San Jose Sharks podcast with Mary Lisa Walsh & Len Shapiro: Sharks’ Jumbo Joe at 40, but wants to stay in San Jose, willing to re-up

photo by nhl.com: San Jose Sharks Joe Thornton stated that he would like to stay with the Sharks for at least one to five more years.

On the SJ Sharks podcast with Mary Lisa:

#1 Joe Thornton plans to resign with the Sharks for the 2019-20 season he’s almost 40 had some injuries in past season can you see him entering September and keeping up with the younger players?

#2 Thornton’s plans are to stay with San Jose and he hopes to keep this up for at least five more years if he could he stay healthy.

#3 Thornton has had knee injuries he tore his ALC and MLC in his left knee in 2017 and last season tore his MCL in his right knee in 2018. Thornton in confident he’s back and there are no issues going into next season.

#4 The Philadelphia Flyers will absorb the $3.8 million that former San Jose Shark defenseman Justin Braun had remaining on his contract. Braun was dealt for draft picks Mary talks about how Braun will fit into the Flyers system.

#5 The biggest move was on Tuesday when the Sharks signed Erik Karlsson for a $92 million eight year deal. Karlsson after the post season was expected to go shopping for a team most likely the Ottawa Senators his former team. The Sharks were determined to keep him and got him to the table for a long term deal.

Mary Lisa is a beat writer for the San Jose Sharks and podcasts on the Sharks during the Sharks season at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Western Conference Final podcast with Len Shapiro: Despite loss, Sharks have advantage and home ice; series tied at 2-2

Photo credit: @SanJoseSharks

On the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Western Conference Final podcast with Len:

#1 As San Jose Sharks’ Justin Braun said after the game in St. Louis on Friday night, the start of the game buried the Sharks.

#2 The Blues got scoring help in the first period from Ivan Barbashev for his first postseason goal at 0:35 and the second one coming from Tyler Bozak for his fourth postseason goal at 17:53.

#3 After the game, Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer said the series is tied, the Sharks have home ice and DeBoer says he feels good about it.

#4 Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington stopped 29 out of 30 shots, shutting out the Sharks in the first and second periods.

#5 Game 5 comes back to San Jose on Sunday night at SAP Center. Despite the loss, the series with home ice for the Sharks looks to be in their favor.

Len Shapiro does the NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Western Conference podcasts each week at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs: Blues Tie Series with 2-1 Win Over Sharks

Photo credit: @SanJoseSharks

By Mary Walsh

The St. Louis Blues won 2-1 against the San Jose Sharks at the Scottrade Center Friday, tying the Western Conference Final series. Ivan Barbashev and Tyler Bozak scored for St. Louis, while Tomas Hertl got the Sharks’ lone goal. Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington made 29 saves for the win, while Sharks goaltender Martin Jones made 20 saves in a losing effort.

Asked whether there was an emotional let down after the Game 3 win, and whether that contributed to the slow start, Sharks captain Joe Pavelski said:

Not really, it really didn’t cross my mind. There’s a lot of emotion throughout the playoffs. You know, we’re in the Conference Finals, we’ve had overtime wins, we’ve had Game Sevens, we’ve had emotional games for sure. You just lace ’em back up for the next game and you get ready to go and you compete.

After the game, Sharks defenseman Justin Braun said: “Our second and third was really good. The start just wasn’t what we needed and kind of buried us for the night.”

Braun then gave more detail: “We started making plays and battling. I didn’t think we were very clean, we were losing a lot of battles in the first period and then we kind of changed our mindset and started going.”

Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer summarized his thoughts on the team’s situation with: “You’re in the Western Conference Final, 2-2, you know, against a really good team. I feel pretty good. We got home ice advantage. Yeah, I mean, you know, I feel good.”

The Blues started the scoring just 35 seconds in. The Blues’ fourth line trapped the Sharks in the defensive zone right off the draw and as Brent Burns tried to clear the puck from behind the net, Alexander Steen came around with a hit. Ivan Barbashev came down the boards and found the puck. He took a shot that went off of Gus Nyquist’s stick and into the net. It was Barbashev’s first of the playoffs.

They added another at 17:43, on the power play. It was the Sharks’ second penalty of the period. The Blues got one shot during their first power play. They had two in the second one. After winning the face-off, the Blues moved the puck around the zone a bit, until Vladimir Tarasenko took a shot from the point. Pat Maroon deflected it and Jones stopped it, but the rebound went right up the slot. Tyler Bozak got credit for the goal, though the puck appeared to go off of Justin Braun’s skate and under Jones. Assists went to Maroon and Tarasenko.

Along with the scoring lead, the Blues led slightly in shots (10-9) while trailing in face-offs (45%) at the end of the first period.

The Sharks had their first power play at 5:41 of the second period, a hooking penalty against Sammy Blais. The Sharks got two shots but no goal. The teams then played four on four after a scrum in the corner at 8:24. Marc-Edouard Vlasic went for slashing Jordan Binnington, and Brayden Schenn went for roughing Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Vlasic’s penalty looked like an attempt to dislodge the puck from under Binnington’s glove, as he poked the end of his stick into the gap at the front of the glove on the ice. Schenn took issue with that, as did the officials.

There was no scoring in the second, but the Sharks mustered a relentless attack in the final minutes of the period, racking up several shots and keeping the Blues trapped in their zone. The Sharks out-shot the Blues 11-8 in the period, but slipped in the face-off circle to 44%. By the end of the second, the Blues had out-hit the Sharks 24-14.

Tomas Hertl and the Sharks’ power play scored at 6:48 of the third period. Brent Burns took a shot from the blue line that trickled under Binnington. Joe Pavelski reached behind the goalie at the same time as Hertl did, and while Hertl was being tackled in the blue paint, the puck went over the line. Assists went to Burns and Erik Karlsson.

The Sharks were back on the power play at 9:52. As the first minute of that wound down, Tyler Bozak chipped the puck past Brent Burns and went for a short-handed attempt. Oskar Sundqvist jumped in to back him up. Bozak got a good shot off, and Sundqvist was there to get a rebound, but Jones did not give him one. The Sharks used their timeout after that. Even so, they did not get any shots during that power play.

At 12:33, the Sharks were called for too many men after the puck was passed to the bench where lines were changing. Joe Thornton swept the puck away before getting off the ice. Evander Kane got away for a short-handed shot, and the Blues had two shots on the power play.

With an offensive zone face-off and 2:02 left, the Sharks pulled Martin Jones for an extra skater. The Blues got a shot at the empty net right away, but missed. The Sharks kept the play in the offensive zone for more than a minute before the Blues found a way to get the puck out. The Sharks outshot the Blues 10-4 in the third, the biggest shot advantage in the game.

Erik Karlsson did not skate in most of the second half of the third period, but stayed on the bench. He was back on the ice for the final two minutes.

Game 5 will be on Sunday at 12 noon PT at the SAP Center in San Jose.

Sharks Beat the Canadiens 3-1 in Montreal

Photo credit: @SanJoseSharks

By Mary Walsh

The San Jose Sharks finished the road trip with a 3-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre on Sunday. It was the Sharks’ first road win since October 28. Sharks’ goals came from Justin Braun, Brent Burns and Joe Pavelski. Jeff Petry scored the Canadiens’ lone goal. Sharks goaltender Martin Jones made 39 saves for the win, while Canadiens goalie Carey Price made 26 saves in the loss.

After the game, Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer said:

We had a little bit of desperation to our game. We got the first goal, I think, which relieved some pressure. I thought we had a pretty good start in Ottawa and couldn’t find a goal early and got behind. We’ve been chasing the game a lot on this trip. So, you know, we were in front. And I thought the only thing I would have liked to have done better was extend it in the second. We had three or four chances to maybe extend that lead by one and make the third maybe a little bit easier on ourselves. But, a lot of good stuff.

Justin Braun opened the scoring at 2:55 of the first, giving the Sharks that early lead. He intercepted a pass to Michael Chaput near the Montreal blue line, took a couple of strides into the zone and let fly a long shot at the net. It beat Price for an unassisted goal, Braun’s first of the season.

The second goal came from Brent Burns, a power-play goal at 10:29. The Sharks were playing with a two-man advantage after Mike Reilly cross-checked Barclay Goodrow, and then Michael Chaput caught Logan Couture with a high stick just under a minute later. Erik Karlsson sent the puck to Joe Pavelski who was down by the goal line. Pavelski sent the puck quickly back to Burns in the slot. Burns took a moment to line his shot up and sent a missle into the top corner. It was Burns’ fourth goal of the season, with assists to Karlsson and Pavelski.

Over the course of the first period, the shot count was nearly even, with the Sharks leading 11-9.

Jeff Petry got one back for Montreal 12:15 into the second period. The Canadiens entered the zone three-on-two but the Sharks’ defense pushed them back to the outside. The Canadiens regrouped. On a broken play with a failed pass, Petry found the puck in front of the net and put it by Jones’ glove. Assists went to Jonathan Drouin and Andrew Shaw. Logan Couture got the puck below the goal line and sent it up the boards to Brent Burns, who found Joe Pavelski in the slot for a quick shot through on short side. It was Pavelski’s 17th of the season with assists to Burns and Couture.

During the second period, the shots were again very close, with the Sharks leading 11-10. During the third period, the Canadiens outshot the Sharks 22-7, but Martin Jones was up to the task.

After the game, Jones said: “I thought we played a way better game, despite the shots, it’s the two-on-ones and the odd man rushes that have been hurting us. So I thought we did a great job tonight.”

The Sharks next play on Wednesday in San Jose against the Carolina Hurricanes at 7:30 PM PT.

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

Photo credit: @SanJoseSharks

By Mary Walsh

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sharks Shut Down Dallas Stars, Win 5-2

photo from pressdemocrat.com: The San Jose Sharks Mikkel Boedker (89) goes for the victory skate in front of the Sharks bench after scoring a first period goal his first of two against the Dallas Stars Sunday night at SAP Center in San Jose

by Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE– The San Jose Sharks beat the Dallas Stars Sunday, taking a 5-0 lead before giving up two goals in the third period. The Sharks have now won eight of their last ten games. Mikkel Boedker scored twice for the Sharks, with additional goals from Joe Pavelski, Melker Karlsson and Justin Braun. Martin Jones made 26 saves for the win. Gemel Smith and Tyler Pitlick scored for Dallas and Kari Lehtonen made 22 saves on 23 shots after coming in to relieve Ben Bishop who made just one save on five shots in the first period.

The win might not erase the team’s horrific 6-0 road loss in Dallas last New Year’s Eve, but was a major improvement. Sharks defenseman Justin Braun was asked about the two games later. “We were actually moving in this game. Back in Dallas everyone left their legs somewhere else,” he explained. Sunday was different. “It was great. Everybody was coming above on the backcheck and shutting down their speed so, yeah, that was huge.”

Also significant was how long the Sharks held a 5-0 lead, from 5:00 of the second period to 5:35 of the third. Despite significant absences like Joe Thornton and now Tomas Hertl, the team is proving to be resourceful and tenacious. After the game, Sharks Head Coach Pete DeBoer said:

As a coach you hate those types of leads, especially with a lot of game left and we had that big lead for a long time. You know the other team’s going to push and they’ve got some quality. We just kept talking about if we allow them open it up a little bit they’re a team that can easily score four or five goals in a period. So I thought we stuck with it overall for a good length of time and did a good job with it.

The first period was a goaltender’s nightmare for Ben Bishop. By the time the Sharks had put five shots on net, they had four goals.

The first came just 29 seconds in, from Joe Pavelski. Taking advantage of a Jamie Benn turnover in the neutral zone, Marc-Edouard Vlasic caught the puck as it crossed the Sharks blue line. He returned the puck quickly to Pavelski, who sent it behind his back to Timo Meier. Meier carried it in but Dallas wrested control soonafter. As Tyler Seguin tried to clear it, he put it right on Pavelski’s stick. Pavelski’s spinning backhand found its way through traffic, went off the post and in. Assists went to Meier and Vlasic.

The second goal came from that same line at 5:59. Meier took a shot from the blue line that missed the net just enough to bounce off the boards behind it. Melker Karlsson was on the doorstep to poke it in when it bounced in front of the post. Assists went to Meier and Pavelski.

Jannik Hansen moved the puck into the Dallas zone but it didn’t go far before bouncing off of a Star. The ricochet first whizzed by Chris Tierney, then by Alexander Radulov and finally landed on Mikkel Boedker’s stick as he skated into the zone. His wrist shot from the circle went between Bishop’s pads and in. Assists went to Hansen and Justin Braun.

Boedker scored again at 17:23. Chris Tierney held on to the puck for a long time at the end of a Sharks power play, sending it once to Joakim Ryan on the blue line, only to get it right back from him. Finally, he saw Boedker ready in the slot and passed it perfectly for Boedker’s one-timer. The shot went into traffic and under Bishop’s blocker before the very tall tender could react. The goal came one second too late to end the Sharks power play goal drought. Assists went to Tierney and Vlasic.

Dallas opted to change goaltenders then, putting Kari Lehtonen in net.

The second period started much as the first had, but only produced one Sharks goal. Five minutes in, Joe Pavelski sent the puck up the boards as a Dallas defender closed on him. Braun picked that up and took the shot and it went in. Assists went to Pavelksi and Karlsson.

Jones’ shutout bid ended at 5:35 of the third. A miscue put Daniel O’Regan in front of Jones while Gemel Smith caught a pass from Brett Ritchie and took it to the net. Jones saw the shot too late. Assists went to Ritchie and Stephen Johns.

Dallas scored again at 8:57. A shot came in and Jones almost had the puck when it slipped away in front of him. Tyler Pitlick was right there to pick it up and put it in with his backhand.

Brent Burns left the ice briefly during the first first period Sharks power play, and returned very quickly. He left again during the third period less than four minutes in after two shifts. He did not return. As things stand now, Pete DeBoer expects Burns to be on the upcoming road trip.

The Sharks next play in St. Louis against the Blues on Tuesday at 5:00 pm PT.

Sharks Fall to Canucks 4-3 in Overtime; Gagner gamer puts Vancouver over the top

Canucks center Sam Gagner (89) scores the winning goal in overtime during the NHL game between the San Jose Sharks and the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, Canada. Dom Gagne/CSM (Cal Sport Media via AP Images)

by M. Walsh

The San Jose Sharks lost in 4-3 overtime to the Vancouver Canucks on Friday. Two Vancouver goals came from Markus Granlund, one from Brock Boeser, and the game winner from Sam Gagner. For the Sharks, Brent Burns scored twice and rookie Marcus Sorensen scored once. Jacob Markstrom made 34 saves on 37 shots for the Canucks, while Martin Jones made 36 saves on 40 shots for San Jose.

The Sharks were coming off a win the night before against Calgary, but they were facing a hungry opponent. Vancouver snapped a four game losing skid with the win, a skid capped off by a 7-1 loss to Nashville on Wednesday.

“This sets up all the things for them to have an A game and they did. They were outstanding early and Jonesy gave us a chance to hang around and we found a way to get an important point on a night we probably didn’t deserve one,” said Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer.

At 4:34 of overtime, Sam Gagner scored on a breakaway to win the game with a quick backhand over Martin Jones’ right shoulder. It was a tough loss after a valiant effort from the goalie to keep his team in the game. The Canucks outshot the Sharks 40-37, with 22 in the first period alone. DeBoer was asked if the three goals that Jones allowed were cause for concern. He said:

You can’t play any better than he played tonight. We didn’t give him a lot of help tonight. In defense of our guys, an emotional win last night in Calgary, the we fly in here on a back to back against a team that’s ready to go. So sometimes that’s what it looks like.

Logan Couture left the game early following a hit from Alexander Burmistrov in the third period. Burmistrov’s shoulder appeared to make contact with Couture’s face. The hit came about five minutes into the period. Couture has had an outstanding season this year, leading the team in scoring with 15 goals and 10 assists through 30 games. After finally getting most of the team healthy again, losing Couture for an extended period would be a big setback for a team that is just getting its game back. There was no update on Couture’s status after the game.

The first goal came on a Vancouver power play just 44 seconds into the game. The zig-zagging play started with Henrik Sedin on the blue line, went to a touch pass by Daniel Sedin and ended as little more than a tap-in for Granlund. Half way into the period, Brent Burns tied the game, again on a power play. His shot went through so many players that it seemed unlikely that it had not touched any of them, but it did not. Assists went to Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski.

The second Vancouver goal came just after a power play expired, while the Sharks penalty killers were trapped and perhaps out of gas in their own zone. A shot came from Daniel Sedin above the faceoff circle. Henrik caught it just above the blue paint and found Granlund. Gralund put the puck between Justin Braun and Marc-Edouard Vlasic and past Jones.

The Canucks scored again at 11:46 of the second period, again on the power play. The Sharks started the penalty kill well with a clear just three seconds in. After retrieving the puck, the Canucks came back fast, with Brock Boeser carrying the puck through the neutral zone and weaving past two Sharks defenders to give himself a short breakaway. That shot did not go in but 12 seconds later Boeser caught a pass in the faceoff circle and with a clear shot at the net he did not miss. Assists went to Daniel and Henrik Sedin.

With under two minutes left in the second, Braun, Jannik Hansen and Sorensen outnumbered the Canucks in a quick rush created when Sorensen intercepted a pass from Troy Stecher. Sorensen scored on a rebound from Braun’s shot after their odd man rush cused a little chaos by the Vancouver net. Assists went to Braun and Hansen.

The tying goal came almost right off of a faceoff in the Canucks zone. Joel Ward won the faceoff back to Burns, whose shot was at least partially screened by Melker Karlsson and Tomas Hertl fighting for position in front of the net. Like his first goal, it made its way through a lot of traffic but did not hit another Shark. The only assist went to Ward.

The overtime point puts the Sharks in third place in the Pacific Division standings with 38 points. The Calgary Flames and the Anaheim Ducks both have 35 points, which is good for fourth and fifth place in the Pacific. Both wild card spots are held by Central Division teams with 37 points.

The Sharks next play on Monday at 6:00 pm PT in Edmonton against the Oilers.

Sharks Shut Out Devils 3-0

Photo credit: San Jose Sharks

by M. Walsh

The San Jose Sharks started a five-game road trip on Friday, with a 3-0 win in New Jersey. Melker Karlsson scored the first goal of the game, with Joe Pavelski and Joonas Donskoi adding to the score. Martin Jones made 28 saves for the shutout, while Keith Kinkaid made 30 stops for the Devils.

Asked if starting the trip a day early helped prepare the team, Sharks Captain Joe Pavelksi said:

Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t. We won, so it helped. Coming off our home stand which wasn’t the best, I think it was good for us to get on the road an extra day and realize it’s a business trip for sure but we’ll have some fun, and it’s a great way to start it tonight.

The New Jersey Devils have had an excellent start to their season, winning six of seven games before the loss to the Sharks. Two of their young stars, forward Nico Hischier and defenseman Will Butcher get some credit for the early season success. In Friday’s game, Butcher led his team with five shots on goal. So far this season, Butcher has nine assists, while Hischier has two goals and five assists. After the game, Martin Jones described the Devils’ game as “They’re quick, they’re really good around the net. They make a lot of quick little plays in and around the net, so they’re definitely a dangerous team.”

The Sharks lineup looked the same as it had in their last game, one of just two wins this season. After the game, Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer said:

We need our depth, I thought our depth guys were good tonight. I thought all the guys on Tierney and Carpenter’s line were solid and we got good contributions from them. If not offense, then zone time and offensive zone play. So that was a good sign… It was the best that our depth forwards I think have played as a group, which is what we need.

The first goal came in the first period at 14:11. Tim Heed shot the puck in and the Sharks forwards swarmed the net. After Kinkaid made a couple of stops, Hertl made a quick pass from behind the net that found Karlsson right on the edge of the blue paint. From there he was able to put the puck into the far corner. Assists went to Hertl and Heed.

During that sequence, Logan Couture seemed to take the a shot off of his ankle and he left the game for the rest of the period. He did return to play the second period, but then missed some minutes at the start of the third.

The second goal came early in the second period. The Devils had the Sharks stuck in their own zone for a spell, but when the Sharks broke out they moved quickly. Defenseman Justin Braun sent the puck down low to Joe Thornton, who sent it right back as Pavelski got to the net. Braun took the shot from the blue line and Pavelski tipped it in. Assists went to Thornton and Braun. Of the goal, Pavelski said after the game:

I was a little surprised it went in, I was really tight to the goalie at the time. A lot of times they’ll be able to shut those down. Actually, one of my uncles passed yesterday and that was the one thing, you know, from family that they said, get a goal for that. And I don’t think that goal probably should have went in so I’m sure he had a little bit to do with it.

In the final two minutes of the second period, Joonas Donskoi showed off his skill and tenacity with the third goal. He carried the puck over the line, accompanied by his linemates Jannik Hansen and Ryan Carpenter. Donskoi took a shot from the faceoff circle which Kinkaid stopped and kicked back out. Donskoi caught the rebound on his backhand and threw it back in. An assist went to Justin Braun. Of Donskoi’s performance, DeBoer said:

He’s a very good player. Whether he plays with Thornton and Pavelksi or whether he plays with Tierney or Carpenter, he comes to work every game and he’s got to find a way to create offense for us. So I thought he was good tonight, played well. He’s just got to keep building on that.

The Sharks play again Saturday in Brooklyn against the New York Islanders at 4:00 PM PT.

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.

Sharks Thump Preds 5-1

By Mary Walsh

AP photo: San Jose Sharks Joe Pavelski and teammates enjoy the jubilation after Pavelski’s goal against the Nashville Predators in game five at SAP Center Saturday night

SAN JOSE–The San Jose Sharks roundly defeated the Nashville Predators by a score of 5-1 on Saturday. Most of the games in this series, including the triple overtime Game 4, have been much closer than that. On Saturday, it certainly seemed that the Sharks had no interest in any more overtime. They kept playing right up to the final horn.

Two goals came from Joe Pavelski, one from Melker Karlsson, one from Logan Couture and one from Patrick Marleau. Joonas Donskoi and Justin Braun each had two assists and Maetin Jones made 24 saves on 25 shots. The lone Nashville goal was scored by Mike Fisher, while Pekka Rinne made 23 saves on 27 shots.

Game 5 of the series is one the Sharks won and the Predators lost against their respective first round opponents. For them to repeat the pattern in the second round allows for tempting parallels. Nashville’s head coach Peter Laviolette was asked about how that first round experience can apply to this second round.

I think any time you’re in playoff hockey, experiences that you gain, good and bad, you learn from them. Just because we did something last round…. we gotta put the work in and make sure that we’re playing the game with the attitude that we need to be successful. So, yeah, we can take things from that but we’ve got to change our mindset here.

Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer made a few changes to his lineup before the fifth game of their series against the Nashville Predators. He replaced forward Tommy Wingels with Dainius Zubrus, and recomposed the fourth line to include Zubrus, Melker Karlsson and Nick Spaling. Patrick Marleau moved to the second line with Logan Couture and Joonas Donskoi, and Joel Ward played with Chris Tierney and Matt Nieto.

Of the changes to the second line, DeBoer said after the game: “I thought it was Patty’s best game of the series and that line was excellent all night. Some changes work, and tonight that change worked.”

DeBoer also explained the other changes to his lines, which hinged somewhat on the performance of Chris Tierney:

I think there was a couple of things. I think the play of Tierney, I think he has been playing well. I felt he could jump into that third line role. Spaling’s naturally a center, that allowed him to get back into position. But we’re not comfortable making that move unless Tierney’s playing well and he has been playing well.

The end result of all this was a 5-1 win, giving the Sharks a 3-2 series lead over the Nashville Predators. The Predators were in this same spot against the Anaheim Ducks in the first round. They came back to win games six and seven. After Saturday’s game, Predators head coach Peter Laviolette talked about what a team can learn from that sort of comeback:

The first few minutes of the game looked like a Predators penalty kill, the Sharks spent that much time in the offensive zone. After six inutesm the shots were 7-1 Sharks. By the ten minute mark, the Predators had closed the gap to 8-3 Sharks. The Sharks were shooting a lot in the first period.

That new line scored the first goal. Donskoi got control of the puck in the left corner, and danced around with it a bit, finally heading behind the net. The Predators didn’t quite buy it but they bit enough and started to follow him. He made a quick backhand reverse pass in the direction of Logan Couture, who was below the faceoff circle. Patrick Marleau was also closing on that spot and as the puck came between two defenders, Marleau put it in the net. It was Marleau’s third goal of the post season, and Donskoi’s third assist.

The Predators tied it at 15:40 after Colin Wilson’s pass from behind the net found James Neal on the inside edge of the faceoff circle. Neal had to reach for the puck so his pass was not very hard, but it got to Mike Fisher by the blue paint. Fisher had an open net with Jones high in the crease.

The Sharks took the lead back at 17:21 with a goal from Joe Pavelski. The Sharks circled the net with passes, from Thornton to Burns, to a wide shot collected by Hertl to the left of the net and passed back around the boards to Thornton. They repeated the same cycle a couple of times, with any strays cleaned up by Marc-Edouard Vlasic at the other point. After this routine had time to hypnotize everyone, Thornton changed it up and sent the pass to Pavelski, who was hanging out in the slot. His one timer went home for his seventh goal of the post season, with assists to Thornton and Vlasic.

At the end of the first, the shots were 13-11 Sharks.

35 seconds into the second period, Logan Couture took advantage of a Predators turnover in the neutral zone, and skated in all alone. He made a few quick moves with the puck and, when Rinne came out to meet him a little bt, he went for a back hand that went through the five hole. It was Couture’s fifth goal of the playoffs, with assist to Donskoi and Justin Braun.

The Sharks took the first penalty of the game when Brenden Dillon was called for interference.

Jones stopped a shot from the blue line in the first few seconds. Spaling cleared 30 seconds in, and the Sharks changed penalty killers. Around 1 minute in, the Sharks cleared it again. A few seconds after the next faceoff, the Sharks cleared it again, and a few seconds later, again. Then they knocked it down into the Nashville zone while still in the neutral zone. Almost as soon as the penalty ended, the Sharks were back on the attack in Nashville territory.

The Sharks got their first power play of the game when Roman Josi went to the box for interference on Logan Couture. The penalty came with just 46 seconds left in the period. The Sharks did not need that much time. Joe Pavelski scored just nine seconds into the penalty, off a pass that came from Patrick Marleau behind the net. It was Pavelski’s second of the game.

Ryan Johansen did not like any of that so he tried to bait Paul Martin. Martin did not respond, and eventually Johansen’a antics got him an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty with just 12.5 seconds left in the period.

The Sharks did not start the third on a power play, because with 2.1 seconds left in the second, Joel Ward received a 4 minute minor for high sticking. So the Predators started most of two minutes with the man advantage almost two minutes into the third. The Sharks killed it off, but near the end of it Logan couture blocked a shot that seemed to sting.

He was back out for his next shift.

The Predators finally caught the Sharks on the shot clock with 5:41 left in the game, when the teams were tied at 23. The Sharks did not let up either, and continued to launch serious attacks on the Nashville net.

With 3:59 left in the game, the teams played four on four for just under a minute before the Sharks had a four on three power play.

Ryan Johansen went off for unsportsmanlike conduct, for two minutes and a ten minute misconduct. Also gone for ten minutes was Mike Ribeiro. Joe Thornton went to the box for two minutes for slashing. 57 seconds into the four on four, Nashville’s Anthony Bitetto went to the box for tripping.

That left just over one minute for the teams to play at even strength. The Sharks scored again with 49.7 seconds remaining in the game. Carter Hutton, now in goal for Nashville, was a little late getting back to his net after playing the puck behind the net. Melker Karlsson took a quick shot as he to the crease. Assists went to Chris Tierney and Justin Braun.

Final score: 5-1 Sharks. Game Six will be in Nashville on Monday at 6:00 PT.