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 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 5-2 in Edmonton, Thornton Ties Howe

Photo credit: @SanJoseSharks

By Mary Walsh

The San Jose Sharks defeated the Oilers 5-2 win in Edmonton Saturday while adding a couple of milestones. Joe Thornton earned his 1,048th and 1,049th assists to tie Gordie Howe for ninth in the NHL. That last point came on Kevin Labanc’s third goal of the game for his first NHL hat trick. Two more Sharks goals came from Evander Kane and Tomas Hertl. Sharks goaltender Aaron Dell made 21 saves on 23 shots. Edmonton got goals from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Zack Kassian, while goaltender Cam Talbot made 26 saves on 31 shots.

Of their success in Edmonton this season, and of Labanc’s hat trick, Sharks Captain Joe Pavelski said:

Yeah, first one, that’s awesome, they were nice goals too. He shot the puck really well tonight, you know, quick, accurate, hard. He made some good plays out there. It was big for us. That’s what I was talking about, up and down the lineup, when we’ve come in here we’ve had guys step up and have big nights and, you know, Kevin had a good one for us tonight.

Kevin Labanc gave the Sharks a 1-0 lead 10:39 into the first. Catching a pass from Joe Thornton as he came into the zone at a good clip, Labanc took a quick shot that went off of an Edmonton skate and into the net. Assists went to Thornton and Marcus Sorensen.

Evander Kane added to that lead at 12:15. Tomas Hertl carried the puck over the blue line, then made a backwards pass to Joonas Donskoi who had just entered the zone behind him. Donskoi found Kane as he arrived in front of the net, undefended. Kane did not hesitate and put the puck by Talbot on the near side. Assists went to Donskoi and Hertl.

The teams skated four-on-four after Barclasy Goodrow and Leon Draisaitl exchanged penalties, crossing-checking for Goodrow and interference for Draisaitl. Neither team scored.

At the end of the first period, the Sharks led 2-0 and 12-5 in shots.

The Sharks had an early power play in the second period, when Zack Kassian went to the box for tripping Evander Kane. With 22 seconds left in that penalty, Adam Larsson was called for delay of game after the puck went out of play.

The two man advantage had expired before the Sharks scored again. Evander Kane moved as if to carry the puck behind the net but instead sent the puck to the front. Timo Meier was there but he could not get his stick on it. The puck went off of his skate and out to Labanc who was at the edge of the faceoff circle. He dragged the puck closer to the slot, encouraging the goalie to move off the post. As Talbot started to move across, Labanc took the shot. Assists went to Meier and Kane.

The Sharks got another chance at 9:06 with Oscar Klefbom in the box for interference against Tomas Hertl, but that was cut short by half a minute when Timo Meier was called for tripping Brandon Manning. The Sharks penalty had 28 seconds left in it when Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored for Edmonton. Aaron Dell had fought off a couple of shots and was down when the puck popped out to Nugent-Hopkins away from the net crowd. Nugent-Hopkins took the shot and it went through traffic and in at 12:00 of the second. An assist went to Alex Chiasson.

At the end of the second period, the Sharks led 3-1. Despite the power play time for San Jose, Edmonton still had 13 shots to the Sharks’ 7 for the period. Whatever accounted for that imbalance, it did not go unnoticed by the Sharks during intermission. They came out with renewed energy to start the third period.

Kevin Labanc completed his hat trick just 1:36 into the final frame. Much like his first goal of the game, he took a pass from Joe Thornton off the rush and his shot went through traffic. This time, it did not hit anything and went into the net clean as a whistle. Assists went to Thornton and Brenden Dillon.

Tomas Hertl made it 5-1 at 4:24 of the third. He carried the puck into the zone, looked away like he was going to pass across the ice, snatched the puck away from an Edmonton stick, then shot it through the short side. Talbot was unable to predict that.

Zack Kassian got one back for Edmonton at 4:03 of the third. His shot from the blue line bounced off of a skate and went up in their over Dell before landing across the line. Adam Larsson got an assist.

In the end, the Sharks got one power play goal in five chances, and the Oilers scored on their only power play of the game. The Sharks won 60% of the faceoffs.

At 4:57 of the first period, San Jose’s Melker Karlsson carried the puck into the zone and attempted to protect it against Milan Lucic and Kevin Gravel behind the Edmonton net. Gravel pushed Karlsson into the boards and he started to loose his footing. As he started to fall, Gravel pushed him again and Karlsson went down with what appeared to be a shoulder injury. Karlsson left the game.

In the final seconds of the first period, Edmonton’s Ty Rattie blocked a Tim Heed shot with his ankle and he left the ice with assistance. He did not return.

The Sharks next play on Monday in Vancouver against the Canucks at 7:00 PM PT.