Sharks Fall to Wild 3-2

The Minnesota Wild Nick Bonino (3) goes for victory skate after scoring a goal in the first period against the San Jose Sharks at the Target Center in St Paul on Fri Apr 16, 2021 (AP News photo)

By Mary Walsh.

The San Jose Sharks lost 3-2 to the Minnesota Wild at the Xcel Energy Center Friday. Nick Bonino, Mats Zuccarello and Zach Parise scored for Minnesota, and goaltender Cam Talbot made 20 saves for the win. Tomas Hertl and Evander Kane scored for the Sharks and Martin Jones made 15 saves in the loss.

The Sharks did not play a terrible game, but a loss at this point in the season is disheartening. After the game, Sharks Head Coach Bob Boughner said: “Tough to break down that game and say that we didn’t come out, we didn’t respond and we didn’t play well. I thought all those things happened.”

Sharks captain Logan Couture said:

I thought defensively we were pretty good. We didn’t give up much but there wasn’t much out there offensively. But we gotta find a way to do more. We only scored two, three goals over the last two games, or three games, so we need to find some more offense.

Evander Kane had a penalty-free game as well as a goal, despite several tense scrums throughout the night. After the game, Boughner said, of Kane:

“He plays hard, he kills penalties, he’s on the power play, he’s playing against the top lines, he’s been a good player for us all year. He’s still involved, he’s still trash-talking a little bit, he’s still throwing the body around but he’s staying within himself and I think that’s helped his five-on-five game for sure.”

The Sharks were on the board first, at 3:32. Tomas Hertl skated through the neutral zone and in the Wild zone, with some help from a stick lift by Patrick Marleau near the blue line. Hertl took the shot from the face-off dot and beat Talbot on the short side. Assists went to Radim Simek and Marc-Edouard Vlasic.

Nick Bonino tied it up at 9:30. A turnover right in the slot gave him a clear line to the net and he took it. It was unassisted.

The first period was penalty-free. The Sharks outshot the Wild 8-4 but won just 33% of the face-offs.

The Wild took the lead 2:15 into the second period with Mats Zuccarello’s goal. Right off an offensive-zone face-off, Zuccarello shot it under Jones. Viktor Rask got the assist.

Zach Parise scored what would be the game-winner just over a minute later. Matt Dumba made a pass across the slot to a waiting Parise at the net corner. Assists went to Matt Dumba and Nick Bonino.

The Wild outshot the Sharks 7-4 in the second. Each team had a power play. The Wild had three shots on theirs and the Sharks had one. The Sharks won just 31% of the second period face-offs.

Evander Kane scored a short-handed goal at 13:43 of the third period, bringing the Sharks to withing one. Kane knocked the puck free from Kevin Fiala at the point, then chased it down and shot it by Talbot on the glove side.

The Sharks had two penalties to kill in the third period, and out-shot the Wild 10-7. The Sharks penalty kill had two shots on goal and the Wild power play had two as well. The Sharks improved in the face-off circle to 50% for the third.

The Sharks next play on Saturday at 5:00 PM PT against the Wild, again in Minnesota.

Sharks Fall 2-1 to Blues in Shootout

Photo credit: @SanJoseSharks

By Mary Walsh

The San Jose Sharks lost to the St. Louis Blues by a score of 2-1 in a shootout Friday. Tyler Bozak scored for the Blues and Jordan Binnington made 30 saves for the win. Ryan Donato scored for the Sharks and Martin Jones made 33 saves in the loss.

After the game, Sharks Head Coach Bob Boughner said:

“I think we had seven or eight missed chances, missed the net, and the rest were blocked. I thought we had a ton of opportunities, especially rush chances in the slot. We looked to pass it or we got blocked or, like I said, we missed the net. So they hit the net on theirs. They’re a good team, a good offensive team and I thought Jonesy gave us a chance to win there.”

Ryan Donato scored for the Sharks at 15:08 of the second period. Hertl started the puck out and passed it to Sorensen in the neutral zone. As he crossed the blue line, he dropped it to Donato. Donato hesitated until a defenseman went down to block the shot, and then took the shot from the slot. Assists went to Sorensen and Hertl.

The two penalties in the first two periods both went to the Sharks and they were both for too many men on the ice. After the game, Sharks captain Logan Couture said: “Tonight the first one was on the forwards and the second one was on the d-men. I believe the first one, guys just heard the wrong line that was called and obviously that can’t happen. And the d-one, I’m not sure, I’m not down at that end.”

The Blues had two shots during the first power play and one in the second. The Blues outshot the Sharks in both periods, 12-9 and 12-7.

The Blues tied the game at 6:22 of the third period with a short-handed goal. Kyle Clifford took a shot that went off of Tyler Bozak’s shinpad, making it Bozak’s first goal of the year.

There were two penalties called in the third period, an interference call against Zach Sanford of the Blues and a misconduct against Kurtis Gabriel of the Sharks. Neither team registered a shot on the power play in the third. The Sharks improved a little in shots, leading 11-10 in the third.

The Sharks had all the shots in overtime with four, and they had some power play time as well.

The shootout was concluded in three rounds. David Perron’s shot was stopped by Martin Jones. Donato shot wide. Brayden Schenn scored over Jones’ shoulder on the glove side. Logan Couture scored over Binnington’s blocker. Vladimir Tarasenko scored by outwaiting Jones and sneaking the puck behind the goalie. Kevin Labanc tried the same thing but Binnington’s skate got in the way for a save.

The Sharks’ face-off numbers were not good, with a 38% win percentage. Tomas Hertl and Dylan Gambrell both won fewer than 25% of their draws. Both players have been taking a lot of draws and until recently put up good numbers.

The Sharks next play on Saturday at 6:00 PM PT, against the Blues again in San Jose.

Sharks Beat Blues 5-4

Photo credit: @SanJoseSharks

By Mary Walsh

The San Jose Sharks beat the Blues 5-4 in St.Louis on Saturday. Sharks goals came from Evander Kane, Logan Couture (2), Rudolfs Balcers, and Patrick Marleau. Sharks goaltender Devan Dubnyk made 28 saves for the win. The Blues goals were scored by Brayden Schenn, Zach Sanford, Ryan O’Reilly and Jordan Kyrou. Jordan Binnington made 22 saves in the loss.

Despite allowing another four-goal second period to the Blues, the Sharks persisted for the win. After the game, Sharks Head Coach Bob Boughner talked about coping with penalties and questionable calls: “We stuck with it and we had some great kills, character kills, and we found a way to get three points out of these two games. It could have easily been four.”

Evander Kane ended a four-game goal drought at 7:24 of the first, giving the Sharks the first lead of the game. Logan Couture tried to move the puck from the boards to Kane but it went to Zach Sanford instead. Sanford turned it right over to Kane, with some help from Kevin Labanc. Kane was ready to spin, settle the puck and shoot before Binnington could get set.

Couture doubled the lead at 10:10. Kane chased the puck down behind the net and sent it up ice to Kevin Labanc, who found Couture in front of the net with a quick pass. Couture tapped it right in.

The first period ended with the Sharks leading in shots 10-9, and in the face-off circle at 54%. The Sharks took one penalty in the first, and the Blues had one shot on that power-play.

The second period was much busier than the first. The Sharks added to their tally at 3:48. Rudolfs Balcers scored his first as a Shark by stopping above the blue paint and waiting for a pass from Tomas Hertl, who was below the goal line. Despite the Blues defense around him, Hertl got the pass cleanly to Balcers for a one-timer past Binnington.

The Blues scored at 4:45. Jordan Kyrou, with Marc-Edouard Vlasic blocking his path, bounced the puck off of the post from below the goal line. It went right to Brayden Schenn for a shot past Devan Dubnyk on the blocker side. Assists went to Jordan Kyrou and Mike Hoffman.

Patrick Marleau gave the Sharks a three-goal lead at 8:18. Evander Kane sent the puck under a leaping Matt Nieto to Marleau on the far side of the net. Marleau tapped it in behind Binnington.

The Blues came right back with their second goal at 8:37. Torey Krug took a shot from the Blue line that went off of Zach Sanford. The goal was reviewed for a high stick but was allowed. Assists went to Krug and Schenn.

Ryan O’Reilly’s one-timer from just above the goal line cut the Sharks lead to one at 15:30. The Sharks were short-handed as Mario Ferraro left the ice abruptly after losing his helmet. Assists went to Hoffman and Kyrou.

Kyrou tied it up ith just 1:19 left in the second. Kyrou skated in, two-on-one with David Perron. Perron drew the defensive attention so Kyrou took the shot and beat Dubnyk on the glove side. Assists went to Perron and O’Reilly.

The Blues led on the second-period shot clock, 15-10, and in the face-off circle, at 54%. As in the first, the Sharks took one penalty but the Blues didn’t get any shots out of it.

Couture, just on the ice after a line change, gave the Sharks a new lead at 11:51 of the third. His shot from the face-off circle slipped through traffic at the net before Binnington could find it.

The Blues pulled their goaltender with just over a minute left but the Sharks held on. The Blues took their first penalty in the third period, but it was offset by a penalty to the Sharks as well, for some four-on-four play. The Sharks took a second penalty in the third, but their penalty kill did not allow any shots. The final shot count was 32-27 Blues, and the face-offs went to the Blues 52% of the time.

The Sharks next play on Monday, back in San Jose, against the Minnesota Wild at 7:30 PM PT.

Sharks Blown Out By Kings 6-2

Photo credit: mercurynews.com

By Mary Walsh

The San Jose Sharks lost 6-2 to the Los Angeles Kings Thursday at Staples Center. Kings goals came from Anze Kopitar, Jaret Anderson-Dolan, Carl Grundstrom, Austin Wagner, Alex Iafallo, and Jeff Carter. Their goaltender, Calvin Petersen, made 29 saves for the win. Tomas Hertl scored both Sharks goals ad Martin Jones made 20 saves in the loss. Alexei Melnichuk made five saves for the Sharks, during the final ten minutes, in a brief NHL debut.

After the game, Sharks Head Coach Bob Boughner said, of the first period: “I thought we played a pretty good period. We’re down three-nothing, I mean, you’ve gotta dig yourself out of a hole on the road. When really, I mean, I thought we were probably the team that had some better scoring chances in the first period and their guy made some saves and our guy didn’t. And now you’re down three-nothing.”

Boughner also said, of Martin Jones’ performance: “That’s not up to our standard, that goaltending. And, you know, I mean we’ve given him a chance here to grab the net, especially with [Dubnyk] being hurt. And we’re not expecting him to win hockey games for us and stand on his head but we’ve gotta have solid goaltending, especially at the beginning of games and it’s not up to our standard and I’m sure it’s not up to his own.”

Logan Couture talked about the trouble the team had with five-on-five offense: “We should have done a better job tonight of holding onto the puck, using the back of the net, then looking to the slot. We were trying to force plays right away and kind of throwing plays blindly. I can think of a few that I did off the top of my head right now. So, something to work on.”

Brent Burns was in the penalty box for holding when Anze Kopitar took a shot from the face-off circle. His shot went over Erik Karlsson’s leg and by Martin Jones on the glove side at 2:47. Assists went to Drew Doughty and Dustin Brown.

The Kings took a 2-0 lead at 9:25. Austin Strand’s cross-ice pass found Jaret Anderson-Dolan for a quick shot. His shot hit Carl Grundstrom’s leg, changing direction at the last second to get by Jones.

A Sharks power play had just expired when Tobias Bjornfot sent the puck up the ice to Austin Wagner, who had just stepped out of the penalty box. He was free to take his time and plan his shot with no defense in the vicinity. It was Wagner’s second goal of the season, scored at 12:42.

Tomas Hertl got the Sharks on the board at 16:49. Nikolai Knyzhov carried the puck across the line and then gave it to Hertl along the boards. Hertl took a shot that hit Austin Strand on the leg. Hertl caught the rebound and sent it back, over Calvin Petersen’s outstretched pad. Assists went to Knyzhov and Marc-Edouard Vlasic.

The second period was, surprisingly, the Sharks’ best of the game. Despite taking two penalties to the Kings’ one, it looked like they had stopped the bleeding when they scored on a power play at 16:45. The teams had just finished four-on-four when Logan Couture and Tomas Hertl jumped out for a two-on-one. Couture took a shot that came off of Petersen’s pad, right to Hertl. Couture and Erik Karlsson got the assists.

The Kings started their third period scoring at 4:51. Carl Grundstrom gathered up the puck behind the net, and sent it above the crease to Trevor Moore, who passed it to the side of the net. Martin Jones had come out to challenge Moore, but he left too much room and gave Jaret Anderson-Dolan an open net. The Sharks defense had missed several chances to control that puck, and in doing so ended up well out of the play and unable to help their goaltender.

Just over a minute later, Alex Iafallo made it 5-2. Dustin Brown managed to fall and slide into Martin Jones without incurring a penalty. While Jones was tied up with Brown, Iafallo put the puck in the net. Brent Burns was called for hi-sticking Brown which negated any penalty to Brown. The Sharks challenged the goal but just got a second penalty for their trouble.

With a two-man advantage, the Kings scored again at 6:56. Jeff Carter scored with a one-timer off of a Kopitar pass that went from one face-off circle to the other. Assists went to Kopitar and Drew Doughty.

The Sharks put Alexei Melnichuck in the net with about 10 minutes left in the period. He made five saves on five shots.

By the end of the game, the teams were dead even in shots at 31 each. The Sharks had just two power plays, while Los Angeles had six. The Sharks had some of their best face-off results of the season, winning 60% of them.

Goaltender Devan Dubnyk is day-to-day with an injury. Bob Boughner did not specify when the injury was sustained but he did say that he does not expect him to play this weekend.

The Sharks next play on Saturday at 1:00 PM PT in San Jose, against the Vegas Golden Knights.

Avalanche Bury Sharks in 7-3 Win

The Colorado Avalanche’s center Nathan MacKinnon (29) gets past the San Jose Sharks Mario Ferraro (38) to put the puck on net and Sharks goaltender Martin Jones (1) in the first period of Tue Jan 26, 2021 game at the Ball Center in Denver (AP News photo)

By Mary Walsh

The San Jose Sharks fell 7-3 to the high-powered Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday. The Avalanche goals were scored by Valeri Nichushkin, Brandon Saad (2), Joonas Donskoi, Mikko Rantanen, Devon Toews and Samuel Girard. Their goaltender, Philipp Grubauer, made 27 saves for the win. Sharks goals came from Noah Gregor, Ryan Donato and Logan Couture. Martin Jones made 14 saves on 19 shots before being replaced by Devan Dubnyk, who made 21 saves for San Jose.

Sharks Head Coach Bob Boughner described the moment he thought the game really started to unravel for his team:

“The most disappointing thing for me was, you know, okay it’s three-one after the first period, we had a good eight, nine minutes and we’re still in the hockey game and then we start on the power play. We turn one over, they go down and get a breakaway. Our next unit comes on, turns one over, it’s in the back of our net, it’s four one. Obviously, that’s when the game opens up a bit and we paid the price for it. You can’t open up against these guys and you can’t mis-manage pucks and that’s exactly what we did.”

Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson said:

“They played a good game today and we did not. I think we started okay but we still defended a lot, even though we got the first goal. I don’t think that was anything we really created. We got a good puck bounce. I think that once they started rolling, we became a little passive and we gave them a little too much room and, you know, we started doubting ourselves a bit. And that’s probably why the game ran away from us against a good team like this.”

The Sharks scored first, a double-tap from Ryan Donato at 10:39. He brought the puck up from the goal line and tried to shoot it through two defenders but it hit a couple of legs. He found it as it bounced and nudged it in for his third of the season. Assists went to Kevin Labanc and Logan Couture.

Colorado tied it up at 16:15. Valeri Nichushkin carried the puck down around behind the net and then sent it back to the blue line for a shot by Erik Johnson. Joonas Donskoi skated across in front of Martin Jones just as the shot came in and the puck hit him on the way in. Assists went to Johnson and Nichushkin.

The Avalanche took the lead less that a minute later. Cale Makar put the puck into traffic in front of Martin Jones and Brandon Saad knocked it in. Assists went to Makar and Andre Burakovsky.

Piling it on, Colorado scored a power play goal in the final minute of play. Nikolai Knyzhov was in the box for hooking against Tyson Jost. The Sharks penalty kill held off the Colorado power play for almost a minute before Mikko Rantanen scored with a hard shot from above the face-off circle. Assists went to Nathan MacKinnon and Makar.

At the end of the first, Colorado led in shots 16-9 and the Sharks had a slight lead in face-off wins of 52%.

The Avalanche kept rolling. The Sharks had an early power play in the second period, but half way through it, Valeri Nichushkin snatched the puck in the neutral zone and took it the other way for a short-handed goal.

Samuel Girard scored a few minutes later with a shot through what looked like all available skaters on the ice. Assists went to Tyson Jost and Kiefer Sherwood.

Devan Dubnyk came in to relieve Martin Jones in the Sharks net. After the game, Bob Boughner said: “I think both goalies were left out to dry multiple times tonight. It’s tough to make a goalie evaluation, I think that, you know, some of the plays that they made through the seam, and we actually made some saves on it, they scored on I think it was the second or third one. But you can’t allow seam plays.”

The Sharks’ third line showed some jump and scored one at 7:44. Some quick passes got the puck to the net just as Noah Gregor got there to tuck it in with a backhand. Assists went to Dylan Gambrell and Timo Meier.

Near the 13:00 mark, Devan Dubnyk got tangled up with J.T. Compher. He took some time to recover but did not leave the game.

The Avalanche resumed scoring at 13:30 when Devon Toews scored Colorado’s sixth of the night. Towes took a shot from the blue line that did not go in. Toews took another shot, this time into an empty net while Dubnyk was tangled up with another Colorado forward. Assists went to Gabriel Landeskog and Cale Makar.

Brandon Saad scored his second of the night at 15:01. Johnson, Kadri and Saad entered the zone and got around everyone but Vlasic and in a brief two-on-one, scored the team’s seventh.

The Sharks were outshot in the second 13-6.

Logan Couture got one back for San Jose at 12:43 of the third period. Kevin Labanc made a cross-ice pass to Donato as they entered the zone with Couture between them. Donato moved it back to the middle as they closed on the net and Couture tipped it in. Assists went to Donato and Labanc.

The only stat that favored the Sharks Tuesday was their face-off win percentage, finishing with 53%.

The Sharks next play on Thursday at 6:00 PM PT, against the Avalanche in Colorado again.

Sharks Beat Wild 5-3; SJ playing .500 hockey now at 3-3

The San Jose Sharks Mario Ferraro (38) tries to get the stick on the puck against the Minnesota Wild’s Marcus Foligno (17) at Xcel Energy Center in St Paul on Sun Jan 24, 2021 (AP News photo)

By Mary Walsh

The San Jose Sharks won 5-3 against the Minnesota Wild in St. Paul Sunday. Goals came from Ryan Donato, Evander Kane, Noah Gregor, Brent Burns and Matt Nieto. Martin Jones made 26 saves in the win. Wild goals came from Nick Bjugstad, Zach Parise and Kevin Fiala. Kaapo Kahkonen made 31 saves in the loss.

The game-winner from Brent Burns was a spectacular feat in itself, but it also came at the perfect time. Sharks Head Coach Bob Boughner said, of the goal:

“At that point in the game we were just, you know, we were taking on a little water, we had some kills in the third period. At that point in time you’re trying to maintain at least the point and trying to win it in overtime. You know, if you get a break, great. But guys like that, elite players, they find ways to make huge differences in the game and that’s exactly what Burnzie did. We needed that.”

Boughner made some changes before Sunday’s game. Forward Timo Meier moved down to the third line from the second line, to play with Dylan Gambrell and Noah Gregor. John Leonard came back into the lineup to play in Meier’s spot with Tomas Hertl and Evander Kane. The defensive pairs were also adjusted, with Mario Ferraro playing with Erik Karlsson and Marc-Edouard Vlasic playing with Brent Burns.

After the game, Timo Meier was asked about the line change. He said: “Playing with Gregor and Gambrell, I think it’s, you know, two good hockey players so I think it was an opportunity. I mean, Gregor with his speed and obviously Gambi, I think we had a lot of fun out there.” Asked about how he thought the game went for them, Meier said: “Every time we stepped on the ice we tried to make a difference and use our strengths and, you know, it worked for us.”

Asked what he thought of Meier’s performance, Boughner said: “He was a beast out there. I thought that every time his line was out there he was taking pucks to the net, dragging people on his back, he was finishing on the forecheck, all those kinds of things. That line played well together.”

The Sharks started fast, with three shots in the first two minutes of play. Still, Minnesota scored first at 4:21.

As Karlsson tried to defend a two-on-one, Kirill Kaprizov made the pass across to Zach Parise, who put the puck past Martin Jones as he tried to come across.

The teams traded penalties in the middle of the period, with no change in score.

The Sharks tied it up in the final minute of the period. Erik Karlsson drove the puck deep, and Kevin Labanc gathered it up below the goal line. Labanc made a neat backhand pass to Ryan Donato, who jammed the puck through two Wild players in the direction of the net. The puck touched one of the defenders and slipped under Kaapo Kahkonen.

The Sharks out-shot the Wild 12-3 in the first period, and won 64% of the face-offs. Tomas Hertl drew a penalty with 15 seconds left in the period, so the Sharks started the second on the power play. The Sharks gave up a short-handed chance to Joel Eriksson-Ek in the first minute of the second but no other damage was done.

The Sharks had another power play opportunity at 5:17. Late in the penalty, Donato made a drop pass to Timo Meier, then drifted toward the net. Meier, on the wall, made a pass over to Kane for a one-timer inside the circle. By then, Donato was skating across in front of the net to add a screen.

A little over a minute later, the Wild put the puck in the net, but they did so while pushing Martin Jones across the line with the puck. Bob Boughner challenged the goal and, after a review, it was called back.

Noah Gregor padded the Sharks’ lead at 8:26, his first goal of the year. Gregor skated into the zone with his line spread across the ice. He looked like he would pass as he came down the wall but then took the shot. An assist went to Mario Ferraro.

Nick Bjugstad cut the Sharks’ lead back down to one at 16:47. The teams were playing four-on-four after Jordan Greenway and Nikolai Knyzhov went to the box for matching roughing penalties. Bjugstad posted himself in front of the net for a tip around Mario Ferraro and the Sharks goalie. Assists went to Jared Spurgeon and Ryan Suter.

The Wild led in shots during the second period, 15-12. In the face-off circle, the Sharks won 57% of the second period draws.

The Wild tied the game 7:20 in to the third period with a power play goal from Kevin Fiala. It only took them three seconds of power play time. Ryan Suter got the puck out of an offensive zone draw and sent it to Fiala for a shot right up the middle. Assists went to Suter and Parise.

The Sharks snatched the game back with just 1:48 left in regulation. It was worth waiting for. Timo Meier had the puck after and offensive zone draw when Brent Burns came down off of the blue line. Meier got the puck to him and Burns bobbed and weaved his way through four Wild skaters before putting the puck away with a backhand lift. Assists went to Meier and Tomas Hertl.

Matt Nieto scored his second of the season into an empty net after gathering the puck in the D zone and carrying it out to take a shot a few strides over the Wild blue line. A quick review for off side showed that it was very close, even under the new rules that say any skate, on or off the ice, can keep you on side. The goal stood up.

Each team scored once in four power plays in the game. The Sharks finished with a solid lead in the face-off circle at 57%, though the Wild improved with each period. The standout Sharks in the face-off circle was Dylan Gambrell, winning 12 of his 16 draws (75%). Logan Couture won 11 of 18 (61%). Tomas Hertl was not very successful, winning just 9 of 22 (41%).

The Sharks next play on Tuesday against the Avalanche in Colorado at 6:00 PM PT.

Sharks Lose 4-1 to Wild; Sharks Dubnyk allows two goals against former team

The Minnesota Wild’s Zach Parise puts the puck on net as San Jose Sharks goaltender Devan Dubnyk can only watch it go in in the second period during Fri Jan 22, 2021’s contest at the Xcel Energy Center in Minneapolis (Minneapolis Star Tribune photo)

By Mary Walsh

The San Jose Sharks lost 4-1 to the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Minnesota goals came from Joel Eriksson-Ek, Zach Parise, Kevin Fiala and Jordan Greenway. Cam Talbot made 11 saves on 12 shots in the first period. Kaapo Kahkonen made 17 saves after coming in for an injured Talbot. Matt Nieto scored the Sharks’ one goal and Devan Dubnyk made 25 saves on 27 shots faced for San Jose.

After the game, Sharks Head Coach Bob Boughner said that he was generally pleased with the first 40 minutes, but the team needs more from the power play and the top six:

“We didn’t generate a lot of emotion from our power play, especially when we had chances. Didn’t capitalize on our chances. [LeBanc] Banker missed one here on the back door and it was basically a 2-1 game in my mind but … you know what, we need more from the big guys. We got another goal from Matt Nieto, on that fourth line here, and, you know, we need our best players to be our best players.”

Sharks forward Timo Meier explained what the team needs to do to create more offense: “It starts obviously in the D zone, breaking out better. Come with more speed through the neutral zone and I think a big thing is holding onto pucks in the offensive zone and wear down the D. I think that’s where we gotta do a better job.”

As for what is missing from their power play now, Meier said:

“I think we gotta just keep it more simple, get some pucks through. Net presence is important. I think for some amount of time we’re moving the puck well but we’re not really dangerous in front of the net. So I think we’ve just gotta fight to get, you know, an ugly one and that’ll give us some confidence back.”

Joel Eriksson-Ek scored first for the Wild just 5:01 into the first period. Jordan Greenway took a shot from the boards that Eriksson-Ek deflected in, from right on the edge of the blue paint. Assists went to Jordan Greenway and Ryan Hartman.

Matt Nieto tied the game just 1:11 later. Patrick Marleau got control of the puck ow in the zone and passed it to Erik Karlsson who was coming down from the blue line. Instead of takig a shot, Karlsson deviously tapped it over to Nieto i the slot. Nieto took the shot with two players in Talbot’s eyes. Assists went to Erik Karlsson and Patrick Marleau.

Each team had two power plays in the period, and each gave up short-handed chances in their first power plays. Evander Kane had a second short handed chance in the second Minnesota power play. The Sharks’ second power play looked very good, with the team holding the zone for over a minute before play stopped. Ferraro and Donato both made some nice plays.

When play stopped, Minnesota’s Talbot appeared to be injured but remained in the game. He did not, however, come back in the second period.

Minnesota took a lead in the second period, at 13:17. Zach Parise had just been stopped by Dubnyk but, seconds later, Parise was back in front of the net creating a screen for a shot from Nick Bjugstad. Dubnyk stopped that one but Parise found the loose puck and put it past the Sharks goaltender.

There were no penalties in the second period until 17:39, and then a few penalties were assigned after a near-fight between Jordan Greenway and Marie Ferraro. Ferraro got two for roughing, while Greenway got a double minor for roughing.

A power play for Minnesota early in the third did not change the score. The game remained 2-1 until the final two minutes. The Sharks made a final push by pulling their goaltender with just under two minutes left. That did not work out as Erik Karlsson could not hold the ouck off of a faceoff. Kevin Fiala snatched the loose puck at the Minnesota blue line and carried it down for the empty net goal, giving the Wild a 3-1 lead.

The Sharks persisted with the empty net only to have the Wild gain control again. Jordan Greenway took a shot from his own zone and made it 4-1. Assists went to Joel Eriksson-Ek and Marcus Foligno.

Despite the loss, there was one one bright stat in the Sharks’ game: they did better in the face-off circle, winning 58% of them. Tomas Hertl won all six of his draws, Logan Couture won a respectable 50% of his six draws, and Ryan Donato won two of his three.

The Sharks next play on Sunday, again in Minnesota at 5:00 PM PT.

Sharks Win 2-1 in Shootout Against Blues

The San Jose Sharks Tomas Hertl (right) puts the puck on net for the game winner in the overtime shootout against St Louis Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington (left) in St Louis in the second game of their two game series on Wed Jan 2o, 2021 (AP News photo)

By Mary Walsh

The San Jose Sharks won 2-1 against the St. Louis Blues in a shootout Wednesday. The Sharks got a regulation goal from Marcus Sorensen and the shootout winner from Tomas Hertl. Martin Jones made 22 saves for the win. The lone Blues goal came from Brayden Schenn and their goaltender, Jordan Binnington, made 37 saves in the loss.

After the game, Sharks Head Coach Bob Boughner talked about the improvements he saw in his team’s game:

“I thought our turnover rate was better, I thought our wall play was better, our possession time I think was a little better. And line changes, as crazy as that sounds, as simple as that sounds, I thought we did a better job of, you know, our shift length and changing and just all the fundamentals that we’ve been talking about.”

Boughner also pointed to how the team’s third and fourth lines helped in the win, beyond scoring the Sharks’ only regulation goal: “I believe the third and fourth line created some of our best o-zone shifts tonight when we needed it, just at the right time. They jumped over the boards and they played a little bit of a blue-collar style game which was perfect for us.”

The teams traded penalties in the first period but ended with no score. The Sharks had two penlaties to kill and the Blues had three. The shots were close, at 10-9 St. Louis.

The Blues scored first, at 4:27 of the second period. With the Sharks on a power play, Jordan Kyrou brought the puck through the neutral zone with speed before running into the Sharks defense. He held on to the puck until Brent Burns made some contact, knocking the puck loose. From there, Torey Krug and Brayden Schenn got it to the net and Schenn put it into the top corner. Assists went to Kyrou and Krug.

The Sharks tied it up with just over two minutes left in the second. Marcus Sorensen pushed the puck deep into Blues territory before gathering it up and sending it back up to Burns on the blue line. Mario Ferraro took a shot that touched Matt Nieto’s stick and trickled wide. Sorensen was right there to knock it in. Assists went to Nieto and Ferraro.

The shot count was close again in the second period, at 11-10 Sharks. The game remained scoreless after that. The Sharks had one third period power play, and killed two penalties. In all, the Sharks out-shot the Blues 17-4 in the final period.

After the game, Logan Couture talked about the third period: “I think in the third period, we played the style of hockey that we want to play. Obviously throughout the game there were a lot of penalties back and forth and it’s tough to get a flow going. But I liked our third period for sure.”

The Sharks seemed to score in the final 11 seconds of OT, but it was called back for incidental contact with the goaltender.

The shootout went an extra round as Martin Jones faced David Perron, Ryan O’Reilly, Brayden Schenn and Jordan Kyrou without letting in a goal. Binnington faced Ryan Donato, Logan Couture and Kevin Labanc before tomas Hertl’s shot got by him.

The Sharks next play on Friday in Minnesota against the Wild at 5:00 PM PT.

San Jose Sharks Stick with Boughner

San Jose Sharks head coach Bob Boughner will get another season behind the bench for the Sharks as general manager Doug Wilson is happy to bring him back for 2020-21 (AP News photo)

By Mary Walsh

On Tuesday, the San Jose Sharks announced that Bob Boughner would be their ninth Head Coach. Boughner took over as Interim Head Coach for the Sharks half way through last season, replacing Peter DeBoer.

In Tuesday’s press release, the Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson assessed Boughner’s time as Interim Head Coach. “Bob did a tremendous job last season, getting our group back to playing with an identity and structure that we need in order to be successful,” said Wilson. “We saw a marked improvement in our play in several key areas during the second half of the season, before losing some key players to injury.”

After a long NHL playing career and several successful seasons coaching Junior Hockey, Boughner joined the Sharks in 2015 as an assistant coach. In 2017, he was named Head Coach of the Florida Panthers. Two seasons later, he was replaced by Joel Quenneville in Florida and returned to the Sharks as an assistant coach. As a Head Coach in the NHL, his record is 94-82-25.

In the partial season as Interim Head Coach for the Sharks, Boughner saw his team win just 14 of 37 games, continuing the abysmal trend they were on when Peter DeBoer was fired. To make an already terrible season worse, the team lost Tomas Hertl, Logan Couture and Erik Karlsson to injury shortly after Boughner took over.

After the announcement Tuesday, Boughner thanked the Sharks owner and General Manager for bringing him back:

I’m very excited about the opportunity to return to the San Jose Sharks organization as head coach. I want to thank Hasso Plattner and Doug Wilson for their trust in me. Last year was a difficult season for everyone but I think we learned a lot about ourselves as a group and we made some positive strides over the second half of the year.

The roster that Boughner will have when regular play resumes will be somewhat changed from last season. While the injured players will likely be back, some long-time Sharks were traded at the deadline, such as defenseman Justin Braun and forward Barclay Goodrow. After struggling as the team did through the abbreviated 2019-2020 season, the Sharks would likely benefit from change. Whether the new Head Coach is enough of a change remains to be seen.

The Sharks also added Rocky Thompson as associate coach and John Madden as assistant coach. Of Thompson and Madden, Wilson said: “We’re also very pleased to add Rocky and John to our staff. Both come with a wealth of experience, both in playing the game and as teachers and leaders. With a healthy and motivated group of players, we are confident that this staff will do a terrific job leading our group in the coming years.”

Bob Boughner looks forward to working with his new coaches. In the Sharks press release, he said:

Rocky and John will bring some fresh energy and excitement to our group. Both have been head coaches, worked on coaching staffs in the NHL and have lots of experience working with and developing young players. It was important that anyone we brought in from the outside come from a culture of winning, which is what we are used to in San Jose. Rocky and John have the credibility and work ethic to help us get our talented team back to that level.

The coaching staff is rounded out by Evgeni Nabokov as goaltending coach, Dan Darrow as assistant video coach and Charlie Townsend as analyst/assistant to the NHL coaching staff. All are returning from last season.

Sharks Lose 4-1 to Canucks; Get swept in three game road trip

theprovince.com photo: Vancouver Canucks centre Jay Beagle (83) goes into the boards with San Jose Sharks right wing Stefan Noesen (11) during first period NHL hockey action in Vancouver, Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020

By Mary Walsh

The San Jose Sharks fell 4-1 to the Vancouver Canucks Saturday and go into the All-Star break on a three-game losing streak. The win put the Canucks at first in the Pacific Division. Canucks goals were scored by Loui Eriksson, Tanner Pearson, Quinn Hughes and T.J. Miller. Vancouver goalie Thatcher Demko made 17 saves for the win. Barclay Goodrow scored the Sharks goal and Aaron Dell made 35 saves i the loss.

After the game, Sharks forward Timo Meier said:

Showed some good stuff but not 60 minutes. That’s what it takes on the road, you’ve got to play 60 minutes of honest hockey, hard-working hockey. We didn’t get that done. Now we’ve got a break. We’re obviously not feeling great going into this break. But coming back from the break we’ve got to be ready to give everything we’ve got, push for it.

After the game, Sharks interim head coach Bob Boughner was asked why the team was having so much trouble creating offense. He mentioned the absence of Logan Couture and the fact that the team is having trouble getting out of their own zone. He also pointed to face-offs: “I think the big difference is, this road trip, we’ve been horrible in the face-off circle. Now you’re never starting with the puck, even in the offensive zone, you’re chasing. You can’t chase pucks all night. That limits your possession, and tires you out.”

The Sharks finished the game with an abysmal 38% face-off win percentage. Tomas Hertl and Barclay Goodrow have been struggling there, though they had regular success earlier in the season and tend to take a lot of draws. The only Sharks above 50% in Saturday’s game took relatively few draws. They were Evander Kane, who won three of five draws, Annti Suomela, who won four of seven, and Joel Kellman, who won three of five.

The first period was scoreless and that was the only good thing about it for the Sharks. They finished it with three shots on goal to the Canucks’ nine. The Canucks also won 67% of the face-offs.

The second period did not shape up to be any better than the first for the Sharks, while the Canucks seemed to gain confidence. The period was still scoreless until 14:05 when Tanner Pearson took a shot from the slot. He did not get all of it and it went off of a Sharks before getting to Dell. Loui Eriksson was at the net to pick up the rebound and put it in the net. Assists went to Pearson and Bo Horvat.

The Sharks challenged the goal as an offside play but the review determined otherwise and put the Sharks on the penalty kill. The Sharks killed the penalty but by the end of the period they still only had four shots  and had allowed 18 including the goal.

The Sharks had a better start to the third period, getting the first shots in the first few minutes of play. But at 4:37, Timo Meier went to the box for goaltender interference. 24 seconds into that penalty, Vancouver scored again. This one came as the Canucks entered the zone with Jake Virtanen on the wall. He took the shot and Pearson tipped it in. A secondary assist went to Adam Gaudette.

Barclay Goodrow got one back for the Sharks at 7:09. Erik Karlsson’s shot wound up in traffic in front of the net, where Goodrow dug for it and put it across the line. It was Goodrow’s eighth of the season, a career high for him. Assists went to Karlsson and Antti Suomela.

Vancouver took that back less than a minute later. Quinn Hughes took the shot from the blue line, right through a line of traffic. Assists went to Antoine Rouselle and Adam Gaudette.

Near the midpoint of the period, refereee Kendrick Nicholson took a shot to the head. It appeared that his helmet took the brunt of it but he left the game to be checked out.

Vancouver scored again at 15:27 of a two-on-one against Brent Burns. Burns dropped to block the pass but Virtanen passed the puck over him to J.T. Miller, who beat Dell on the blocker side. Elias Petterssen got the secondary assist.

For the second game in a row, the game ended with laundry list of penalties as scraps broke out at 17:18. Joe Thornton and Alexander Edler took matching roughing penalties. Thornton got an extra one for interference, and Edler was given a misconduct. Barclay Goodrow and Brenden Dillon both had misconducts. Brandon Sutter had a misconduct and Christopher Tanev got a roughing and a misconduct.

The Sharks finished the third period with a more respectable 11 shots to Vancouver’s 12.

Tomas Hertl will attend the All Star game starting on the 24th. The rest of the team will be off until the 29th, their first game after the break.