Sharks Fall to Leafs 5-3, Matthews Scores Two In Return

Photo credit: @SanJoseSharks

By Mary Walsh

The San Jose Sharks were defeated 5-3 by the Toronto Maple Leafs Wednesday at the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.

Leafs goals came from John Tavares (2), Patrick Marleau and Auston Matthews (2). It was the first game back from injury for Matthews after a 15-game absence.

Sharks goals came from Tomas Hertl, Joe Pavelski and Melker Karlsson. Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen, made 38 saves for the win, while Sharks goalie Aaron Dell made 24 saves in the loss. Both teams did well on the power play, with Toronto scoring three times in four tries, and the Sharks scoring twice in three power plays. The Sharks dominated on the shot clock 41-29, but the Leafs won in the faceoff circle, winning 60% of them.

After the game, Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer identified special teams as the story of the game:

The story was the three power play goals. I mean they went three for four. So, you’re not going to win on the road giving up two power play goals, never mind three. Our attention to detail on the P.K. is as good as anybody in the league. You know, it wasn’t tonight. You’ve got to give them credit, they’ve got a pretty potent power play and they executed and they stuck it in the net.

Sharks forward Timo Meier was out with an injury Wednesday. Asked how that changed things, DeBoer said: “It changes, you know. But guys gotta get the job done. I thought it’s an opportunity for some other guys to jump in and do the job. I didn’t feel like we could play four lines tonight and that’s unfortunate because you want guys to grab opportunity.”

The first period was fast and furious for both teams. The neutral zone saw a lot of traffic and puck possession was hotly disputed. The first goal came just 3:38 in on a Toronto power play with Kevin Labanc in the box for tripping Mitchell Marner.

The Sharks penalty kill started pretty well, with Tomas Hertl keeping the puck behind the Toronto net so that the Leafs didn’t get set up in the Sharks zone for almost 30 seconds. Once in, however, it only took Toronto about 15 seconds to score. The play started with a point-to-point pass between Morgan Reilly and Mitchell Marner. Marner made a cross-ice pass to Auston Matthews in the faceoff circle, who passed it to John Tavares in front of the net. No one was there to give Tavares any grief and he tapped it in. It was Tavares’ 16th of the season, with assists to Matthews and Marner.

The Sharks responded with their own power play goal at 10:40, after Andreas Johnsson was called for interference on Joonas Donskoi. The Sharks had a couple of good chances before finally scoring. Tomas Hertl had already spent a lot of time fighting his way to the front of the net when Logan Couture found Kevin Labanc near the boards. Labanc moved the puck quickly to Hertl who was able to put it away neatly. It was Hertl’s 6th of the season, with assists went to Couture and Labanc.

Less than 30 seconds later, Toronto took the lead again with another power play goal. The penalty was to Barclay Goodrow for holding Auston Matthews. This time the shot came from Auston Matthews, almost the top of the faceoff circle. The puck had moved from behind the Sharks net to the point and back down to Matthews for the shot. Assists went to Reilly and Marner.

John Tavares scored his second of the game with just 18 seconds left in the period. The Leafs came through the neutral zone at speed three-on-two, making two cross-ice passes before Tavares took the shot. Assists went to Marner and Zach Hyman.

Toronto lost no momentum going into the second period and got a power play just 54 seconds in. It was Kevin Labanc’s second tripping penalty of the game. Patrick Marleau made them pay with a goal at 1:53. Gardiner’s shot from the blue line touched the stick of Tyler Ennis and turned into a pass from Andreas Johnsson away from the net. That pass went to Marleau in the faceoff circle. Marleau had an open net and did not miss. It was his first goal against his former team. Assists went to Ennis and Johnsson.

Moments later, the Sharks were back on the power play, this time a tripping penalty to Travis McDermott against Melker Karlsson. Toronto had a little short-handed time but spent it on a quick shot that Dell stopped. With the faceoff in the defensive zone, the Sharks had to make their way through the neutral zone. That gave them some trouble, once interrupted by an off-side call. Once they did get in the zone, they took their time moving the puck around the outside until finally Joe Pavelski saw an opening from the below the faceoff circle. He took a quick shot and beat Anderson to the short side. Assists went to Brent Burns and Logan Couture.

That was it for goals and penalties for the second period.

The Maple Leafs were back on the power play just 33 seconds into the third, when Justin Braun went for holding Zach Hyman. The Sharks killed that off, their first successful kill of the game. Evander Kane had a good breakaway chance near the midpoint of the period, but two Leafs caught up with him and hauled him down before he could shoot.

At 10:59, Auston Matthews scored again to give the Leafs their three-goal lead back. Aaron Dell had just fought off a deflection on a shot from the blue line. The puck went back to the blue line, where Jake Gardiner caught up to it and sent it back below the goal line for Kasperi Kapanen. Kapanen brought it out the other side of the net and passed it to Johnsson, who took a shot that hit Matthews on the way in, beating Dell over his left shoulder. Assists went to Johnsson and Kapanen.

The Sharks tightened up the score in the final two minutes with a goal from Melker Karlsson at the 18-minute mark. Evander Kane’s pass found Joonas Donskoi just as he crossed into the offensive zone with Melker Karlsson steps behind. Karlsson went to the net and Donskoi’s pass hit his stick just as he arrived. It was Karlsson’s second goal of the season, with assists to Donskoi and Kane.

The Sharks next play on Saturday in Ottawa against the Senators at 10:00 AM PT.

Sharks Fall to Islanders Again, 5-3

Photo credit: San Jose Sharks

by Mary Walsh

NEW YORK — In spite of Logan Couture’s hat trick on Saturday, the Sharks lost to the New York Islanders by two goals, for the second time this season. Islander goals came from Andrew Ladd, Josh Bailey, John Tavares and two from Anders Lee. Thomas Greiss made 28 saves for the win, while Aaron Dell made 18 saves for San Jose. The game was the second of back to backs for the Sharks, and the same skaters were in the lineup as the night before. The only only change from Friday’s game was in net, with Dell in for Martin Jones.

Sharks defenseman, Brent Burns, who had eight shots in the game, said of Couture’s recent success: “He’s a great player. He’s an elite player and that’s huge for us.” On how Couture and linemate Tomas Hertl have played together this season, he said:

They’re both great players. I think Hertl is very under-rated on his puck control and his battle level. Great at controlling the puck in the zone and making little plays. He’s just hard to play against, obviously huge that he’s got a great shot and great hands. Battles hard, and I think it’s good to see them getting chemistry.

An uneventful first period was followed by a four goal second period. The Sharks scored first, on a power play at 6:26. Brock Nelson was in the box for hooking Kevin Labanc. The goal came 35 seconds into the power play, starting with a faceoff win by Joe Thornton. Thornton won the faceoff and then passed the puck back to Brent Burns at the point. Burns hesitated briefly, then shot it for Logan Couture to redirect it in. Assists went to Burns and Thornton.

The Islanders responded with two goals, the first less than two minutes later. Nick Leddy got around Boedker to get to the puck behind the Sharks net. From there he sent the puck back to Anders Lee for a neat shot past Dell. Leddy and John Tavares got the assists.

The next Islanders goal came less than a minute later at 8:31. Josh Bailey took advantage of a takeaway and stick handled around Joe Pavelski to beat Dell one on one.

Logan Couture tied the game back up at 12:44. Jannik Hansen followed the puck over the line and had to reach for it. He managed to pass it to Couture as he was approaching the faceoff circle. From there, Couture could shoot without interference and he hit the mark. Assists went to Hansen and Brenden Dillon.

Early in the third period, the Islanders took the lead again with a goal from Andrew Ladd. Mathew Barzal carried the puck around behind the net, driven there by a lot of Sharks defenders. Possibly Barzal got too much attention because Ladd was able to skate into an open space in the slot and when he got the pass from down low he was ready for it. Dell was not quite ready for the shot. Assists went to Barzal and Josh Bailey.

Moments later, Joe Pavelski was hit in the wrist area and appeared to be in some distress. He stayed on the bench and did not leave the game.

The Sharks had some good chances during a power play in the third, in particular the unit of Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Tomas Hertl, Joonas Donskoi, Mikkel Boedker and Kevin Labanc. The Sharks had plenty of chances in the third. Half way through the period, the shots were 13-2.

The Islanders scored twice more in the third period. The first came on a two on one after Joakim Ryan got tangled up on the boards with 15, while trying to keep the puck from escaping up the boards. The two were John Tavares and Anders Lee, with Brent Burns back. Tavares’s pass went through Burns’s skates right on to Lee’s tape. Assists went to Tavares and Cal Clutterbuck.

Couture closed the gap with just under two minutes left in the game. He was at the net when Burns sent a shot from the blue line, and after a little scramble, redirected it into the net.

Incidentally, that third goal from Couture won $100,000 for Wanda Lockwood in the Safeway Score & Win contest.

The final goal of the game went into an empty net at 19:04, off of Tavares’s stick. Assists went to Lee and Calvin de Haan.

After the game, Burns was asked if Joe Thornton got a get out of jail free card after a bad turnover during the game. He responded:

Every goal happens, there’s always three or four breakdowns that happen before. I mean I don’t even know which one you’re talking about to be honest. Hockey’s pretty fast, this team especially comes hard so it’s usually not on the puck controller, usually it’s the support and guys talking to him. I honestly don’t know which one you’re talking about but, I assume, there’s a lot of other things that happen on every goal. We don’t really have get out of jail free cards or blame game.

The Sharks next play on Monday against the Rangers at 4:00 PM PT in New York.

Sharks Lose 6-3 To Islanders

By Mary Walsh

The San Jose Sharks recorded their first loss of the 2015-16 season Saturday. The New York Islanders won 6-3, with goals from six different Islanders. Sharks rookie Nikolay Goldobin scored his first NHL goal and Joel Ward scored his first as a Shark.

In addition to having played the night before, the Sharks suffered a handful of injuries before and during Saturday’s game. Both factors probably contributed to a somewhat disjointed game from San Jose. After the game, Joe Pavelski said:

That’s the way the game goes sometimes. Definitely, I think there were times where we played our game the way we wanted to play and we were pretty tight and we did well. And then we opened it up too at times and got a little careless. A few bounces maybe didn’t go our way as well. If you’re playing a team like that, you can’t give them any space because they are so offensive and it just takes a little bounce for them to break it open and start feeling good.

Just before the game, news broke that Sharks defenseman Paul Martin was out with a lower body injury. The injury occurred during Friday’s game but Martin did finish that one. Depending on the length of his recovery time, this could be even worse news than Logan Couture’s absence. Martin was playing like the guy the Sharks hoped he would be when they signed him. Good matches for Brent Burns have not been easy to find.

To start the game, DeBoer opted to put Brenden Dillon with Burns, and pair Dylan DeMelo with Matt Tennyson. Goaltender Al Stalock made his first start of the season under some inauspicious circumstances. With Joonas Donskoi also still out, DeBoer decided to start Nikolay Goldobin on the top line again, with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski.

Islanders goaltender Jaroslav Halak was back from injury, playing his first game of the season. This mean that the Sharks barely missed facing an old teammate in goaltender Thomas Greiss, who is now backup for Halak.

Tomas Hertl took the first penalty of the game 3:16 in. He was called for hooking. Half way through the penalty, the Islanders were called for too many men on the ice. Jon Tavares served the penalty. Both penalties expired without a goal.

The Sharks had a good shift or two around the middle of the period, with the top forward line and the Burns-Dillon pair hemming the Islanders in their own zone for a bit.

At 6:56, the Sharks won a faceoff and this allowed Thornton to make a cross-ice pass to Braun, who shot it from the point. The puck went in but Joe Pavelski weas at the net and close enough to Halak to make Islanders head coach Jack Capuano challenge the goal. The challenge was overruled and the goal stood up. The goal went to Pavelski, with assists to Braun and Thornton.

With 2:13 left in the period, Mikhail Grabovski was awarded a penalty shot after he blew by Brenden Dillon and forced Dillon to trip him up to prevent a scoring chance. Al Stalock stopped the penalty shot and the Sharks carried on with their 1-0 lead.

At the end of the period, the shots were even at 10 each.

That changed quickly, as did the score, in a wild second period. Just 21 seconds in, Johnny Boychuk scored with a slapshot after Tavares won the faceoff. Anders Lee helped by screening Stalock. The lone assist went to Tavares.

The Sharks got it back right quick. The Sharks took control of the play in their defensive zone, and the top line was able to carry to puck up ice. Justin Braun disrupted the Islanders defense while Thornton made a perfectly timed pass across to Goldobin on the left wing. Goldobin was right where he needed to be to score his first NHL goal. Assists went to Thornton and Braun.

The Sharks had little time to celebrate as Brent Burns was called for tripping less than aminute later and the Sharks were back on the penalty kill. The Islanders tied the score agan with a briefly contested goal during which Stalock lost his mask. It appears that the puck caught him near the ear and broke a strap. The goal went to Anders Lee, with assists to Ryan Strome and John Tavares.

The whistles kept coming, as Travis Hamonic was called for tripping Pavelksi. The Sharks did not score on that power play.

A shot from Barclay Goodrow hit Ben Smith in the ear, about six minutes into the period. Smith left the game at the next stoppage, leaving the Sharks down by one skater. Smith did not return for the third period.

It took the Sharks a few shifts and a few saves from Stalock but they regained the lead. A big save against Kyle Okposo led to a break out for Matt Nieto and Joel Ward. Nieto carried the puck in and held on to it while Ward made his way to the net. Nieto’s patience paid off as his pass caught Ward at just the right time for Ward to tap it in over Halak’s pad. The goal was Ward’s first as a Shark and assists went to Nieto and Stalock.

The lead lasted about four and a half minutes. Josh Bailey took advantage of a Burns turnover to move the puck out from behind the net. Kyle Okposo found it in the slot and wasted no time throwing it at the net, where Bailey and Frans Nielsen redirected it past Stalock. The goal was Bailey’s and the assists went to Nielsen and Okposo.

The shot count for the period was 12-7 Islanders.

At 3:02 of the third, there was a curious delay for a review of a goal that no one seemed to have seen happen. The review confirmed that it did not happen. It was not clear until later which team did not score it. It turned out to have been a non-goal for the Sharks. The situation room had lost sight of the puck and could not tell if it had gone in.

The Islanders took their first lead at 4:18 of the third, when Okposo broke away after a neutral zone turnover. Stalock made the first save. It looked like Dillon would corral the crafty forward in the corner, but Okposo escaped again and beat Stalock with a wrist shot. The assist went to Josh Bailey.

Near the half way mark of the period, DeBoer put Marleau out with the top line. That was the second game that he started Goldobin there and moved him down late. He also moved Nieto to the second line after Tomas Hertl was hit in the mouth with a puck.

At 11:10, the Islanders took a two goal lead with a hard shot from the slot from Brock Nelson. The shot went past Justin Braun as well as Al Stalock. The goal was unassisted.

The Sharks went to the penalty kill at 12:49 when Braun was called for shooting the puck out of play. They killed that off as the clock ticked down.

DeBoer opted to pull his goalie with over three minutes left and the Islanders made the Sharks pay for that. The net had not been empty for many seconds when Frans Nielsen put the puck in it. It was Nielsen’s 100th career goal. DeBoer put Stalock back in the net.

Final score 6-3 Islanders.

Okposo, Boychuck and Tavares shared the Islanders lead in shots with five apiece. Jaroslav Halak made 22 saves on 25 shots for the win.

Pavelski, Marleau, Tommy Wingels and Brent Burns each had three shots in the game, and no Shark had more. Al Stalock made 27 saves on 32 shots.

The Sharks next play on Monday against the New York Rangers at 4:00 PT.

Sharks skid continues against the Islanders

By Ivan Makarov
San Jose Sharks returned to California after a disappointing four game road trip where they won just once. They hoped to turn things around playing at home where they won the last five games. Instead, their skid continued, as they allowed a third period breakdown, the Islanders come back, and their opponent’s win in the shootout.
The Islanders were in the middle of the losing streak themselves, having lost the last 10 games. However, solid play from their netminder and a great third period helped them break through and finally win.
A key turning point happened early in the third period. Sharks were up 2-0, but it became a one goal game just 51 second after the play began. Tomas Vanek scored by finding the puck in the crease after Antti Niemi was unable to freeze the puck after the shot by John Tavares who was near the crease after a great individual effort and drawing all defense to him.
New York went on to tie the game with less than two minutes left in regulation with an extra skater on the ice after their goaltender was pulled. John Tavares won the face-off inside the Sharks zone against Joe Pavelski and Kyle Okposo put one into the net. Antti Niemi was screened on that play by the Islander players and didn’t appear to see the shot coming.
“He lost it clean,” said Sharks head coach Todd McLellan about Pavelski’s play. [Islanders] scored short side high. You’d like to get beat by a different shot. You’d like to be in the shooting lane. But it was a draw like that, and they got one freebie and they made it count.”
It was an even game in overtime, with NY having the slight advantage and the best scoring chance. With 1:16 remaining in overtime, Antti Niemi saved the game with a stretch glove save after a breakaway attempt by Brock Nelson. This was a great save in the very important moment of the game, taking it to the shootout.
Logan Couture scored on his shootout chance but Joe Pavelski and Dan Boyle didn’t. Kyle Okposo became a hero again, scoring on his attempt after Boyle missed, and winning the game for his team.
There were still positives in that game despite the outcome.
The power play looked dangerous and was credit with the first goal. Patrick Marleau scored his 14th goal of the season after a rebound he picked up inside the face-off circle.
Joe Pavelski found the net for the first time in seven games, scoring Sharks’ second goal. Sharks’ center played aggressively on the forecheck, helping the puck stay inside Islanders zone and forcing a turnover. As he picked up the puck, he passed it back towards the blue line where Dan Boyle was skating by himself. Boyle shot the puck on the net, Poulin made the save, but it bounced back to Pavelski who put it inside the open net. This was Pavelski’s 10th goal on the season.
Sharks also had a great start in the game, outshooting the Islanders 18-3 in the first period, and outshooting them overall 48-28.
But in the end, it was losing key battles at the start and the end of the third period that cost them the win.
“Whether or not we deserved [the outcome], we ended up with it,” said McLellan. “I thought we started the game very well. I thought we got a little lose in the second period and decided we wanted to trade chances, giving up some odd number rushes. We gave up a goal in the first minute and the last minute of the third. … Our top line right now is getting beat, along with the goaltender, and it has to improve.”
They will be back in action on Thursday at SAP Center against Minnesota Wild.
Games Notes
  • The Islanders played game four of their five-game road trip in San Jose. It was the first of two meetings between the clubs this season.
  • Evgeni Nabokov was back to SAP Center, although did not dress up for the game due to injury. He was given a loud ovation during the first period when video board played his highlights from the time he was a San Jose Shark.
  • Two Sharks players registered multi-point nights: Patrick Marleau (1-1=2) andDan Boyle (0-2=2).
  • Patrick Marleau is now in sole possession of 77th place on the all-time goal scoring list (418 career goals).
  • Patrick Marleau led all Sharks skaters with seven shots on goal.