Sharks Lose to Jets in Shootout, Losing Streak at 5

By Mary Walsh

The San Jose Sharks started a five game road trip with a 5-4 shootout loss to the Winnipeg Jets. Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan summed up the good and the bad of Sunday’s game:

That was much better. Not everybody that watched tonight’s game got to see what we did against Vancouver, which was poor. So we made strides as far as competitiveness, I still don’t think we were at our best. Thought we looked slow, especially to retrieve pucks. They’re a very quick team and they exposed some of our speed issues in certain areas that we have to get better. The goals they scored, we’d sure like to have a couple of them back but full marks to them.

The Sharks will need to polish their shootout skills. Unlike last season, when they had exceptional results in shootouts, now they have scored only three times in five shootouts, and won only once. McLellan acknowledged this in the post game interview:

We practice it probably too much now. We created a whole bunch of different situations in practice, we’ve gone through different guys, they’ve got to score. There isn’t magic, you’ve got to beat the goaltender. Right now there’s too much pressure on Niemi in a shootout to be perfect. I don’t know what we are now, we’ve tried different guys, the only one who’s scored this year is [Couture.] So we’ve got to find a way.

With a shortage of shootout specialists since the Spring purge of 2013, San Jose will need a few more shooters to come forward.

Seven times this season, the Sharks have scored in the first two minutes of the game. They did not do so Sunday in Winnipeg. Instead, the Sharks took a penalty. While Sharks defenseman Scott Hannan sat in the box for high-sticking Devin Setoguchi, the Sharks’ penalty kill went to work against the 29th ranked power play in the NHL. Penalty killed off, the Jets continued to attack. The Sharks didn’t have a shot on goal until six minutes had elapsed in the period. By the 13 minute mark, the Jets had outshot the Sharks 10-2.

Moments later, Jets Captain Andrew Ladd went to the box for tripping Sharks’ defenseman Dan Boyle. It took Boyle 14 seconds to score with a blast from the slot. During a CSN intermission interview, Boyle credited Joe Pavelski with clearing the lane for him, while Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau got in front of Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec.

The audience went quiet. They stayed quiet as Tomas Hertl burst across the Jets blue line moments later. Jason Demers’ pass from the Sharks zone was perfectly timed to hit Hertl just shy of Jets territory. It was a great pass and a good shot, modest enough to offend no one while still scoring.

Jets Head Coach Claude Noel responded by calling a time out. He used it well. The Jets continued to lead the Sharks by a wide margin in shots and zone time. During the last minute of the period, Evander Kane went to the box for goaltender interference and put the Sharks back on the power play. The period ended with the Jets challenging short-handed.

The Sharks had a two goal lead but by every other measure, they were being out-played. By the end of the period, the shot count was 15-9 for Winnipeg.

The Sharks started the second period on the power play. The Sharks had a few good chances but did not score. The Jets went back to work, but the Sharks pushed back quickly, showing more confidence and accuracy with their passes, giving Pavelec more work.

The Jets caught a break when a Matt Irwin shot was blocked and then taken away by Matt Halischuk, who carried the puck in. Halischuk’s pass came late enough to look like he would shoot, and Frolik got by Dan Boyle to put the Jets on the board from the other side of the net.

The audience had barely finished cheering when Tommy Wingels responded with a quick shot over Pavelec’s shoulder. Braun cleared the puck off the boards and it hit Wingels just as he crossed the line. The Jets couldn’t stop him. The goal came 41 seconds after Frolik’s.

It took the Jets a minute and 20 seconds to answer with another goal, this one from Dustin Byfuglien (his first of the year) on the blue line. The Sharks left him briefly uncovered with a clear lane for his shot all the way to the net.

At 12:21, Devin Setoguchi earned a power play for the Jets, an intereference call on Hannan. The Jets’ power play didn’t tie the game for them, but five minutes later, a shot from Grant Clitsome bounced off Justin Braun and past Niemi’s glove to tie the game.

In the final second of the middle period, Dustin Byfuglien shot the puck over the glass for a delay of game penalty. The Sharks escaped the second without giving up the lead, and would start the third on the power play.

That power play was underwhelming. The second unit’s strategy through the neutral zone failed twice as they shot the puck in from the red line. Jets got to the puck first and sent it back out before all five Sharks were in the zone.

The Sharks had another chance at 3:19 when Halischuk went to the box for tripping Tyler Kennedy. San Jose’s first power play unit of Thornton, Marleau, Pavelski, Boyle, and Couture took 40 seconds to score.

Logan Couture, lurking by the side of the net, took a pass from Joe Thornton and sent the puck through his legs behind him, where Boyle found it and put it in the net. Had Boyle not succeeded, Joe Pavelski was nearby as well. It was a beautiful play.

At 11:05 of the third, a bizarre series of penalties cycled through a 5 on 4 SJ, to a 4 on 4, to a 4 on 3 WPG, back to 4 on 4 and to 5 on 4 SJ. The numbers changed so quickly, it didn’t seem to matter who had more men on the ice, the play went back and forth throughout the sequence.

The teams didn’t slow down once they were back at even strength. The back and forth play went down to the last minutes, when Todd McLellan used his time out. The Jets appeared to benefit more from the break than the Sharks did. They won the next faceoff in the offensive zone and Ladd tied the game two shots later.

Two minutes into overtime, Tommy Wingels was involved in his second discounted goal of the season. Wingels, positioned in front of goaltender Pavelec, lost the shoving match and ended up too close to Pavelec. The goal that followed seconds later was disallowed for goaltender interference. McLellan commented on the call after the game:

If you’re a Shark you’re questioning it, if you’re a Jet you agree with the call. It’s a discretionary call that occurs in a game. He was allowed to make the first save easily, it’s the second one, it’s the rebound and I don’t know who has the right to that ice, I don’t understand it. But we move on.

The Sharks were not penalized further on the play, and the game went to a shootout.

The Jets shot first, with Andrew Ladd shooting third for Winnipeg and scoring the shootout winner. He skated in and lifted the puck from what appeared to be an impossibly close angle. Niemi saved the first two shots from Blake Wheeler and Brian Little. The Sharks’ shooters were Logan Couture (save), Tommy Wingels (miss), and Dan Boyle (save).

Final shot count: 46-34 Winnipeg. The Sharks’ power play went 2-6, their penalty kill was 2-2.

Notes:

The scratches were Brad Stuart and John McCarthy. That put Matt Irwin in as Dan Boyle’s partner, and left Mike Brown on the fourth line.

The Sharks’ next game is Tuesday in Calgary at 6:00 pm PST.

Sharks lose heartbreaker in shootout

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By: Phillip Torres

November 2, 2013

SAN JOSE-The San Jose Sharks (10-1-3) were defeated by the Phoenix Coyotes (10-3-2) Saturday night at the SAP Center in a heartbreaking loss 3-2. The game was determined by shootout.

Phoenix started off very strong as they scored just 36 seconds into the game. The goal was scored by Antoine Vermette and assisted by Rob Klinkhammer and Mikkel Boedker. The Sharks had a chance to tie the game up after a Coyote penalty lead to a four minute power play for San Jose. San Jose could not convert on it and the Coyotes led 1-0 after the first period despite being outshot 16-7 by the Sharks.

Joe Pavelski put the Sharks on the board early in the second period as he scored his sixth goal of the season at 1:16. Dan Boyle gave the Sharks the 2-1 advantage shortly after with his second goal of the season on a power play. The goal was assisted by Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton at 5:10 in the middle period.

The Coyotes tied the game at 2-2 midway through the period with a goal from Boedker. Derek Morris earned the assist on the game tying goal. With the score tied at two goals apiece going into the second intermission, the Sharks outshot the Coyotes 31-14.

The third period went scoreless resulting in a tie at the end of regulation, forcing an overtime period. Overtime also went scoreless and the game went into a shootout.

The Sharks lost the shootout 2-1 with Vermette scoring the clincher to give Phoenix the 3-2 victory.

The Sharks will be back on the ice on Tuesday as they will host the Buffalo Sabers. The puck will drop at 7:30 pm.

Boyle and Havlat Back in the Game

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE- The question going in to Saturday’s Sharks game was… well, there were many. Who would want the win more, the team that lost to SJ 5-1 last time around, or the team that lost a frustrating game to LA a few days earlier? The Coyotes gave their answer quickly with a goal just 36 seconds in to the period. The Sharks pushed back like the goal was a wakeup call heard loud and clear. In the end it was as close to a draw as it can get, a shootout won by the visitors.

There were other questions: how long before returning Sharks Martin Havlat and Dan Boyle are up to game speed?

Saturday morning, Boyle said that he believed his first hit, given or received, would be a benchmark in his proof of recovery. Mikkel Boedker and David Moss wasted no time helping Boyle get that out of the way, each hitting him before four minutes had elapsed in the game.

Boyle also scored on the power play, something the Sharks had been having some trouble with. Not a lot of trouble, but some. It didn’t look like Boyle will take very long to get back into the swing of things. Even his post-loss demeanor was much as it ever was:

I expect a lot out of myself as you guys know… I had to be realistic, I knew I was going to be not as good as I want to be, and that’s pretty much what I think happened out there. I think I definitely didn’t feel like my normal self out there but that’s to be expected. I’ll definitely get better in a hurry.

Boyle wasn’t entirely down on his situation. He expressed confidence that he would improve, and that what he lacked in Saturday’s game had everything to do with time off, not the injury that caused it. That was essentially what he said after the morning skate as well:

You can’t be in game shape unless you play in games. You can mimic it all you want, you just try to minimize the difference by doing all the skating  [you can]. I imagine I have a little catching up to do.

For Martin Havlat, it was a second game back but also a first game back with last season’s linemates, Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau. Havlat was a little more adventurous Saturday than he had been Wednesday against the Los Angeles Kings. He did some things better and others worse, a pattern common to highly skilled, creative players. They try things that either work and make people say “ah!” or they don’t work and everyone says it was a dumb idea. Hindsight and all that.

Asked how many games Havlat thought he would need to be back up to game speed, he said:

A few, so hopefully… the less the better. It’s going to take some time, but we’ll see how it goes tonight. The last one wasn’t that bad, the first night.

He didn’t look bad, playing on Pavelski’s line or playing on Couture’s line. Wherever he lands– and of the many line adjustments Todd McLellan made Saturday, Couture’s was least tampered with– he is probably right. He probably will hit his stride sooner than later.

That these two are back in the lineup could mean the imminent departure of one of the call-ups, depending on how long Burns will be out. Saturday, Matt Nieto and James Sheppard both played while Mike Brown sat, though all signs at the end of practice pointed to James Sheppard sitting. So much for signs.

On a side note, it is good to see the fourth line regulars getting substantial time and responsibility on the penalty kill. That has always seemed like a logical choice, since they would otherwise have energy to burn. McLellan had Andrew Desjardins on the penalty kill last season as well, and now John McCarthy is taking regular shifts shorthanded.

Larry Levitt on Sharks and Bulls hockey

 

by Larry Levitt

SAN JOSE–The Sharks who brought a winning streak into Dallas on Thursday night lost a tough one in overtime during a shootout 4-3. The Sharks didn’t play their brand of hockey. They got a little sloppy and they really didn’t recover in this one. In the past when you saw them making a mistake they would clean it up between periods and they would come out fresh.

However on Thursday in Dallas they weren’t really clean and the puck wasn’t bouncing their way they had a lot of bad bounces. They also lost their captain Dan Boyle on a brutal head injury on Tuesday night in St. Louis and it’s not so much the hit that happened it’s the visual of seeing him laying there knocked out like a prize fighter on the ice.

Boyle had his jaw popped and it knocked him out which is kind of scary and we’ve learned that Boyle is doing well, he left St. Louis on Wednesday and flew back to the Bay Area and was looked at by doctors on Thursday in San Jose. Boyle’s prognosis is going to be alright but to see the injury face to face that has a weight on you and that’s the lasting impression the team had as he was carted off the ice on Tuesday night.

The hit on Boyle wasn’t a dirty hit but it was a bad penalty and it was a boarding call and it wasn’t an intentional dirty hit. The fact that the actual boards where a piece of the glass it bounced and he got pushed into the dashboards which was a penalty. It wasn’t a bad illegal hit but it just hit him the right way where his jaw hit the dashboard where it sticks out.

Blues forward Maxim Lapierre didn’t even know that Boyle was laying there and he was knocked out and as you see the replay he was skating off watching the puck and finishing the check, yeah it was illegal check there’s no if, ands and buts about it and Lapierre has to take responsibility for what he did but it could have been much, much worse.

Bulls talk about home opener on Nov 8th: The San Francisco Bulls the minor league affiliate of the Sharks start their regular season home schedule on November 8th at the Cow Palace after an eight game road trip starting tonight (Friday) and it’s should be an exciting second season. The Bulls actually start on the road because of the Grand National Rodeo at the Cow Palace.

The Bulls open their season against the Alaska Aces for the first of two game series. It’s interesting because it’s a 7PM game time but because it’s in Alaska it’s really 8PM there because of the time difference. The Park 77 in San Francisco is hosting a viewing party for Bulls fans and their going to be doing that all weekend.

A lot of the Bulls players stay in that location and it will be an interesting season and their coming up for their second year and head coach Pat Curcio is in his second year with the Bulls. There are eight players returning from last year so he’s got some people who know Curcio’s system and his terminology already it’s not going to be just two guys starting a new thing.

Hockey is a great sport and the more you play together the easier it is to play as a team. The Aces knocked the Bulls out of the playoffs to end their season last year and opening up in Alaska this year it’s going to be interesting at first and like I said it’s a new team and there are some returning players but Alaska has got a new team too.

The benefit for the Bulls on this road trip they go in October before the snow hits Alaska and it will allow the Bulls to get accumulated to the weather easier and get comfortable with what’s going on and starting a road trip can be a plus and it could be a good bonding thing for the guys. It’s not like their going to have a lot of time on their hands to go sightseeing and do other things their going to have their minds strictly on hockey.

Larry Levitt does weekly commentary on San Jose Sharks and San Francisco Bulls each week