Sharks Fall to Bruins 3-1, Power Play Struggles

Photo credit: San Jose Sharks

By M. Walsh

SAN JOSE, Calif. — The San Jose Sharks fell to the Boston Bruins 3-1 on Saturday. Boston goals came from Peter Cehlarik, Jake DeBrusk, and Danton Heinen. Bruins goaltender Anton Khudobin made 36 saves for the win, while Sharks goaltender Aaron Dell made 17 saves. The lone Sharks goal came from Timo Meier.

The Sharks played well in many short bursts, but they could not generate second chances or sustain pressure for very long. After the game, Sharks captain Joe Pavelski said:

We’ve got to be a little bit harder around the net. We had some good chances tonight, it’s just we’re one play off, it feels. You come back to the shift and it’s one play, whether it’s in your d-zone or the neutral zone or the o-zone. It just feels like it’s one play right now.

In Saturday’s loss, the Sharks extended their power-play goal drought to 22. Perhaps more improbable, they saw a fourth consecutive coach’s challenge go against them. Brent Burns continues to shoot without scoring. He now leads the Sharks with 75 shots this season.

Just 1:02 in, the Sharks seemed to have ended their 63-minute goalless streak. Joe Thornton held the puck briefly near the goal line and then passed it back in front of the Bruins net. Out of a crush of players in front of the goalie, the puck found its way over the line off of Joonas Donskoi. The Bruins challenged it and won the challenge. Instead of ending their scoring drought, the Sharks now had three consecutive goals disallowed.

Undaunted, the Sharks went back to work and did get a goal at 4:50, this time from Meier. Danny O’Regan wrested control of the puck behind the Bruins net and guided it to Meier across the goal mouth. Khudobin could not get across in time to stop it. A secondary assist went to Joel Ward.

Moments later, the Bruins came back with a goal of their own. The puck went over the line after Boston’s Jake DeBrusk slid into Aaron Dell and pushed him into the net. The Sharks challenged the play for goaltender interference. The goal held up and was credited to Peter Cehlarik. DeBrusk got an assist for his trouble. It was the fourth consecutive challenge to go against the Sharks.

Of the decision, Pavelski said: “I don’t know. They say he was tripped in there. He was already kind of going down, I think.”

The first power play of the game went to the Sharks at 8:43. Riley Nash went to the box for tripping Joe Thornton. The Bruins penalty kill was effective. It was so effective that, just as Dell was tapping his stick to signal the end of the penalty, DeBrusk broke away and scored to give Boston the lead. Assists went to Charlie McAvoy and Sean Kuraly.

By the end of the first period, the score was 2-1 Boston, though the Sharks were outshooting the Bruins 17-5.

Near the midpoint of the second, Joe Thornton was called for tripping David Pastrnak. The Sharks penalty kill started well, with Melker Karlsson and Chris Tierney leading a merry chase at Boston’s end. The Bruins got no shots with that man advantage and really had no opportunity to do so.

The next penalties called were offsetting minors at 10:46, an interference call against Zdneo Chara and an embellishment call against Jannik Hansen. The Sharks dominated the four on four play but did not change the score.

As the period came to a close, the Sharks still trailed 2-1, and still led in shots, now 25-14.

Fans in the third period saw the Sharks start slowly. It was near the midpoint of the period before they had their first shot on goal. Their game picked up after that, but so did Boston’s game. At 14:59, Danton Heinen scored his third of the season against the Sharks, catching a well-timed pass from Kevan Miller for a breakaway. Too many Sharks were too deep in the Boston zone to catch him.

The Sharks had another power play in the last two minutes of regulation, but it didn’t make a difference.

The Sharks will have a chance to repair their game on Monday when they host the Anaheim Ducks at 7:30 pm PT.

Bruins Beat Sharks 2-1, Thornton Climbs to 20th in NHL Points

Photo credit: San Jose Sharks

by Mary Walsh

The San Jose Sharks lost 2-1 to the Boston Bruins on Thursday. Rookie Danton Heinen scored both Boston goals, his first and second NHL goals. It was his fourth NHL game. Joe Thornton scored the lone goal for San Jose. The point moved him up to a tie for 20th place with Jari Kurri among the NHL’s all time points leaders. Boston goaltender Anton Khudobin made 36 saves on 37 shots for the win.

After the game, Sharks captain Joe Pavelski said:

I think we worked pretty hard. The ice was not great out there. We had opportunities, we just didn’t find a way to stick them in net. I think when we came out of our end we played down there. They’re a good strong team, they’re big and heavy. I think they stuck their nose in, wanted this one. You know, you get those opportunities on the power play, we’ve got to cash in there.

The game was a reversal of Monday’s game in New York, when the Sharks had to kill six penalties to the Ranger’s 1. In Boston, the Sharks only took two penalties to the Bruins’ six. The loss drops the Sharks to a 4-5-0 record this season, and 2-2-0 for this five game road trip.

Martin Jones made 31 save son 33 shots for the Sharks. Joel Ward was again in the lineup, while Barclay Goodrow was replaced by Timo Meier. Otherwise, the lineup remained the same as on Monday. Ward got credit for one hit and had 9:40 in ice time. In 11:49 of ice time, Meier had a hit and two shots on goal.

The first goal of the game was short-handed. The Sharks were having little luck getting set up and in the second half of the power play Boston’s Kevan Miller won a race to the puck and quickly sent it back to David Backes. Backes headed for the neutral zone, with Heinen was a few steps ahead of him. The Sharks had two players back but Backes’s shot got by them and Sharks goalie Martin Jones kicked the rebound out right to Heinen. Assists went to Backes and Miller.

Joe Thornton’s goal came on a power play in the second period. Boston goaltender Anton Khudobin got a piece of Brent Burns’s shot but it rolled over his toe. Thornton had just slipped behind defenders Zdeno Chara and Brandon Carlo. Thornton was able to turn and reach the puck in the blue paint and lift it in the net. Assists went to Burns and Tim Heed.

Heinen’s second goal was also in the second period. This time, the rebound came off the boards behind the net while Jones was still trying to come across. Assists went to Carlo and Tim Schaller.

Late in the third period, the Boston net came off of its moorings and was not called as a delay of game. The Sharks were already on a power play with just 1:17 left in the third period. After the game, Pavelski summarized the third period:

We made a little push trying to get that goal, I think we created some opportunities. It felt good. There was maybe a few plays where we’re trying to make something happen and they turn it over. In those situations, Joner made the saves. It felt good, felt like we were going to get one there at the end. Ran out of time.

The Sharks next play on Saturday in Buffalo at 10:00 AM PT.

Barracuda Finish Weekend With Loss to Gulls

By Mary Walsh

photo credit: San Jose Barracuda–San Jose goaltender Aaron Dell was in the headlights as the San Diego Gulls made work on net in their 3-1 victory at SAP on Sunday

SAN JOSE– The San Diego Gulls beat the San Jose Barracuda by a score of 3-1 Sunday. The teams split the weekend meeting with a win each. Two goals were scored by Antoine Laganiere, and one by Matt Bailey for San Diego. Goaltender Anton Khudobin made 34 saves on 35 shots for the win. The Barracuda goal was scored by Ryan Carpenter, while Aaron Dell made 17 saves on 19 shots.

The Gulls took six penalties in all, the Barracuda took none. The Barracuda did have two goals discounted, which did not happen to the Gulls. Anton Khudobin was in net for the San Diego Gulls on Sunday. His backup ws Matt Hackett. Khudobin has played 99 NHL games with Boston, Carolina, Minnesota and Anaheim. Hackett has played in 26 NHL game with Buffalo and Minnesota. It would appear that the Anaheim Ducks are not taking any chances with goaltending this season.

Nevertheless, the less experienced Aaron Dell only let two pucks get by him, while Khudobin let three in. Two did not count but they did get by him.

San Diego scored less than four minutes into the game, when Barracuda goaltender Aaron Dell collected the puck behind the net and passed it forward, where a Gull was lurking. He made the initial save on the quick shot that followed, but in doing so he slid too far from the net. Matt Bailey caught the rebound and put it behind Dell for his third goal of the season. An assist went to Antoine Laganiere.

The fifteen minute mark approached and San Jose was still trying to get their second shot on goal, while San Diego had nine. They got it, in the course of a power play. Harry Zolnierczyk was in the box for slashing. The Barracuda got credit for three shots on that power play, but the score remained unchanged.

The Barracuda had one more shot in the period. The first ended with the score 1-0 and the shots 11-5 San Diego. The Barracuda made up some lost ground in the first few minutes of the second period, creeping closer on the shot clock and even almost scoring a goal off a peculiar bounce that coincided with some confusion in the Gulls’ zone. The goal did not count but the shots were 12-9 at that point. San Jose was on the hunt and San Diego was caught a little bit off guard.

The Barracuda completed the shot clock comeback with a power play at 6:27, a too many men penalty to San Diego. That power play went by with the score still 1-0 visitors. The shot clock read 14-13 Barracuda 102 seconds later, when the Gulls scored again, this time through a chaotic coverage breakdown by the Barracuda. The goal was Laganiere’s 12th of the season. Assists went to Corey Tropp and Matt Bailey. It was the second shot of the period for the Gulls.

The Barracuda had a third consecutive power play at 11:40 of the second. This time it was Stu Bickel in the box for tripping. Still no goal fro San Jose. At 14:02, San Jose had a fourth power play and San Diego still had none.

That fourth power play made all the difference. Karl Stollery carried the puck off the wall into the slot, where he sent it in the direction of Ryan Carpenter, who was at the side of the net with his stick ready for a deflection. Trevor Parkes was battling with a Gull in front of Khudobin so the goaltender never saw the shot coming. It was Carpenter’s 4th of the season. Assists went to Stollery and Barclay Goodrow.

The shot count for the second period was 19-4 Barracuda.

San Jose had their fifth power play at 3:12 of the third, thanks to a tripping penalty on Corey Tropp.

After a frustrating sequence in and out of the Gulls’ zone, the Barracuda finally connected on a pass or two and Nikolay Goldbin took a shot from near the goal line at 9:04 of the third. The puck went in, but the presence of a teal skater on the other side of the blue paint qualified as interference. He did not really seem to be in the way but that is how the officials called it. For the second time in the game, a Barracuda goal was waived off.

The sixth Barracuda power play came with a little more than eight minutes remaining in the third period. Joseph Cramarossa was the culprit, confined for high-sticking.

Dell came out of his net with just under two minutes left, but the additional skater did not make the difference. The final shot count was 35-19 Barracuda.

While no Barracuda player had more than three shots, eight different players finished the game with three. It was a solid effort.

The Barracuda next play on Wednesday, in San Jose at 7:30 PT, against the Ontario Reign.

Ducks Defeat Sharks With Ferocious Start

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE– The San Jose Sharks lost a hard-fought game to the Anaheim Ducks Saturday. They lost by just one goal, the only goal scored in the game. The Sharks remain without a power play goal at home, despite having four chances on Saturday. That one goal was scored by Corey Perry.

The Sharks did not come out with intensity to match a desperate Ducks team. After the game, Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer said:

I thought the first ten minutes, they obviously had the jump on us. We were standing around watching, I don’t know why. But from that point on I thought we played a hell of a game. I thought our goalie was great, we put a lot of pressure on them, put a lot of pucks on the net, had a lot of opportunities. Obviously our power play didn’t click but it’s not like we’re not establishing possession, getting in, looking dangerous, getting chances. So we just got to stick with it, and know that eventually those are going to go in for us.

Ducks goaltender Anton Khudobin made 30 saves for the shutout win. Martin Jones made 16 saves on 17 shots for the Sharks. That the Sharks could limit the Ducks to so few shots after the first period was a feat, but not enough to change the outcome.

The only line change from the previous game was to the fourth line. Thursday, that line included Matt Nieto, Bryan Lerg and Michael Haley. Saturday, it was Mike Brown, wearing a cage, instead of Lerg. The power play also saw a couple of changes, with Marc-Edouard Vlasic moving to the top unit, and Joel Ward moving back to the second.

The Sharks looked quite outmatched for the first five minutes of the game. The Ducks had played the night before, but they started with more jump than the Sharks.

At the 4:56 mark, Corey Perry escaped detection as he lurked along the boards, then darted through the neutral zone. He received a pass from Ryan Getzlaf just outside the Sharks’ blue line and skated in to beat Martin Jones. Assists went to Getzlaf and Patrick Maroon.

By the midpoint of the period, the Sharks were being outshot 7-2.

Four minutes later, the Sharks had added a couple of shots, but the Ducks had added four more. With 6:09 left in the period, Sharks goalie Martin Jones had to make not one but three stops in a row as Ryan Kesler and Chris Stewart shot the puck at will.

With 4:42 left, Tommy Wingels drew a penalty as Jakub Silfverberg was called for interference. The new first power play unit (Vlasic, Burns, Marleau, Pavelski and Thornton) held the zone and took a couple of shots but at the first stoppage were replaced with the second unit: Braun, Burns, Wingels, Ward and Hertl. Evidently, as Brent Burns is already leading the team in ice time, he will play all the power play time too. The second unit also took a couple of shots, though they got ousted from the zone before the penalty expired.

What the power play did, and the Sharks did for the final minutes of the period, was stop the Ducks from shooting. When the first 20 minutes expired, the teams were tied at 11 shots each.

The Sharks came out with a lot more energy in the second period. Early, the fourth line had an excellent chance but Matt Nieto was moving too fast as he came to the net. He just missed a chance to put the puck in as it bounced around in front of the blue paint.

Another excellent chance came at 7:28, when Tommy Wingels broke through the neutral zone and beat the Ducks defenders to the circle. He took his shot from there, which Anton Khudobin slowed down but did not stop. The puck twirled through the air, hit the corner of the crossbar and came out again. The goal light went on, everybody cheered and the official review took it back.

The Sharks got their second power play at 11:20 of the second. Kevin Bieksa went for interference. The power play lasted 13 seconds before Joe Thornton was also sent away for interference. For the ensuing 4 on 4, Hertl skated with Donksoi, Vlasic and Braun. Goldobin and Pavelski replaced Hertl and Donskoi before the penalties expired.

As the second period wound down, the Sharks had taken a 16-13 lead on the shot clock, had not allowed another goal, and in general were showing more energy. With 3:22 left, Clayton Stoner took Joe Thornton down with what may have been a slew foot. It was at least the second time he bothered Thornton, and Michael Haley took issue with that. A fight ensued, and then another between Brendan Dillon and Chris Wagner. Wagner and Dillon both received game misconducts along with fighting majors.

Shortly after play resumed, Justin Braun was called for slashing. The Sharks penalty killers kept the Ducks at bay and during the few seconds left after the penalty expired, San Jose did take the game to the other end. At the end of the second, the Sharks still led on the shot clock 18-15.

They say that, in the case of back-to-back games, a team does not really feel it until the third period. As the third began, the Ducks still did not look especially tired. They closed the gap in shots and kept the Sharks off balance for the first five minutes of the period.

During the next five minutes, the Sharks looked more promising. They even mustered a breakaway for Marleau, and Khudobin had to scramble to stop him from scoring.

Coach DeBoer has not done a lot of line juggling during games this season, but to start the third period, he moved Matt Nieto up to the third line with Tommy Wingels and Nikolay Goldobin. That moved Tierney down to the fourth line. By the middle of the period, Tierney was back on the ice with the third line. By necessity, the defense pairs were a mix and match, since the Sharks were without Dillon.

The Sharks had some good chances in the second half of the third, but Khudobin fended them off with some impressive saves.

With almost five minutes left, Andrew Cogliano tripped Thornton near the boards and Thornton went down for a spell. He did get back up and was on the ice to start the power play. The Sharks got another chance at 17:36 due to a delay of game to the Ducks. Despite pulling their goaltender and having two more skaters than the Ducks had, the Sharks still could not get a puck by Khudobin. They finished the game leading in shots 30-17 but still trailing by that lone goal scored back in the first.

The Sharks next play on Tuesday at SAP Center, against the New York Islanders. Puck drop shortly after 7:30 PT.

It was hard to ignore the trade rumors about Patrick Marleau that were buzzing around before the game. The presence of several scouts at SAP Center spurred those rumors. Whatever Patrick Marleau’s future, the day’s NHL-AHL double-header gave scouts a chance to see Sharks and Ducks prospects all in action. There were a lot of players for them to look at Saturday.

Of course the question came up post-game. Asked if he had heard the rumors, Marleau observed jovially that they were “starting early this year.” Asked whether the Sharks had asked him to waive his no-trade clause, he said no. Beyond that, he would not confirm or deny the possibilities that he may or may not be willing to consider a trade.