Sharks Fall to Senators 4-2

By Mary Walsh

AP photo Sens Kyle Turis pushes the Sharks Marc Edouard-Vlasic during first period battle for the puck in Ottawa

The San Jose Sharks lost the third game in their current road trip, falling to the Ottawa Senators by a score of 4-2. As they had the night before in Toronto, the Sharks scored first and then gave up the lead. Unlike the Toronto game, they followed up on a weak second period with a worse third. The Sharks gave the swift Senators too many opportunities, odd-man rushes and power plays. That translated into four goals, three scored in the third period. Those goals were scored by Bobby Ryan, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Chris Wideman and Erik Karlsson. The Sharks’ goals came from Joe Thornton and Brent Burns.

The first period went by scoreless, with just two penalties called in the final five minutes. Both went against Ottawa, but their penalty kill kept the Sharks off the board. In their first power play, a hooking call against Kyle Turris, the Sharks recorded no shots. The closest they came was a Thornton shot that went off off Joel Ward in front of the net. The second power play carried over to the second period, the result of a tripping call against Mark Stone at 19:18. It is worth noting that the penalties were drawn by Joonas Donskoi and Melker Karlsson. After the first period, the Sharks had a slight lead in shots at 13-12.

Ottawa and San Jose both tend to win when they score first, so the first goal was eagerly anticipated, if misleading. It came 29 seconds into the middle frame, during the carry over penalty time. Though they lost the opening faceoff, the Sharks regained control quickly. The top power play unit established themselves in the offensive zone and a quick pass from Brent Burns near the right faceoff circle found Joe Thornton on the opposite side. Thornton’s shot was quick and went through the traffic cleanly into the net. Assists went to Brent Burns and Joe Pavelski.

Just over a minute later, Tomas Hertl was called from tripping, giving the Senators the first of three power plays in the second period, including a five on three. The Sharks killed the penalties but gave up an even strength goal at 4:46. Justin Braun caught a puck in the defensive zone and seemed to be trying to pass it off the boards to Marleau. Bobby Ryan was quicker to the puck than Marleau. He skated in and around Braun and then beat Stalock to tie the game.

It was a bad spot in Stalock’s game, which did have some bright spots. Near the end of the second period, Brent Burns had a puck jump by him on the Senators blue line, allowing Ottawa defenseman Dave Dziurzynski and forward Alex Chiasson to go the other way, with only Paul Martin in position to defend. Martin stayed with Dziurzynski but could not prevent his pass below the faceoff circle. Alex Stalock read the play perfectly and came to the top of his crease to reach out and block the pass with his stick. He caught the puck up and tapped it in the direction of Brent Burns, who by now had come back to help out. It was a good indication of alertness and confidence from a goaltender who has not played a lot of games this season.

The game remained tied through until 8:19 of the third period. After a shot by Diurzinsky went off of Stalock’s mask, Pageau picked up the rebound and put a shot through Stalock. Stalock sensed that it was behind him, and turned to try to catch it, but it got by. Assists went to Dziurzynski and Cody Ceci.

Stalock made a quick trip to the bench after, where heStalock got a new mask. Evidently the shot to the head did some damage to his armor.

The Sens stretched their lead with just over seven minutes left. Dennis Wideman took a shot from the blue line, while Chris Neil blocked Stalock’s view. Two Sharks and another Senator were also in the goaltender’s line of sight, so he probably did not see the shot at all as it flew by into the top corner. Assists went to Curtis Lazar and Shane Prince.

Ottawa added to the lead when some offensive zone action from the Sharks left the ice open for another two on one against, this time by Karlsson and Hoffman, with Brenden Dillon trying to defend. Hoffman drew Stalock to the right, then sent a pass around Dillon to Karlsson. 4-1 Senators. Assists went to Hoffman and Bobby Ryan.

With 2:24 left, Brent Burns got one back for the Sharks. Hertl, Goodrow and Wingels got the play started and Burns skated in to finish it up with a shot from in front of the net.

The Sharks had a 20 second power play when Mark Borowiecki was called for boarding Joel Ward. It was not long enough to make a difference.

Final score: 4-2 Senators.

Goalie Craig Anderson made 31 saves on 33 shots for the Senators. Alex Stalock made 31 saves on 35 shots for the Sharks.

Brent Burns led the team by a significant margin with seven shots on goal. Joel Ward had four hits and four shots. The Sharks were outshot by the Senators 35-33.

Some of the Sharks lines looked different Friday. Dainius Zubrus skated with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski again, while Tomas Hertl skated with Barclay Goodrow and Tommy Wingels. Measuring by ice time, that second group made up Friday’s fourth line. Matt Nieto was promoted to the line with Marleau and Ward. As previously mentioned, Chris Tierney centered Melker Karlsson and Joonas Donskoi. Despite their stats in Friday’s game, that line looked pretty good. They drew penalties and showed promise as a unit.

The Sharks next play on Sunday in Chicago against the Blackhawks at 4:00 PT.

In the battle of Northern California the Kings lose to the Warriors 103-94

Rocky Widner/NBAE
Rocky Widner/NBAE

By Charlie O. Mallonee

Sacramento – The Sacramento Kings had to face the undefeated Golden State Warriors without DeMarcus Cousins and Darren Collison on Saturday night. The result should have a very predictable “blow out” by the Warriors, but it was not walk over win for the defending NBA Champions.

Golden State defeated the Sacramento Kings 103 to 94. It was a two-point game with four minutes to go in the contest. No one – Warriors fans or Kings fans – could believe this game was so close at the end.

The Kings played tough, hard-nosed basketball, but in the end, the talent of Curry, Thompson, Barnes, Green and Iguodala proved to be too much for Sacramento to handle with a short-handed team.

Frankly, the Warriors came out flat or overlooking the Kings in the first half. The Kings took an early lead in the first period and held that lead until the 3:35 mark in the quarter. Golden State stepped up their play with scoring from former King Jason Thompson, Shaun Livingston and Andre Iguodala. The Warriors established a 20 to 14 lead after one quarter. Most people in the building expected them to just continue to stretch that lead in the second period.

Golden State did open up a 14-point lead with scoring from Klay Thompson (8), Iguodala (4) and Marreese Speights (4). Just as the game appeared to be headed for a runaway, the Kings came back with a 3-point basket from Marco Belinelli. Belinelli was then fouled attempting a 3-pointer and converted three free throws to cut the Warrior lead to eight.

At the half, Golden State led the Kings 46 to 38.

Sacramento came out strong in the third quarter as center Kosta Koufos scored six unanswered points. The Kings cut the Warrior lead to one on a Koufos lay-up at the 7:31 mark. Sacramento then took the lead when Belinelli sank another 3-point basket from 25-feet out. Golden State then went on 12-0 run that again threatened to put the Kings away. Again the Kings – led by Belinelli – closed the gap to four points. After three quarters, the Warriors led the Kings 72 to 68.

The Kings continued to keep the game close early in the fourth quarter. Sacramento took the lead 79 to 78 on a Rajon Rondo 19-foot jump shot with 6:37 to play. The game stayed close until the Warriors opened up a 10-point lead with under two minutes to play. The teams traded baskets and fouls, but the Kings were unable to find that something extra to propel them back into the game.

The Warriors defeated the Kings by nine points, 103 to 94.

Kings

Marco Belinelli on Saturday night showed why the Kings signed him to a 3-year contract. He scored 22 points shooting 5-for-11 from the floor. The Italian sharp-shooter was 3-for-6 from 3-point range. He went 9-for-10 from the free throw line. Twice Belinelli converted 3-point plays from the charity stripe after being fouled in the act of shooting a 3-pointer.

Rudy Gay stepped up for Sacramento against the Warriors. He shot 10-for-25 from the field scoring 22 points for his team. Gay showed an aggressiveness that George Karl would like to see more of on a nightly basis.

Rajon Rondo handled the point for 44 minutes against Golden State. With Darren Collison inactive due to a hamstring issue, Rondo was the only point guard on the floor for Sacramento. He put together a rare triple-double scoring 14 points, pulling down 12 rebounds and dishing out 15 assists. After the game Kings head coach George Karl said, “He knows how to do that, he has great history of leading teams and tonight he was very special.”

Center Kosta Koufos recorded a double-double scoring 12 points and hauling in 10 rebounds. Omri Casspi put up 10 points. Willie Cauley-Stein added six points with two nice finishes off lob passes under the basket.

The Kings shot .437 (38-for-87) from the field. They went 6-for-19 (.316) from 3-point range. The team continued to improve from the free throw line making 12 of 16 attempts (.750).

Sacramento turned the ball over 22 times which resulted in 29 Golden State points. The Kings were out-rebounded 46 to 45.

Warriors

Steph Curry led the Golden State scoring with 24 points. Curry scored 21 of those points in the second half of the game. He did not have a great game from beyond the 3-point line shooting just 2-for10 from long distance.

The much anticipated Curry versus Curry match up did not occur as Seth Curry did not play for the Kings. Seth Curry was nursing an ankle sprain coming into the game.

Klay Thompson put up 18 points shooting 7-for-16 from the floor and hitting on 4 of 11 3-point opportunities.

Harrison Barnes (13), Draymond Green (10), Festus Ezeli (10), and Andre Iguodala (14) all scored in double figures for the Warriors. Ezeli made it a double-double game by recording 12 rebounds.

As a team, Golden State shot .413 (38-for-92) from the field. They were a dismal .205 (8-for-39) from 3-point land. The Warriors were impressive at the free throw line converting 19 of 22 opportunities (.864).

The Warriors scored 19 points off second chance opportunities. The Kings scored nine second chance points.

What they said after the game

“It was a pretty impressive game, but they (Kings) have fought through four games in five nights. Obviously there was some fatigue there (shown by) our turnovers in the first half. They kept fighting. I thought our leader was Rondo. Rondo was incredibly into the game, incredibly intense. His defense on (Stephen) Curry was first class. I just wish we would have (had) more gas in the tank to finish off the game,” said Coach George Karl.

“There’s a lot of good we can take out of it (the game) as a team,” explained Rudy Gay. “But I think we’re overdue for a win – we need one bad. It’s another game I thought we could’ve had.”

“Our guys played hard and we knew it would be a tough game coming in,” said Warriors interim head coach Luke Walton.”Sacramento – they compete. Like I said before the game, they haven’t been winning a lot of games but they’ve been playing hard and (been) in the games. We couldn’t get out shots to go in tonight which happens but we found a way like you said to grind it out and come out with a victory.”

“Definitely not pretty but we overcame missed shots, turnovers, kind of a sluggish first half,” said Stephen Curry after the game. “With our defense, we gave ourselves an opportunity to have some minute runs. Pretty much had control of the game the whole way through. They made a decent run to take the lead by one in the fourth. Made some plays down the stretch and pulled it out. That defense allowed us to overcome a poor shooting night.”

Up next

The Kings have Sunday off, but their day of rest will be short lived. Sacramento will host the very talented San Antonio Spurs on Monday night. DeMarcus Cousins is expected to be available for that game.

The Warriors will also have Sunday off and return to action on Monday night hosting the Detroit Pistons.

Pavelski Scores a Pair But Sharks Stumble Against Blue Jackets

By Matthew T.F. Harrington

SAN JOSE, Calif. – The San Jose Sharks saw Tuesday night’s contest at SAP Center against the reeling Columbus Blue Jackets as an opportunity to take advantage of a team in turmoil. Instead, the Sharks (6-6-0) now find themselves looking answers after losing 5-2 in a match-up against a team with only a pair of wins on the season.

Joe Pavelski scored both goals for the Sharks and goalie Martin Jones struggled through a 17 save, 4 goal performance against a Columbus team that recently fired their coach and was struggling under new coach John Tortorella.

“It was not good enough,” said Jones. “We played a backwards game, let up an early goal and let in a few soft ones in the 2nd. We need to be better. Everyone needs to be better. We got outworked tonight.”

The Sharks dug an early hole after committing two penalties in the opening five minutes. They managed to kill off a Chris Tierney stick infraction a minute and a half into the game, but weren’t as lucky after defenseman Brenden Dillon skated to the box 4:23 into the game.

With the man advantage, Brandon Dubinsky skated to the left faceoff dot and took a shot on Sharks goalie Martin Jones. Jones stopped the initial attempt, but Brandon Saad was waiting in the goal crease to tuck the loose puck home for a 1-0 lead with 12 seconds left on Dillon’s infraction.

“We got the first kill,” said Pavelski. “We almost got through the second one which would have given us a boost. We were on our heels early. It has to change, we have to break this mold where we’re getting scored on first.”

The Sharks Captain matched the team-best of 7 goals on the season in the waning seconds of the first period. Pavelski crept into Sergei Bobrovsky’s crease, redirecting a point shot from Justin Braun past the Russian netminder with 1:04 left in the period.

The Blue Jackets regained their lead nearly halfway through regulation after Scott Hartnell beat Jones for his 5th goal of the season at the 8:54 mark. Hartnell started the play behind the Sharks net, skated out towards the faceoff dot to Jones’ right then spun around and ripped a shot rapid-fire that beat Jones over the near post shoulder.

Pavelski again drew the Sharks three minutes later, receiving a backhand feed from Joonas Donskoi before deking out Bobrovsky to move past Joel Ward for the team lead in goals.

Pavelski’s goal was the result of a heads-up forecheck from Donskoi along the offense boards. Donskoi snuck behind Nick Foligno preparing to move the puck out of the Columbus defensive end and sent it back towards the goal line for Pavelski’s tally. The assist on the play was Donskoi’s 2nd career NHL point and first since returning from injury October 28th.

“It’s hard to come back after an injury,” said Donskoi. “I think it’s getting better but I’m not happy. We still lost. It’s disappointing.”

The tie was short lived due to miscommunication by Jones and defenseman Brent Burns. Jones went to play a dump-in behind his net and settle the puck for Burns. Burns, however, didn’t react in time to stop an advancing Blue Jacket from springing the puck loose. Columbus forward Boone Jenner snuck in to net his 7th goal with 1:28 left in the 2nd.

If the Jenner goal didn’t deflate the Sharks heading into the 2nd intermission, defenseman Ryan Murray’s strike with 59 seconds left in the period certainly did. Murray slid a point shot through a crowd in front of the net to put Columbus up 4-2 and chase Jones from the contest.

“I think it went off one of our guys’ gloves,” said Jones. “It was a bit of a deflection, a bit of a screen.”

Over his 40 minutes of ice time Jones allowed 4 goals while making 17 saves. His replacement, Alex Stalock, faced only 2 shots over the final period, but Matt Calvert scored an empty netter for the final 5-2 marker.

At the other end of the ice, Bobrovsky stood on his head for most of the contest to earn his third win of the season. The former Vezina trophy winner turned aside 41 of 43 shots he faced, keeping the Sharks power play off the board after four opportunities.

“For our power play we demand a lot out of ourselves,” said Pavelski. “We expect a lot. It’s just unacceptable. It was a big momentum swing for us. We’ve created some momentum off it when we’ve had chances. It doesn’t do anything for the wins.”

“Everybody goes through tough stretches,” said Jones. “We know we have a good group in here. We know we’ll respond. We’ve got the group in here to do it. The main thing is to show up tomorrow, have a good practice and move on.”

The Sharks will have to move on quickly with the Florida panthers coming to town Thursday night followed by a visit from another reeling team, the Anaheim Ducks. The Southern California rivals come to town Saturday night with a lowly 2 wins and six points, tied for the lowest mark in the NHL.

Jones, Penalty Killers Lift Sloppy Sharks to 2-1 Preseason Win Over Canucks

By Matthew T.F. Harrington

A win is a win any time of the year, even preseason, so Tuesday night’s 2-1 San Jose Sharks win over the visiting Vancouver Canucks is a great final result. How the Sharks got there, however, was a different story.

“It’s a good thing it happened in the preseason,” said Sharks forward Tommy Wingels on the team’s sloppy effort Tuesday. “It’s good that we grinded it out and found a way to win the game. You don’t have your best at all times but certainly lots tonight we have to improve on.”

“It’s not the kind of game you’d like to have,” said Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer. “We found a way to win but we were sloppy with our puck management. We have a lot of things to work on. The good news is I thought our goaltending was excellent and our penalty killing was excellent.”

The Sharks scored a goal each in the first two periods, then used a 4-for-4 penalty kill effort and a 30-save outing from Martin Jones to cling to a 2-1 advantage and improve to 3-1-1 in the exhibition schedule with one last weekend road trip still remaining.

“(Assistant coach Johan Hedberg) has done a great job with these guys,” said Wingels on Jones and returning goalie Alex Stalock. “They’ve been at the top of their game from day one.”

Wingels tipped in his first goal of the preseason at the midway point of the first period, redirecting a Paul Martin point shot past Canucks netminder Ryan Miller.

“You don’t want to get too cute,” said Martin on the goal. “We’ve seen that, when you put the puck on net, good things happen. We have guys that are good around the cage and make plays down there.”

The lead would be short-lived, with the visitors scoring in the final minutes of the period. Winger Matt Nieto picked up a loose puck in the corner boards of the defensive end and spun a drop pass in front of Sharks keeper Martin Jones to jump start the rush. Instead, the puck was picked up by opportunist Jared McCann. The unmarked McCann ripped a shot over Jones’ shoulder for a goal with 1:26 remaining in the period.

The Sharks leading scorer in the preseason put them back on top at the 7:43 mark of the 2nd period. Brent Burns received a pass from Mirco Mueller and skated up the left side, burying a wrist shot between Miller’s pads for a 2-1 edge. Burns has a team-high 2 goals and 4 points over 3 preseason contests playing on a pairing with offseason acquisition Paul Martin.

“He definitely makes my job easier,” said Martin. “The hockey sense and the size with the skill he has being that big is impressive.”

“Coach has been great keeping us together, allowing us to grow our chemistry,” said Burns on his rearguard partner. “There are going to be reads that happen in a game in a split second where you’ve got to know what the guy is thinking. It takes time.”

The Canucks threw their weight around in the third period, drawing two power plays, including a 4-on3 to try to tie the game, but a valiant effort from the San Jose penalty kill kept the Sharks ahead. Chris Tierney, Justin Braun and Tommy Wingels all blocked shots shorthanded with just over 5 minutes left in the period. In total, the Canucks outshot San Jose 9-2 in the third (31-22 total), a period that saw DeBoer shuffle all four lines from the starting lineup.

“We wanted to give some guys some different looks in some different spots,” said DeBoer. “We weren’t really happy with where we were at in the game. We tried to shuffle the deck and it didn’t really work.”

The Sharks wrap up the preseason with two weekend road games, Friday in Arizona followed by a Saturday match-up in Anaheim. DeBoer is hoping to see a better performance out of his team, but understands knowing the team’s weaknesses before opening night in Los Angeles on October 7th is more important.

“You’re better having that now then next week,” said DeBoer. “We will know what we have to do better to have success on a consistent basis.”

Notes: After Joonas Donskoi received the opportunity on Friday to play on the top line with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski, it was rookie Nikolay Goldobin’s turn Tuesday. The 19-year-old Russian had one assist and was +1 with a shot on goal. “He did a good job. He definitely showed that he’s skilled enough to play with those guys,” said DeBoer… Chris Tierney left the ice early in the 2nd period after skidding into the Vancouver goal. He missed just one shift while visiting with the trainer and returned to play on his next shift…Tommy Wingels tongue-in-cheek after a successful night in the faceoff dot “I think we should expect that every night.”

Sonny Days No More? Why Trading Sonny Gray Makes Sense for Oakland

By Matthew T.F. Harrington

The Oakland Athletics have officially become Sonny Gray’s team. No player donning the Green and Gold will mean more to his team’s success and no individual in Oakland’s 25-man roster has an equal skillset and pedigree as the 25-year-old ace. That makes it all the easier to trade the fire-balling Commodore out of Vanderbilt University striking while the iron is blazing atop the hot stove that is the Major League Baseball trade deadline.

The 18th overall pick in the draft elevated his stock greatly with a first half performance that puts him in the American League Cy Young Award conversation with the White Sox Chris Sale and Dallas Keuchel of the Houston Astros. He earned his first All-Star appearance in just his second full season this year on the back of a 10-3 record and a scant 2.04 earned run average.

In his last outing, the Nashville, TN native fired a complete-game, one-hit shutout of the Cleveland Indians. It was the kind of outing that Gray’s become known for, with every fifth day becoming winning day for the Division cellar-dwelling A’s. Any chance the A’s have at making up the 8.5 games they trail the AL West leader Los Angeles Angels comes with Gray winning at least two-thirds of his go-arounds as July rolls to October.

Of course, the A’s have struggled all season to remain relevant, so in all likelihood, they will be sellers (is Billy Beane ever not considered a threat to sell?) by the end of the month. Scott Kazmir could certainly pry some decent prospects from a team looking for pitching depth. Ben Zobrist will return a blue-chipper despite being a career .264 with only one season of more than 20 homers under his belt. But Gray, Gray’s ransom could fill the cupboards of a team twice over.

The biggest hurdle in dealing Gray is the fact that he’s technically under team control until 2020, with his arbitration years set to kick in in 2017. The A’s proved in the offseason that they’re not afraid to deal away a player under club control with a bright future, dealing Josh Donaldson to the Toronto Blue Jays before having to sign him to the big money no player gets in Oakland.

Gray’s contract status immediately makes him a better haul for a playoff hopeful team than the mercenary options being floated around at the trailing end of deals like Johnny Cueto or Mat Latos. A team like the cash-strapped Los Angeles Dodgers could easily handle Gray’s arbitration figure and may even jump to extend him to a long-term deal well before the expiration of his contract. With that luxury, here’s where the A’s need to play hardball.

In the offseason, Philadelphia Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. was criticized for demanding teams like the Dodgers or Boston Red Sox offer up two or three can’t-miss prospects for Cole Hamels, another pitcher locked up beyond this season. If the Phillies could get Boston to entertain the idea of sending over Blake Swihart, Mookie Betts and Henry Owens, why couldn’t Billy Beane try to pry the same deal (or better) for a player who younger than Hamels and will come with a cheaper price tag?

The obvious fit is dealing with the Dodgers, who would become locks to win the World Series if they could lock down a rotation of reigning Most Valuable Player Clayton Kershaw and All-Star starting pitcher Zack Greinke along with Gray. In return, the A’s could potentially pull in A+ prospects like shortstop Corey Seager and starter Julio Urias (though perhaps they’d have to throw in Kazmir or Zobrist to sweeten the pot). Plug them in with the emerging Oakland talents of players like Kendall Graveman, Marcus Semien and Billy Burns and the prospects in the pipeline in Matt Olson, Renato Nunez and Sean Nolin and suddenly you’d have a core five years from now with potential All-Stars at every position.

The reality is that the Angels window for success is coming to an end, and the Astros is just beginning to open with young stars like Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, George Springer and Dallas Keuchel being just a few of the names that litter the talent-rich organization’s depth charts. The A’s meanwhile would need a significant free-agent signing to be competitive now and in the immediate future. By the team they’ll see dividends on the current minor leaguers could very well be after 2017 when Gray will make the big bucks. So why not move Gray now and add more pieces for the run to come in a few seasons?

Everyone in the A’s organization has been adamant that Gray is off limits, but why suddenly make a player untouchable? With 5 of 7 Oakland All-stars from 2015 dealt since last July, it’s pretty clear that even the best of the best are available to depart from Alameda County. In fact, perhaps this is a move by Oakland brass to raise the price even higher. Who doesn’t covet what they’ve been told they can’t have?

It’s a longshot of a scenario, one that certainly might not play out considering there are rumblings that the A’s may be buyers and sellers at the deadline. With Beane at the helm, one thing is for certain; never say never.

2015 NHL Stadium Series: This Will Be a Big Game

By Mary Walsh

Saturday’s NHL Stadium Series game will be more than a spectacle, it will be an important game in terms of playoff standings. As of Wednesday night, the Kings, who were on the verge of being written out of the playoffs, have supplanted the fast-falling Sharks for the last wild card spot. The Sharks have one more game to play before Saturday, but it is clear that these teams both need a win Saturday.

Make no mistake, the first outdoor NHL game to be played in Northern California will be a unique spectacle. Performances from Melissa Etheridge, John Fogerty, Kris Allen and Symphony Silicon Valley are scheduled for the pregame show and intermissions.  Those performances will include a special cell phone show that will rely on audience participation. The NHL described it as follows:

During the pre-game show and intermission, fans will be asked to use their mobile device to activate a special section of the Levi’s® Stadium App that will connect everyone’s phone. Once connected, the phones will blanket the stadium with a  synchronized, multi-colored visualization of the live musical entertainment on the field. During the first intermission, there will be a special laser light show accompanying Fogerty’s performance.

The pregame show will feature a tribute to California hockey and former Sharks players. The tribute will include over 100 youth hockey players from the Bay Area. The former Sharks expected at the celebration are: Jamie Baker, Murray Craven, Jeff Friesen, Igor Larionov, Rick Lessard, David Maley, Bryan Marchment, Kyle McLaren, Owen Nolan, Tom Pederson, Mike Rathje, Mike Ricci, Steve Shields, Mark Smith, Marco Sturm and Scott Thornton. Additionally, the NHL press release noted that the Sharks are forming their first formal alumni association for their 25th season next year.

The NHL recently announced that tickets to the Levi’s Stadium game are sold out. Of course, tickets are probably still available through resale. Last season, the NHL scheduled six outdoor games, including the Winter Classic in Michigan, and two games in New York. Without saying that six was too many, the NHL scheduled just this one outdoor game and the Winter Classic this season. They have already announced two stadium games and a Winter Classic next season, so perhaps the NHL is experimenting with how many games the market can stand.

The game at Levi’s Stadium will not present the challenges that the Winter Classic in Michigan did. There will be no blinding blizzard, no strong winds to tilt the ice. There may be ice problems if it is too humid, and it will probably be warmer than players are used to working in. Glare has been a problem for some fair weather games but since this will be an evening event, it should be a good showcase for how hockey can work, indoors and out, in warmer climates.

It is a local but unfamiliar setting for the Sharks. The Kings played Anaheim last season in their outdoor game, the Sharks have not done it before. To call it a home game for the Sharks seems a little bit unfair. Odd games like this one, and strong competition like the Kings is exactly why those bad losses to not very strong teams hurt so much earlier in the season. Those games were bound to come back to bite the Sharks, and here they are.

As the Sharks plummet out of the Pacific Division top three, the Kings are making a late climb in the standings. Such behavior is not uncommon for Los Angeles, it has almost become a habit for them to claw their way into the playoffs and then go on a deep run. With two games in hand on the Sharks, a win on Wednesday put the Kings in the Sharks’ wild card position and bump the Sharks out.

The Kings are 6-4-0 in their last ten games and as of Wednesday night are on a six game winning streak. The Kings’ leading goal scorer is Tyler Toffoli (19g), with their points leader Jeff Carter (18g, 45p) right behind him. But they are pretty evenly balanced as Marion Gaborik, Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams are tightly packed in the goal-scoring count. The Kings have not been their formidable defensive selves this season and are ranked 10th in the league in goals against. The Sharks, on the other hand, are down at 23rd in that category.

The Sharks are 3-5-2 in their last ten games and, going into Thursday’s game against Dallas, have lost their last two. The onus really is on the Sharks to pull their game together. Joe Pavelski leads the team in points and goals, and here the gap between best and next best is a little greater than with the Kings. Pavelski has 31 goals, while Logan Couture is second with 21. On the plus side, the Sharks points leaders have better numbers than their Los Angeles counterparts, with Pavelski at 53, Couture and Joe Thornton both at 51. Yes, the Sharks can score, the question remains: can they remember how to defend?

In goal, the Kings’ Jonathan Quick has been raising his game with his team. He made 44 saves in Denver Wednesday. One has to wonder about the Sharks’ Antti Niemi. When the Sharks went down 3-1, in Nashville, one would have expected head coach Todd McLellan to replace his goaltender with Niemi, no matter whose fault the goals were. Changing goalie is a classic way to shake a team up. Instead, Stalock finished the 5-1 loss. Niemi’s last game was Sunday’s 5-2 loss to Tampa Bay. In short, neither San Jose goaltender is on a roll right now.

The Kings will be coming off a two day layoff, after a dominant win over the struggling Colorado Avalanche. The Sharks lost Tuesday to the top-ranked team in the NHL. What they do in Dallas could give us a clue to their state of mind, but as we have seen, the Sharks are unpredictable.

With some of their best players returned to the lineup (Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Justin Braun and Tommy Wingels have all made their way back from injury), the Sharks are clean out of excuses, real or imaginary. San Jose has reached a new level of inconsistency this season. Their good games have been really good, while their bad games have been shocking. Is it time for a new coach? Are they just not good enough? Are those wins against top teams just their opponents playing down to them, as they do to weaker teams? Have they just found a new level of underperforming?

Thompson Outpaces Pacers, Scores 40 in Warriors 13th-Straight Home Win

By Matthew T.F. Harrington

The Golden State Warriors beat the Indiana Pacers 117-102 at Oracle Arena Wednesday night, extending their home winning streak to 13 games. Klay Thompson came a point shy of matching his career-high of 41 points to lead the team atop the NBA standings to the second-longest lossless stretch at home since the Warriors (28-5) won 15-straight at home in 1989-90.

Thompson went 14 of 25 from the field, including six three-pointers, over his 40 minutes of the play. The NBA All-Star hopeful also went six-for-six from the free throw line and pitched in two assists and four rebounds.

Splash Brother Stephen Curry played the perfect sidekick, collecting a double-double on 21 points and 15 assists. Center Andrew Bogut returned after missing 12 games, playing 14 minutes off the bench, but his replacement in the starting five Marreese Speights proved adequate, chipping in 18 points. Draymond Green matched Indiana’s Lavoy Allen for the game-high in rebounds with 9 each.

Despite being a game and half out of playoff position in the Eastern Conference, the Pacers (14-23) gave the Warriors the early test. They had the home team down by as much as 11 points in the first half, but the Warriors found a way to tie the game at 50-all at the half. A 34-26 Warriors run in the third Quarter gave the Dubs a cozy 8-point lead, while a 33-26 fourth quarter helped ice the win for Golden State.

The Warriors could be primed for home win no. 14 when they next take the court. Golden State welcomes the LeBron-less Cleveland Cavaliers to Oracle Arena Friday night, with newly acquired Timofey Mozgov expected to make his Cavs debut after coming over from the Denver Nuggets for a pair of first-round picks Wednesday.

Notes: Klay Thompson’s 40-point game was his second of his career. He also scored 41 points against the Lakers on November 1st of this season …Stephen Curry hit his 1,000 career three-pointer. His 369 games are the fewest played to reach that milestone…Indiana center Roy Hibbert left Wednesday’s game with an injury after only five minutes of play….Wednesday Night was Asian Heritage night at Oracle Arena. Fans with special event tickets received an Asian Hertiage night t-shirt while everyone in attendance was entertained by an on-court performance presented by the Thai Cultural Council of Berkeley and Fremont.

Islanders remain undefeated

Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images
Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images

By Pearl Allison Lo

Either the San Jose Sharks’ or New York’s unbeaten streak had to give, and it was the Sharks’, as they were on the losing end of the shootout Thursday, 4-3.

After winning by shootout Tuesday, this time San Jose was the one who was behind in the third to tie the game and go beyond regulation.

The Sharks were outhit 34-20 and outshot 45-23, 14-3 in the first period.

Neither team scored in the first period.

San Jose’s Brent Burns scored the game’s first goal at 1:39 of the second period on his second attempt at net. His first attempt hit John Tavares, knocking Tavares down. Burns’ second attempt was almost identical to the first, minus Tavares, as Tomas Hertl aided with a block. Joe Thornton and Mirco Mueller got credit for the assists.

The Islanders’ Nick Leddy tied the game with a bunch of Sharks in front at 4:05. He was helped by Tavares and Kyle Okposo.

Patrick Marleau put San Jose back up, seven seconds into their only power play of the game. The shot looked like Burns’ as goalie Jaroslav Halak may have been blocked by the Sharks’ Logan Couture. Marleau was assisted by Burns and Joe Thornton, who each got their fifth assists.

In the third period, New York scored on the power play also, retying the game. Frans Nielsen made a no-look pass to Okposo in the slot, who shot the puck through goalie Alex Stalock’s legs. Tavares had his seventh assist on the play.

Josh Bailey gave the Islanders their first lead at 8:38. His first shot was similar to Burns’ from the top of the faceoff circle on Stalock’s right. The second came by way of Cal Clutterbuck’s work along the boards as he shot the puck off the goalpost to Stalock’s left. Nick Leddy got his first assist.

Tomas Hertl scored San Jose’s last goal on a mini breakaway, after his defender slipped. Hertl hit open space at 11:16.

The shootout took five rounds this time. Couture scored in Round 1, Okposo in Round 3 and Tavares had the game winner.

Game notes: The Sharks will face the New Jersey Devils Saturday at 4p.

 

 

Sharks Shut Out Jets in Home Opener

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE-One shut out is not like another. Where the Sharks played a solid game on Wednesday, their shut out of the Winnipeg Jets Saturday was not so shiny. Al Stalock showed that he absolutely deserves to be in contention as the starter, but the rest of the team went off the rails after the first 20-30 minutes of the game. The final score was 3-0, but the Sharks’ power play went 0-8.

Todd McLellan was blunt about how ominous that is:

… Three-nothing, people that didn’t see the game are going to say the Sharks are off to a pretty good start, but that was not a well-played game on our behalf by any means.We probably played a good 26-27 minutes and then after that we weren’t close to being the better team.

I thought our power play absolutely sucked the life out of our team tonight. Probably as weak as it’s been in a long long time and we’ve got some work to do there.

Despite the power play’s failure, the Sharks demonstrated that they can keep pucks out of their own net, and that they can play well defensively in front of either goaltender. Stalock, on the change of momentum in Saturday’s game, summarized what he saw of the Jets’ play:

They changed it up after the first period, obviously. They got pucks in deep, got pucks to the net, banged and crashed, sometimes maybe a little too hard. It was a tough game to battle through some of their big guys in front of the paint. Our defensemen did a good job clearing them out.

The win looks good on paper, the Sharks can bank the points, but the next practice agenda wrote itself tonight: power play, power play, power play.

The first goal of the game was scored with the second line on the ice. It was Vlasic’s goal with assists to Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau.

The second goal of the game came from a hard shot off Tomas Hertl’s stick. The Jets let Hertl get away and skate up the slot. He had time but he did not waste it. His shot appeared to go right through Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec. Assists went to Thornton and Pavelski at 5:12.

The Sharks’ first power play was a little untidy. The Jets were getting some short handed chances and seemed likely to get another when they were called offside. That gave the Sharks a moment to regroup but they never really got it together.

They had another chance in the last minute of the period when Toby Enstrom was called for holding. That was unproductive, in the end of the first and the start of the second.

The shot count was comfortably (for the Sharks skaters) lopsided. At the end of the first, the count was 15-3.

Their next power play came at 11:01 of the second. This time, Marleau was tripped along the boards in the offensive zone.

The shot count stood at 20-7 for San Jose. Stalock had seen a couple of shots a few seconds earlier as Jets crowded his net, two or three of them at least. In the mass of bodies, it was surprising that the puck did not find its way in.

The Sharks’ third power play did not come to anything either. Joe Thornton seemed very much off his game. His passes were going awry at an inordinate rate. I am sure he could have hit the side of a barn Saturday night, but an outhouse might have been a challenge.

The Jets got their first power play at 10:33 of the second. Adam Burish went to the box for closing his hand on the puck. The first penalty killers were Braun, Vlasic, Pavelski, and Marleau. Hannan, Wingels, Burns and Couture were the second unit. Nieto replaced Wingels in the last dozen or so seconds of the penalty kill. The Jets managed no shots on that power play.

The Sharks’ next power play came from a goalie interference call on Dustin Byfuglien late in the second. While the Sharks did not score, they did make some progress in terms of holding the zone and getting some shots on net. This is how the bar drops.

With almost thirty seconds left in the period, Patrick Marleau claimed the puck off a Jets miscue, and carried it all the way up the slot to beat Pavelec with a neat little lift. He had plenty of time, alone as he was in the zone, to take a shot without haste, giving the Sharks a 3-0 lead.

Joe Pavelski was called for hooking seconds later, so the Jets ended the second and started the third on a power play. The second period ended with shots at  26-16 for the Sharks.

Al Stalock held up well, whether waiting for the few shots he faced, or fighting through and around traffic in front of him. His forays out of the net were not too hair raising, and he seemed to be seeing the game well enough to not take too many chances in that department.

During the Sharks’ next power play, (a tripping call on Adam Pardy),  Matt Nieto was pushed into the Jets’ net without any semblance of subtlety. Unfortunately for the Sharks, most of their power play had already expired and they only had 20 or so seconds of five on three.

The Jets were making some progress on the shot clock, and had closed the gap to 26-22. The Sharks did not do a very good job of anything in that power play, aside from preventing short handed goals.

They would have yet another chance when Byfuglien went to the box again, this time for tripping at 9:03.

The Sharks did not score and Byfuglien was freed, but he was not out for long. As Stalock covered a relatively harmless shot, Byfuglien skated in and gave him a little snow shower. Stalock clearly saw it coming and he braced himself. Several Sharks took issues with the snow shower, as did the referee. Byfuglien received a two minute penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct and then a ten minute misconduct was tacked on.

One has to wonder what he said to get all of that for such indirect contact with the goaltender.

While the game started out very slowly for Stalock, it certainly picked up for him in the third. By the end of the second Byfuglien penalty, the Sharks still did not have a shot in the third period and the Jets had taken the lead for the game by the 14 minute mark.

The teams played a little four on four while Zach Bogosian and Scott Hannan spent two minutes in the box for roughing.

With two minutes left in the game, the Sharks were still looking for their first shot on goal.They never took it, but defended their own net sufficiently to hang on to the shut out.

The game ended in a frantic scramble in front of Stalock, but he kept the puck out. It was a fitting close to the game.

Sharks Defeat Ducks 3-1 in 4th Preseason Game

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE– Saturday, the San Jose Sharks defeated the Anaheim Ducks 3-1 in their fourth preseason outing. The game featured a preposterous number of penalties from the Ducks and yet another good showing from the line of Barclay Goodrow, Chris Tierney an Nikolay Goldobin. They earned all three stars. Two of the goals were Goodrow’s.  Goldobin picked up assists on both of those, and Tierney had an assist on one. The third Sharks goal was Logan Couture’s, while the lone Ducks goal was scored by Matt Beleskey.

Saturday, the Sharks again started with a jump ahead on the shot clock, but the gap was not so big. Midway through the first period, the shots were 6-2, the Sharks were working on their second power play and a 0-0 tie. Unlike last night’s squad, these Sharks also grabbed the lead on the scoreboard, during that power play. That goal was scored by Logan Couture and a power play unit of Demers, Irwin, Marleau and  Nieto. A few minutes later, Barclay Goodrow scored to give the team a two goal lead. The assist went, of course, to Goldobin.

The Sharks started the second with an early power play that quickly turned into a five on three with a delay of game penalty coming just four seconds in. Into the second minute of that power play, I was still looking to see who the second power play unit was. The first unit would not get off the ice, since the Ducks could not clear the puck. The top unit did not score either, but with 40 or so seconds left, Anaheim goaltender John Gibson stopped the puck and gave his penalty killers a rest. The Sharks’ second unit finally appeared: Barclay Goodrow, Chris Tierney, Nikolay Goldobin, with Matt Tennyson and Mirco Mueller on the blue line. It took them a few seconds but they scored, Goodrow’s second of the game. Assists went to Tierney and Goldobin.

The power play units got some more practice with yet another Ducks penalty. Just a shift or two had gone by when Nicolas Kerdiles was called for tripping. This time the first unit left almost a minute for the second unit to work with.  The second unit included DeMelo instead of Mueller this time.

At 8:42, San Jose’s Taylor Doherty and Anaheim’s Matt Belesky went to the box for matching slashing minors. That was kind of an unusual call.

In the last minutes of the first, Stalock made a save on a wraparound attempt that was very impressive. He does not look like someone trying to get up to speed. He looks more like someone competing for a spot, which, of course, he is. It may not be a spot in San Jose, he has that. But he is certainly capable of challenging Niemi for the starter’s role. No time like the preseason.

The first Ducks power play came at the end of the first period. The second Ducks power play came at the end of the second period. Both times, Melker Karlsson was in the box. In the first period it was for holding the stick. In the second it was for tripping. It was not his night.

The Sharks got another 5 on 3 power play, 1:16 long at 18:48 of the second period. That brought the Ducks to ten penalties, if you do not count the two matching minors. McLellan did not change anything on the first unit, and continued sending them out first. They seemed to need the practice.

It was not Jason Demers’ best night either. He could not seem to get a handle on the pucks sent his way during those many power plays. He spent a lot of time on the left side of the net. That looked like an awkward spot for him.

The third period started with the score at 3-0 Sharks and the shot count at 24-10 Sharks.

One of those rule changes made an appearance about seven minutes in to the third period. The officials called Anaheim’s Nicholas Kardiles for hooking, and gave a matching minor to Goldobin for embellishment. As if the call threw them off, the Sharks gave up a goal 1:38 in to the four on four. It was a fair case of the goalie being beaten by a good shot from an open player. Matt Belesky scored his first of the preseason with assists going to Marc Fistric and Kevin Gagne.

Shortly thereafter, Taylor Doherty fought Clayton Stoner. Stoner got an additional two minutes for roughing, but the Sharks’ power play did not score.

Final score: 3-1, shot count 33-17 Sharks. Attendance announced as over 16, 000.

Saturday’s roster:
Forwards: Andrew Desjardins, Patrick Marleau, John Scott, Logan Couture, Melker Karlsson, Freddie Hamilton, Eriak Hayes, Nikolay Goldobin, Matt Nieto, Barclay Goodrow, Daniil Tarasov, Chris Tierney

Defensemen: Jason Demers, Mirco Mueller, Matt Irwin, Dylan DeMelo, Taylor Doherty, Matt Tennyson

Alex Stalock was in net with Grosenick listed as backup.

Line combos:
Nieto/ Couture/ Marleau, Tierney/ Goldobin/ Goodrow, Hamilton/ Karlsson/ Tarasov, Hayes/ Desjardins/ Scott
Later in the game, Nieto and Hamilton swapped lines

Tennyson/Irwin, Demers/DeMelo, Mueller/Doherty

Power play units:
Marleau, Couture, Nieto, Demers, Irwin
Godolbin, Goodrow, Tierney, Tennyson, Mueller/DeMelo