Sharks Lose 2-1 in OT to Senators photo: The Ottawa Senators Chris Tierney (71) tries to put the puck past San Jose Sharks goaltender Aaron Dell (30) during a penalty shot in the second period on Saturday night at SAP Center in San Jose

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE- The San Jose Sharks fell 2-1 in overtime to the Ottawa Senators Saturday at the SAP Center. Ottawa goals came from Nick Paul and ex-Shark Chris Tierney. Goaltender Craig Anderson made 31 saves for the win. The lone Sharks goal came from Evander Kane, while San Jose goalie Aaron Dell made 36 saves in the loss.

After the game, the Sharks goalie said: “We had only a couple breakdowns. For the most part I think we played a really solid game. And we had a lot of chances, just bounced over our stick a couple of times, just you know some bad luck I think. One of those goes in, it’s a whole different game.”

Sharks defenseman Brent Burns was asked how he felt after getting 31.5 minutes of ice time. He said: “I feel great, I feel good. I think we’re all in the same boat. We all train for the summer to play more than what we ever play so it’s good. I get to eat more tonight now.”

The Senators scored on their ninth shot of the first period, at 10:33. The Senators moved the puck from the blue line, below the goal line, back to the blue line, and behind the net again. Jayce Hawryluk gathered the puck behind the net and Anthony Duclair made a short pass to the front for the net for Nick Paul.

The Sharks had the only power plays in the first period, one at 7:41, one at 17:11 and a third at 19:32. They got three shots on those power plays before finally scoring at the tail end of the period.

Evander Kane tipped a Brent Burns shot but that did not go through. Kane followed up and got his stick on the puck again to pop it into the net. Assists went to Brent Burns and Timo Meier.

The shot count for the period was 16-14 Sharks. San Jose also had a very good period in the face-off circle, winning 65% of the time. Joe Thornton, Evander Kane and Dylan Gambrell shared the bulk of those face-offs, each taking five draws.

In his first NHL game, Nikolai Knyzhov took the Sharks’ first penalty of the game at 4:28 of the second. The Sharks killed that off, allowing just one shot on goal.
The teams traded breakaways in the final few minutes of the second period but both goaltenders were up to the task.

Radim Simek kicked the puck into the net with 24.8 seconds left and the goal was immediately waved off. Simek then went to the other end and swept the puck away from the crease before it could cross the line. Since he closed his glove over the puck, that earned the Senators a penalty shot, taken by Chris Tierney. Dell attempted a poke check, and then Tierney lost control of the puck before he could take the shot.

By the end of the period, the shots were 10-9 Senators.

Both teams had good chances in the middle of the third period, including shots from Couture and Labanc in quick succession, without breaking the 1-1 tie. The Senators pressed hard in the final minute and Dell had to stop a great chance for Colin White in the final 20 seconds to get the game into overtime. The shot count for the period was 13-5 Senators.

Overtime did not last long, ending after just 35 seconds. Christ Tierney scored in a two on one after Anthony Duclair made a pass across the ice, around a sliding Brent Burns. Assists went to Duclair and Chabot.

The Sharks next play against the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday at 7:00 PM PT at the SAP Center.

Sharks Fall to Golden Knights 3-2, Knights Clinch 1st in Pacific photo: The Vegas Knights’ center Cody Eakin (21) and the San Jose Sharks Logan Couture (39) chase down the puck during Saturday night’s game at T Mobile Center

By Mary Walsh

The San Jose Sharks lost on the road to the Las Vegas Golden Knights 3-2 Saturday. Las Vegas goals came from Shea Theodore, Oscar Lindberg and William Karlsson. Sharks goals came from Joe Pavelski and Marc-Edouard Vlasic.  Marc-Andre Fleury made 29 saves for the win, while Martin Jones made 35 saves for the Sharks.

Saturday’s win clinched first place in the Pacific Division for the Knights. Sharks forward Chris Tierney said, of the NHL’s newest team:

They have a lot of speed. You know, they create chances off of turnovers and they move pucks well in the o-zone. If you’re sleeping a bit or if you lose your guy they’re going to find him and make plays. They play with a lot of speed, a lot of energy, and they cane hurt you if you don’t manage the puck well.

As the playoffs approach, the return of injured players is particularly good news for the Sharks. Saturday saw Joonas Donskoi return for his first game since March 14. Joel Ward played his third game since his lengthy absence. Barclay Goodrow and Eric Fehr are out now. Fehr is expected back before Goodrow, who in recovering from finger surgery. No return date is set yet for Joe Thornton, though he has been skating.

Shea Theodore opened the scoring in the first period at 2:21. A nice play from blue line to faceoff circle and back up to the high slot was aided by a good screen from Alex Tuch. Assists went to William Karlsson and Deryk Engelland.

The Sharks answered back at 7:14 with a goal from Joe Pavelski. Joonas Donskoi carried the puck into the zone along the boards and found Timo Meier near the faceoff dot. Meier’s shot created a big rebound that went right to Pavelski for the goal.

The second Vegas goal came after Kevin Labanc’s failed clear landed right on Shea Theodore’s stick at 3:03 of the second period. Theodore’s shot went through traffic, off Oscar Lindberg’s stick and right under Jones. Theodore got the only assist.

Marc-Edouard Vlasic tied the game at 9:50. The Sharks had just added an extra skater during a delayed penalty against Las Vegas when Joe Pavelski took a shot from the blue line. The shot hit Fleury and came back out for Vlasic to put away. It was Vlasic’s 11th goal of the season, a career high. Assists to Pavelski and Justin Braun.

The Knights challenged the goal for goaltender interference, as Timo Meier looked close to Fleury. Meier and Fleury did make some contact. but not inside the crease, and well before the shot came through.

William Karlsson scored the game winner short-handed at 8:35 of the third period. The Sharks power play was struggling mightily, hardly able to get through the neutral zone. Karlsson picked off a failed pass from Joe Pavelski to Brent Burns and took off on a breakaway. He went all the way to the net, then let the puck go between his legs for a nice little trick shot.

The Sharks play next on Tuesday in San Jose, against the Dallas Stars at 7:30 pm PT.

Sharks Win Seventh in a Row, Trounce Flames 5-1

Photo credit: @SanJoseSharks

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE — The San Jose Sharks won their seventh straight game 5-1 against the Calgary Flames Saturday. Sharks goals came from Brenden Dillon, Jannik Hansen, Evander Kane, and Justin Braun. Brenden Dillon came away with a Gordie Howe hat trick, while Kane missed one by an assist. The lone Flames goal came from Michael Stone.

Sharks goaltender Martin Jones made 37 saves for the win, while Flames goaltender David Rittich made 28 saves in a losing effort.

Of the importance of this winning streak, Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer said:

I think this is the time of year you want to be playing well, you want to get hot. For me, it’s about our game. You know, the results are nice, the wins are nice. You know, out of the seven games, this was probably our sloppiest of the seven but we found a way to win and our goaltender was great. So we’ll clean a few things up but you’re never going to complain too much about winning.

Despite the recent additional injuries, the Sharks have kept up their momentum with the help of some good depth. Stepping in for Joakim Ryan is Paul Martin, who has missed most of this season with an injury.

Brenden Dillon scored the first go, at 7:52. Chris Tierney caught a short pass from Timo Meier and made a beautiful behind the back pass to the trailing Dillon, setting the Sharks defenseman up perfectly in the slot. It was Dillon’s fourth goal of the year. After the game, Chris Tierney talked about how he saw that play: “I just saw him coming in late and Timo dropped it too me and I thought their guy was kind of stepping up on me. So I thought he’d be the trailer coming in late, hopefully, he found it.”

Jannik Hansen scored next, his second of the season, and his second in the last three games. Hansen deflected a Burns shot that was going well wide of the net. Hansen’s deflection was at such a sharp angle that Rittich did not see it in time. Assists went to Burns and Barclay Goodrow.

Michael Stone got Calgary on the board at 12:17 with a slap shot from the blue line that found its way through a lot of traffic. Assists went to Micheal Ferland and Chris Stewart.

At the end of the first, the shots on goal were 11-9 Calgary.

The next goal came in the second period at 8:26. The Sharks were on a power play when Kevin Labanc was called for holding, ending the power play and putting the teams on a four-on-four. Neither team scored then, but after the Calgary penalty expired and the Sharks were short-handed, Chris Tierney skated almost to the goal line with the puck. He hovered around there for a bit, looking like he might take the shot, but instead he made a pass to Evander Kane who had an open net. It was Kane’s fourth short-handed goal of the season.

In all, the teams took eight penalties in the second period, after taking none at all in the first. Two of those penalties overlapped at least in part, and two went to Evander Kane as double minor for roughing. Despite the overlaps, it was a rowdy period.

The shot count for the second period was 17-14 Calgary.

Evander Kane’s trips to the penalty box were not over with the second period. He went back there at 3:15 of the third for a fight with Travis Hamonic. In addition, both Hamonic and Kane received minors for unsportsmanlike conduct. None of those penalties resulted in a man advantage. Before those penalties had expired, Mark Giordano was called for cross-checking Melker Karlsson–awarding the Sharks the first power play of the period–for the fifth penalty of the period.

Justin Braun extended the Sharks lead to 4-1 at 10:09 of the third period. Braun caught the puck just as it crossed the Calgary blue line and, after just a couple of strides, took the shot from above the faceoff circle. The shot beat Rittich over the right shoulder. Assists went to Logan Couture and Melker Karlsson.

San Jose’s lead grew again at 12:10. Joe Pavelski tipped a Dillon shot at the net from a ways out, using Evander Kane and Hamonic as a screen. The puck touched Kane on the way in, giving him his second of the game. Assists went to Pavelski and Dillon.

Brenden Dillon left the game a bit early after a fight with Garnet Hathaway at 15:02 of the third. Both left the game as the fight took place in the final five minutes.

The Sharks next play on Monday at 5:00 pm PT in Chicago against the Blackhawks.

Evander Kane Scores Four Goals and Nets First Career Hat Trick, Sharks Douse Flames 7-4

Photo credit: @SanJoseSharks

By Mary Walsh

The San Jose Sharks defeated the Calgary Flames 7-4 at the Scotiabank Saddledome  on Friday night. The Sharks scored seven goals compared to the Flames’ four goals. New Sharks left wing Evander Kane scored four of those goals, tying the Sharks’ record for most goals in a game. The other Sharks who scored that many goals were Owen Nolan, Tomas Hertl and Patrick Marleau.

Hertl, Kevin Labanc and Eric Fehr scored the remaining balance of goals for San Jose. Johnny Gaudreau, Troy Brouwer, Mark Jankowski and Michael Ferland scored for Calgary.

After the game, Sharks captain Joe Pavelski said this about Evander Kane:

It’s always a special night when someone can score three, and then for him to get that fourth, you know, it’s pretty cool to see. He’s definitely made a huge impact on us as a team, on his teammates. And, you know, he’s been one of those guys driving the bus here for the last week or two and he came through big for us tonight.

The Sharks started the game on the right foot. Just five minutes in, Timo Meier seemed to have scored, but his stick was above the crossbar when he touched the puck.

Undeterred, Kane scored only a minute later. Kane took a rising wrist shot from just below the blue line as he raced into the zone. Mike Smith missed the puck with his glove as it fell toward the goal. Jannik Hansen got the lone assist.

The Sharks had a power play after Mikkel Boedker was tripped up on a breakaway 37 seconds after the goal, but they did not get a shot on goal.

Gaudreau left the ice briefly after a collision with two Sharks players, seeming to severe  his arm or hand, but nothing was wrong and he quickly returned to the ice.

Brouwer tied it up with 3:18 left in the period. Sharks goalie Martin Jones had come out to handle the puck, but he was back in the net before Brouwer took his shot from the slot. Curtis Lazar made the pass to Brouwer from below the goal line. Assists went to Lazar and Matt Stajan.

The Flames took the lead at 2:10 of the second period. Mark Jankowski was high in the faceoff circle when Meier pulled the puck out of a crowd and tried to pass it to some Sharks defensemen in the middle of ice. Jankowski intercepted it and took a quick shot that went over Jones’ shoulder. A lone assist went to Garnet Hathaway.

The Sharks’ Melker Karlsson drew a holding the stick penalty that gave the Sharks their second power play at 2:45. This time, they did get a shot on goal, but they also gave up a two-on-one short-handed chance.

After the power play, Tierney was moved to the top line with Pavelski and Kane. With that line on the ice, Dylan DeMelo took a shot from the blue line and Kane tipped it in to tie the game again at 6:29. DeMelo and Brenden Dillon picked up the assists.

Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer made another line change, putting Fehr, Karlsson and Meier together. They created a good chance almost eight minutes into the second, getting two shots on goal.

The Flames took the lead again at 10:16. Gaudreau skated in with the puck, handled it around two Sharks players near the boards, then darted to the slot before taking the shot. Assists went to Ferland and Michael Stone.

Labanc tied it again at 11:42, with a wrist shot from the left side, using a Calgary defenseman as a screen. Brent Burns got the lone assist.

The Sharks found themselves on the wrong side of two penalties close together, starting at the 12:24 mark. They had to defend 45 seconds of five-on-three after Kane joined Tierney in the box. The Sharks killed all of that off, but they seemed to have burned some fuel doing so.

With a little over three minutes left in the second, Tierney got control of the puck behind the net after Pavelski pushed it through a board battle. Tierney found Kane in front of the blue paint with a quick pass. Kane took a shot, then caught the rebound and took another shot to net his first NHL hat trick.

The Sharks extended their lead with only 1:58 left in the second period. Justin Braun carried the puck in along the boards and sent the puck to the net. Hertl was right there at the crease to tap the puck under the goaltender. Assists went to Braun and Marc-Edouard Vlasic.

The third period went all wrong for the Flames. Pavelski took a shot from the blue line just as Mike Smith was getting settled after a trip behind his net to retrieve the puck and play it not very well. Kane was standing by to deflect it in for his fourth of the game, just 1:02 into the period. With that goal, Kane tied the Sharks record for most goals in a game.

That was it for Mike Smith. David Rittich came in to replace him.

Calgary coach Gen Gulutzan decided to pull his goaltender for the extra skater with almost six minutes still to go. The move paid off with Micheal Ferland parked in front of the net while the Flames moved the puck relentlessly around the Sharks’ zone. When the shot finally came, Ferland put the puck in with a backhand shot from a tight angle.

Fehr scored the Sharks’ seventh goal into the still empty net at 16:02. Hertl got an assist on that one.

The Sharks next play on Saturday in Vancouver at 7:00 pm PT.

After being injured Wednesday in Edmonton, Joonas Donskoi remained out and was replaced by Jannik Hansen for tonight’s game. There was no timetable for Donskoi’s return yet.

Sharks Lose to Wild 3-2 in OT Again

nhl/ photo: The Minnesota Wild’s Jared Spurgeon (46) nets the overtime game winner past San Jose Sharks goalie Martin Jones (31) at Excel Energy Center in Minnesota

By Mary Walsh

The San Jose Sharks finished a four-game road trip Sunday at the Xcel Energy Center with a 3-2 overtime loss to the Minnesota Wild. The last time these teams played, in San Jose, the Sharks came back to tie the game and lost 4-3 in overtime. This time, the Wild made the comeback but the general result was the same. The Sharks initially took a 2-0 lead with goals from Joakim Ryan and Chris Tierney. The Wild answered with goals from Matt Cullen, Eric Staal and Jared Spurgeon. Wild goaltender Devin Dubnyk made 26 saves for the win, while Sharks goaltender Martin Jones made 38 saves in a losing effort.

“Their game got better as the night went on, ours kind of went the other way a little bit,” said Sharks captain Joe Pavelski. Sharks goaltender Martin Jones made a number of critical saves during the game, keeping it closer than it looked like it should be. After the game, the Jones said: “They forechecked us hard, we had a tough time getting out of our zone with any kind of possession. So you just end up kind of dumping it out and defending a lot.”

“We took some penalties, I didn’t think we broke out well. I thought lines got caught on long shifts. Had opportunities to change, and guys stayed out there longer than they should have. That usually leads to tired legs,” said Sharks forward Logan Couture.

Joakim Ryan scored at 14:00 of the first period. Barclay Goodrow carried the puck into the zone and quickly made a drop pass to Jannik Hansen. Hansen found Ryan through the skates of a Minnesota defender and Ryan didn’t waste time getting the shot away. It was Ryan’s third of the season.

Chris Tierney’s goal came from a two on one 2:28 into the second period. Kevin Labanc carried the puck in along the boards and found Tierney in the slot for a perfect shot to Dubnyk’s right. It was Tierney’s 15th goal of the season and his 10th on the road.

The Sharks held that two-goal lead until the final minute of the second period, when Jared Spurgeon carried the puck in from the red line and got a shot off just above the faceoff dot. Matt Cullen was coming in fast and was able to tip it perfectly over Jones’ shoulder. Assists went to Spurgeon and Marcus Foligno.

The Sharks maintained the one goal lead for most of the third period, but they were on their heels. They took two penalties to the Wild’s one and they were outshot 10-6. With just over five minutes left in regulation, Eric Staal scored with a quick wraparound shot. Assists went to Ryan Suter and Jason Zucker.

Jared Spurgeon’s overtime winner came after Brent Burns had trouble clearing the puck out of the zone. Spurgeon was right there to pick up the puck and pass it across the slot to Zucker. Martin Jones had to move across to cover Zucker but could not get back when Zucker passed the puck back to Spurgeon.

With about five minutes left in the third period, Chris Tierney left the game briefly, but he returned for overtime. Justin Braun was out with the flu and Tim Heed played with Brenden Dillon while Dylan DeMelo slotted in next to Marc-Edouard Vlasic.

The Sharks next play in San Jose against the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday at 7:30 pm PT.

Forgotten defense returns to vintage form, Sharks beat Hurricanes 3-1

Photo credit:

By Mary Walsh

The San Jose Sharks won their second game in a row, 3-1, against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena Sunday afternoon.

The Sharks’ goals came from Brent Burns, Timo Meier and Chris Tierney.

Sharks goaltender Aaron Dell made 29 saves, while Hurricanes goaltender Came Ward made 23 saves in a losing effort. Sebastian Aho scored the lone goal for the Hurricanes.

This second win was big for a road trip that started with losses in Pittsburgh and Detroit.

Sharks captain Joe Pavelski said this improvement is due to a commitment to defense:

Real big commitment, I think right from Pittsburgh, it’s been there. Didn’t get the result in the first couple games, but the effort by the goalies and the team defense it’s created offense for us, created a little bit of momentum. You know, everyone’s buying in, which is important, especially when you’re playing on the road.

Sharks forward Chris Tierney said that consistent defense is part of the team’s identity: “I think we just stuck to our game plan. That’s our identity, being able to win those tight games, tight checking and play well in the third and shut teams down. Just sticking to our game plan and working hard is what we do.”

Aaron Dell described what he saw from his team through the game: “We had lots of support tonight, guys were coming in and giving the other guys options and I think it really showed. We didn’t really give up a whole lot and we got out of our zone pretty easily all night.”

While Dell may have forgotten that the game was played early in the day, he did show up ready to play.

The Sharks opened the scoring just 4:06 into the first period. Timo Meier took a quick pass from Joonas Donskoi just above the goal line. Meier had been trailing the play after Donskoi, Burns and Logan Couture initiated the attack. Meier’s shot beat Cam Ward on the glove side. Assists went to Joonas Donskoi and Brent Burns.

The Hurricanes tied it up at one apiece with 2:02 left in the period. Danny O’Regan was just above the Sharks goal line when he turned the puck over to Jordan Staal. Staal’s pass to Danny Aho set him up perfectly to beat Dell.

The Sharks were not done with the period and regained the lead in the final minute. Melker Karlsson’s pass from the corner found Chris Tierney right in front of the net. He wasted no time and put it away. Assists went to Karlsson and Mikkel Boedker.

San Jose repeated that good start in the second period, but cut it almost in half. Just 2:03 into the middle frame, Brent Burns chased the puck down along the blue line and took a hasty, hard shot at the net. Cam Ward may have been somewhat screened by Barclay Goodrow and Brett Pesce battling in front of him. Assists went to Joel Ward and Joakim Ryan.

Brock McGinn and Brenden Dillon fought at 7:32, which started after a cross-check from Dillon. They went to their respective boxes, and Dillon was joined by Kevin Labanc, serving Dillon’s cross-checking penalty. That was the only penalty of the game, but it did not change the score.

Carolina made a good push at the start of the third, outshooting the Sharks 5-1 in the first six minutes. The Sharks put an end to that with a long shift at the other end, wearing the Hurricane defense down with an unrelenting assault. the Hurricanes broke out of that with a two-on-one but could not turn that into a goal.

Carolina pulled Cam Ward from the net with just over two minutes left in the period but the final score remained 3-1.

The Sharks will finish up this road trip on Tuesday in Denver against the Avalanche at 6:00 pm PT.

Sharks Win 2-1, Pavelski Scores 300

Photo credit: San Jose Sharks

by M. Walsh

San Jose Sharks captain Joe Pavelski scored his 300th career NHL goal Friday, in a 2-1 win over the Florida Panthers at BB&T Center. Goaltender Aaron Dell won his second in a row with 39 saves, and Chris Tierney scored his seventh of the year with the game winner. For the Panthers, Colton Sceviour scored the only goal in the first period, and goaltender Roberto Luongo made 30 saves on 32 shots in a losing effort for Florida.

Joe Pavelski’s goal was his first since November 1st, after an eleven game dry spell. That 300th tally proved elusive for the Sharks captain. Of the milestone, Pavelksi said: “Guess I’m proud of that number, a lot of hard work. But we’ve seen so many great milestones recently, last year too, with Patty and Jumbo. It’s one of those things, it’s a good number but I believe there’s, you know, so much more hockey out there and I’ll keep trying to score some goals.”

Pavelski’s goal was challenged by Florida coach Bob Boughner, the first challenge that went the Sharks way for the first time in a while. The second Sharks goal was also subjected to review, after being called no goal on the ice. Ironically, the last time the Sharks played the Panthers, on November 16 at SAP Center, the Sharks had two goals called back on review, and they lost that game 2-0. It may be that the Sharks’ streak of bad luck with goal reviews has ended.

Of finally having a challenge go their way, Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer said: “Well, yeah, first one of this year, at least it feels like it. You know, I think, we felt it was a goal, so glad to get it. We’ve had enough of those go the other way, and it’s cost us some points. So it all evens out.”

The Sharks went into the game without Joonas Donskoi, injured in Monday’s game in Philadelphia. Donskoi joined the list of injured players that currently includes forwards Tim Heed and Barclay Goodrow, and defenseman veteran Paul Martin. Melker Karlsson was back in the lineup after missing time due to injury, and he left Friday’s game during the third period. Goaltender Martin Jones was dressed as the backup after missing Monday’s game, indicating that he may be ready to play Saturday.

Of the team’s spate of injuries, DeBoer said: “We’re asking other guys to jump in. You know, Tierns makes a play, the big guys are scoring some goals for us lately, Jumbo and Pav, you know Couture’s line’s been good all year. Every injury, every guy that goes down, obviously it’s testing your depth and we don’t have a lot of margin of error. There are a lot of two-on-one games, but we’re getting comfortable in those games so that’s a good thing.”

The Sharks started the game a little slowly, but picked up the pace by the middle of the first period. Nevertheless, they still gave up the first goal in the final two minutes of the period. Dell made the first save, but juggled the puck when it came back on the rebound. The goal initially was given to Panthers captain Derek MacKenzie, but would up being Colton Sceviour’s. Assists went to Alex Petrovic and Micheal Haley.

Joe Pavelski’s tying goal came 11:20 into the second period. Joe Thornton’s pass from behind the net went off of Florida’s Aleksander Barkov and reversed direction. It went right to Pavelski, where he was set up at the corner of the net. As he gained control of the puck, his skate made contact with Luongo’s skate, which was the basis of the coach’s challenge. Luongo was looking in the other direction, which makes sense since Thornton had passed the puck in that direction. Assists on the goal went to Thornton and Timo Meier.

The game winner came 7:13 into the third period. Melker Karlsson’s backhand shot went off of Luongo and to Chris Tierney below the goal line. Tierney shot it back in, bouncing it off of Luongo’s back and into the net. The goal was initially not called as such, but after video review, the NHL made the correction. Assists went to Karlsson and Brent Burns. It was Tierney’s third goal in his last four games.

The Sharks did not get a chance on the power play, but their penalty kill went 2-0 in the game.  Marc-Edouard Vlasic led the team in shots on goal with four.

The Sharks next play on Saturday, against the Tampa Bay Lightning at 4 pm PT.

Sharks Shut Out Canucks 5-0; Dells stops 41 as Couture and Tierney combine for four goals

San Jose Sharks’ Logan Couture (39) scores past Vancouver Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017, in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

by M. Walsh

SAN JOSE– The San Jose Sharks defeated the Vancouver Canucks by a score of 5-0 Saturday. Sharks goaltender Aaron Dell stopped 41 shots in his second NHL shutout. Tomas Hertl scored first, while Logan Couture and Chris Tierney each scored twice. Vancouver netminder Jacob Markstrom made 26 saves on 29 shots.

The win stood in sharp contrast to the Sharks’ previous game, a 5-1 loss. Of the 5-0 win, Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer said: “It’s a huge divisional game. Deller was our best player, which is, you know, why we have him. He was great and we found a way. ” As the Sharks’ backup goaltender, Aaron Dell has only started four games this season. Of his performance Saturday night, Sharks forward Logan Couture said:

We believe in him in this room. And 40 saves or whatever it was tonight is pretty impressive. He was tracking pucks well, he’s been great every time we put him in so we have a lot of confidence in him.

Tomas Hertl finished the game with a goal and two assists. After the game, Couture said of Hertl:

He’s been good, he’s had so many chances over these past six or seven games where you just figured he was going to get an ugly one and, you know, we need goals so we hope that this is the start of something.

In all, the Sharks scored at even strength, short-handed, into an empty net and on a penalty shot. The only thing missing was a power play goal. Couture described that missing piece as an ongoing source of frustration:

Our power play’s really draining the energy from us. I mean it’s just getting frustrating. Us guys on the power play, we can’t let that happen. We need to create some energy instead of deflating our team.

The Canucks came to San Jose after an unexpectedly good start to their season, winning eight of sixteen games and adding a couple of points for overtime losses. Those 18 points are good for third in the Pacific right now. Their scoring leader is Derek Dorsett, who has met his second best season total in just 16 games. He has seven goals in this his tenth NHL season. His career best was 12 in 2011-12. Second in scoring for Vancouver is Bo Horvat, now in his fourth NHL season. He has six goals, putting him on track to easily eclipse last season’s 20.

The Sharks scored just 48 seconds into the game, a point shot from Justin Braun that went off of Tomas Hertl in front of the net. A second assist went to Melker Karlsson.

At 11:07, Timo Meier had a very good chance during a delayed Canucks penalty. His shot went just under Markstrom’s glove but hit the far post and bounced out. During the power play, the Sharks had just two shots. The powerplay units were Brent Burns, Tim Heed, Logan Couture, Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski, then Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Mikkel Boedker, Joonas Donskoi, Tomas Hertl and Joel Ward.

With 5:06 left in the first, Donskoi drew a hooking penalty to give the Sharks another power play chance. The sharks only mustered one shot during those two minutes, and a few seconds after the power play expired, the Canucks had their own chance with the man advantage. Timo Meier was called for slashing at 17:02. The Canucks bolstered their shot count by four but did not score. Though the Sharks led the Canucks in shots 11-4 in the middle of the period, the Canucks had closed the gap to 14-10 by the end of the period.

The Sharks had a third power play early in the second period, but it was cut short just 37 seconds in by a penalty to Joe Pavelski for hooking. During the four on four, a Brent Burns shot from the blue line hit the top bar and left the defenseman still waiting for his first goal of the year.

The Sharks drew a fourth power play at 9:30 of the second, an interference call against Alex Biega. The Canucks managed to thwart the Sharks on almost every entry, forcing them to mostly dump it in and never get set up. The Sharks did not get a shot on goal in that fourth power play. Brent Burns and Tomas Hertl were able to get in with self-passes off the boards but they were quickly stripped of the puck and sent back out by the penalty killers.

That penalty kill seemed to energize the Canucks and they put pressure on the Sharks for several shifts, racking up shots and wearing out the San Jose defenders. That push took a toll on the Sharks and resulted in a slashing penalty to Joel Ward at 15:30. The power play started with a short-handed chance for Couture and Hertl but Markstrom gloved Couture’s shot away.

That short-handed chance foreshadowed another chance for the same pair just seconds later. Hertl chased the puck down along the boards in the Sharks zone and nudged it in Couture’s direction near the Sharks blue line. Couture had enough speed to evade pursuit and take another shot at Markstrom. This time it went in. Hertl received the only assist.

The Canucks led the Sharks in shots during the second period, 14-6, but the Sharks still had the 2-0 lead where it counts.

The Canucks came out fast and furious in the third, firing five shots on goal in the first two minutes. The shot imbalance evened out as the period went on, until the Sharks scored three times in the final two minutes. Logan Couture scored into an empty net at 18:19. Assists went to Joel Ward and Tomas Hertl.

In the final two minutes, Timo Meier was charged with elbowing and given a five minute major and game misconduct.

With the net still empty, Chris Tierney scored twice in 20 seconds. The first was into an empty net and the second was on a penalty shot. It was his first NHL penalty shot goal.

The Sharks next play on Sunday in Los Angeles against the Kings, at 7:30 PM PT.

Sharks End Road Trip With 3-2 Win Over Sabres

Photo credit: San Jose Sharks

by Mary Walsh

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The San Jose Sharks defeated the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 on Saturday afternoon. The win extended their win streak to three against a team that was once nigh unbeatable for the Sharks, at least in Buffalo. Sharks goals came from Logan Couture, Joonas Donskoi, and Chris Tierney. Sabres goals came from and Ryan O’Reilly and Jason Pominville. Sharks goaltender Aaron Dell made 31 saves on 33 shots for the win, while Sabres goalie Robin Lehner made 28 saves on 31 shots.

The game concludes a five game road trip for the Sharks, during which they added three wins to their record. After the game, Sharks forward Tomas Hertl said: “Six points on the road trip is huge for us but we have to be ready coming home we got a lot of good teams like Tampa, Nashville and we have to win home. It’s like our building, our tank and we have to play better there.”

Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer said, of the six points:

We’ll take six. You know, six, seven, eight, I mean you want as many points as possible but I like how we’re starting to play. I think the majority of our play is heading in the right direction and we’re giving ourselves a chance to win every night which is a big part of it.

The game marked a significant improvement in the Buffalo power play, ranked 27th in the NHL before Saturday. Though they only scored once in five chances, the Sabres showed signs of returning to last season’s top ranked power play. The Sabres’ power play goal ended the Sharks’ impressive streak of 16 consecutive penalties killed on the road trip. The Sharks had three chances on the power play but did not score, and at even strength each team had dangerous moments. Both goaltenders had their work cut out for them, but neither team was especially sloppy on defense.

In a near miss for the Sharks, a Buffalo goal was called off with 2:48 left in the first period for goaltender interference. Sam Reinhart caught Dell’s leg and then blocker while skating through the blue paint, turning Dell away from the play and making it harder for him to get back in position. After the game, DeBoer said of the decision to challenge that goal:

It was a great challenge by Dan Darrow and Johan Hedberg who handle that end for us. That helped us get a little momentum too early… When you look at it, I don’t have those feeds, those guys do. But it’s clear that’s what the rule is in place for, for exactly that situation. So I’m glad they got it right.

The first goal came at the tail end of a Buffalo power play, when Joonas Donskoi came out of the penalty box and catch a stray puck that Matt Tennyson failed to stop at the Sharks blue line. Donskoi broke away with a step on the Sabres defense and had room to pick a spot just wide of Lehner.

The second goal of the game came on the first Sabres power play of the second period. Joel Ward was in the box for hooking. Both teams were on their way into the zone after Timo Meier’s short handed chance. O’Reilly came in as the trailer and beat Dell from above the faceoff circle. Assists went to Kyle Okposo and San Reinhart.

The Sabres took the lead with a goal at 14:51 of the second. Evander Kane pushed the puck down low to Jack Eichel, who passed it back up to Pominville. Pominville got his shot around both Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun for his third goal of the year against the Sharks. Assists went to Eichel and Kane.

The Sharks tied the game back up with just 12 seconds left in the second period. Their power play had just expired. Chris Tierney, Melker Karlsson and Timo Meier had just come on the ice. Meier carried the puck behind the net under pressure from Rasmus Ristolainen. Melker Karlsson trailed the pair, pulled the puck off the boards and took a hard shot from just above the goal line. The puck went off of the goalie and Tierney was on the other side to knock it down and in the net. It was Tierney’s second goal of the season. Assists went to Meier and Karlsson.

Logan Couture’s game winner came 16:08 into the third period. He fought his way through a check from Jake McCabe to catch a pass from Tomas Hertl. McCabe followed after Couture and gave him a shove while he took the shot. No matter, the shot went in anyway. Assists went to Tomas Hertl and Justin Braun.

After the game, DeBoer gave his assessment:

Tough game, they’re a desperate team. We wanted to end this road trip right and we knew it wasn’t going to be easy. We shot ourselves a little I thought early in the game with the penalties but recovered and did enough to win, got a great performance from Deller. So it was a good win for us.

The Sharks next play on Monday in San Jose against the Toronto Maple Leafs at 7:30 PM PT. The game will be Patrick Marleau’s first visit to the Tank as a Maple Leaf.

Sharks Preseason 2017: San Jose Wins 5-3 to End Preseason

Photo credit: San Jose Sharks

by M. Walsh

After two losses in a row, and six periods without a goal, the Sharks finished the preseason with a 5-3 win in Las Vegas against the Golden Knights. The game winner came on the power play from young defenseman Nick DeSimone. Goaltender Aaron Dell stopped 20 of 22 shots in the first half of the game, while Troy Grosenick stopped 14 of 15 in the second half. For Las Vegas, Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 28 of 32 shots.

NHL regulars to skate for San Jose included Joel Ward, Chris Tierney, Mikkel Boedker, Joonas Donskoi and Brandon Bollig. Dylan DeMelo was the most veteran defenseman. John McCarthy and Barclay Goodrow, AHL veterans with significant NHL time under their belts, skated as well.

The Sharks were outshot 13-6 in the first period. Unsurprisingly, Las Vegas scored first at 8:08. The Sharks had an offensive zone draw but McCarthy lost it to Haula. As the puck bounced around behind Fleury’s net, Haula predicted its path well enough to reach it in the slot and took off down the ice before McCarthy or Simek could catch him.

Late in the period, DeSimone went to the box for holding the stick. During an abbreviated 4 on 3 power play, David Perron was unable to hold the puck in after Radim Simek cleared it from in front of the net. Marcus Sorensen was there, chasing the puck out and he had momentum on his side when the puck slid over the blue line. Perron and Vadim Shipachyov both gave chase. DeSimone pulled up as Fleury came out to meet him on the edge of the blue paint. DeSimone moved the puck to his left while diving over Fleury’s legs to tap the puck in. Simek got the assist on the tying goal.

The Sharks picked up their game in the second, scoring twice and outshooting Vegas 13-9. At 4:28, Chris Tierney scored on a power play while Jason Garrison sat in the box for tripping. It only took seven seconds for the team to get set up. Joel Ward sent the puck to the blue line where Tim Heed caught it and sent it to Dylan Demelo, who shot it. Tierney tipped it in for San Jose’s first lead in seven periods.

Near the halfway point of the period, Ryan Carpenter redirected a stray puck out of the Sharks zone, to Barclay Goodrow along the neutral zone boards. Finding himself free to do so, Goodrow skated to the faceoff circle and put a shot over Fleury’s left shoulder. It was the Sharks’ only even-strength goal of the game.

Two minutes later, the Sharks thwarted a three on two rush from Vegas, but could not get the puck back out before David Perron got control of the puck along the blue line. After a moment’s reflection, he took the long shot and scored. William Karlsson got the assist.

After that goal, the shot count was 22-11 Las Vegas.

A couple of minutes later, Cody Eakin carried the puck around behind the Sharks net and found Colin Miller just crossing the blue line. Eakin’s pass reached Miller perfectly for a quick shot to tie the game. Assists went to Eakin and Shea Theodore.

Tied going into the third, the game winner came on a power play just past the halfway mark. After surviving a three on two short-handed rush, the Sharks went the other way quickly enough to keep the Knights from getting their penalty kill set back up. A shot from Daniel O’Regan produced a rebound that DeSimone was able to push under Fleury. Assists went to O’Regan and Timo Meier.

The Knights pulled Fleury with 1:45 left, and used their timeout. The Sharks kept the Knights to the outside of their zone until the final 30 seconds when Grosenick stopped a shot from Schmidt and kicked it right up into the slot. Luckily, Joel Ward was there to help it along, all the way down and into the empty net.

Ironically, Timo Meier and Mikkel Boedker led the Sharks forwards in shots on goal with four each, yet came away with just one assist between them. For the Knights, Jason Marchessault got credit for seven shots on goal.

The Sharks will play their first regular season game on Wednesday against the Philadelphia Flyers in San Jose. The game starts at 7:30 PM PT.