Sharks Come Back to Pick Up Point, Lose to Wild in OT 4-3

Minnesota Wild’s Nino Niederreiter, left, celebrates his game-winning goal with teammate Eric Staal during overtime of an NHL hockey game against the San Jose Sharks Sunday, Dec. 10, 2017, in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

by M. Walsh

SAN JOSE — The San Jose Sharks fell in overtime to the Minnesota Wild 4-3 at SAP Center on Sunday night. The point was hard won as the Sharks had to come back from a three goal deficit. Eric Staal scored twice for Minnesota, Ryan Murphy added another goal and Nino Niederreiter notched the overtime winner. Brent Burns and Tomas Hertl scored two goals for the Sharks. San Jose goaltender Martin Jones made 20 saves on 24 shots, while Minnesota goaltender Alex Stalock made 31 saves for the win.

After the game, Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer said:

It was a gutsy effort by us. It was our sixth game I think in ten nights, including traveling back from the East last week. Back to back, against a team that was rested and waiting for us. I knew we would probably start slow, we didn’t expect to be down three but I thought it was a gutsy effort to get some points tonight.

Three times in the past four days, the Sharks fell behind by three goals and came back to tie the game. In Sunday’s game, there was no back and forth in the score. It was all Wild, then all Sharks.  DeBoer was asked why the Sharks tend to score in bunches after falling behind by two or more goals:

We have a resilient group, a confident group. In all those situations, we’ve shortened the bench and we have our top players are top players. And when they get that extra ice time and the ability to play without worrying about the score, thy have the ability to create some offense and put a lot of pressure on the other team. Unfortunately though you can’t ride those guys 25 minutes a night. So we’ve got to stop putting ourselves in those holes and for me, get a little but more out of the depth of the lineup.

The Sharks gave up two goals early in the first period. The first was a power play goal from Ryan Murphy at 4:19 with assists to Jason Zucker and Eric Staal. Murphy scored after a beautiful two pass sequence starting at the blue line, then going to the goal line and back up to the far side of the net. The execution was perfect, but the Sharks probably should have gotten in the way of one of those passes.

The second goal came at 10:27 from Eric Staal with assists to Ryan Suter and Mikael Granlund. A key factor was a bump to Brent Burns near the blue paint from Staal. He pushed Burns into Jones and the two Sharks both went down. Staal retrieved the puck and took the shot before Jones could get back in position.

The third Minnesota goal was a wraparound from Staal. Staal jammed the puck between Jones’ skate and the post. The NHL reviewed the play and confirmed it. DeBoer followed up with a challenge for goaltender interference, but it was rejected. Assists went to  Murphy and Granlund.

The Sharks got a surprising opportunity during a penalty kill with less than three minutes left in the second period as Dylan DeMelo was in the box when Eric Staal and Ryan Murphy went to the box at the same time. Murphy’s penalty was delayed and Staal’s holding penalty came during the delay. With just six or seven seconds left in the five-on-three portion of the power play, Burns took a shot from the faceoff circle and scored. Assists went to Joe Thornton and Tomas Hertl.

Two minutes into the third period, Gustav Olofsson went to the box for tripping. Forty seconds into the penalty, Burns took a shot from the center of the blue line and beat Al Stalock over the left shoulder. The lone assist went to Joe Pavelski.

The Sharks tied the game after a series of three astonishing attacks on the Minnesota net. Tim Heed took a shot that Stalock stopped, but he dropped the puck and it was in play again–with the Sharks swarming. Finally, Hertl’s shot found its mark. Assists went to Kevin Labanc and Dylan DeMelo.

At the end of regulation, the shot count was 33-22 Sharks, with the third period count 14-7 in favor of the Sharks.

Overtime started with some energy from the Sharks, but in the second minute it fell into a lull with the Wild, circling the Sharks in the Sharks’ zone. After what seemed an interminable period, the Sharks finally broke out, but they had barely been able to change when Niederrieter broke in and took a shot for the win.

The Sharks next play on Thursday in Calgary against the Flames at 6:00 pm PT.

Sharks Lose 5-4 to Hurricanes

AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE– Saturday, the San Jose Sharks fell to yet another non-playoff team. This time they lost 5-3 to the Carolina Hurricanes who came into San Jose 18 points out of a playoff spot. They left San Jose a little closer, but still out of the running. This after the Sharks defeated the Vancouver Canucks 5-1 just last Thursday. The game winner was scored in the final two minutes of the third period, by Victor Rask. Carolina netminder Cam Ward made 23 saves on 27 shots for the win.

Why do the Sharks have so much trouble beating teams they should beat? Logan Couture tried to answer it, not for the first time:

We’re an inconsistent team. That comes with youth I think, although tonight our younger players played very well. We’re an inconsistent team this year. We’re going to need to fix that going forward.

As Couture said in a previous postgame interview, if they knew why they do that, they might stop doing it.

Tomas Hertl scored two of the Sharks’ four goals. His resurgence and a very good game from Chris Tierney might not have been expected by all but were no surprise to Couture and teammates:

They’re good players, you expect them to go out and score. So it’s really not a surprise when they go out and score. That’s what they’re expected to do as well. For us to be successful, we’re going to need everyone to go out and produce offense on different nights. So we weren’t surprised by seeing them score.

The Sharks lineup faced a few challenges Saturday night. Not only were they facing a non-playoff team (their Achilles heel this season) but they were also missing a season high of key players: Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Justin Braun and Tommy Wingels. Braun and Wingels are both on IR, while Vlasic was a last-minute scratch with what the team has called an upper body injury. Of all these, the low ranking of the Sharks’ opponent was probably the biggest hurdle to overcome.

Carolina came out swinging for the net and had three shots on goal in the first two minutes. In the third minute, the Hurricanes’ Ron Hainsey took a hooking penalty. The Sharks’ power play featured a few good chances for the Sharks, and a very good shift for Tomas Hertl. He looked more confident and assertive than he has looked in a while, both in front of the net and along the boards.

Most of the Sharks’ power play shots were blocked by Hurricanes, and after five minutes the shots were 6-2 Carolina. Niemi was facing a lot of good chances. Six and a half minutes in, Matt Tennyson went to the box for high-sticking. The Sharks killed the penalty off and during the second half of the first they gained some ground on the shot clock.

Just as the announcer was calling out “One minute left to play,” a wide shot from Jiri Tlusty came off the boards for Eric Staal to push in behind Niemi’s skate blade before the Sharks goaltender could close the gap. Assists went to Tlusty and Jordan Staal.

The Hurricanes finished the period ahead by one goal and five shots.

Where the first goal was a little fluky, the second goal of the game was not. It was the product of a very nice pass from Alex Semin to Andrej Nestrasil, and some inattention from the Sharks. Nestrasil skated between Hertl and Sheppard before he shot the puck over Niemi’s right shoulder. Assists went to Semin and Andrej Sekera. The 23 year old Czech was claimed by the Hurricanes on November 20 after the Detroit Red Wings waived him. It was his second goal of his NHL career.

The Sharks finally got on the board when Chris Tierney chased the puck around behind the net and sent it back out in front to Hertl. Hertl put the puck past Cam Ward without hesitation. Assists went to Tierney and Andrew Desjardins.

The Sharks went from that goal to killing a hooking penalty to Matt Nieto. The Carolina power play did not last long. Justin Faulk deked at the blue line to put Pavelksi out of position, then gave the puck to Elias Lindholm, who shot through a screen of Mirco Mueller and Jiri Tlusty to make it 3-1.

At 12:53, Tomas Hertl went to the box to serve a too many men on the ice penalty to the Sharks. The Sharks killed that off but seconds later were back on the penalty kill when Barclay Goodrow went to the box for roughing against

This time the Sharks showed more creativity with their penalty kill, challenging the Hurricanes and keeping them from getting set up as they had several times before.

The first really good attack from the Sharks came from the line of Tierney, Hertl and Sheppard in the last minute of the period. They mustered several shots and maintained possession in the offensive zone for a good long shift.

The Sharks came out for the third with some grit. It took them a couple of minutes but after a couple of shots and a lot of tenacity, the Tierney-Hertl combination paid off again. This time it came by way of a Scott Hannan shot from the blue line, caught and shot in by Hertl. Assists went to Hannan and Tierney, bringing the Sharks back within one goal.

The tying goal came from a quick spin shot by Logan Couture off a pass from Matt Tennyson, just 82 seconds after Hertl’s second goal.

Melker Karlsson was hit by a puck and went to the dressing room. He was back before the period ended but was gone long enough to give fans a scare.

Carolina’s fourth goal went in off of Brenden Dillon’s skate. Niemi stopped the initial shot, but the rebound hit Dillon. The goal was given to Justin Faulk.

The Sharks pulled Niemi with just under two minutes left. It took the Hurricanes two tries but they managed to put the puck in the empty net.

The Sharks got one back in the final minute, with the goalie pulled. Patrick Marleau’s wrist shot fond its way through, with assists going to Joe Thornton and Tomas Hertl. That made for an exciting last minute, but the game ended 5-4 Carolina.

Couture summed up the game fairly well, talking about that fourth Carolina goal:

It’s tough, I mean, I don’t know if we deserved to be in it at that point in the game, but we found a way to get back. It’s tough to get a bounce like that with four minutes left. You kind of get what you deserve though, it’s kind of the way this game works.

Scott Hannan led the Sharks in shots with five, and in shots blocked with four. According to the stat sheet, Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau were the only Sharks with more than one hit, and they only had two each. Brent Burns led the team in ice time by a hefty margin, at 25:25. Antti Niemi made 25 saves on 29 shots faced.

Eric Staal led the Hurricanes in shots with five. Tim Gleason led the team in hits with five. Justin Faulk led in blocked shots (3) and ice time (23:06). Cam Ward made 23 saves on 27 shots faced.

The Sharks next play at home against the Calgary Flames, on Monday at 7:30 PT.