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.

Missing Sharks Don’t Explain 7-2 Loss to Blues

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE– It was Joe Pavelski’s 600th NHL game. As an indicator of how the San Jose Sharks play without their not captain Joe Thornton, Saturday’s 7-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues was something of a worst possible scenario.Thornton did not seem to the be only Shark missing, and no one had a sound explanation afterwards.

The game start was eerily similar to the last time these teams played, on December 20th. The Blues came out fast and furious, outshooting the Sharks badly in the first ten minutes. From there the two games diverged sharply. Instead of a turn around for the Sharks, things went from bad to worse as the game wore on.

After the game, Logan Couture summarized the Sharks’ performance:

Right from the first shift, we weren’t even in that game. We were kidding ourselves, if two two was the score at the end of the first period. We were never in that game. It’s very disappointing to do that in any game, especially in your home building, to let a team that played last night come in and dominate you from the very first second of the game.

Every part of our game was bad. Nemo bailed us out, made a lot of big saves in the first period.

Did the Sharks think Thornton’s absence was to blame for their lackluster performance?

Joe Pavelski:

It’s happened before. Seasons are long, there’s guys going in and out. Obviously he’s a great piece of this team, so there’s a little absence but it doesn’t change anything we do as a group, system-wise. There’s no talk about anything. So it’s solely on the guys in here. It probably starts with me out there in the power play. We had chances to get in the game, to get going. We just didn’t do a good enough job.

Logan Couture:

If you can’t win missing one player then you’re not going to go very far. Injuries happen, it’s part of the game. You still have enough players on your team, in your organization to compete at an NHL level and we didn’t compete at an NHL level, I don’t even think we were close.

Marc-Edouard Vlasic:

When you lose anybody, when you lose one of your top guys, every team loses a top guy. You’ve got to find a way to win without him. We’d love to have him, we’d love to have him back next game, but that’s not an excuse.

So, no, Joe Thornton’s injury does not explain the utter lack of anything good that the Sharks showed Saturday. The above players also agreed that the Sharks did everything wrong, nothing well… except for Niemi, who was pulled in the third period after keeping the team in it for the first.

The first period did not end like it did in the first game. A flurry of scoring from both teams gave the Blues a goal at 11:40 from T.J. Oshie, followed by two quick goals from the Sharks at 17:42 and 18:22, then another from Steen at 19:16. Melker Karlsson, assisted by Barclay Goodrow and Matt Tennyson, scored the first Sharks goal. Joe Pavelski, assisted by Tomas Hertl and Brent Burns scored the second.

Early in the second period, the Blues’ Jori Lehtera went to the box for hooking. The Sharks had some trouble getting through the neutral zone, never mind getting set up for any good power play time. the Sharks did get credit for two shots but never looked dangerous.

A couple of shifts after the power play ended, the Blues took another lead with another goal from TJ Oshie. The Blues looked more confident and in command of the game, making the first period tie seem like a fluke.

As the midpoint of the game approached, the Blues had outshot the Sharks 4-2 in the middle period.

At 10:38, Scott Hannan was called for interference. It was the Blues’ first power play, despite a quartet of penalties called in the first period that had not resulted in a power play for either team. Forty seconds into that, Kevin Shattenkirk was called for high sticking Matt Nieto, who was zipping around the Blues zone short-handed. Four-on-four, it took the Blues a little longer to push in to the Sharks’ zone but they got there and continued their attack.

With the 30 or so seconds they had of power play time, the Sharks started by icing the puck, and could not seem to complete a pass in the neutral zone or anywhere else. San Jose appeared utterly overwhelmed. The only Shark not playing well below par was Antti Niemi.

At the end of the second, the Sharks got another power play as Jaden Schwartz went off for hooking. The Sharks’ third line of James Sheppard, Barclay Goodrow and Melker Karlsson drew that penalty with good forechecking and refusal to be evicted from St. Louis territory.

The Sharks spent much more time outside of their own zone during that power play, but when Brent Burns tripped at the blue line it epitomized the Sharks’ game: inexplicable, hapless. The Sharks ended the period with four shots, and gave up another goal as soon as their power play ended. Jaden Schwartz, after grappling for the puck behind the goal line, passed the puck out front to Kevin Shattenkirk, who was wide open.

After two periods, the shot count was 24-14 Blues, the score 4-2 Blues.

The Sharks started the third period with a spark, making a good early push. Unfortunately, that fizzled to an icing call which became another penalty to Scott Hannan. The resulting St.. Louis power play took only five seconds to score, with a shot from the blue line tipped by Jaden Schwartz. Assists went to Alexander Steen and Kevin Shattenkirk.

The Next Blues goal was the last for Niemi. A long-distance shot from Dmitrij Jaskin ushered Alex Stalock into the Sharks net.

The Blues had another power play at 8:26 when Barclay Goodrow was called for holding. The Blues played it very cautiously, hesitating to shoot. The Sharks did not do much to change that, hanging back on their penalty kill and not challenging the Blues. Finally, TJ Oshie threw the puck in from the goal line and bounced it off of a body in front of the net. That gave him a hat trick, and gave the Blues their seventh goal. Swaths of the sellout crowd started to leave SAP.

It was the first sellout the Sharks had seen in a while.

The Sharks’ last power play of the game saw Wingels, Karlsson, Sheppard, Tennyson and Braun start. That power play only lasted 32 seconds before Wingels was called for holding. The score did not change, ending in a 7-2 final.

With Thornton injured and John Scott suspended, it was all hands on ice Saturday. Tye McGinn started on the fourth line with Desjardins and Micheal Haley, with Tomas Hertl on a line with Joe Pavelski and Matt Nieto. For most of the second and third periods, McLellan swapped McGinn and Hertl, but it did not seem to improve matters. In the last six or seven minutes of the game, they were both back where they started the game.

TJ Oshie and Patrick Berglund led the Blues in shots on goal with five each. Oshie and Ryan Reaves led the Blues in hits with four each. Alex Pietrangelo led the team in time on ice with 20:47. Brian Elliott made 18 saves on 20 shots.

Logan Couture and Tommy Wingels led the Sharks in shots with three each, and Wingels led in hits with five. Brent Burns led the team in ice time with 23:35. Antti Niemi made 21 saves on 27 shots. Alex Stalock made two saves on three shots.

The Sharks hit the road to play the Jets on Monday in Winnipeg at 5:00 pm PT.

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 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.

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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.

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

Goldobin, Goodrow Stand Out in Sharks Pre-Season Win

By Mary Walsh

STOCKTON, CA–  No Daniil Tarasov at the Stockton preseason game between the San Jose Sharks and the Vancouver Canucks. For me, that simplified the list of players likely to make the Sharks NHL roster at the end of camp. The game re-complicated it. Nikolay Goldobin and Barclay Goodrow looked good enough to make anyone think twice. The Sharks won 5-2, and outshot the Canucks by an embarrassing margin to boot.

In the first four minutes of the Stockton game, the Sharks got credit for  three shots to none for the Vancouver squad. In goal for San Jose was Troy Grosenick, with Jakob Markstrom at the other end for the Canucks. After nine minutes, the shots were 8 to 1 for the Sharks. By the end of the period, it had stretched even more to 16-5 Sharks. Astonishing, really, that even prospects in the preseason can so accurately follow the Sharks’ classic MO: outshoot the opposition without much to show for it.

That did not last, that part where they had nothing to show for it.

Of the players to watch in Stockton, I had Tarasov near the top of the list for forwards, and his absence was disappointing. The game was a chance to get a better look at Nikolay Goldobin, the Sharks’ first round pick from this summer’s draft. With such a plethora of forwards competing for a spot, some with NHL experience, others with a lot of pro time in the minor leagues, the odds that a rookie drafted just this summer would make it were slim. Still, he played so well with Goodrow that I had to rethink. His skillset could be something the team needs right now. Goodrow and Goldobin stood out even before they started scoring: they found each other with passes, they knew when to help the other out. And then there were the two goals they scored- those were pretty showy too.

The first period ended scoreless, but things really picked up in the second. A too many men penalty from the Canucks put the Sharks on their second power play of the game. It took the top line a heartbeat or two after puck drop to take the lead. Joe Thornton skated across in front of the net, with Hertl trailing behind in case needed. Joe Pavelski got the puck to him without much trouble and Thornton put it in.

Nick Bonino took a slashing penalty at 9:30 of the second period. Goodrow and Goldobin were out there to start the power play and they  made the best of their communication skills. Goodrow scored off a neat pass from Goldobin. He got the puck from Mueller, a nice showing from the Sharks most recent first round picks.

The Sharks got yet another power play on a delay of game (puck over the glass by Vancouver’s Bobby Sanguinetti.)  With so much practice, it seemed inevitable that the Canucks would improve on their penalty kill. They did. They killed that one, but during the power play Marc-Edouard Vlasic demonstrated one of those new rule changes: he dove for a puck and reached it, while a Canuck was close by. The Canuck did not take advantage of the chance to skate into Vlasic’s outstretched stick and trip over it so no penalty was called. Nevertheless, that call is going to be hard to avoid.

Justin Braun took the Sharks’ first penalty of the game, holding at 9:30  of the second. Twenty seconds later, Vlasic joined him in the box for delay of game. That left  51, 67 and 10 to start the five on three. They were quickly replaced, as they cleared the puck a couple of times. 80, 67, 41 had the longest shift. The penalty killers did a very good job to keep the Canucks off the board in such a long five on three.

With under two minutes left in the period, Goldobin added a goal to his tally with a lovely wrap-around, preceded by some misdirection on the other side of the net. He squeezed the puck just between Markstrom and the post, possibly under the goalie’s skate blade. However it got through, it was snug. It was Goodrow, of course, who got the puck to him.

A quick check of the roster stats told me that Goldobin and Goodrow did not play on the same team last season.

The Sharks went up 4-0 with Pavelski’s first of the preseason, from Eriah Hayes & Dylan DeMelo at 4:17 of third.

The Canucks finally scored about nine minutes into the third period. Nick Bonino got the puck past Grosenik, and past DeMelo and Abeltshauser.

The Sharks got that back with a goal from Thornton, assisted by Dylan DeMelo.

Unfortunately, DeMelo and Abeltshauser were there again when the Canucks went the other way and scored a second goal for the Canucks. This one was scored by Niklas Jensen.

Final score, 5-2 Sharks. The final shot count was listed as 34-12.

John Scott acquitted himself well enough when he had a chance to move the puck, but he could be skated around by the quicker Canucks without much difficulty. A hard hit by Scott on Cedarholm drew the ire of Tom Sestito, who took a 10 minute misconduct for instigating a fight with Scott.

Braun and Mueller skated together quite a bit.  The only thing I would fault Mueller on in Tuesday’s game is that he was a little tentative.

With the other Sharks squad falling 4-2 in Vancouver, it seems that the 6,810 fans in the Stockton audience were the winners of the night. While a full-sized NHL arena can be hard to fill for a preseason game, the Stockton arena was just right. It gave the players an enthusiastic audience up close, and the audience got to watch the game in a more cozy setting with the arena mostly full. Stockton Arena is a very pleasant venue, and bringing the Sharks’ preseason squad there was a brilliant idea. It begs the question: will the Sharks renew their old affiliation with the Thunder? As of now, San Jose has no ECHL affiliate. Stockton has an NHL affiliate (NY Islanders) but many ECHL clubs are having to double up since the league contracted recently.