from Boone Jenner in the offensive zone and scored into the empty net.

Scott Hartnell picked up a misconduct in the final minutes, putting the Sharks on a power play for the final 1:16 of the game.

The final shot count was 31-29 Columbus, the final score 5-3 Sharks.

The Sharks next play on Wednesday at home against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Sharks Pounce on Panthers for 5-2 Win

By Mary Walsh

AP photo SJ Sharks Joonas Donskoi (27) scoring against Florida Panthers

SAN JOSE- The Sharks defeated the Florida Panthers 5-2 on Thursday. It was a great response to a very disappointing loss two days earlier against the Columbus Blue Jackets. It was also a noteworthy game for some other reasons. Joonas Donskoi scored a goal in his first game against the team that drafted him, and earned the first star of the game. It was Sharks defenseman Justin Braun’s 300th game. It was goaltender Al Stalock’s first home start of the season, and rookie forward Nikolay Goldobin earned his first NHL assist.

Al Stalock’s first home start began with a flurry of red and white. The Panthers began the period with a relentless attack that lasted several minutes. Less than 3 minutes in and recent Sharks call up Micheal Haley fought Shawn Thornton. This may have been a response to the Sharks being mostly trapped in their own zone for the span before that.

The Sharks finally did push play into the other end. After a few forays, the Sharks got serious. Brent Burns made a behind the back pass across the crease, and the puck was thrown at the net repeatedly by Joe Thornton, Joonas Donskoi and Burns too. They kept Florida goaltender Al Montoya jumping. The crowd was still exclaiming disappointment that none of those shots went in when Brent Burns took another shot and did score.

The second goal was scored by Joonas Donskoi, with assists to Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton. The puck only crossed the line after several bodies piled up in the blue paint, mostly Panthers. One Panther even launched himself over the paint into the net, as if to prevent a goal. But Donskoi just fell after him and knocked the puck in anyway. The goal stood up after a review.

The third goal was scored by the Panthers. After mostly winning a faceoff in the Sharks’ zone, Vincent Trocheck chased the puck to the crease and shot it past Stalock, who was a little too far from the net to get back in time.

Near the end of the first period, coach DeBoer started mixing up his defensive pairs. Vlasic skated with Burns, while Martin was on the ice with Dillon and then Braun was out there with Dillon. The defenseman shuffle did not carry over to the second period. Whatever occured to keep Matt Tennyson off the ice in those later minutes of the first, he was back with Dillon when their shift came in the second.

The second period again started with a strong push from the Panthers, but it did not take the Sharks long to push back.

At 3:48, Patrick Marleau skated in with the puck, going around a defenseman and cutting back across the crease. He had to make a hard turn to get back from the goal line and to the front of the blue paint. The maneuver looked unlikely to succeed. Maybe the goaltender thought so too, because he was not ready for Marleau put the puck in the far side of the net. Assists went to Joel Ward and Tomas Hertl.

The first penalty was called at 10:47 of the secod, a slashing call to Florida’s Dmitri Kulikov. The Sharks could not do anything with that. The next penalty came at 13:26, this time to Donskoi for interference on Jaromir Jagr. The Panthers did make something of their power play and with a minute and 20 seconds remaining in the penalty, they won a faceoff, made a quick cross-ice pass and Brandon Pirri sent it in from well above the circles. Assists went to Brian Campbell and Jussi Jokinen.

That seemed to galvanize the Sharks and a hush fell over the Tank for several shifts. Joe Thornton took an especially long shift and finally found himself in the zone with his linemates. A pass across the slot from Thornton to Donskoi resulted in a fine-looking goal. Unfortunately, Florida coach Gerard Gallant challenged the play as offside. The goal was overturned after the review.

In a three on one with trailing Panthers, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Justin Braun and Nikolay Goldobin descended on Montoya. A fine pass from Goldobin to Vlasic set up Vlasic’s first goal of the season. It was also Goldobin’s first NHL assist.

At the end of the second, the shots were tied at 22.

1:33 into the third, Tommy Wingels was called for roughing. The Sharks penalty kill was very efficient, limiting the Panthers to one and done attacks. As soon as Wingels was released, the Sharks went the other way and got set up for a couple of emphatic shots.

At 3:56, Florida defenseman Aaron Ekblad went to the box for hooking. The Sharks had some trouble getting set up and even had to go back to their own zone when a pass went awry and came up icing. When they finally did get set up, they only got a couple of shots on net before the Panthers pushed them back out.

At 12:20, Dillon went to the box for tripping Garrett Wilson. The Panthers did not get a shot on net during the power play, and the Sharks went right to the attack at the end of the penalty. Play was in the Panthers’ zone when the next whistle blew.

The Panthers pulled their goalie with a couple of minutes left. With just over a minute left in the game, Chris Tierney scored an empty-net goal. Assists went to Joe Thornton and Brent Burns.

Final score 5-2, San Jose.

Apart from the score, the game was very close in many regards. The shot count was 33-32 Florida, with the teams being tied at 11 each in each of the first and second periods. The Panthers outhit the Sharks 25-17, and won just one fewer faceoffs, with the Sharks leading 28-27. The Sharks blocked a few more shots, with 18 to Florida’s 13. With all of that counted and calculated, it is safe to say that Al Stalock had a better game than Al Montoya did.

The Sharks next play on Saturday at 7:30 when they host the visiting Anaheim Ducks. The San Jose Barracuda will also play at 1:00 pm for the season’s first double header at SAP.

Sharks Lose 6-3 To Islanders

By Mary Walsh

The San Jose Sharks recorded their first loss of the 2015-16 season Saturday. The New York Islanders won 6-3, with goals from six different Islanders. Sharks rookie Nikolay Goldobin scored his first NHL goal and Joel Ward scored his first as a Shark.

In addition to having played the night before, the Sharks suffered a handful of injuries before and during Saturday’s game. Both factors probably contributed to a somewhat disjointed game from San Jose. After the game, Joe Pavelski said:

That’s the way the game goes sometimes. Definitely, I think there were times where we played our game the way we wanted to play and we were pretty tight and we did well. And then we opened it up too at times and got a little careless. A few bounces maybe didn’t go our way as well. If you’re playing a team like that, you can’t give them any space because they are so offensive and it just takes a little bounce for them to break it open and start feeling good.

Just before the game, news broke that Sharks defenseman Paul Martin was out with a lower body injury. The injury occurred during Friday’s game but Martin did finish that one. Depending on the length of his recovery time, this could be even worse news than Logan Couture’s absence. Martin was playing like the guy the Sharks hoped he would be when they signed him. Good matches for Brent Burns have not been easy to find.

To start the game, DeBoer opted to put Brenden Dillon with Burns, and pair Dylan DeMelo with Matt Tennyson. Goaltender Al Stalock made his first start of the season under some inauspicious circumstances. With Joonas Donskoi also still out, DeBoer decided to start Nikolay Goldobin on the top line again, with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski.

Islanders goaltender Jaroslav Halak was back from injury, playing his first game of the season. This mean that the Sharks barely missed facing an old teammate in goaltender Thomas Greiss, who is now backup for Halak.

Tomas Hertl took the first penalty of the game 3:16 in. He was called for hooking. Half way through the penalty, the Islanders were called for too many men on the ice. Jon Tavares served the penalty. Both penalties expired without a goal.

The Sharks had a good shift or two around the middle of the period, with the top forward line and the Burns-Dillon pair hemming the Islanders in their own zone for a bit.

At 6:56, the Sharks won a faceoff and this allowed Thornton to make a cross-ice pass to Braun, who shot it from the point. The puck went in but Joe Pavelski weas at the net and close enough to Halak to make Islanders head coach Jack Capuano challenge the goal. The challenge was overruled and the goal stood up. The goal went to Pavelski, with assists to Braun and Thornton.

With 2:13 left in the period, Mikhail Grabovski was awarded a penalty shot after he blew by Brenden Dillon and forced Dillon to trip him up to prevent a scoring chance. Al Stalock stopped the penalty shot and the Sharks carried on with their 1-0 lead.

At the end of the period, the shots were even at 10 each.

That changed quickly, as did the score, in a wild second period. Just 21 seconds in, Johnny Boychuk scored with a slapshot after Tavares won the faceoff. Anders Lee helped by screening Stalock. The lone assist went to Tavares.

The Sharks got it back right quick. The Sharks took control of the play in their defensive zone, and the top line was able to carry to puck up ice. Justin Braun disrupted the Islanders defense while Thornton made a perfectly timed pass across to Goldobin on the left wing. Goldobin was right where he needed to be to score his first NHL goal. Assists went to Thornton and Braun.

The Sharks had little time to celebrate as Brent Burns was called for tripping less than aminute later and the Sharks were back on the penalty kill. The Islanders tied the score agan with a briefly contested goal during which Stalock lost his mask. It appears that the puck caught him near the ear and broke a strap. The goal went to Anders Lee, with assists to Ryan Strome and John Tavares.

The whistles kept coming, as Travis Hamonic was called for tripping Pavelksi. The Sharks did not score on that power play.

A shot from Barclay Goodrow hit Ben Smith in the ear, about six minutes into the period. Smith left the game at the next stoppage, leaving the Sharks down by one skater. Smith did not return for the third period.

It took the Sharks a few shifts and a few saves from Stalock but they regained the lead. A big save against Kyle Okposo led to a break out for Matt Nieto and Joel Ward. Nieto carried the puck in and held on to it while Ward made his way to the net. Nieto’s patience paid off as his pass caught Ward at just the right time for Ward to tap it in over Halak’s pad. The goal was Ward’s first as a Shark and assists went to Nieto and Stalock.

The lead lasted about four and a half minutes. Josh Bailey took advantage of a Burns turnover to move the puck out from behind the net. Kyle Okposo found it in the slot and wasted no time throwing it at the net, where Bailey and Frans Nielsen redirected it past Stalock. The goal was Bailey’s and the assists went to Nielsen and Okposo.

The shot count for the period was 12-7 Islanders.

At 3:02 of the third, there was a curious delay for a review of a goal that no one seemed to have seen happen. The review confirmed that it did not happen. It was not clear until later which team did not score it. It turned out to have been a non-goal for the Sharks. The situation room had lost sight of the puck and could not tell if it had gone in.

The Islanders took their first lead at 4:18 of the third, when Okposo broke away after a neutral zone turnover. Stalock made the first save. It looked like Dillon would corral the crafty forward in the corner, but Okposo escaped again and beat Stalock with a wrist shot. The assist went to Josh Bailey.

Near the half way mark of the period, DeBoer put Marleau out with the top line. That was the second game that he started Goldobin there and moved him down late. He also moved Nieto to the second line after Tomas Hertl was hit in the mouth with a puck.

At 11:10, the Islanders took a two goal lead with a hard shot from the slot from Brock Nelson. The shot went past Justin Braun as well as Al Stalock. The goal was unassisted.

The Sharks went to the penalty kill at 12:49 when Braun was called for shooting the puck out of play. They killed that off as the clock ticked down.

DeBoer opted to pull his goalie with over three minutes left and the Islanders made the Sharks pay for that. The net had not been empty for many seconds when Frans Nielsen put the puck in it. It was Nielsen’s 100th career goal. DeBoer put Stalock back in the net.

Final score 6-3 Islanders.

Okposo, Boychuck and Tavares shared the Islanders lead in shots with five apiece. Jaroslav Halak made 22 saves on 25 shots for the win.

Pavelski, Marleau, Tommy Wingels and Brent Burns each had three shots in the game, and no Shark had more. Al Stalock made 27 saves on 32 shots.

The Sharks next play on Monday against the New York Rangers at 4:00 PT.

Torres Returns, Donskoi Shines, in Sharks Preseason Win

By Mary Walsh

The Sharks won their first preseason home game on Friday night. They defeated the Arizona Coyotes squad 3-1, or 4-1, depending on whether you count the exhibition overtime session. Sharks goals were scored by Brendan Dillon, Joe Pavelski, Joonas Donskoi and Ben Smith. The Coyotes goal was scored by Antoine Vermette.

Raffi Torres returned to the lineup in the team’s third game of the preseason. He was on the starting line with Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton but after that Joonas Donskoi played on that top line. Donskoi has impressed in training camp, and his performance Friday continued to show why he is a serious contender for a spot on the NHL roster. Goaltender Al Stalock made his first preseason appearance as well, after sitting as backup for Martin Jones in Vancouver.

The first goal of the game came from Brendan Dillon less than five minutes in to the game. It was a shot from near the point, which bounced aloft in traffic in front of the net, before skipping over Anders Lindback’s shoulder. Assists went to Tommy Wingels and Dylan DeMelo.

At the ten minute mark, the Coyotes had just one shot recorded, to the Sharks’ 8. The Coyotes got another shot in the following minute. A fight and a small melee followed, landing Tommy Wingels, Brendan Dillon, and Arizona’s Brendan Shinnimin in the box. Wingels got two minutes for roughing, Shinnimin got two for slashing, and Dillon got two for cross-checking. The Coyotes had the first power play of the game. The Sharks penalty kill held up pretty well, considering how much trouble they had getting the puck cleared. Stalock made a couple of very stretchy saves to make up for the glitches in the system and preserve the lead.

The Sharks also took the second penalty, this one an interference call on Justin Braun. A penalty kill unit of Donskoi, Vlasic, Tierney and Mueller made efficient work of the first shift. Pavelski, Torres, Dillon and DeMelo finished up the kill for the Sharks.

With two minutes left in the first, the Sharks got their first power play. It was a penalty on Steve Downie for roughing. The Coyotes had less trouble clearing the puck out than the Sharks did. They cleared it a few times before the period and the power play ended, still 1-0 Sharks.

The Coyotes had almost evened the shot count by the end of the first, and did draw even in the first 30 seconds of the second, at 9-9.

The first five minutes of the second showed the Coyotes to advantage. They had several chances attacking the Sharks net, and Stalock was busy. The Coyotes took their second penalty of the game, at 7:23 of the period. It was a holding penalty to Lucas Lessio. The first power play unit again consisted of Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Justin Braun and Joonas Donskoi.

Matt Tennyson, Chris Tierney, Tommy Wingels, Brenden Dillon and Matt Nieto made up the second power play unit.

A blink after that penalty ended, the Sharks got another chance when Arizona’s Dakota Mermis went to the box for holding the stick. This time the power play started with Goldobin, Tennyson, Tierney, Wingels and Mueller. Thornton, Pavelski, Donskoi, Vlasic and Braun were on the second unit, the one that scored.

Vlasic’s shot from the point was deflected by Joe Pavelski in front of the net. The second assist went to Joe Thornton.

In the last five minutes of the period, Mike Brown was called for goaltender interference. The Sharks’ penalty kill seemed to find its feet this time around, pushing the Coyotes out quickly and even mustering a short-handed chance in the first minute.

That penalty kill was tested again, with just over two minutes left in the second. This time the penalty went to Mirco Mueller, two minutes for tripping Steve Downie. There were 28 seconds left in the period when the Coyotes finally got on the board. The power play goal was scored by Antoine Vermette. While partially screening Stalock, he tipped a shot from Connor Murphy. The second assist went to Max Domi.

By the end of the second, the Sharks were well ahead on the shot clock again, 26-18. The score was 2-1 Sharks.

The third period saw the teams off to an even start. In the first ten minutes, there were six shots, three from each team. Mirco Mueller got a round of applause for a fine hit, but there was little other clear advantage to cheer about. The teams seemed very even.

The line of Goldobin, Meier and Smith had a very good shift with around seven minutes left. Meier and Goldobin are well met when it comes to moving the puck around through traffic. It was not the most elegant showing but they showed tenacity and quickness enough to regain control many times.

With just over six minutes left in regulation, Tommy Wingels carried the puck to the net and bumped Lindback. No whistle blew, no horn went off. But the Coyotes went right back the other way and pushed Vlasic into Stalock. The penalty went to Joe Vitale for interference on Vlasic.

On the ensuing power play, Joonas Donskoi scored on the last of three tries by several Sharks in front of the net. His shot was quick and clean and from right in the slot. It was his first goal of the preseason. Assists went to Dylan DeMelo and Joe Thornton.

The final score, before the obligatory 3 on 3 overtime session, was 3-1 Sharks. The shot count stood at 37-26 Sharks. DeBoer started Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski and Marc-Edouard Vlasic as the first trio for the Sharks. The second group were Donskoi, Wingels and Braun. Goldobin, Nieto and Tennyson went third.

For good measure, the Ben Smith scored in the final two seconds of overtime, so the Sharks own the game and the extra game.

The even-strength lines were fairly consistent throughout the game. They were:
Tierney, Wingels, Nieto
Thornton, Pavelski, Donskoi
Goldobin, Meier, Smith
Torres, Lerg, Brown

The defense pairs were:
Tennyson, Mueller
Dillon, DeMelo
Vlasic, Braun

The Sharks shot leaders for the game were Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Joonas Donskoi. Justin Braun and Vlasic led the team in ice time. Al Stalock made 25 saves for the win.

For the Coyotes, Max Domi and Lucas Lessio led in shots, while Connor Murphy and Stephan Elliott lead the team in ice time. Anders Lindback made 34 saves for his team.

The Sharks play again Saturday at 6:00 pm.

Sharks Lose 5-1 in Final Home Game of Season

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE– In their last home game of the season, the San Jose Sharks fell to the Dallas Stars 5-1. Before the game finished, both the Sharks and Stars were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. The Winnipeg Jets defeated the Minnesota Wild, putting the Jets out of reach for Dallas or San Jose. The Los Angeles Kings obliged the Sharks by losing in overtime to Vancouver. That makes it just possible that the Sharks could have the opportunity to play spoilers to the Kings’ last minute scramble into the 2015 playoffs. Probably that is not much motivation for the Sharks today. It is not clear what would motivate the Sharks at this point.

Joe Thornton scored the Sharks’ only goal on Monday. Jamie Benn scored the game winner for Dallas. Jason Demers was roundly applauded by the Sharks fans when he was featured on the jumbotron. The Sharks gave away a lot of signed jerseys and gifts for fan appreciation night. It is possible that those last two facts are more significant than the first two.

It did not matter, as far as playoffs go, who won Monday. Still, one team was more eager to win than the other.

28 seconds into the game, Jason Demers took a shot from the blue line. Al Stalock stopped it but kicked it out to Colton Sceviour, who was waiting, unmolested, between the blue paint and the faceoff circle. Sceviour scored, assists went to Demers and Vernon Fiddler. A few seconds later, Mike Brown and Antoine Roussel fought. They both went to the box and the score was still 1-0 Stars.

The Sharks took the first penalty of the game, a tripping penalty to Melker Karlsson. The Sharks killed the penalty off and by the midpoint of the period, they were near even on the shot clock.

At 9:51, Mike Brown was called for charging Trevor Daley, a call that did not go over well with the crowd or Brown. The hit was a beat late but Daley did just release the puck. The hostile encounter with Roussel just after the hit on Daley could have been called roughing, but the ref opted to go with the hit on Daley. The Sharks killed that penalty too.

The Sharks finally got a power play when Shawn Horcoff went to the box for holding the stick at 14:21. The power play generated some good chances but did not change the score.

The Sharks went back on the penalty kill with just 2:50 left in the period. Barclay Goodrow was in the box for elbowing Tyler Seguin. While everyone was mulling over that call, the Stars scored. They had some help from a couple of Sharks skaters who crowded their own goalie and did not help him out. Patrick Eaves had a clear shot at the net, though Logan Couture did try to impeded him from behind. Eaves got the goal, with assists going to Jamie Benn and Jason Spezza.

At the end of the first, the score was 2-0 Stars, with the Stars leading on the shot clock 11-9.

The Sharks made it to 6:12 of the second period without taking another penalty or giving up another goal. This time, Joe Pavelski went to the box for hooking. Al Stalock was not happy about the call, since he had just gotten a shoulder to the face from a falling Dallas Star. Perhaps the officials felt the hook caused the fall. In any case, back to the penalty kill went the Sharks.

With 46 seconds left in that penalty, Brent Burns joined Pavelski in the box for slashing. It was a fairly blatant slash, breaking Eaves’ stick.

Logan Couture, Justin Braun, Brenden Dillon and Al Stalock managed to kill 26 seconds of the five on three, but with 20 seconds left, Jamie Benn scored from the faceoff circle. Assists went to Tyler Seguin and Jason Spezza.

At 11:29, Shawn Horcoff went to the box for interference. The Sharks power play looked stymied by the Stars’ penalty killers and spent too much time chasing rushes the other way. In the final two seconds of the power play, one of those short handed rushes trapped two Stars in the Sharks’ zone while Chris Tierney went the other way with the puck. He dropped it to Thornton at the Stars’ blue line and charged ahead one on two to add to a screen in front of Jhonas Enroth. Joe Thornton followed him in and shot through the three-man wall to put the Sharks on the board. The assist went to Tierney.

At the end of the second period, the Stars led 3-1 and 20-15 in shots.

Just over four minutes in to the third period, the Sharks showed some life on a delayed penalty, maintaining control of the puck in the Stars’ zone for over 20 seconds before the whistle blew and their power play officially began. They did not score on that power play.

Tommy Wingels went to the box for boarding at 9:15. The highlight of that penalty kill, possibly the second best Sharks play of the game, was a short-handed breakaway by Barclay Goodrow and Chris Tierney. They didn’t score but they looked very dangerous.

Their efforts did not go unnoticed. A shift from the Thornton line followed and they looked rejuvenated. That was not enough to change the course of the game, but it did help slow the Stars down.

The Sharks held the Stars scoreless for 15:08 of the period. With 4:52 left in the game, Patrick Eaves evaded Brenden Dillon along the boards in the Sharks zone. He was clear just long enough to get a pass to Jamie Benn, who was loitering below the faceoff circle. 4-1 Stars.

With the three-goal lead, Ryan Garbutt decided it would be a good idea to elbow Matt Irwin in the neck as the Sharks defenseman skated into the Dallas zone. The Sharks power play did not score.

Ryan Garbutt did score at 18:00, on a breakaway with a backhand.

The Stars took another penalty with 37.3 seconds left in regulation. Shawn Horcoff went to the box for the third time, this time for goaltender interference.

Final score 5-1 Dallas. Shots 25-24 Dallas.

Matt Irwin led the Sharks in shots with six. Mike Brown and Tommy Wingels led the team in hits with four each. Karl Stollery and Brenden Dillon led in blocked shots with four each. Al Stalock made 20 saves on 25 shots.

Jason Spezza and Jamie Benn led the Stars in shots with four each. Antoine Roussel led the Stars in hits with three. Jyrki Jokipakka led in blocked shots with four. Jhonas Enroth made 23 saves for the win.

The Sharks next play in Edmonton on Thursday at 6:30 PT.