Sharks Beat Ducks in Shootout 2-1, Extend Win Streak to Four

Photo credit: San Jose Sharks

by M. Walsh

SAN JOSE, Calif. — The San Jose Sharks defeated the Anaheim Ducks 2-1 in a shootout on Saturday. Corey Perry scored for the Ducks early in the first period, while Joel Ward scored late in the third for the Sharks. Joonas Donskoi scored the difference-maker in the shootout. Martin Jones made 25 saves for the win, while Ryan Miller made 44 saves for Anaheim.

After the game, Jones said:

I thought we played really well tonight. If you look at the really high quality scoring chances, I mean I could probably count them on one hand, for the ones we gave up. So, it was a really solid game for us, I mean we could have run away with that one if Miller doesn’t play the way he does. So it was a good game.

The win represents the Sharks fourth in a row, their first real win streak of the season.

Despite the lukewarm start to the season, Joe Pavelski said that the team is feeling no panic:

I don’t know if you guys are panicking, I mean your questions are kind of sounding like that. There was no panic on the bench, there hasn’t been. We believe we’ll score, we’re getting a little bit of depth scoring right now, we’re winning games. We’re playing with the lead, we’re doign a lot of stuff that we’re trying to accomplish out there.

Both teams were missing key players on Saturday. The Sharks went into the game without Marc-Edouard Vlasic or Paul Martin, putting added pressure on the younger blueliners Joakim Ryan and Tim Heed. Dylan DeMelo entered the lineup after sitting out the last 10 games. On the Ducks’ side, Ryan Getzlaf, Cam Fowler and Ryan Kesler were absent. The lone Sharks goal from Joel Ward and Barclay Goodrow would be some of that depth scoring that Pavelski spoke of. Goodrow has only played two games this season, and Ward has only played eight of the team’s 13.

Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer chose to put Goodrow at center on Saturday, though he has mostly played on the wing for the Sharks.

DeBoer explained that decision after the game:

I talked to him a little bit about it. He admitted he hadn’t played there in a long time but he had taken some draws recently for us in some games and did a good job and he’s a smart player. The way we play, we’re interchangeable down low. I thought that he could do it and help us and he did.

The Ducks got on the board first with a goal from Corey Perry. Perry caught a long pass through and across the neutral zone from Grant. This gave him a clean breakaway. Jones almost stopped the shot but it trickled through his pads and sputtered into the goal. The first period ended with the Ducks leading 1-0 and the shots 12-7 Sharks. The Sharks had two power plays in the first period, but did not score.

The Ducks were very organized in their own zone. It was rare to see any space for the Sharks to work with. Through most of the game, the Sharks seemed to be struggling to execute.

Pavelski did not see it as struggling:

I don’t know if we struggled. I think there was a couple times we maybe got caught trying to do too much or trying to be a little aggressive and gave up some odd mans, which we haven’t done, you know on the road trip and in the previous couple of games. It’s just something you have to stay on top of, but overall I liked the effort, liked a lot of the plays we had. Just gotta find a way.

By the middle of the second period, the Sharks had taken eight more shots to the Ducks’ four but the score was unchanged. No penalties came, no goals. The period dragged on.

The Ducks had their only power play in the middle of the third period. At the very end of that power play, Joel Ward and Barclay Goodrow caught a break and escaped through the neutral zone with just one Duck back to defend. Ward’s pass got by the defender, and Goodrow took the shot. Miller stopped it but Ward right on top of him to pick up the rebound and put it home. Goodrow received the only assist.

The game remained tied through the third and overtime. During the overtime period, the Sharks got credit for four shots and the Ducks none. In a six round shootout, Joe Pavelski scored on the Sharks’ first shot, while Joonas Donskoi scored on their sixth. For the Ducks, Rickard Rakell scored with a reaching backhand.

Up Next
The Sharks next play on Wednesday against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Puck drop at 7:30 p.m. PT.

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.

Sharks Cup Run Ends With Game 6 Loss

By Mary Walsh

AP photo: The Pittsburgh Penguins Justin Schultz raises the cup proceeding the clinching win over the San Jose Sharks in the Stanley Cup Finals Sunday at SAP Center

SAN JOSE– With 8:58 left in the third period, Brent Burns was called for slashing Phil Kessel. The Sharks penalty kill held up but the team still only had one shot in the period when the kill started. They had no more when it ended. The minutes ticked away and the Penguins would not let the Sharks get close to a shot. The score remained stubbornly at 2-1 Penguins.

The San Jose crowd stood and cheered with four minutes left. It was a sight to see. Were they just happy to be at a game on June 12? Were they simply urging their team on?

The Sharks pulled Jones with a little over a minute left and put Marc-Edouard Vlasic on as the extra skater to try to tie the game. It took a few moments but Sidney Crosby got the puck away from the Sharks and put it into the empty net to make the score 3-1. The Sharks had just two shots on goal in the final period.

The buzzer went, the Penguins threw themselves into a celebratory pile near their net, having won the Stanley Cup for the fourth time in their history.

The crowd stood again, cheering. Then they chanted “Let’s Go, Sharks! Let’s Go Sharks!” They got a salute from their team. Sharks fans were still happy that their team made it to the dance, even if they had to go home early this time.

Did the fan reaction to the loss surprise the Sharks players? Goaltender Martin Jones said simply “No, no. They’ve been great all year.” Forward Joel Ward said:

“It was really cool for the fans to stick by us. You know, I think they appreciate some of the effort we put in and for us…” he paused “I mean, for them sticking by us through some tough times at the beginning. But you know, it was good to see. We love the fans here, love the building, love the tank. We just got to get back on the horse for next season.”

After the loss, Logan Couture described the process of getting over a defeat like this: “End of hockey seasons are never fun. It’s like you hit a brick wall. Stop. You wake up the next morning and you’ve got nothing to do.”

Joe Thornton described his feelings about the loss as: “It’s just disappointing but just super proud, the effort the guys gave all year long.”

Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer declined to comment on the specifics of Sunday’s season-ending game. Instead, he talked about his team’s performance in general:

I’m very proud of our group. I thought our guys emptied the tank and gave us everything they possibly could we just weren’t as good as them during this two week period.

DeBoer also described what he saw from the Penguins:

Their speed, their pressure they put on with their speed. It’s not just their speed, they have good sticks too. They force you into quicker decisions, they really challenge your execution. You know we hadn’t seen pressure and sticks like that through the first three rounds and I think our execution was an issue because of that.

The Sharks did not come out with the jump that many had expected from them on home ice with a chance to tie the series and force a seventh game. Through the first five minutes, the Sharks did not register a shot on goal, while the Penguins had two.

Then, at 7:50, Dainius Zubrus was called for tripping Brian Dumoulin. 26 seconds into the power pla, Dumoulin took a shot from the blue line and Melker Karlsson tried to block it but it went between his legs to the net. By the time Jones saw it, it was too late and the Penguins had the early lead. Assists went to Justin Schultz and Chris Kunitz.

Seconds later, Melker Karlsson went into the boards feet first and landed very awkwardly. No penalty was assessed, and it did not look like he was tripped or pulled down. He was helped off the ice but did return to the game later.

The Sharks finally started to push back around the 14 minute mark of the first. They threw a couple more shots on net, and the Penguins had not added any since their power play goal. The Sharks looked like they found the key for getting ahead of Penguins. They kept Pittsburgh hemmed in their own zone for couple of long shifts. Then the puck went out of play and a television timeout and the moment was gone. The Penguins attacked, the Sharks had trouble getting out of their zone and finally iced the puck. The tired defenders went back to work and pushed the attackers back.

After a short offensive push with some chances for Brent Burns, the Sharks were chased back into their own zone, where Martin Jones made half a dozen impressive saves before the Penguins were chased away again. The Penguins had five shots on goal in the final few minutes of the period.

At the end of the first period, the shots were 10-6 Penguins. After 3:13 of the second, the count was 10-9. That barrage of shots came from the Sharks’ top line. In those same opening minutes, the Penguins had a couple of chances that hit posts, but no sustained pressure like that long shift from the Thornton, Pavelski and Donskoi line.

It was several minutes later, after another long offensive shift, this time from the fourth line, that Couture tied the game up with a shot from the faceoff dot. Melker Karlsson was back, this time screening the Pittsburgh goalie. Assists went to Karlsson and Burns.

The Penguins did not take long to regain the lead. Sidney Crosby found Kris Letang with a pass behind the net. Letang’s shot went right into Jones and trickled under him. Assists went to Crosby and Connor Sheary.

Marc-Edouard Vlasic left the bench at 7:46 and did not return until 18:05.

The shots stayed uncannily even as the period went on. First tied at 13, then at 16. But by the end of the second, it was 20-17 for Pittsburgh. The only stat that showed a gross difference between the teams was the faceoff wins. The Penguins had won 65% of them.

Five minutes into the third period, the Sharks got their first power play when Connor Sheary hooked Justin Braun to the ice. The Sharks did not get a shot on goal. The Penguins knocked the puck back up the ice several times, often aided by a careless pass. The Sharks never got their game back and the single goal they needed to tie it up never came.

No injury information was released after the game. That information may be released Monday afternoon.

Sharks Win Game 3 in OT, Climb Back in Series

By Mary Walsh

AP photo: San Jose Sharks Joonas Donskoi celebrates with teammates after scoring winning OT goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins at SAP Center on Saturday night

SAN JOSE–The San Jose Sharks defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final Saturday, by a score of 3-2. The Sharks now trail in the series 2-1. The game winning goal came in overtime from rookie Joonas Donskoi. Joel Ward and Justin Braun also scored for the Sharks, while their goaltender Martin Jones made 40 saves on 42 shots for the win. Ben Lovejoy and Patrick Hornqvist scored for the Penguins. It was the Sharks’ first overtime win this post season.

There was some talk about the Sharks being wide-eyed on their first trip to the Stanley Cup Final. There may be something lost in translation, but Joonas Donskoi, first-year NHL player, does not seem particularly nervous. Asked what it felt like to score probably the most important goal in Sharks history, he said: “I think I had a lot of scoring chances through the whole Final, and this was a good time to get it in.”

The game was the first time the Sharks won a majority of the faceoffs against the Penguins. The Sharks had three power plays and scored on none of them. Neither team scored on the power play. The Sharks won on the strength of their even strength play. It was an impressive change from Games 1 and 2.

The headliners for both teams were kept off the highlight reels Saturday. Of how Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun handled Sindey Crosby’s line, Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer said: “I thought Vlasic and Braun… you have to mention Brauny when you mention Vlasic too, I thought those two were excellent tonight, both ends of the rink, Brauny got a goal, defending, playing big minutes, they were fantastic.”

Melker Karlsson started the game in Tomas Hertl’s spot with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski, and the line had a good first shift. At 2:58 of the first, the Penguins were given a power play as a result of a call on Joel Ward for high sticking. Oddly, his stick did not appear above waist-high while the player he struck was bent down with his head low. It was odd because Ward took a stick to the face while falling that even drew blood in Pittsburgh, but that was not called.

The Sharks also seemed impatient with the penalty and went after the kill with determination. It was only after the Sharks killed the penalty that the Penguins scored off a shot from the blue line. The puck touched Roman Polak in front of the net. The goal was Ben Lovejoy’s.

As the ten minute mark approached, the Sharks still only had one shot on goal to the Penguins’ 8. They had not looked that bad. As if on cue, Justin Braun scored. He got the puck from Joe Thornton near the middle of the blue line, and with Melker Karlsson skating through the crease as a moving screen, Penguins goaltender Matt Murray never saw Braun’s shot coming. It sailed clean into the top right corner to tie the game. Assists went to Thornton and Marc-Edouard Vlasic.

The Sharks were not as bad as their shot count. Through the game, the Penguins blocked 38 shots. After the game, Joel Ward was asked about that number: “That’s a good sign. If you’re playing in the offensive zone, they’re blocking shots, you’re getting opportunities. So, just keep firing away.”

The Sharks were energized after Braun’s goal. The Penguins’ Phil Kessel had a breakaway shortly afterwards but Sharks goaltender Martin Jones stopped the shot and a defender came in fast to carry the puck away again.

The Penguins continued to outshoot the Sharks but in the final five minutes of the period, the Sharks racked up a good four shots and were generally looking stronger. The Penguins spent some time in the Sharks’ zone but both teams were doing a pretty good job of keeping the other to the outside and under heavy guard.

At the end of the first, the score was tied and the shots were 14-6 Penguins.

Early in the second, the game shifted gears for rougher terrain. Brent Burns took a punch to the face in the Penguins crease while trying to poke a puck past the goalie, and after that Justin Braun hauled a Penguin to the ice in the Sharks’ zone, but neither act was called as a penalty.

A little later, Chris Tierney and Joel Ward had a two on one chance but Penguins goaltender Matt Murray handled it. It served as a reminder that the Sharks had given up far too many two on ones in earlier games, and they seemed to be doing a better job of preventing them this time.

In the tenth minute of the period, the Sharks held the Penguins pinned in their zone for a long enough spell to draw a tripping penalty from Carl Hagelin. This gave the Sharks their first power play of the game. The Penguins killed it, but not without giving up a few more shots.

After 10 minutes, the Penguins had two shots on the period. After 15 minutes, they still had two. The Sharks had eight in the first fifteen minutes.

Just after the announcer proclaimed that there was one minute left in the game, Ben Lovejoy picked up a puck that looked like it was going out and threw it back at the net to regain the lead. The puck went off of Patrick Hornqvist, with assists to Ben Lovejoy and Olli Mattaa. It was the Penguins’ sixth shot of the period.

Almost five minutes into the third period, Nick Bonino caught Joe Thornton with a high stick and drew blood. It took the Penguins almost ninety seconds to clear the puck the first time. The power play seemed to lose energy after that and with 1:19 left in the penalty, DeBoer took his time out and gave his top power play unit a rest. That helped them a little but they still could not convert.

The second unit came on with seconds left in the penalty. The Penguins cleared the puck to the neutral zone. The Sharks stopped it short and went the other way. Joel Ward took the puck up the slot. With a Penguin between himself and the goalie, he took what must have been a deceptively hard shot. The puck went over Murray’s left shoulder, bending his glove back and tying the game just as the penalty expired. It was Ward’s seventh of the post season, with assists going to Joonas Donskoi and Joe Thornton.

At the end of regulation, the score was tied at two and the shots were 33-22 Penguins.

The first seven minutes of overtime went back and forth with grueling suspense. The Penguins were outshooting the Sharks 5-1. The Sharks lines seemed jumbled, whether by incomplete line changes or actual line adjustments. In any case, Chris Tierney, Melker Karlsson and Joonas Donskoi were in the Penguins zone stirring things up behind the net and along the boards. At 12:18, Donskoi carried the puck behind the net and came out the other side, then spun and shot in a quick motion. The game winner was Donskoi’s sixth goal of the playoffs. An assist went to Chris Tierney.

For Game 4, the teams will return to SAP Center in San Jose. Game time is 5:00 PT.

NHL Playoffs, Game 1, Round 2: Sharks Take Preds Down 5-2

By Mary Walsh

AP photo: San Jose Sharks Joel Ward 42 celebrates scoring goal with teammates in third period in game one at SAP Center

SAN JOSE– The Sharks beat the Nashville Predators in the first game of the NHL’s Western Conference Semi-Finals. The Sharks won by a score of 5-2, with goals from four different shooters. Logan Couture scored a power play goal and an empty netter. Tomas Hertl, Joel Ward and Tommy Wingels all added to the tally. Mike Fisher and Ryan Johansen scored for Nashville, and Pekka Rinne made 33 saves on 36 shots. Martin Jones made 29 saves for the Sharks on 31 Nashville shots.

The Sharks looked tentative in the first period, as did the Predators. Perhaps the teams were feeling each other out, perhaps the Sharks were rusty and the Preds tired, but not very much happened in the first period. By the third period, the Sharks were firing on all cylinders and running away with the game. Sharks fans can only hope this is indicative of how the team will play this series.

The game was uneventful until one of the Nashville skaters tripped over a breaking Sharks and fell into Pekka Rinne, taking out the goalie and his net. That play was reviewed but no goal was awarded.

The next noteworthy event was a penalty called against Melker Karlsson for hooking. The Sharks’ penalty kill started pretty well, with play moving out of the Sharks zone and into the Predators’ zone for a good part of a shift. Nashville eventually made it back in and stayed a spell but the Sharks did not give them much to shoot at. Nashville had a couple of better chances just after the penalty expired but the Sharks kept the puck out of their net.

The Sharks made a good push during the final minutes of the first period, hemming the Preds in and evening up the shot count. For most of the period, the Sharks trailed in shots by a few. At the end of the period, the Predators led 12-11, but the score was still tied at nil.

The second period started out stoppage-heavy. It seemed like one every 10 seconds but that probably was not the case. At 2:45, Matt Nieto was called for tripping Colin Wilson, which the crowd booed with gusto.

The Sharks’ penalty kill looked like it would be successful, with the Predators being evicted frequently from the offensive zone. In the final seconds of the power play, the Predators took the lead. Mike Fisher caught a pass from Ryan Johansen and held the puck for a moment while drifting backwards into the faceoff circle. He took his shot and it went by three Sharks, including Martin Jones.

The Sharks’ first power play came from an interference call on Eric Nystrom at 5:31. The Sharks’ power play did not score but it was a sight to see. The Predators got the puck out in the first 10 seconds and then not again until the last few. The Sharks put a lot of shots at the net, though few got through. The penalty killers blocked a lot of shots and looked weary by the end of it.

Trailing by a goal, the Sharks did wake up. The Predators did not have a shot on goal [between 11:03 and 2:11 left.], and then they had two before the period ended.

Fifty seconds into the third period, Ryan Johansen was called for holding and the Sharks went on their second power play. This power play did not start up as well as their first power play. It took the Sharks good forty seconds to finally get set up, and then Nashville booted them out after just a couple of chances. The second unit came on (Ward, Vlasic, Hertl, Donskoi and Martin) and changed things up. They started by carrying the puck over the line instead of dumping it in. After that, they survived a broken stick, holding the zone while it was replaced. As the penalty time ran down, Joel Ward took a pass from Marc-Edouard Vlasic and sent it along to Tomas Hertl. Hertl was posted at the corner of the net and quickly put it past Rinne to tie the game. Assists went to Ward and Vlasic.

Ward picked up another point almost ten minutes later, when he took a pass from Joonas Donskoi as they skated into the zone. Ward had enough space to duck one way and go the other, freezing Rinne at the top of his crease. Ward then put the puck behind the goaltender, who reached back with his glove and either missed the puck or knocked it in. It was Ward’s first goal of this post-season, with assists to Donskoi and Brent Burns.

Things deteriorated from there for Nashville. With 4:40 left in the game, Calle Jarnkrok was called for high-sticking Donskoi. Seconds into the power play, Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski skated in, moved the puck back and forth a couple of times, and scored again. It was Logan Couture’s goal, that he lifted lightly over Rinne’s pad from close range.

Nashville pulled Rinne with more than two minutes left, and with just under two minutes left, a bouncing puck went over Martin Jones to bring the Predators back within a goal. They kept their net empty. A few seconds after the next faceoff, Logan Couture took advantage of that and restored the Sharks’ two-goal lead.

Tommy Wingels added yet another, in a similar manner but on the other side of the ice. After that, the Predators put backup goaltender Carter Hutton in the net to prevent yet a third empty net goal.

The final shot count was 38-31 Sharks.

Game Two will be on Sunday at 5:00 PT at SAP Center in San Jose.


Sharks Win Game 4, Take 3-1 Series Lead

By Mary Walsh

AP photo: Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick was kept busy all night by the Sharks here a shot goes wide in the first period at SAP Center on Wednesday night

SAN JOSE– The San Jose Sharks defeated the Los Angeles Kings at SAP Center on Wednesday, by a score of 3-2. The win gives San Jose a 3-1 series lead, sometimes called a stranglehold. Despite rumors that there would be changes to the Sharks lineup for Game 4, there were none. Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer did not even alter his line combinations. The lack of change paid off. The team as a whole was sharper and more balanced than it had been on Monday. Even when they gave up two goals early in the third period, they corrected quickly enough to hold on for the win. It was altogether an impressive performance.

The fourth line that struggled in Game 3 pulled themselves together and played very effective minutes. After Wednesday’s game, coach DeBoer talked about the line of Chris Tierney, Tommy Wingels and Nick Spaling:

They were excellent. Again, I think with our group, every time this year that we’ve challenged them to be better, they responded and I think that speaks to the character in the room. And those guys I thought were excellent tonight for us. I didn’t hesitate to put them out with four or five minutes left in the game.

All three Sharks goals were power play goals, scored over four power plays. This was a vast improvement over their 0-5 power play performance Monday. The game winner was scored by Patrick Marleau, with additional goals scored by Brent Burns and Joe Pavelski. Martin Jones made 26 saves for the Sharks. Jonathan Quick also made 26 saves, for the Kings. Los Angeles goals were scored by Trevor Lewis and Luke Schenn.

The Sharks spent most of the first five minutes in the Kings zone, but could not find any good shots. Near the five-minute mark, the Kings went the other way, frst two on one, then when Justin Braun caught up to them, three on two. That led to a prolonged attack in the Sharks’ zone. Martin Jones stopped the three shots that came his way, but when the Sharks finally got the puck out it was by icing it. The Sharks were on their heels for several minutes even after that. Their forays into the Kings’ zone were short and not productive. Slowly, the Sharks started pushing back. They were spending less time trapped in their own zone when the 10 minute mark ticked by. But the shots were still 7-2 Los Angeles.

By the time the period ended, the Sharks had corrected that disparity. They saw a good number of excellent chances pass them by, since no one was in the right spot to take advantage of unexpected, glaring opportunities. The shots were 11-8 San Jose, and 9-2 San Jose for the second half of the period. The teams were even in faceoff wins.

Jeff Carter started the second off with a roughing penalty 30 seconds in, against Marc-Edouard Vlasic. The Sharks maintained the attack for a solid 40 seconds and then a crazy bounce sent the puck off the back boards and through the crease, then off a skater and back through the crease, still not going in. This disrupted the play enough for the Kings to clear the zone.

The Sharks retrieved the puck behind their own goal line and resumed the attack. This time the Sharks did not take long. A cross-ice pass from Joel Ward to Brent Burns found him above the left faceoff circle. Quick could not get across in time and Burns’ trademark shot blew by him to give the Sharks the lead. Assist went to Ward and Vlasic.

Before the cheers died down, play had resumed and Jonathan Quick was handling the puck behind his net. Matt Nieto, chasing the puck down, caught Quick in the back of his skates. Both players went down and Nieto went to the box. The Sharks penalty killers started out well and had a short-handed chance half way through the penalty, with Chris Tierney almost skating in front of Quick for a shot before being held up by Kings defenders.

In the final seconds of the penalty kill, Karlsson, Vlasic and Thornton carried play back into the offensive zone and set the Kings spinning for a shift.

Unfortunately, that penalty kill was followed by another less than a minute later. Joel Ward was called for high sticking. The Kings had a good chance about half way through but an overhead clear by Vlasic allowed the Sharks to regroup and change.
The Sharks finished that up with another short handed chanced, and not long after it expired, yet another outrageously improbable missed chance. A Kings skater got tangled up with his goalie and a Shark and all were out of play for several seconds, with the puck sitting in the blue paint. No Sharks skater could get to it, including the one trapped in the body tangle inches away.

The score remained 1-0.

The Sharks drew another power play when Tomas Hertl was tripped next to the Kings net by Rob Scuderi. 39 seconds into the power play, Patrick Marleau sent the puck behind the net to Thornton, who sent it out front for Joe Pavelski. A fast shot as he fell to his knees earned Pavelski his fourth goal of the playoffs.

The game tempo increased after that. The Sharks drove play for a long spell after that. When they did not have th epuck, they wasted little time stripping the Kings of it, or knocking them off of it. Brenden Dillon made Dustin Brown pay for sendng the puck around the boards, and Patrick Marleau added a solid hit or two.

The Kings finally did get some traction in the last three minutes of play, but it did not last for more than a minute. The Sharks were back in the Kings’ zone at 7:30 when Luke Schenn was caught roughing Joe Thornton. The Sharks did not convert on their third power play but the Kings did not take any leisurely skates into the Sharks’ zone either.

The shots for the period were 13-8 San Jose.

The teams picked up where they left off for the third. 1:34 into the period, Jamie McBain caught Joonas Donskoi in the face with a high stick. Five seconds into that penalty, Patrick Marleau stopped the puck with a skate, kicked it to his stick, and put the puck in the net. Assists went to Logan Couture and Brent Burns.

The Kings got on the board just 69 seconds later when Luke Schenn’s shot from the blue line got by Martin Jones. Trevor Lewis was in front of Jones, wrestling with a Sharks defender. As the shot came in, Lewis fell into Jones. Coach DeBoer challenged the goal for goaltender interference but the call stood up. The goal went to Lewis, with assists to Luke Schenn and Kris Versteeg.

The game got a little more interesting at 6:44, when Schenn took a shot through a long line of traffic and beat Jones, closing the gap to one goal. Assists went to Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik.

After that, the Kings tried more of those shots, but Jones seemed to see them better. The Kings kept pushing, they caught up on the shot clock, and as the final minutes ticked away, the game lost none of its intensity. The Sharks spent a lot of time with the puck but they were not getting the shots or the chances they had before. Even with the Kings net empty, the Kings kept the Sharks from taking good shots. The Sharks managed a couple of shots from their own zone but missed the net.

With 18.3 seconds to go, Los Angeles took their time out, then sent six skaters back on the ice for an offensive zone draw. It was to no avail as Game 4 slipped away from the Kings.

Game 5 will be back in Los Angeles at Staples Center on Friday.

Sharks And Kings Preview: Playoff Remix 2016

By Mary Walsh

photo credit San Jose Sharks Joe Thornton and teammates will be in L.A. to try and take the Kings out of the first round of the playoffs starting Thursday

The San Jose Sharks will face the Los Angeles Kings Thursday, in game one, round one of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs. They say that lightning does not strike twice. A lot happens in a hockey game, and a playoff series can produce the same result in many different ways. But it is probably safe to predict that the Sharks will not win three games in a row and then lose four. The odds of that happening again are very slim indeed, and I don’t need to be a math genius to know that.

The Los Angeles Kings are probably the best first round opponent for the San Jose Sharks. The Kings are not only a “must play” for any team trying to get through the western conference, they also have a special place in San Jose’s heart. The last two seasons have been dark for San Jose, starting with their humiliation at the hands of the Kings two seasons ago. While the meek of heart would probably want to avoid Los Angeles entirely, few professional hockey players can be described as meek.

Two seasons is long enough to see any team change, even if change is not their objective. The Sharks have made several changes. Head coach Pete DeBoer brings a new angle to the Sharks’ game. The Kings have seen DeBoer’s Sharks several times this season, but they are nowhere near as familiar with them as they were with Todd McLellan’s team. DeBoer has coached against the Kings in the playoffs, when the New Jersey Devils faced them in the 2012 Stanley Cup Final. That was a long time ago, and he has a very different team now, except in one respect: the Kings are still the favorites to win.

Those expectations are a little bit strange. Even though the Sharks were embarrassed by their lost 3-0 lead in 2014, they did beat the Kings three times before losing. The Sharks also won the 2015-16 regular season series 3-2, going 3-1-1. The Kings have a terrible habit of starting slowly, in the regular season and the playoffs. That is a habit that is bound to trip them up eventually. It is far from unlikely that the Sharks could win this series.

The Kings have the home ice advantage over the Sharks, but that advantage has proven to be less and less significant over the past few seasons, not only for the Sharks but for most playoff teams. What has been true for the Sharks over the past couple of seasons is that they play better on the road. It is not a stretch to say that the Sharks have the “road advantage” in this series.

Wherever they play, the Sharks have every reason to be hungrier and angrier than the Kings. The Kings have won two Stanley Cup Championships. The Sharks have not gotten to the Final yet. If NHL parity is not a myth, it is the Sharks turn for a shot.

Both teams have made significant changes to their rosters since 2014. For the Sharks, Martin Jones and James Reimer are a more formidable goalie tandem than Antti Niemi and Alex Stalock were. Jones’ star is rising. He proved this season that he can be a reliable presence in net, and can even steal a game here and there. James Reimer has proven that he can gut out some pretty gruelling playoff games, and he has already turned in some very impressive performances for San Jose.

With Martin Jones in net, the Sharks are starting the goalie who carried them through most of the season with only a few hiccups. That he used to play for the Kings should not be much of a factor, since any familiarity the Kings have with Jones will be matched by his knowledge of their skaters. Jonathan Quick is not exactly an unknown quantity for the Sharks, either. The Sharks know him well from many meetings.

The Sharks have Matt Nieto and Marc-Edouard Vlasic coming back from injury. The last time the Sharks appeared in the playoffs, also against the Kings, the collapse began with the loss of Vlasic to injury. The Sharks have added a couple of veteran defensemen since then, in Paul Martin and Roman Polak, but Vlasic’s importance cannot be understated. The Sharks played pretty well down the stretch without him but they will need all their best blue liners to go far in the playoffs.

The Sharks also have some added depth in the scoring department, in Joel Ward and Joonas Donskoi. Ward is a seasoned veteran of playoff games, and scored timely goals for Washington. Donskoi is going into his first NHL Playoffs, but he has some experience with championship games from his time in Finland. Both players were consistently helpful during the regular season, and as additions to a group that has been to the playoffs together many times, they could be difference makers for San Jose.

Melker Karlsson joined the team last season and showed that he could contribute in the scoring department. He has spent a lot of time this season on the fourth line, but DeBoer’s fourth line is very different from the fourth line that Todd McLellan would put together. It is reasonable to expect more offense and fewer penalties from the likes of Karlsson and Dainius Zubrus.

If there is an x-factor for the Sharks, I would say it is Joel Ward or James Reimer. Any of the rookies could surprise the Kings and all have to contribute to get the Sharks through the first round. But Ward and Reimer both have enough playoff experience to do some heavy lifting. Even if Reimer does not play, he provides an added sense of confidence and security that should permeate the team’s mental game.

On the Los Angeles side, defenseman Alec Martinez and forward Marian Gaborik have returned from late season injuries. The team has confidence in their readiness to play, as they recently reassigned forward Nic Down and defenseman Kevin Gravel to the AHL. Other changes to their roster over the last season include the addition of Milan Lucic, and the losses of Justin Williams and Jarret Stoll. The last two were historically problematic for the Sharks, if in very different ways. Lucic combines some of both of those, as a cagey and tough competitor.

The Kings also picked up some scoring depth in Vincent LeCavalier. LeCavalier is nothing if not streaky but he should not be ignored. He has a lot to prove after his dismal stay with the Philadelphia Flyers. Since he is supposed to retire after this season, he can be expected to give it his all.

For the Kings, I would not identify particular players as x-factors. Rather, their tendency to start slowly should be seen as the critical factor. If they let the Sharks get ahead of them, they might not catch them again. If the Sharks can avoid having key players injured early, the Kings might not need to spot them the lead. They might just take it fair and square.

Stars Hand Sharks Third Straight Loss

By Mary Walsh

AP photo: The Dallas Stars Mattias (13) Janmark was on the mark finding the back of the net twice Saturday against the San Jose Sharks here he goes for a victory lap with teammates after his second period goal

SAN JOSE- The Dallas Stars beat the San Jose Sharks by a score of 4-2 on Saturday afternoon. It was the Sharks’ third straight loss, all on home ice. It also leaves them still waiting to clinch a spot in the playoffs. It was a disappointing follow up to Thursday’s defeat at the hands of the Edmonton Oilers, but Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer saw some positives in Saturday’s game:

I think we played a pretty good game tonight. Obviously we didn’t win. It was one of those nights where every mistake we made ended up in our net and we couldn’t buy one at the other end for a couple periods. You gotta be careful and make sure you keep the proper perspective. Obviously we want to be winning every game his time of year but we’ve won a lot of games over the season where we played like that. So we just gotta build on the positive.

Sharks goals came from Joel Ward and Tomas Hertl. Sharks goaltender Martin Jones made 13 saves on 16 shots. Two Dallas goals came from Mattias Janmark, and one each from Patrick Sharp and Jamie Benn. Antti Niemi made 34 saves on 36 Sharks shots. The shot discrepancy is not unfamiliar to the Sharks. After the game, Sharks defenseman Brenden Dillon said: “The last couple games I think we’ve been doing a pretty good job. That’s one of the top scoring teams in the league and we limited them to 17 shots against so obviously we can’t be satisfied when we still lose the game and get no points.”

The Stars’ Antoine Roussel was a conspicuous participant in the first six penalties of the game, including a fight with Tommy Wingels. His antics did slow the game down. After the game, Wingels said:

I don’t get it. It’s embarrassing, I don’t think that stuff belongs in the game. Every shift after that you’re going to try to fight again. The rest don’t want that, the players don’t want their teammates… the fans don’t want to see after every whistle you have to be broken up.

Those Roussel penalties were not the only ones in the game. In all, the Sharks had six chances on the man advantage, but did not score. Sharks captain Joe Pavelski said, of their power play:

You give our PP unit that much time, we’ve got to get one, you know. We’ve got to really find a way to produce, not just chances but goals. And we didn’t do a good enough job there. There were a few looks we had, we still need to be a little cleaner I think but this time of the year PKs are hard, they’re aggressive. You got to make those entries count, you got to make the faceoffs count, I didn’t win enough of those draws. They’re all parts where they really add to that momentum throughout the PP. Could do a better job, sure.

Missing from the Sharks lineup was Joonas Donskoi. He did skate in the warmups, which may indicate that his absence will not be a long one. Matt Nieto and Marc-Edouard Vlasic both missed their fifth games since injury on March 17. Dainius Zubrus moved up to the Couture line, and Micheal Haley played on the the fourth.

The Dallas Stars have sustained several significant injuries this season. They are presently without perpetual scoring threat Tyler Seguin and regular blue-liner Jason Demers. John Klingberg, talented young defenseman, recently returned from injury, giving his team a needed boost.

The first period was going by scoreless, with a penalty per team and a couple of scuffles. Brenden Dillon took a roughing minor against Antoine Roussel. Roussel then took a slashing minor against Micheal Haley. Roussel and Tommy Wingels finished with fighting majors around the 14 minute mark. At 15:28, the shot count was 12 to 3 Sharks. On the Stars’ fourth shot, the puck went over Martin Jones’ pad for Mattias Janmark’s 14th goal of the season. His shot from the blue line got a little help from passing traffic. Assists went to Jordie Benn and Ales Hemsky.

The Stars added to their lead 4:22 into the second. A miscalculation from Jones left him too far from the crease and the net open for Janmark. Tomas Hertl made an attempt to stop the goal, but he lacks experience as a goaltender. Assists went to Jason Spezza and Stephen Johns.

The first penalty of the game that did not involve Antoine Roussel came 6:40 into the second. The Sharks did not score. Joe Pavelski went to the box at 13:41 for boarding against Johnny Oduya. During the ensuing power play, Jason Spezza made a pass from below the faceoff circle across the ice and back. Patrick Sharp took the shot quickly and cleanly. Assists went to Spezza and Klingberg.

The Sharks had a late power play, at 15:35. Stephen Johns went to the box for elbowing Roman Polak. With four seconds left in the period, Klingberg was called for roughing, and Thornton received the same.

Seventeen seconds into the third, Stars captain Jamie Benn was called for hooking Joe Pavelski. As a result, the teams payed four on three for 1:40. The Stars went right to the man advantage when Dylan DeMelo was called for slashing, just as the Sharks power play expired.

Before the DeMelo penalty expired, Joel Ward put the Sharks on the board with a short-handed goal. Antti Niemi handled the puck behind the net and he made a pass up the wall. After the pass, Joel Ward skated in behind him and seemed to nudge him from behind. Niemi went down and was thus unable to get back to his crease before Ward could put the puck in an open net.

The Sharks closed the gap further at 5:48 with a goal from Tomas Hertl. Taking advantage of busy traffic in the slot, Brent Burns made a pass to Pavelski, who carried it a bit and tried a backhand shot. Hertl skated in behind him and caught the rebound for his 19th goal of the season. Assists went to Pavelski and Burns.

Alex Goligoski was caught hooking at 10:09, putting the Sharks back on their thus-far ineffective power play. It was not effective.

The Stars took another penalty at 13:24, this time to Mattias Lanmark for tripping DeMelo. Still no power play goal.

The Sharks took their time out with 1:35 left in the game, and set up for an offensive zone faceoff with their net empty. Dallas wont the faceoff and iced the puck. The Sharks made better use of the next faceoff and moved the puck around in the Dallas zone, but with 1:08 left in the game, the Stars’ Patrick Sharp took control of the puck, passed it to Jamie Benn and Benn put it in the empty net.

The Sharks next play on Monday against the visiting Los Angeles Kings at 7:00 PT.

Sharks Shut Out Coyotes 3-0

By Mary Walsh

AP photo: The San Jose Sharks Tomas Hertl scores a second period goal and goes to the Sharks bench for a brief victory lap Sunday

SAN JOSE– The San Jose Sharks defeated the Arizona Coyotes by a score of 3-0 Sunday. James Reimer made 25 saves for the shutout. It was his second shutout in four starts for the Sharks. Sharks goals came from Joel Ward, Tomas Hertl and Joe Pavelski. Brent Burns picked up an assist on Pavelski’s goal, setting a new record for most points by a Sharks defenseman in a season with 65.

The Sharks owed the Coyotes a good performance after their unimpressive loss last Thursday. The Sharks also needed a win against a non-playoff team, if for no other reason than to get one. Their recent record is littered with losses to the wrong teams, and wins against top tier opponents. This is not a problem that is likely to come up during the playoffs, but selective competing is not something the Sharks want to fall back into. For this reason, beating the Coyotes was a very good thing for the team.

Near the 14 minute mark of the first, Logan Couture blocked a shot and ended his shift a little early, but he did not leave the game. Justin Braun took the first penalty of the game, an interference penalty at 14:07. The Sharks were able to clear the puck twice in the first minute of the Coyotes power play, and allowed just one shot in that minute.

1:21 into the penalty, Patrick Marleau was called for high sticking and the Coyotes had a five on three for 39 seconds. The Sharks killed off the five on three, but had their hands full. The Coyotes added another shot before Braun came out of the box, but no more after that.

At 18:20, the Sharks took the lead with a goal from Joel Ward. He deflected Brenden Dillon’s shot from the point, a one-timer on a pass from Joonas Donskoi. Donskoi made the pass from below the blue line, for his 22nd assist of the season. It was Ward’s 20th goal of the season and Dillon’s seventh assist.

At the end of the first, the shots were 13-7 Sharks.

2:26 into the second, Brent Burn went to the box for tripping. The Sharks killed it off and finished the kill with a short-handed chance.

The Sharks had their first power play at 5:48, a holding penalty to Klas Dahlbeck. The Sharks power play had some difficulty establishing themselves in the Arizona zone. Eventually they did get set up, but the power play did not generate a goal.

They had another chance at 11:05, when Boyd Gordon went to the box for holding Melker Karlsson. the Sharks’ first unit again looked somewhat disorganized and the second jumped in for a faceoff and went right to work. In the space ofa few passes, they had the puck in the net. This time they got a little lucky as Hertl’s attempted pass to Ward hit Arizona’s Murphy and bounced back under Mike Smith. The goal went to Hertl, with assists to Donskoi and Paul Martin.

The Sharks went right back on the power play at 13:50, when Kevin Connauton was called for delay of game after sending the puck over the glass, but did not score. The Sharks finished the period on a penalty kill, as Nick Spaling was called for interference. The shots at the end of the second were 22-18 Sharks.

The Sharks completed the penalty kill to start the third period, and 13:10 in they had another power play. The Coyotes took yet another penalty at 17:55, a hooking penalty to Michael Stone.

The Coyotes pulled their goaltender with just over a minute left and briefly threatened in the Sharks zone. It was quite brief, and then Brent Burns took control of the puck in the neutral zone and passed it to Joe Pavelski for the empty net shot. It was Pavelski’s 34th goal of the season. Assists went to Burns and Joe Thornton.

The Sharks next play on Tuesday at 7:30, hosting the visiting St. Louis Blues.

Matt Nieto and Marc-Edouard Vlasic missed their second game after being injured last Thursday.

Sharks Fend Off Bruins in 3-2 Win

By Mary Walsh

AP photo: The Sharks Logan Couture (39) battles with the Bruins Ryan Spooner for the puck during a second period face off on Tuesday night

SAN JOSE– For the second time this season, the San Jose Sharks defeated the Boston Bruins. The score was 3-2, with Sharks goals from Joonas Donskoi, Melker Karlsson and Brent Burns. With his 26th goal, Brent Burns tied the Sharks record for goals scored by a defenseman in a season, set by Sandis Ozolinsh. With 11 goals and 31 points, Donskoi is the highest scoring Sharks rookie since Logan Couture.

James Reimer made 21 saves on 23 Boston shots for the win. David Krejci and Loui Eriksson scored for the Bruins, with Tuuka Rask making 24 saves for Boston on 27 San Jose shots.

Melker Karlsson opened the scoring for the Sharks at 8:44. After winning the puck along the boards, Karlsson dropped it to Logan Couture and went to the front of the net. Couture sent the puck behind the net to Donskoi, who passed it ahead for Karlsson to put away. Assists went to to Donskoi and Couture.

The Bruins answered back at 11:26. David Pastrnak got by the Sharks defense and took a shot into Reimer’s pads. Reimer kicked the puck back out but right in David Krejci’s wheelhouse. His quick shot went under Reimer to tie the game. Assists went to Pastrnak and Torey Krug.

The first penalty of the game came with just 2:54 left in the first period. It was a hooking call against Jimmy Hayes. The power play did not go very well for the Sharks, and 39 seconds in, Boston scored short handed. Loui Eriksson broke away,and it was the second Boston breakaway in that power play, to beat Reimer and give the Bruins the lead.

The Sharks had one second of five on three, and then the rest of the period five on four against Boston. At the end of the first penalty, David Krejci finished up another breakaway with a slash to James Reimer, after the whistle blew.

The period ended with the Bruins up 2-1 and the Sharks ahead in shots 12-10.

The Sharks finished the remainder of that power play to start the second period. They did not give up another short handed goal and they did add a couple of shots to their tally.

At 11:46, Brent Burns tied the game. Burns made a pass through the slot in the direction of Thornton, but instead the puck hit Ryan Spooner and bounced into the net.

The game winner did not come until the third period, during the dying seconds of another Sharks power play. Jimmy Hayes was in the box for an illegal check to the head of Sharks defenseman Justin Braun. The Sharks’ first power play unit had been unsuccesful, allowing another short-handed chance, this time to Brad Marchand. Marchand also made some little extra contact with Reimer after his shot was stopped. That drew some reaction from the Sharks. The second unit came on with 1:22 left in the power play, with Tomas Hertl taking a defensive zone draw. The Sharks controlled the puck but after their first dump-in the Bruins pushed the puck back out quickly.

Donskoi dumped the puck in on their next entry and the Sharks retrieved the puck along the end boards. A pass from Vlasic to Burns wound up on Burns’ skate. Burns moved the puck from skate to stick, and found Joel Ward on the far side of the slot. Ward waited a beat and picked his shot. Donskoi was in front of the net, with his stick on the ice in front of Rask. The deflected shot went just under the diving goaltender and in the net. Assists went to Ward and Burns.

The Sharks took their first and only penalty at 10:20 of the third period. Donskoi went to the box for holding the stick, but the Bruins power play did not change the score, and the Bruins did not get any shots despite a couple of good attacks.

Back at even strength, the Bruins made a push in the final minutes of the game but the Sharks held them off for the win.

The three stars of the game were Joonas Donskoi, Melker Karlsson and David Krejci.

Sharks forward Tommy Wingels was off IR Tuesday, but did not play.

The Sharks next play on Thursday in Arizona, against the Coyotes at 7:00 PT.