Kings make it a special night

(Photo by Juan Ocampo/NHLI via Getty Images)

By Pearl Allison Lo

LOS ANGELES–It was fitting that the game was won on special teams as Los Angeles took second place from the San Jose Sharks in a 3-1 win Saturday.

Coming into the game, the Sharks had the league-best power play, and both teams had recent hot streaks, the Kings on the power play and San Jose on the penalty kill.

However, Coach Todd McLellan added, “There is much more to it than that. A lot of the grinding part, and the hard part of the game, we were beat in those areas as well. They were better on the walls, they were better defending, taking time and space away. Their forecheck was better.”

McLellan later responded “…tonight was an opportunity for both teams to play under similar circumstances. I thought they were better than us, so that is a little bit disappointing. Both teams coming off the Christmas break and overtime losses.

The Sharks struck first. In Los Angeles’s zone, the Kings’ Justin Williams’ pass hit San Jose’s Joe Thornton, who quickly recovered the puck and passed to Joe Pavelski. Pavelski then shot with just one defender between him and goalie Jonathan Quick, deflecting off Quick into the net to make it 1-0, 2:39 into the game.

Los Angeles’s Tyler Toffoli had two chances to score and did not miss after his initial shot went off the boards to Jamie McBain. McBain gave the puck another trip across the front of the net as Toffoli tied the game at 14:04. Trevor Lewis had the second assist.

The Kings had 8-3 giveaways as they outhit (18-4) and outshot (12-6) San Jose, missing eight of the shots.

Special team opportunities dominated the second and the third. Los Angeles’s Drew Doughty said, “…we did a good job of staying out of the box the first couple of periods and then we killed off some big [power plays] in the third, so that was huge.” Pavelski noted, “It’s such a fine line sometimes with the power play…When we were a little aggressive it was probably not the right time.”

The Sharks’ penalty kill won over the Kings’ power play in the first round at 3:07.

Los Angeles’s power play won in the second round at 9:25. Marian Gaborik’s shot hit goalie Antti Niemi and Anze Kopitar put in the game winner, 12 seconds before the man advantage expired. Jeff Carter got the second assist. The last time the Sharks gave up a power play goal was seven games ago.

San Jose could not get a goal during the third round, which starting at 18:51, spanned two periods.

The Sharks’ Scott Hannan committed two penalties in the third and Jake Muzzin made it 3-1 off the first at 3:18. It was another second chance goal as Niemi saved Muzzin’s first shot. Doughty and Kopitar helped out.

San Jose had a second power play opportunity at 16:10, but went scoreless again. They had previously had power plays in five of their last seven games.

Game notes: The Sharks’ points streak ended at six. The Kings kept their season home loss streak at one and with at least one power play goal at home, are now 10-0-1. The recently called up Micheal Haley for San Jose played, instead of the suspended John Scott. The Sharks now head home to face the Canucks Tuesday at 7pm, before playing the Ducks on New Year’s Eve.

Ducks rise to win in overtime

(Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

By Pearl Allison Lo

ANAHEIM– 58 seconds into sudden death, Ryan Kesler scored above Antti Niemi in a 3-2 win Monday, to extend the Ducks’ division lead over the San Jose Sharks.

Kesler was aided by Patrick Maroon and Ryan Getzlaf before the teams headed into Christmas break, as Anaheim halted the Sharks’ five-game winning streak.

Regarding the game winner, Niemi commented, “it came quick. It was a quick shot behind the [defense]. I didn’t see it coming early enough.”

The 32 saves for each goalie both spoke to competitiveness and skill.

In the first period in which San Jose has outscored the Ducks 5-1, the Sharks had 15 shots without result this time. Joe Pavelski said,“It felt like we probably should have deserved better up ‘til [the third period]. That was the energy. It didn’t really feel like we needed to change the way we were playing…”

San Jose killed off two penalties in the second, but ended the period in the hole as Rickard Rakell scored his first regular season goal, aided by Emerson Etem and Matt Beleskey at 7:20. Rakell later remarked, “Christmas is saved.”

The Sharks’ Tomas Hertl left the ice after being hit by a shot before the goal, but returned later. In the other end, after San Jose’s Andrew Desjardins committed goalie interference on the left at 8:18, teammate John Scott knocked down Tim Jackman at the right side of the net. Jackman was laid out for awhile, but luckily got up after. An announcement was made during second intermission, however, stating Jackman would not return to the game due to evaluation.

Though there was at least one power play and some sort of altercation between the two nemeses in each period, things didn’t get really interesting on the scoreboard until the third.

The Sharks took advantage of an early power play in the period. Brent Burns shot from the blue line and Pavelski tipped in his shot to put San Jose on the board. Joe Thornton also helped on the play. At 7:56, Melker Karlsson gave the Sharks their first lead with his first NHL goal as the puck slid between goalie Frederick Andersen’s legs.  Barclay Goodrow and Brenden Dillon also assisted. At 15:44, Cam Fowler re-tied the game by sliding the puck around Niemi’s foot. Fowler was aided by Getzlaf and Devante Smith-Pelly. Almost like last game, the Sharks pushed the game into overtime in the last minute, but his time defensively instead of offensively.

Burns was called for high-sticking with 1:07 left. Niemi made a left hand save against Kesler during the power play, falling backwards after. Coach Todd McLellan commented, “Everybody found a way to scramble to get a point on the road.”

Game notes: Anaheim was without Francois Beauchemin and Corey Perry, who were nursing injuries. This was the first game of the season series both teams came in riding a hot hand and was the tightest game result so far. San Jose returns from Christmas break to play Saturday at 7p versus their other Southern California opponent.

Sharks Shut Out Predators 2-0

AP Photo/Ben Margot

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE– Saturday, the San Jose Sharks defeated the Nashville Predators by a score of 2-0. A goal from Tomas Hertl gave the Sharks the lead midway through the first period and they never gave it back. In the final minutes, Joe Thornton added the insurance goal. Antti Niemi made 29 saves for the shutout win. Nashville’s Pekka Rinne made 32 saves on 33 shots to keep his team in the game.

This season’s Predators are a turbo-charged version of the Nashville teams the Sharks have faced for several seasons now. Always defensively formidable, this year’s Preds have just enough extra offense to increase their goal scoring without taking anything away from their defensive play. They are a model for anyone wondering how important defense is to offense.

Saturday, those turbo engines misfired. Not only did the Predators fail to score or take many shots, they also took an uncharacteristic number of penalties, and there were times when the Sharks ran their defense ragged.

The Sharks were in rare form. They blocked almost as many shots as the Predators took, and won 46 of 72 faceoffs. They outshot the Predators 34-29, but through the first two periods that count was 29-11. After the game, Joe Thornton talked about the Sharks’ good start: “You try to get off to a good start every night but just sometimes it happens better than other nights for whatever reason. Tonight was one of those nights when we started fast and it won the game for us probably.”

Oddly, this year’s Predators have a habit of giving up the first goal of the game. It is a peculiar pattern, considering they entered Saturday’s contest second in the very tough Central Division.

They gave up that first goal again Saturday, when Joe Thornton picked up a dump in from Scott Hannan. He passed it to Joe Pavelski, who shot it, creating a rebound that Tomas Hertl could pick up as he came acorss in front of the crease. It was Hertl’s seventh goal of the season.

The Predators are not in the habit of taking penalties. They had the fewest overall in the NHL, before Saturday. Their average penalty minutes per game was 7.1. On Saturday they had 11 penalty minutes before the second period was over. The Sharks had the same number but their average has been higher at 10.5 per game.
The Sharks took the first penalty of the game at 6:04 of the first, a hooking call on Chris Tierney.

By the midpoint of the first period, the shot count was 11-3 Sharks.

The Sharks also took the second penalty, a slashing call to Barclay Goodrow. That call came at 17:13 of the period. Before that was over, Tommy Wingels and James Neal had a bout, which earned each the usual five minutes, with an additional two minutes for Neal for cross-checking.

The period ended with the Sharks up 1-0 and ahead in shots 18-7.

The Sharks started the second period with a little over a minute of power play time. They had a few good passes but they did not register a shot.

The Sharks’ next power play opportunity came at at 7:54 of the second, a hooking call on Nashville defenseman Seth Jones. That power play started very well, with the Predators getting in the way of some good chances for the Sharks, without being able to push the Sharks out of the zone. The second minute of the penalty was less noteworthy, with the second power play unit unable to get set up. The first unit took over again for the last half minute or so but the scrore remained unchanged at 1-0 Sharks.

Mike Fisher took the next penalty for the Predators, two minutes for high sticking. At the same time, James Sheppard was called for holding the stick. The resulting four on four started out in the Sharks’ zone but the Preds were pushed out without getting any shots on net. The Sharks spent their time in the Nashville end a little more productively, getting credit for three shots.

Through the course of the second period, the Predators only got four shots on net to the Sharks’ eleven.

At 4:25 of the third, Justin Braun was called for holding in an encounter that put Ryan Ellis on his posterior right in front of Antti Niemi. Braun was not happy about the call but it did eliminate a scoring chance. The Sharks penalty killers outdid themselves keeping the Predators from ever sustaining pressure on the power play, though they did add a few shots to their count.

At 12:28 of the period, James Sheppard and Shea Webber took turns throwing cross checks. Sheppard cross checked Craig Smith, and Weber cross-checked Sheppard.  They went to their respective boxes for two minutes. Neither team scored.

The Predators could not score with their goalie pulled either, and at 18:26 Joe Thornton took advantage of the absent netminder to score the empty netter.

The period came to a close in a flurry of whistles and penalties. At 19:39, James Neal was called for embellishment, Ryan Ellis was given a 10 minute misconduct, Barclay Goodrow got one of those as well and a two minute slashing penalty.

Joe Pavelski led the Sharks in shots with seven. Tommy Wingels led the team with six hits and Marc-Edouard Vlasic blocked a team high of five shots.

The Sharks next play at 7:30 PT on Thursday the 18th, when they will host the Edmonton Oilers again at SAP Center.

Sharks Fend Off Flames, Win 4th in a Row

AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Larry MacDougal

By Mary Walsh

The Sharks started a two game road trip with a 3-2 win against the Calgary Flames. Going into Saturday’s game, the Flames had won four in a row, Sharks had won three. The Flames were 11-1-2 when scoring first, as they did Saturday. To up the ante, the Flames had a third period scoring differential of 24, while the Sharks had a lamentable minus 4. If the Sharks thrive on a challenge, entering the third period tied with the Flames was a fine one.

It was not a pristine performance from the Sharks, but head coach Todd McLellan summed it up well after the game:

We… found a way to beat a hot goaltender, found a way to get ourselves back into the game. Our first period was not anywhere near what we needed it to be, but we chatted a little bit between periods and we responded well.

Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi stopped 33 shots for the win. Patrick Marleau scored the game winner, while Tommy Wingels, Logan Couture and Justin Braun all had two point games.

The Flames dominated play for the first five minutes, peppering Niemi with shots while the Sharks had trouble getting through the neutral zone. The Sharks started to show some cohesion around the ten minute mark, with some sustained zone time and a few shots. Overall, the Flames dominated play in the first, keeping the Sharks’ recorded shot count to just three in the first fifteen minutes of the period.

Kennedy left the game during the first period with an undisclosed injury and did not return for the second.

The Flames scored the first goal in the last three minutes of the period. David Jones passed the puck to Mark Giordano who was just coming across the blue line with some speed. His slapshot came so fast that Niemi never saw it coming. It was Giordano’s seventh goal of the season. Assists went to David Jones and Curtis Glencross.

In the final minute, Logan Couture took a shot that went off the post, and the Sharks picked up their game in the final few shifts of the period. By the end of the period, the Flames led the Sharks in shots 12-8, and the score stood at 1-0 Flames.

The Sharks started the second period by losing the faceoff, but they chased the puck down and pushed the Flames into the offensive zone. Justin Braun came up with the puck off some good forechecking from Tommy Wingels. With a backhand shot that looked like an afterthought, Braun beat Karri Ramo to tie the game. The assist went to Wingels.

That backhand worked so well that Logan Couture decided to try one after some nifty stick handling around a Flames defender. He got control of the puck after John Scott wrested it from the Flames’ Raphael Diaz. Couture’s shot went off the far post and in, abruptly giving the Sharks the lead. Assists went to to John Scott and Justin Braun.

The Sharks took the first penalty of the game midway through the second period, an interference penalty to Brent Burns. Not only was the Calgary power play seventh in the league, but it was also on a four game scoring streak. The Sharks killed that off without allowing a shot to get through to the net.

The next penalty went to the Flames, with just under five minutes left in the period. The Sharks held the zone well but only got one shot to the net during the power play.

Back at even strength, the Flames tied the game after the Sharks lost track of Johnny Gaudreau, who set himself up in front of the net. Jiri Hudler passed the puck to him and he had plenty of time to push it past Niemi. Assists went to Hudler and Matt Stajan.

At the end of the second, the Flames led in shots 21-16. For the period, the shots were 9-8 Flames.

The Sharks’ Brendan Dillon was called for interference just 3:26 into the third period, putting the Sharkson the penalty kill. Johnny Gaudreau had a quick chance that had Niemi scrambling to stop it but the Sharks penalty killers did come to the rescue. Another close call came with 35 seconds left in the penalty, with the puck bouncing like a lotto ball, but the Sharks killed the penalty off. The Flames managed three shots on that power play.

Midway through the period, the Marleau-Couture-Wingels line had a spectacularly relentless shift, moving the puck through and around the Flames zone. Scott Hannan and Matt Irwin held the blue line, while pass after pass kept the Flames chasing the puck around. Finally, a few quick moves behind the goal line between Wingels and Couture ended with a shot from Patrick Marleau to give the Sharks the lead again. Assists went to Couture and Wingels.

The Flames responded ferociously, hemming the Sharks into their zone for a very long shift. An icing gave the Sharks a chance to regroup, and the Sharks escaped for line changes after Goodrow blocked a shot out of the zone.

Driving the net at 14:55, Tomas Hertl drew a holding penalty against TJ Brodie. 31 seconds into the power play, Matt Stajan was called for hooking, giving the Sharks a two man advantage for nearly 90 seconds. The first minute of that 5 on 3 produced just two shots but looking promising. Ramo stopped the shots, holding the second.

The Flames won the next faceoff and the Sharks’ power play fell apart after that, with the Flames clearing the puck twice and getting a short-handed breakaway. Niemi stopped the shot but the Flames came alive, running roughshod through the Sharks zone. The Flames drew a penalty and played with an empty net for more than 30 seconds before their power play even started.

With Braun in the box for tripping, the Flames pulled Ramo for a sixth skater. Burns, Couture, Vlasic, Thornton, Pavelski and Hannan all pitched in for the closing penalty kill. The Sharks only got the puck out twice, but it was enough to hold on for the win.

The final shot count was 35-30 for the Flames.

Joe Pavelski led the team in shots with six, Marc-Edouard Vlasic led the team in shots blocked with four. Vlasic also led the Sharks’ skaters in ice time with 24:32.

Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan led the Flames in shots with five each. Curtis Glencross and Ladislav Smid each blocked three shots. Karri Ramo stopped 27 of 30 shots for Calgary. Dennis Wideman led all skaters in ice time with 28:44.

Matt Nieto was out with an injury, while Tye McGinn and Mirco Mueller sat as healthy scratches.

The Sharks next play on Sunday at 6:00 PST in Edmonton against the Oilers.

Sharks Lose to Blue Jackets, Again

By Mary Walsh

For the second time this season, the San Jose Sharks fell to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Last time, the Sharks lost 5-4, this time it was 2-1. This was the Blue Jackets’ second win in a row, after a nine-game losing streak, mostly attributable to an unprecedented rash of injuries. The last game they won before that losing streak? October 25, in San Jose. It was the first game back for Sergei Bobrovsky after being out with a broken finger. This second win completes the Blue Jackets’ sweep of the season series between the teams.

After the game, Sharks forward Joe Pavelski said, of his team’s inability to string wins together: “That’s what it’s about, is winning, it’s always frustrating. This little seesaw here, win one, lose one, it’s… it gets old.

Pavelski scored the lone goal for the Sharks. Columbus goals were scored by David Savard and Cam Atkinson. Bobrovsky made 36 saves on 37 shots for the win, Antii Niemi made 26 saves on 28 shots for the Sharks.

Sharks head coach Todd McLellan did not see a lack of effort at the root of the Sharks’ loss:

This one, the effort was an honest one, so we have to live with an honest effort not winning at times. But we had a number of opportunities to put the puck in the net, we didn’t. Had a lot of pucks that were blocked or just deflected at the last second, probably not releasing it quick enough.

Defensively, McLellan saw some positives as well:

Defensively I didn’t think we gave up a lot, we had to open the game up a bit in the third, they had some chances. As far as stringing games together, there’s some frustration there, but the fact that for the most part we had a very competitive night was a positive.

The Blue Jackets scored first, near the end of the first period. Defenseman David Savard took a shot from above the faceoff circle, catching Niemi away from the post with Scott Hannan skating across in front of him. Assists went to Adam Cracknell and Artem Anisimov.

Brent Burns was called for tripping in the final seconds of the first period, putting the Sharks on the penalty kill to start the second. The Sharks took a second penalty 9:10 into the second when Andrew Desjardins was called for goalie interference.

The period ended with the Sharks barely ahead in shots 11-10, and trailing Columbus by one goal.

The Blue Jackets did not get a lot of shots in the period, despite that power play. With just over five minutes left, they only had credit for two shots on goal. The Sharks had eight in the same time frame, and had a power play as well at 11:17.

At 15:14, Mirco Mueller was called for interference and the Blue Jackets went back on the power play. Niemi made some good saves before Columbus beat him again. One cross- ice pass through traffic was followed by another that squeaked by in front of the crease. Cam Atkinson caught that pass and put it in to give the Blue Jackets a two goal lead. Assists went to Jack Johnson and Boone Jenner.

In the final minute of the period, Joe Pavelski broke Bobrovsky’s shut out and got the Sharks back in the game. Carrying the puck into the slot, Pavelski tried a backhand but could not get a handle on the puck. No one took it away from him so he turned around and shot it forehand.

At the end of the second, the Sharks led in shots 21-18.

During the first shift of the third period, Matt Nieto went awkwardly into the boards after a hit from Boone Jenner. He went to the dressing room after a stop at the bench, but came right back out.

Neither team sat back after that, staying even in shots and chances. With five minutes left in regulation, Alexander Wennberg high sticked Scott Hannan and drew blood, giving the Sharks a four minute man advantage. The Columbus penalty killers rose to the occasion and kept the Sharks from ever sustaining an attack. Bobrovsky ate up any chance of rebounds so that the blue paint became something of a dead zone for any puck that got close.

The penalty expired and McLellan pulled Niemi for the extra attacker but the Blue Jackets did not give an inch. The Sharks used their time out with under 30 seconds left. The Sharks did win the faceoff in the Blue Jackets zone, but they could not keep the puck in for long.

Final score: 2-1 Blue Jackets. The final shot count was 37-28 Sharks.

The Blue Jackets won 32 faceoffs to the Sharks’ 22. The Blue Jackets’ power play went 1/3, the Sharks was 0/3. The Blue Jackets blocked 19 shots to the Sharks’ 9.

Jason Demers and Patrick Marleau led the Sharks in shots with four each. Marc-Edouard Vlasic led the team in ice time at 22:03. Andrew Desjardins led the team in hits with three.

Cam Atkinson led the Blue Jackets in shots with five. David Savard led the team in ice time with 22:42, Nick Foligno led in hits with five.

San Jose’s scratches were Matt Irwin, Tye McGinn and John Scott.

The Sharks next play at 2:00 PT Sunday, against the Hurricanes in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Sharks stun Lightning

Photo credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

By Pearl Allison Lo

San Jose regrouped from a 4-1 loss Tuesday with a 2-1 win over Eastern leaders Tampa Bay Thursday.

The Sharks led the whole game while ending the Lightning’s seven-game points streak. Tampa Bay fell to second in the East.

A giveaway in the Sharks’ end gave the puck to to Tomas Hertl, whose shot ricocheted to Joe Thornton. Thornton then scored through several defenders at 5:23 of the second

Tyler Kennedy scored the game winner and his first goal at 10:37. He took a pass from Brent Burns in the other end, scoring with two defenders trailing him. Antti Niemi got his first assist as well during the play.

Captain Steven Stamkos pulled the Lightning to within one when he redirected Andrej Sustr’s shot at 9:35 of the third. Valterri Filppula helped too. It was Tampa Bay’s first regulation loss with Stamkos having a point (8-1-2). It was also goalie Ben Bishop’s first home regulation loss (6-1-1).

Game notes: In the past 11 meetings, San Jose is now 9-1-1 versus the Lightning. Goalie Antti Niemi is now 5-0-1 in his starts against Tampa Bay. He faced 33 shots and Bishop faced 39.Lightning Tyler Johnson did play. Shots on goal throughout the game were one-sided for either team. San Jose outshot the Lightning through the first two periods, 17-9 and 14-8. Tampa Bay outshot the Sharks 16-8 in the final stanza. San Jose continues on the road to face the Colombus Blue Jackets Saturday at 4pm.

Florida wins with four this time

Photo credit: Robert Mayer- USA TODAY Sports

By Pearl Allison Lo

The Panthers flipped the story on their previous game with a 4-1 win, as Roberto Luongo almost shut out the San Jose Sharks Tuesday.

Florida lost 4-6 last game and gave up two two-goal leads, but never looked back in this one.

It was a tale of similar starts as San Jose went down 2-0 in the first  for the third time in their road trip, and lost by three goals and went down 3-0 in their second straight game.

From the boards after getting the puck back, the Panthers’ Jussi Jokinen passed it to Vincent Trocheck. Trocheck then saw Jimmy Hayes cross ice and Hayes got the puck to the net before defender Matt Nieto. At 10:56, it was Hayes’ third point in as many games and second straight goal.

Tomas Kopecky passed the puck to Scottie Upshall who was against the boards and working against Patrick Marleau. As both went behind the net, Upshall made a backwards pass to

Aleksander Barkov for the 2-0 score at12:18. It was Upshall’s fourth point and second assist in two games.

At 6:37 of the second, Aaron Ekblad fired from beyond the right circle and Derek MacKenzie put in the rebound for the 3-0 two-man play.

The Sharks hit the post twice during the period, including once with less than 7.5 seconds left.

Tomas Fleischmann scored his first goal of the season at 3:01 of the third, aided by Shawn Thornton and Ekblad to cap their scoring.

At 10:35, Luongo’s shutout, who has never shut out San Jose, was spoiled by no other than Joe Thornton, who has the best career record against Luongo. Tomas Hertl fished the puck from alongside the boards and passed it to Brent Burns. From the point, Burns’ puck hit Luongo, went over him and was knocked in by Thornton.

Game notes: Both teams had two power plays apiece but neither scored. Florida had 12 blocked shots to the Sharks’ five. San Jose’s John Scott returned for the first time since his suspension after Anaheim’s game, The Sharks continue their longest road trip of the season so far against the Tampa Bay Lightning Thursday at 4:30pm.

Sharks Fall 5-2 in Chicago

By Mary Walsh

Three quick first period goals from Blackhawks’ defensemen were too much for the San Jose Sharks to overcome in a 5-2 loss Sunday. Two goals from Joe Pavelski gave the Sharks life in later periods but they could not catch the skilled Chicago team.

After the loss, Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic summarized the Sharks’ performance: “We didn’t play well in the first period, we didn’t do anything right and fell behind three-nothing. It’s tough to come back against a team like that.”

Before Sunday, the Blackhawks had lost three home games in a row. Of that fact, Sharks forward Joe Pavelski said:

I don’t care if they’ve won three in a row or lost three in a row, you’re going to get a team’s good game at home and we didn’t get the start we wanted. We didn’t do hardly anything right in that first.

Despite losing by three goals, the Sharks did make a game of it in the second and third periods. That was little consolation right after the game. Of the Sharks’ strong second and third periods, Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi said: “It’s obviously better than losing it all the way, losing it every period but it doesn’t give much satisfaction in the end because we didn’t get any points.”

The first period started out free-wheeling, with turnovers and takeaways preventing either team from setting up or maintaining pressure. Near the half way mark, the Blackhawks took control. Of the first period as a whole, Sharks head coach Todd McLellan detailed the things that went wrong for his team: “We can’t give the puck away like we did, we gave up three on twos, two on ones, we lost faceoffs. We were unengaged the whole period, everybody.”

Between the 12:00 mark and 14:34 of the first, Chicago defensemen scored three even strength goals. The first was a slapshot from Trevor Van Riemsdyk, his first NHL goal. That came off of a pass from Jonathan Toews. The second came from Brent Seabrook, deflecting off of Andrew Desjardins’ skate. Assists went to Brad Richards and Peter Regin. The third goal was from Niklas Hjalmarsson, with assists to Marian Hossa and Marcus Kruger.

The Sharks managed to stop the bleeding with a goal from Joe Pavelski just under a minute later. A Justin Braun shot from the blue line went off the inside of Pavelski’s stick, then bounced off his hip and into the net. The assists went to Braun and Joe Thornton.

At the end of the period, the Blackhawks led the Sharks in shots 20-9, as well as 3-1 in goals.

For the second game in a row, the Sharks had a four minute power play to work with. 2:57 in to the second period, Joe Thornton took a stick to the face that drew blood. Andrew Shaw went to the box for that and the Sharks went to work against the NHL’s leading penalty killers. It took them almost two minutes but Joe Pavelski scored his second of the game to bring the Sharks within one.

In their shift after the power play expired, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun went on a shooting frenzy, firing as fast as the forwards could get the puck back to them. The sequence did not change the score but it seemed to ramp up the momentum for San Jose.

With eight minutes left in the period, Barclay Goodrow had a clean breakaway but he could not beat Corey Crawford. His linemate, Adam Burish, was right behind him and though they did not convert, it was a very good chance for that line and it kept the Sharks’ momentum going.

Chicago is not a team to wilt easily and they came back with their own series of attacks in the Sharks’ zone. Antti Niemi had to be quick and the Sharks had to work hard to push the Blackhawks back out. The last six minutes of the period were a more refined version of the first period, with play going back and forth fast, but without the sloppiness.

The Sharks led the Blackhawks 13-6 in shots for the period.

Early in the third period, the Sharks had to kill their first penalty of the game. Jason Demers went to the box for a high stick to Bryan Bickell. The Sharks’ penalty kill was very effective, with Patrick Marleau spending a good deal of time in Chicago’s end of the ice interrupting their attempts to get through the neutral zone and set up.

Half way through the third period, the Sharks were rescued from a two on one by a late whistle as David Rundblad was called for holding James Sheppard, as Sheppard and his linemates buzzed the Chicago net.

With under five minutes left, the Bryan Bickell escaped Mirco Mueller behind the net and was able to put a quick shot past Niemi to give the Blackhawks a two goal lead. With just over two minutes left, Joanathan Toews scored into the empty net.

A couple of fights followed, one between Kris Versteeg and Marc-Edouard Vlasic, the other between Adam Burish and Jeremy Morin. Of his encounter with Versteeg, Vlasic said after the game: “He was just holding my stick. I didn’t know he was going to drop his gloves, he kind of got the advantage on me. But I know what to expect for next game.”

An extra roughing penalty to Adam Burish put the Sharks on the penalty kill for the final minute and a half. During that penalty kill, Brent Burns was called for tripping, putting the Sharks down by two men and three goals. Seconds later, Scott Hannan was called for boarding.

Out of men to remove from the ice, and out of time to extend the power play, officials could only note the penalty in the record. Andrew Desjardins, Justin Braun and Jason Demers had the honor of finishing that penalty kill. It was not the prettiest way to end the game, but killing the five on three salvaged something of the Sharks’ game.

Antti Niemi made 32 saves on 36 shots. The Sharks’ power play went 1/3, their penalty kill was perfect. Joe Pavelski led the team in shots with five. Brent Burns led the team in hits with five. Marc-Edouard Vlasic led the team in ice time at 22:41.

Corey Crawford made 32 saves on 34 shots for the win. Brandon Saad led the Blackhawks in shots with five. Marion Hossa led his team in hits with three. Niklas Hjalmarsson led his team in ice time at 25:32.

Tye McGinn, Matt Irwin and John Scott were the Sharks’ scratches.

The Sharks next play on Tuesday at 4:40 PT in Sunrise Florida against the Florida Panthers.

 

Sharks Win 3-1, Score 2 Goals in 3rd

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE–Saturday night, three Sharks lines scored three goals to defeat the New York Islanders 3-1. Additionally, instead of giving up a lead in the third frame, the Sharks picked up the pace, took the lead and stretched it out. This marked a shift away from recent bad habits.

Tomas Hertl and James Sheppard scored the Sharks’ first and third goals of the game. The game winner was a goal from Logan Couture, the second Sharks goal of the night. Even if the lines were switched around a bit during the game, getting goals from three of the four lines had to please Sharks’ head coach Todd McLellan.

While he started the game on the fourth line, Hertl continued to be part of the second power play unit. That is where he was playing when he scored Saturday. After the game, head coach Todd McLellan said of Hertl and the bottom six:

We moved him up a line and rewarded him with that. In turn, Shep gelled with Burr and Desi down the stretch in the last period and a half. So, as it turns out we had a kid line and a veteran group of players that both contributed to the win tonight.

The Islanders struck first almost ten minutes in to the first period. Kyle Okposo scored it. Okposo had spent a lot of time in the Sharks’ zone, he seemed a likely candidate to score first Saturday.

The game to that point had been a tough back and forth affair, with the shot count low but even. Of the Sharks’ lines, the Couture-Marleau-Wingels line seemed to be spending the most time in the Islanders’ zone.

The Islanders’ goal was followed closely by a power play for the Sharks, when Ryan Strome went to the box for high sticking. The Sharks’ first power play unit of Thornton, Couture, Marleau, Pavelski and Burns had some excellent chances but Islanders’ goalie Jaroslav Halak was there every time. A line change brought Tomas Hertl and Tommy Wingels out with Nieto and Vlasic. At 10:23, Tomas Hertl scored his first of the season to tie the game. Assists went to Tommy Wingels and Matt Nieto.

After the game, Hertl said of the goal:

Tommy Wingels’ pass was very very nice for me so it was [a] very easy goal.

Tommy Wingels said, of that goal and what it may portend:

It’s good to see him score. I think everyone could see a big smile on his face after. Sometimes it only takes one goal to really get you going and we hope that’s the case with Tomas.

By the end of the first period, the shots on goal had tilted dramatically for the Sharks, 17-6.

To start the second period, the Sharks were missing a defenseman as it was announced that Scott Hannan was questionable to return. At 2:45, Tommy Wingels went to the box for holding. The Sharks penalty kill was efficient and teal jerseys spent some time in the Islanders’ end as well. Matt Nieto blocked a shot that looked painful, and Antti Niemi made some good saves to keep the game tied.

The Sharks were still outshooting New York 2-1, but that lead was getting harder to maintain. By the 15 minute mark, the Sharks only had two shots on goal. McLellan predictably started jumbling the lines. Hertl moved to the third with Goodrow and Tierney, Sheppard down to the fourth with Burish and Desjardins. It looked briefly as if Marleau might have been moved to the Joe line but on the next faceoff, Nieto was still with Thorton and Pavelski.

The second period ended with only 11 shots fired, five by the Sharks, six by the Islanders.

At 1:55 of the third period, Jason Demers went to the box for contact to the head of Cory Conacher. Conacher left the game for about ten minutes of play. He returned to the bench with 9:31 left in the period.

The Islanders used that power play to eat into the Sharks’ shot lead. It took the Sharks several minutes to regain their momentum, but they took the lead for the first time at 11:50 of the period. Logan Couture redirected a shot from Justin Braun. The second assist went to Marc-Edouard Vlasic.

The game went from good to better for the Sharks at 15:35 when James Sheppard scored his first goal of the season, off a nice short pass from Adam Burish. A secondary assist went to Andrew Desjardins.

With 3:50 left in regulation, Conacher was escorted from the game by an official with a ten minute misconduct.

At 18:47, Adam Burish was called for holding. The Islanders used their timeout but the Sharks held on for the win.

Final score: 3-1 Sharks.
Joe Pavelski led the Sharks in shots on goal with 7. Brent Burns led the team in hits with 6. Mirco Mueller led the Sharks with 6 blocked shots, Brent Burns also led the team in ice time with 26:29. Antti Niemi made 19 saves on 20 shots.

For the Islanders, the shots leader was Anders Lee with 3, while Cal Clutterbuck led the team with 11 hits. Hamonic, Visnovky and Hickey each blocked 3 shots. John Tavares led the Islanders in ice time with 23:51. Jaroslav Halak made 28 saves on 31 shots.

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The Sharks’ scratches were John Scott, Tye McGinn and Matt Irwin.

The Sharks next play at 7:30 pm on Thursday at SAP Center, against the visiting Vancouver Canucks.

Sharks lose it late

Photo credit: ANN HEISENFELT/AP PHOTO

By Pearl Allison Lo

San Jose had the lead up until halfway through the third period, but the shutout went the opposite way of last game, as the Minnesota Wild won 4 to 3 Thursday.

The shootout went three rounds with Logan Couture scoring on the Sharks’ first chance, but Mikko Koivu and Jason Pominville followed to shut the door.

San Jose’s Mirco Mueller had his first NHL goal as he scored the first period’s only goal. Matt Nieto passed the puck cross ice to Mueller, who scored on a deflection at 16:06. James Sheppard got his first assist on the play.

Wingels then put the Sharks up 2-0 in the second period with his second power play goal in two games. Burns passed around the boards to Joe Pavelski. Then, at the same time Pavelski passed to Wingels, Burns got to one of Wingels’ defenders and Joe Thornton created a moving screen, before Wingels struck at 4:20.

Koivu got one back at 8:40.

Thornton took a pass from Pavelski to make it 3-1 at 1:37 of the third.

Kyle Brodziak and Thomas Vanek then tied the game by combining for two straight goals and the first assists. Justin Fontaine had the second assist at 5:13 and Nate Prosser had the second assist. It was Prosser’s first assist.

Both teams were pretty even shotwise through the third and overtime.

Burns had a shootout goal disallowed with 1:10 left in OT. It was ruled that the puck crossed after he made contact with Darcy Kuemper and the net.

Game notes: Minnesota outshot San Jose 19 to five in the second. Thorton blocked a puck with his body and Wingels took a puck to the face in the third period. Burns had to leave the ice in the first, but was able to return. The Sharks’ Barclay Goodrow made his NHL debut. San Jose has now held their opponents scoreless in the first for the 11th time in 12 games. The Sharks return home on the first of November to face the New York Islanders again at 7:00 PM.