Sharks Fend Off Flames, Win 4th in a Row

AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Larry MacDougal

By Mary Walsh

The Sharks started a two game road trip with a 3-2 win against the Calgary Flames. Going into Saturday’s game, the Flames had won four in a row, Sharks had won three. The Flames were 11-1-2 when scoring first, as they did Saturday. To up the ante, the Flames had a third period scoring differential of 24, while the Sharks had a lamentable minus 4. If the Sharks thrive on a challenge, entering the third period tied with the Flames was a fine one.

It was not a pristine performance from the Sharks, but head coach Todd McLellan summed it up well after the game:

We… found a way to beat a hot goaltender, found a way to get ourselves back into the game. Our first period was not anywhere near what we needed it to be, but we chatted a little bit between periods and we responded well.

Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi stopped 33 shots for the win. Patrick Marleau scored the game winner, while Tommy Wingels, Logan Couture and Justin Braun all had two point games.

The Flames dominated play for the first five minutes, peppering Niemi with shots while the Sharks had trouble getting through the neutral zone. The Sharks started to show some cohesion around the ten minute mark, with some sustained zone time and a few shots. Overall, the Flames dominated play in the first, keeping the Sharks’ recorded shot count to just three in the first fifteen minutes of the period.

Kennedy left the game during the first period with an undisclosed injury and did not return for the second.

The Flames scored the first goal in the last three minutes of the period. David Jones passed the puck to Mark Giordano who was just coming across the blue line with some speed. His slapshot came so fast that Niemi never saw it coming. It was Giordano’s seventh goal of the season. Assists went to David Jones and Curtis Glencross.

In the final minute, Logan Couture took a shot that went off the post, and the Sharks picked up their game in the final few shifts of the period. By the end of the period, the Flames led the Sharks in shots 12-8, and the score stood at 1-0 Flames.

The Sharks started the second period by losing the faceoff, but they chased the puck down and pushed the Flames into the offensive zone. Justin Braun came up with the puck off some good forechecking from Tommy Wingels. With a backhand shot that looked like an afterthought, Braun beat Karri Ramo to tie the game. The assist went to Wingels.

That backhand worked so well that Logan Couture decided to try one after some nifty stick handling around a Flames defender. He got control of the puck after John Scott wrested it from the Flames’ Raphael Diaz. Couture’s shot went off the far post and in, abruptly giving the Sharks the lead. Assists went to to John Scott and Justin Braun.

The Sharks took the first penalty of the game midway through the second period, an interference penalty to Brent Burns. Not only was the Calgary power play seventh in the league, but it was also on a four game scoring streak. The Sharks killed that off without allowing a shot to get through to the net.

The next penalty went to the Flames, with just under five minutes left in the period. The Sharks held the zone well but only got one shot to the net during the power play.

Back at even strength, the Flames tied the game after the Sharks lost track of Johnny Gaudreau, who set himself up in front of the net. Jiri Hudler passed the puck to him and he had plenty of time to push it past Niemi. Assists went to Hudler and Matt Stajan.

At the end of the second, the Flames led in shots 21-16. For the period, the shots were 9-8 Flames.

The Sharks’ Brendan Dillon was called for interference just 3:26 into the third period, putting the Sharkson the penalty kill. Johnny Gaudreau had a quick chance that had Niemi scrambling to stop it but the Sharks penalty killers did come to the rescue. Another close call came with 35 seconds left in the penalty, with the puck bouncing like a lotto ball, but the Sharks killed the penalty off. The Flames managed three shots on that power play.

Midway through the period, the Marleau-Couture-Wingels line had a spectacularly relentless shift, moving the puck through and around the Flames zone. Scott Hannan and Matt Irwin held the blue line, while pass after pass kept the Flames chasing the puck around. Finally, a few quick moves behind the goal line between Wingels and Couture ended with a shot from Patrick Marleau to give the Sharks the lead again. Assists went to Couture and Wingels.

The Flames responded ferociously, hemming the Sharks into their zone for a very long shift. An icing gave the Sharks a chance to regroup, and the Sharks escaped for line changes after Goodrow blocked a shot out of the zone.

Driving the net at 14:55, Tomas Hertl drew a holding penalty against TJ Brodie. 31 seconds into the power play, Matt Stajan was called for hooking, giving the Sharks a two man advantage for nearly 90 seconds. The first minute of that 5 on 3 produced just two shots but looking promising. Ramo stopped the shots, holding the second.

The Flames won the next faceoff and the Sharks’ power play fell apart after that, with the Flames clearing the puck twice and getting a short-handed breakaway. Niemi stopped the shot but the Flames came alive, running roughshod through the Sharks zone. The Flames drew a penalty and played with an empty net for more than 30 seconds before their power play even started.

With Braun in the box for tripping, the Flames pulled Ramo for a sixth skater. Burns, Couture, Vlasic, Thornton, Pavelski and Hannan all pitched in for the closing penalty kill. The Sharks only got the puck out twice, but it was enough to hold on for the win.

The final shot count was 35-30 for the Flames.

Joe Pavelski led the team in shots with six, Marc-Edouard Vlasic led the team in shots blocked with four. Vlasic also led the Sharks’ skaters in ice time with 24:32.

Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan led the Flames in shots with five each. Curtis Glencross and Ladislav Smid each blocked three shots. Karri Ramo stopped 27 of 30 shots for Calgary. Dennis Wideman led all skaters in ice time with 28:44.

Matt Nieto was out with an injury, while Tye McGinn and Mirco Mueller sat as healthy scratches.

The Sharks next play on Sunday at 6:00 PST in Edmonton against the Oilers.

Sharks Clinch Playoff Berth, Get Burned in Shootout

By Mary Walsh

The San Jose Sharks clinched a playoff spot for the tenth season in a row with a shootout loss to the rebuilding Calgary Flames. Goals from James Sheppard for the Sharks and Joe Colborne for the Flames sent the game to overtime. Mike Cammalleri scored the only goal in the shootout to give the Flames the extra point.

In addition to losing the game, the Sharks lost Logan Couture after an injury he sustained in the first period blocking shots. Per Todd McLellan after the game, Couture would be fine, though he could not say if he will play Tuesday. On the positive side, Brad Stuart looked very good in his return to the lineup.

The Sharks’ power play has been a sore point for some time now, but their penalty kill has been very effective. In Calgary, it seemed to lift the team more than once and launch them on the attack after each successful kill.

Sharks coach Todd McLellan left his starting lineup much as it had been in the last five games, except for the return of Brad Stuart from injury. He replaced Scott Hannan on the blue line next to Justin Braun. The oft-changing fourth line was made up of Andrew Desjardins, Tyler Kennedy and Adam Burish. Additionally, Alex Stalock was back in net for the first time in five games.

1:57 into the first period, Joe Thornton was called for hooking, putting the Sharks on the penalty kill. The kill was successful but the Flames had several chances and gave Stalock a good opportunity to get in the game.

At 9:56, the Sharks earned a power play when Joe Colborne went to the box for hooking. The Sharks made a ferocious start of it but Calgary goaltender Karri Ramo was very sharp and the Flames did a good job of keeping the Sharks out of his way.

The Sharks went back on the penalty kill when Dan Boyle took a hooking penalty to stop a scoring chance by Mike Cammalleri. Logan Couture and Tommy Wingels punctuated the penalty kill by blocking some stinging shots.

The Sharks killed the penalty and a post-kill line of Matt Nieto and James Sheppard broke the other way. Nieto found an open lane for a shot, which found Sheppard in front of the net. He corralled the bouncing puck and put it past Ramo. Assists went to Nieto and Dan Boyle.

Couture went to the dressing room before the period ended, and Desjardins took his spot between Nieto and Patrick Marleau.

The first period ended with the Sharks ahead by one goal, and dominating on the shot clock, 18-8.

Couture did not return to start the second period, was back on the bench by the midpoint but only took one shift before leaving again.

To begin the second, it was Tyler Kennedy on the second line, then Wingels, and so forth. A very good shift from Martin Havlat with Adam Burish and James Sheppard preceded another good shift from Desjardins, Wingels and Marleau. The forward lines had turned into a merry-go-round but the team adapted with alacrity.

The Sharks did not occupy the Flames’ zone in the second period as they had in the first. The Flames were outshooting the Sharks 9-3 when Calgary defenseman Ladislav Smid hit Tyler Kennedy. That Sharks’ power play was possibly their worst performance in a long time, with numerous passes to the point missing the mark and clearing the zone for the Flames.

The Flames did not let up after killing the penalty, and kept the Sharks on their heels until finally Joe Colborne scored to tie the game at 18:00.

The second period ended with the game tied on the scoreboard and almost on the shot clock, with the Sharks leading only 22-20. During the second period, the Flames lead in shots 12-4.

The Sharks started the third period with a quick penalty as Thornton went to the box for hooking just ten seconds in. The Flames power play was more effective than the Sharks’ last had been, but the Sharks’ penalty killers limited the Flames’ power play to just one shot.

The Sharks seemed to have regained their composure when Pavelski, Havlat and Wingels went on a tear in the offensive zone at the midpoint of the period. Repeated chances were thwarted by Ramo and the post, but still the game was tied.

It stayed tied and the Sharks clinched their tenth consecutive playoff spot by making it to overtime. The teams skated right through the extra period without scoring again.

Mike Cammalleri was the third Flames shooter, and the first to beat Alex Stalock in a shootout. That goal held up for the win as Karri Ramo stopped Marleau, Pavelski and Sheppard. In all, he made 33 saves in regulation and overtime. Alex Stalock stopped Joe Colborne and Jiri Hudler in the shootout and made 26 saves in the game.

The three stars were Karri Ramo, James Sheppard and Tyler Wotherspoon. The Sharks shot leader was Dan Boyle with five and Jason Demers lead in ice time with 25:34. The Flames shot leader was Curtis Glencross with six, TJ Brodie lead in ice time with 25:28. No player in the game got credit for more than two hits.

The Sharks next play the Oilers in Edmonton on Tuesday at 6:30 pm PT.


Sharks Underwhelm in 3-2 Win Over Calgary

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE- The San Jose Sharks defeated the Calgary Flames Monday night. With a final score of 3-2, the game was distinctive for seeing three goals scored in a minute and 14 seconds. There was only one penalty called in the game, and the third period was scoreless. It was a muffled ending to a game that started with a bang.

Sharks head coach Todd McLellan was similarly underwhelmed by his team’s performance:

Well, the win is important. Obviously when we start the night, that’s what our goal is. When you look back and evaluate the game, that’s where it gets a little bit disappointing.

We weren’t very good obviously. I didn’t think we skated well, we didn’t move our feet, and then we tried to pass standing still and those [passes] were errant. Had no rhythm or tempo in the game and really didn’t establish a forecheck game other than the first four or five minutes of the game…

We’ve got to regroup here. If we continue to play like that we won’t be winning.

That is a fairly gloomy assessment of a win. On the bright side, there was Justin Braun:

Another Justin Braun game. That’s probably the best way to put it. One of the few guys that had legs and used them properly, made the right play at the right time, blocked some shots when it was important. So he’s Mr Consistent right now for us.

How Braun escaped the sweeping bad marks on Monday night is a little mysterious, in view of the first goal of the game. It isn’t as if that goal was Justin Braun’s fault, but he was there too.

Sharks captain Joe Thornton described a game from which no one really escaped with an unblemished performance:

I think it was just a tough night for everybody. It was one of those weird nights, we were thankful to get two points out of it.

The first goal of the game was scored by Calgary, on their second shot of the game. Three Flames entered the zone, with only two Sharks to defend. Bracken Kearns got back quickly but not quickly enough to stop Jiri Hudler as he slipped away from Braun and Brad Stuart in the corner. He faked a shot at the side of the net that fooled Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi, then skated around him. By then, all he had to do was sweep the puck in, and he did. Assists went to TJ Brodie and Mark Giordano.

It looked like the period would be a slow one after that. Instead, after the half way mark, the teams scored three goals in 1:12.

It took the Sharks several minutes to repair that damage, but finally, with a beam of a shot from the blue line that bounced up and over Karri Ramo, Joe Pavelski tied the game. Assits to Justin Braun and Brent Burns.

While the SAP announcer was saying “Sharks goal…” Tommy Wingels collected the puck along the wall and threw it on net. It hit Ramo’s pad, and bounced over into the net. Assists to Patrick Marleau and Brad Stuart.

The Flames answered right back after that one. A play through the neutral zone had the Sharks a little off track, and Brian McGrattan carried the puck in and shot it off Niemi’s pads. The rebound was there for Kevin Westgarth to pick up. Matt Irwin was close but couldn’t stop the shot. It may have even gone off of his stick, sneaking just around Niemi.

And that was it for the first period. No penalties, no additional goals. There weren’t even a lot of shots in the last three minutes. There may have been three total, one for the Sharks and two for Calgary, for a period total of 10-8 Sharks.

Tyler Kennedy had five of those shots for the Sharks.

With six minutes gone in the second period, the Flames had only one shot for the period and the Sharks only had three.

At 11:51, Matt Nieto took a puck to the face and went down briefly. Play stopped and he went to the room.

Eriah Hayes came up from the fourth line to take Nieto’s spot with Marleau and Wingels. That line drew the only penalty of the game, against Matt Stajan for interference on Hayes. That was at 14:28 of the second period.

26 seconds into that power play, Joe Thornton took a shot from above the faceoff circle and Joe Pavelski tipped it in. The “USA” chants took a minute or so to get going but go they did, for Pavelski’s second goal of the game.

James Sheppard made a noteworthy save a couple of minutes later. First he stopped a shot with this stick, then dove to clear it out of the reach of the shooter until it could be sent out of the zone.

The Flames ended the period with an extended stay in the Sharks’ zone. They didn’t take a lot of shots, they may not have taken any, but they played a solid game of keep away. It looked like a Calgary power play, without the actual man advantage. Why they passed up a few chances to take a shot, when they were down by a goal anyway, was not clear.

The shot count for the period was 11-4 San Jose.

Nieto returned for the third period. The Calgary Flames’ offense also returned. After four and a half minutes, the Sharks only had one shot on goal and the Flames had taken six.

The Flames pulled their goalie in the final minutes but couldn’t score.

Final score 3-2 Sharks. Final shot count 27-23 Sharks. The Sharks scored on their only power play of the game, and did not have to kill a penalty.

The Sharks shot leader was Tyler Kennedy with six shots. Eriah Hayes had four. Three Flames had three shots apiece: Dennis Wideman, Sean Monahan and Jiri Hudler.

Antti Niemi made 21 saves on 23 shots for the win. Karri Ramo made 24 saves on 27 shots for the Flames.

The Sharks next play on Thursday at 7:30 pm. They will host the Winnipeg Jets at SAP Center.

Sharks extinguish the Flames 6-3


by Kahlil Najar

SAN JOSE – Joe Pavlelski scored a pair of power play goals and Patrick Marleau, Brent Burns and Scott Hannan each notched a goal a piece as the San Jose Shark (7-0-1) stayed unbeaten at home and beat the Calgary Flames (3-2-2) 6-3. Newly crowned Assistant Captain Logan Couture also contributed with a goal and an assist.

“There’s a lot of leaders in the locker room but those two (Couture and Pavelski) right now deserve the opportunity,” said Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan. “It can go to Stuart, it can go to Hannan, it can go to Vlasic, I could go on an on. As we go into Detroit, we may pick someone else.”

“It’s pretty cool,” Couture said. “I know there are a lot of guys in this room who are leaders, veterans, and it could have gone to a lot of guys, so for the coaching staff to put it on my jersey was pretty cool.”

Brent Burns got the Sharks on the board with less than a minute into the first period when he beat Calgary goalie Karri Rämö from right in front of the goal on a nice pass from the corner boards from Pavelski. That goal marked the fourth time in eight games that the Sharks have scored a goal in the first minute. Scott Hannan made it 2-0 with only 53 seconds left in the first period when he took a shot from the blue line that deflected off of former Shark TJ Gallardi and into the back of net to make it a 2-0 lead at the end of one.

The second opened up for the Flames when after a Tommy Wingels penalty for hooking, Sean Monahan scored his fifth goal of the year and make it a 2-1 game. Pavelski and Marleau contributed with the next two Sharks goals, both on power plays to bring the score 4-1 at the end of the second period. Pavelski got great positioning on Brodie of the Flames and was able to take the pass from Marleau and sneak it by Rämö. On Marleau’s goal, Pavelski was able to find Marleau camping out in the front of the goal with no one on him and make it impossible for Rämö to stop him.

The Flames made it interesting in the third when they scored a pair of goals within the first five minutes of the period but Pavelski got his second goal of the night and Couture netted an empty netter to seal the victory for the Sharks 6-3.

Both teams combined for 15 penalties and the Flames ended up going 1-for-6 while the Sharks went 3-for-9. “It was huge tonight getting three on the power play ,” said Thornton. “That was huge. Especially in the third when they got those two quick goals on us, to come back and respond and get that fifth goal was huge.”

The Sharks head out East to take on Detroit this Monday at 4:30pm PST.