Sharks Defeat Coyotes 3-1

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE– In their continuing quest to remain in the playoff hunt, the San Jose Sharks beat the Arizona Coyotes 3-1 on Saturday. Of the last couple of wins, Joe Pavelski said “We just haven’t had the big turnovers, that’s the biggest thing, through the middle of the ice. It’s allowed us to go forecheck, and when we forecheck and roam around that o-zone that’s effective for us.”

Early in the first period, the game looked like it was setting up to be a rout. The Sharks scored their first goal 58 seconds into the game. By the middle of the period, the Sharks had a two goal lead and were ahead in shots 11-1. The pace had to slow down, and it did. By the end of the period, the Sharks had not scored again and had added a paltry five shots to their tally, while the Coyotes had trebled theirs.

The Sharks did not regain that first period dominance but never let the Coyotes draw even in any aspect of the game. Sharks goals were scored by Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski and Matt Nieto. Antti Niemi made 20 saves for the win, while Coyotes goalie Louis Domingue made 34 saves for the Coyotes. The lone Coyote goal was scored by Marc Arcobello.

After taking control of the puck in the neutral zone, Patrick Marleau found Tomas Hertl and Logan Couture on their way into the Coyotes’ zone. Hertl drew the defender to him, and was able to get a pass to Couture despite the Coyote stick in front of him. Couture caught the pass with his skate and shot it quickly to open the scoring 58 seconds into the game.

A couple of minutes later, B.J. Crombeen was called for hooking against Brenden Dillon. The Sharks racked up some shots on that power play but did not score until a minute after it expired. Couture sent the puck to Marleau near the goal line, who passed it back up to Pavelski, who was waiting just below the faceoff circle. Pavelski shot it into the top corner with emphasis.

The Coyotes got the puck past Niemi at 5:51, but it was called no goal as David Moss pushed the puck into the net with his hand, while falling over Niemi.

At the ten minute mark of the first period, shots were 11-1 Sharks.

With 3:52 left in the first, the Coyotes went on the power play and Matt Nieto went to the box for a high stick. One of the Coyotes’ better chances on the power play was foiled when Martin Erat mishandled the puck and could not get a shot off though he had some room to do it. The Sharks did not allow the Coyotes any shots on their power play.

At the end of the first period, the Sharks still led 2-0 and a 16-3 lead on the shot clock.

The Sharks added a shot to that count in the first minutes of the second but it was the Coyotes who scored on their fifth shot of the game. Marc Arcobello sent the puck at the net where Tobias Reider was waiting to knock it in. Reider did not get the chance as the puck went off of Brent Burns past Niemi to make it 2-1.

By the middle of the second period, the Coyotes had clearly stopped the bleeding. They were keeping with the Sharks on the shot clock at six apiece. The shot count for the period was 10-7 Sharks.

The Sharks’ third period was no return to their first period dominance, but they did achieve some symmetry at the half way mark, when the shot clock read 31-13 Sharks. Beyond that, the period was fairly uneventful.

The teams played four on four at when Brenden Dillon and Tye McGinn went to the box with matching roughing minors.  Before that was over, Matt Nieto extended the Sharks lead with an impressive backhand shot while being pressured by two Coyotes in front of the net. Assists went to Chris Tierney and Matt Irwin.

Seconds later, the Coyotes reduced their numbers by one, giving the Sharks a seven second four on three power play. Michael Stone took a seat next to McGinn in the penalty box, for high sticking.

The balance of the Sharks power play was spent chasing down a lot of short-handed chances, but the Coyotes did not score on any of them.

Karl Stollery led the Sharks in hits with four. (He also had three shots and two blocked shots and a takeaway), Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture each had five shots on goal and Taylor Fedun led the team in blocked shots.

Lineup notes: Mike Brown made a return to the lineup after missing 47 games with a leg fracture. Rookie Karl Stollery made his San Jose debut on the blue line after being called up Thursday. It was his eighth NHL game over two seasons. The Sharks acquired him from the Colorado Avalanche at the March 2 trade deadline.

Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Mirco Mueller and Scott Hannan were all out of the lineup with injuries. John Scott was a scratch.

The Sharks play the Coyotes again on Saturday at 6:00 PT in Glendale, Arizona.


Sharks Beat Coyotes for McLellan’s 300th Win

By Mary Walsh

The San Jose Sharks defeated the Arizona Coyotes 4-2 Friday. It was the Sharks’ 300th win with Todd McLellan as head coach, making him the second-fastest NHL coach to reach that mark. It was also the first time the Sharks beat the Coyotes in regulation in Glendale with Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith in net.

Joe Pavelski brings a lot to the San Jose Sharks in terms of consistency and leadership, but he has not scored very many NHL hat tricks. He is not someone you see wearing a lot of plaid either. He isn’t that kind of flashy. On Friday he scored three goals, one at even strength, one on a power play and one into an empty net. Joe Thornton had assists on all three goals. Barclay Goodrow scored the other Sharks goal, the game winner.

Speaking about the Sharks’ recovery from a poor first period, Pavelski said: “The first just can’t happen, happen again. I think we’re understanding, this time of year, the soft stuff just isn’t going to cut it for us. I think that’s kind of what was said in between the first and second.”

It would be unfair to say that only a continent-wide natural disaster, one that spared no NHL franchise outside Arizona, for the Coyotes to get into the playoffs this season. It is just very unlikely as they are having one stinker of a season. Anyone who has been following the Sharks this season knows that such an opponent has a pretty good chance of beating the Sharks.

The Sharks did not start the game well. Outshot and outscored, it was one San Jose’s worst first periods of the year, against a lackluster opponent. During the first intermission, Tommy Wingels summed it up: “That was about as bad of a first period as we can play. No emotion, getting beat in one on one battles, poor defensive play. I could go on and on, but it’s got to be better in the second period.”

The Sharks were better in the second period, and the third.

Less than two minutes into the first period, Sharks defenseman Mirco Mueller turned the puck over in the neutral zone. Arizona’s newly acquired Mark Arcobello took advantage of that and shot at an unscreened Niemi to give the Coyotes the lead.

Arcobello also took the first penalty of the game, which gave the Sharks a chance to pull themselves together. They had one good chance off a Tomas Hertl shot that found Matt Irwin, Tommy Wingels and Matt Tennyson all near the net. None of them could put the puck around Smith, and after that the Sharks turned the puck over in their zone. the puck found its way back into the Coyotes’ zone but neither team could do anything productive with that. The only player who seemed able to put the puck where he wanted it was Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith.

The Sharks took the next penalty, an interference penalty to Matt Tennyson at 13:08. Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi made a number of good saves before the Coyotes’ Sam Gagner intercepted a failed clear from Brent Burns. Gagner sent the puck back to the corner, where Keith Yandle passed it out to Martin Erat in the slot. 2-0 Coyotes. Assists to Yandle and Sam Gagner.

By period’s end, the Sharks had been outscored 2-0 and outshot 12-7.

Joe Pavelski opened the second period with a goal 27 seconds in. From behind the goal line, he attempted a pass to Melker Karlsson in front of the net. The puck didn’t reach Karlsson, but bounced off a defenseman and into the net. Assists went to Joe Thornton and Scott Hannan. Half way through the period, the Sharks took another penalty but kill it off.

Todd McLellan moved Tomas Hertl to the fourth line and Chris Tierney up to the third not long after that penalty kill. The move paid off as Hertl drew penalty at 10:57.

The Sharks had some trouble getting their power play going, as a couple of bounces near the blue line kept them out of the Coyotes’ zone. With 11 seconds left in the power play, a check from Tommy Wingels drew retaliation from Oliver Ekman-Larsson. This second power play looked to be in trouble again as Patrick Marleau fanned on a pass at the blue line. A quick recovery turned the tide and a couple of passes later, Joe Pavelski scored again to tie the game. Assists on the power play goal went to Logan Couture and Joe Thornton.

The third period began with promise for the Sharks. An early chance came off a pass from Mirco Mueller that found Matt Nieto up the ice. Nieto did not score but it was a good sign that the Sharks were going in the right direction. It took them just over six minutes of playing time to get there, and Barclay Goodrow was the lucky shooter.

Goodrow came into the zone at speed in a two on one with Andrew Desjardins against Coyotes defenseman Connor Murphy. After convincing Murphy and his goaltender that a pass was a good possibility, Goodrow shot instead and gave the Sharks the lead. Assists went to Brent Burns and Antti Niemi. Desjardins made the play possible despite falling in the neutral zone and having to get back to his feet quickly enough to catch up and protect the two on one.

With the win, the Sharks remain in the second spot in the Pacific Division with 66 points. The Calgary Flames and the Vancouver Canucks are right behind them with 63 points each and several games in hand.

Joe Pavelski led the Sharks in shots with five. Tommy Wingels led in hits with four. Mirco Mueller led the team in blocked shots with four. Antti Niemi made 34 saves on 36 shots for the win.

Five different Coyotes had three shots apiece: Sam Gagne, Kyle Chipchura, Michael Stone, Lauri Korpikoski and Brendan Shinnimin. Jordan Martinook led the Coyotes in hits with four. Mike Smith made 22 saves on 25 shots faced.

On the injury front, some updates on absent Sharks came out. Kevin Kurz of CSNCA reported that defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic, currently on injured reserve, skated Friday in San Jose and does not have a concussion. Additionally, defenseman Justin Braun could be close to returning, if the initial recovery time of 4-6 weeks was accurate.

The Sharks next play on Sunday at 5:00 PT against the Tampa Bay Lightning in San Jose.

Sharks Lose to Coyotes in Shootout

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE–Saturday night, the Arizona Coyotes beat the San Jose Sharks 4-3. The game went to a shootout giving the Sharks one badly needed point but little else to celebrate. The game’s first and last goals were both scored by Antoine Vermette. The Coyotes’ Devan Dubnyk made 40 saves for the win. For the Sharks, Tommy Wingels, Andrew Desjardins and Joe Pavelski all scored to get the team to overtime.

The Sharks’ first goal of the game snapped a five game pointless streak and a ten game goalless streak for Tommy Wingels. It was an impressive short-handed goal to boot. After the game, Wingels said:

Our penalty kill gave one up early in the game so to get one back was important for us.

You’re not happy when you get scored on the penalty kill, and whether that makes you anticipate better or try harder, psychologically, I don’t know but Goody made a really good play. Both getting it out and on the rush so I just had a the easy job of putting it in.

Andrew Desjardins’ goal was his first of the season.

While many have said that practice is very important, so important that the lack of it may account for some of the Sharks’ recent losses, Todd McLellan did not think it important enough to sit a player who has never practiced with the team. After being traded to the Sharks for Jason Demers, Brenden Dillon arrived in time for the morning skate, but his gear did not. Despite not being able to participate in that practice, he was in Saturday’s game, paired with Brent Burns. Matt Irwin sat out.

The Arizona Coyotes have found ways to lose a lot of games this season. Sometimes they play very badly, other times they just draw the short luck straw. In any case, they quickly tumbled down the Pacific Division standings and have languished there through the first quarter of the season. All of that, next to the Sharks’ recent habit of losing to weak teams, did not bode well.

The Sharks gave up the first goal at 6:08 of the first period, to the Arizona Coyotes power play. The puck trickled out in front of Niemi and Antoine Vermette tapped it through the five hole. The Sharks seemed to have a serious communication failure there, as no one at all was defending Vermette as he loitered in the slot not far from the blue paint.

The Sharks also gave up the second goal, this one a shot from David Schlemko as he skated in fast enough to give himself a clear view of the net. It went just inside the post and out again, almost as if it did not want to rub the two goal lead in.

The Sharks did outshoot the Coyotes in the first, 11-7, despite the penalty. Still, none of those shots could beat Coyotes goaltender Devan Dubnyk.

The Sharks started the second period with some unconvincing play in the offensive zone. They were not very difficult for the Coyotes to push back out.

At 2:46, Andrew Desjardins went to the penalty box for tripping Tobias Rieder. A short-handed excursion quickly followed and gave the Sharks a draw in the Coyotes zone. After the draw, the Sharks again took control and after a couple more tours of the Coyotes’ end, Barclay Goodrow, Mirco Mueller and Tommy Wingels went in three on one to get the Sharks on the board. After such a lackluster start to the game, that brazen attack was certainly surprising.

Tommy Wingels also drew the Sharks’ first penalty, a holding call on Shane Doan at 11:34. The Sharks’ power play had a couple of good chances, most notably an opening for Brent Burns, but he hooked the puck up into the netting and out of play.

At 15:34, Vermette went to the box for boarding Tyler Kennedy. The second Sharks power play looked a lot less dangerous than any of their penalty kills. Then, 19 seconds after the power play ended, Andrew Desjardins found himself with a clear view of the net from the faceoff circle. He also had the puck. He shot it past Dubnyk and tied the game.

By the end of the second period, the Sharks led in shots 25-13.

The tie did not last long. 52 seconds into the third period, during a ferocious Coyote attack on the Sharks’ net, a rebound came out and pinballed around before Shane Doan helped it past Dillon and Niemi. Assists to Sam Gagner and Tobias Rieder.

At 7:12 of the period, Arizona’s Michael Stone went to the penalty box for tripping Patrick Marleau. Just prior to the penalty, the Sharks were showing distinct signs of life. A couple of good passes to get them out of the zone involved McGinn and Dillon, and some clean, composed puck movement from the Thornton line, put pressure on the Coyotes defense.

The power play was a little slow getting started, marked by a number of passes that required some patience. The Sharks waited the Coyotes out, until Couture was able to find Burns at the middle of the blue line with a tidy pass that Burns blasted on net. Joe Pavelski deflected it in to tie the game again.

The rest of the period seemed to be played mostly in the Sharks’ zone, but in the final seconds of the period the Sharks made a very good push, complete with good shots from Joe Pavelski and a zone entry with maneuvers through traffic from Sheppard. That last one, had Sheppard managed to put the puck in the net, would have been a nice addition to a highlight reel. Alas, he did not and neither did anyone else.

1:05 in to overtime, Coyotes captain Shane Doan went to the box for high-sticking Matt Nieto, who went to the bench holding his right hand gingerly. The Sharks’ power play featured an amazing almost goal saved by a Coyote sprawled in the net behind Dybnyk. Nothing else came close. A small pile up in the net at the end of the power play did remind me of this accident. Just like that pileup, everyone walked, or skated away. Unlike that accident, it was over very quickly.

The shootout went all three rounds, with Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski and Barclay Goodrow shooting for the Sharks. Sam Gagner, Mikkel Boedker and Antoine Vermette shot for the Coyotes. Vermette shot last and was the only shooter to score.

Joe Pavelski led the Sharks in shots with seven. Tommy Wingels led the team in hits. Three Sharks blocked three shots each: Patrick Marleau, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun. Antti Niemi made 22 saves on 25 shots.  Newcomer Brenden Dillon had one shot on goal, four hits and one blocked shot.

Jason Demers, who presumably had his equipment in time for the morning skate, seems to be fitting in nicely with the Dallas Stars.

The Sharks next play at 7:30 on Wednesday the 26th. They will face the visiting Calgary Flames at SAP Center in San Jose.

Sharks Win Preseason Game in Arizona

-By Mary Walsh

Friday night, the San Jose Sharks won a contentious preseason game against the Arizona Coyotes. Prospects Barclay Goodrow, Chris Tierney, Eriah Hayes and Mirco Mueller all played well, suggesting that any of them could end up starting the season in San Jose.

Goals from Matt Nieto, Tye McGinn and Tommy Wingels gave the Sharks their third win of the preseason. Alex Stalock was in goal and made 23 saves on 24 shots. Rob Klinkhammer scored for the Coyotes, and Mike Smith made 31 saves on 33 shots faced.

Matt Nieto opened the game with an early goal, in his line’s first shift. Couture’s backhand pass went right to Nieto for a goal at 1:08 of the first period.

A few minutes later, Couture was hit from behind by Kyle Chipchura. Justin Braun took issue with that and fought Chipchura. Couture made his way to the bench under his own steam. Braun was given a two minute penalty for boarding, a five minute major for fighting and a ten minute misconduct. Chipchura received five minutes for fighting, five minutes for boarding, and a ten minute game misconduct. It came out to two minutes of five on five, followed by three minutes of five on four for the Sharks.

More than ten minutes went by in the first period without the Coyotes getting credit for a shot. In the same time, the Sharks had five. The hit and the fight seemed to turn the tide for the Coyotes in the minutes before the power play started. They had a couple of good chances but the Sharks defense held them off.

Right at the end of the power play, Matt Irwin was also hit hard, by Joe Vitale. No penalty was called.

The second period started out more evenly, with the shot clock registering almost equal (3-2) for the first five minutes. A shot from Eriah Hayes in the sixth minute lead the way for a Sharks charge. Despite a lost faceoff, the fourth line stirred things up in the offensive zone. A penalty to Rob Klinkhammer for goaltender interference tilted the ice back in the Sharks’ direction. A simultaneous hit by Vitale on Braun went unmentioned by officials.

The power play did not pay off for the Sharks.

After the power play expired, Tye McGinn and B.J. Crombeen fought right after the faceoff. While the game was contentious, it is not clear whether any particular incident led to the bout.

By the thirteen minute mark, the shots for the period were up to 10-3 Sharks.

Eriah Hayes hit Keith Yandle in front of the Coyotes net, and then attempted to fight him but Yandle declined. This raised the ire of the Coyotes and after the scrum was dispersed, Hayes went to the penalty box. A roughing minor to John Scott and an embellishment minor to Yandle took them out of play for two minutes as well. The Sharks killed the penalty off.

The last five minutes of the period saw the Coyotes pushing to tie the game, and getting their shots to the net. The Sharks were saved by the bell as the period ended with a pile of bodies in front of Alex Stalock and the Coyotes nipping at the puck.

The shot count for the period ended 11-8 for the Sharks.

Stalock faced some pressure from Shane Doan early in the third period but he was ready for it.  The teams played a balanced game for the first five minutes, with some good chances but few sustained onslaughts from either side.

A handful of penalties came out of a mess along the boards at 6:55 of the second. Tommy Wingels went to the box for kneeing Michael Stone, while Brent Burns and Matt Smaby went with matching roughing minors.  That brought the power play count even with two per team. Stone did stay in the game after some attention from the Coyotes trainer.

Barclay Goodrow and Chris Tierney got involved with a number of Coyotes after a hit by Goodrow on Hodgman. Tierney caught a punch but after some discussion, no penalty was called.

Seconds after the next faceoff, Joe Pavelski spotted McGinn’s stick in front of the net. Mike Smith had just made an impressive save but lost his stick in the process. Pavelski and McGinn took advantage of the situation to put the Sharks up 2-0. Assists went to Pavelski and Brent Burns.

A defensive zone pass from Mueller to Nieto went awry when Nieto lost his footing. Rob Klinkhammer took advantage of that and put the Coyotes on the board.

The period was not the Sharks’ most dominant, with the Coyotes finally nosing ahead on the shot clock. The Coyotes pulled their goaltender late to try for the tying goal, but Tommy Wingels put the game away in the last thirty seconds. A pass from Justin Braun found Pavelski near center ice, and Pavelski found Wingels in position to shoot at the empty net.

The final shot count was 34-24 Sharks.

The absence of Nikolay Goldobin from the last two games suggests that he may not crack the roster to open the season. Still, his performance thus far suggests that he will be in the NHL sooner than later. His linemates, however, are looking more ready by the day. Barclay Goodrow and Chris Tierney were on a line with Tommy Wingels in the Arizona game, and one of them could very well push out a more seasoned player for the early part of the season. They have kept pace and made good plays in all of their preseason appearances.

Eriah Hayes used Friday’s game to make a good argument against him being pushed out. With hard work in the corners, four hits, and two blocked shots, he made the most of his spot on the fourth line with Adam Burish and John Scott.

At the start of camp, many expected Matt Tennyson to be kept in San Jose as the seventh defenseman. That did not come to fruition, and he has (for now) been assigned to the Sharks’ AHL team in Worcester. At the moment it looks like Mirco Mueller could well open the season in San Jose. The Sharks’ new radio team made particular mention of how Mueller knocked Rob Klinkhammer down, in a game that started off with a lot of physicality.  The 19 year old Mueller does not appear intimidated by the NHL preseason. He did make an error in the first period that had his goalie scrambling a bit but on balance he played a very smart game. He also acquitted himself well on the penalty kill.

It is still possible that Taylor Doherty of Taylor Fedun will stay, but Mueller is certainly making a good case for himself.

The Sharks’ lines were as follows in Arizona:
Forward lines: Goodrow-Wingels-Tierney/McGinn-Pavelski-Hertl/Marleau-Couture-Nieto/Hayes-Burish-Scott
Defensive pairs: Demers-Irwin /Braun-Vlasic /Mueller- Burns
Stalock in goal

The Sharks will play their final game of the preseason on Saturday, against the Ducks in Anaheim.