Sharks Lose 6-3 to Wild; Skid extends to 8 games

Minnesota Wild left wing Marcus Foligno (17) puts the puck past San Jose Sharks goaltender Martin Jones (31) in the first period at SAP Center in San Jose (AP News photo)

By Mary Walsh

The San Jose Sharks celebrated Patrick Marleau’s new record in NHL games played Saturday. It was the team’s first game at home since Marleau played his 1768th NHL game, surpassing Gordie Howe’s record, in Las Vegas last Monday. Family members were able to attend the game for the occasion. The Sharks all wore Marleau Jerseys for warm-ups. A pantheon of Sharks and NHL players and alumni spoke in a video presentation before the game. The only thing missing was an arena full of fans.

The Minnesota Wild won the game 6-3. Ryan Suter, Marcus Foligno, Jared Spurgeon, Kevin Fiala, Kirill Kaprizov and Nick Bonino all scored for the Wild. Kaapo Kahkonen made 27 saves for the win. Logan Couture, Evander Kane and Joachim Blichfeld scored for San Jose. It was Blichfeld’s first NHL goal. Josef Korenar made 15 saves during the second two periods, while Martin Jones made five in the first period. The win clinched a spot in the playoffs for the Wild. The loss was San Jose’s eighth in a row.

After the game, Sharks Head Coach Bob Boughner said: “The start was a disaster, right from the first shift, the first goal.” Boughner pointed out that there were several “new guys” in the lineup and this may have accounted for missed coverage and other errors during the game. He went on to say: “It’s no secret, you know, look at their lineup, look at our lineup, and, you know, we’re missing a little depth there. And you know, it got us early, let’s be honest, you know, second and third goal, that’s where it got us.”

The Sharks did have some unfamiliar faces on the bench Saturday. Greg Pateryn joined the defense in the absence of injured Radim Simek. It was his first game in teal since coming over from the Colorado Avalanche. He was on the ice for one goal against and one goal for the Sharks. Joachim Blichfeld was in the lineup for his sixth NHL game. He was also on the ice for one goal against and one goal for, which he scored. Neither player seemed to have an out-sized impact on the game. There were plenty of errors to go around.

As Boughner mentioned, the game did not start well for San Jose. Just 19 seconds in, Ryan Suter scored his second goal of the year, on the first shot of the game. Suter skated in with the puck and took a shot from the face-off circle. It whizzed by Martin Jones’s shoulder. An assist went to Jordan Greenway.

Moments later, Timo Meier collided with Kirill Kaprizov, Meier went to the bench but returned to play without missing much time.

Marcus Foligno added another 12 minutes into the first. Joel Eriksson-Ek carried the puck in in a two-on-one with Foligno. Eriksson-Ek made a pass at the last moment for Foligno the take the shot.

Jared Spurgeon made it 3-0 at 17:43 of the first. Spurgeon got by the Sharks defense and took a shot into the far corner. Ryan Hartman and Mats Zuccarello got the assists.

That first period saw the Wild out-shoot the Sharks 8-4. There was just one penalty called, a too many men on the ice call against San Jose. The Sharks penalty kill gave up no shots.

Josef Korenar was in the Sharks net to start the second period.

The score did not change again until the final minute of the middle frame. Marcus Johansson took a shot from the boards and created a rebound. Kevin Fiala was at the net to knock the bouncing puck in. Assists went to Johansson and Jared Spurgeon.

There were no penalties in the second period, and the Sharks led in shots 13-7.

Logan Couture got the Sharks on the board 1:19 into the third period. Couture passed the puck to Timo Meier as the skated to the net. Just as his pass got away, Couture was knocked down. As he slid, face-first, to the net, Meier’s rebound landed in front of him. He swept it into the net. Assists went to Meier and Rudolfs Balcers.

Kirill Kaprizov scored a power play goal to make it 5-1 at 4:28. Fiala swept the puck off the boards to the slot, where Kaprizov was ready for the shot. Assists went to Fiala and Nick Bonino.

Evander Kane scored for the Sharks at 4:47, when Nikolai Knyzhov took a shot from the blue line. Tomas Hertl knocked it out of the air and Kane cleaned it up for his 18th of the season.

Joachim Blichfeld scored his first NHL goal at 6:06. He took the shot from below the face-off dot. The puck went over Kahkonen’s glove and into the top corner.

Nick Bonino scored into an empty net at 19:38. An assist went to Ian Cole.

The Sharks took two penalties in the third period. The Wild’s power play got one shot on net during the period.

The Sharks next play on Monday against the Arizona Coyotes in San Jose at 7:30 PM PT.

Sharks Beat Wild 5-3; SJ playing .500 hockey now at 3-3

The San Jose Sharks Mario Ferraro (38) tries to get the stick on the puck against the Minnesota Wild’s Marcus Foligno (17) at Xcel Energy Center in St Paul on Sun Jan 24, 2021 (AP News photo)

By Mary Walsh

The San Jose Sharks won 5-3 against the Minnesota Wild in St. Paul Sunday. Goals came from Ryan Donato, Evander Kane, Noah Gregor, Brent Burns and Matt Nieto. Martin Jones made 26 saves in the win. Wild goals came from Nick Bjugstad, Zach Parise and Kevin Fiala. Kaapo Kahkonen made 31 saves in the loss.

The game-winner from Brent Burns was a spectacular feat in itself, but it also came at the perfect time. Sharks Head Coach Bob Boughner said, of the goal:

“At that point in the game we were just, you know, we were taking on a little water, we had some kills in the third period. At that point in time you’re trying to maintain at least the point and trying to win it in overtime. You know, if you get a break, great. But guys like that, elite players, they find ways to make huge differences in the game and that’s exactly what Burnzie did. We needed that.”

Boughner made some changes before Sunday’s game. Forward Timo Meier moved down to the third line from the second line, to play with Dylan Gambrell and Noah Gregor. John Leonard came back into the lineup to play in Meier’s spot with Tomas Hertl and Evander Kane. The defensive pairs were also adjusted, with Mario Ferraro playing with Erik Karlsson and Marc-Edouard Vlasic playing with Brent Burns.

After the game, Timo Meier was asked about the line change. He said: “Playing with Gregor and Gambrell, I think it’s, you know, two good hockey players so I think it was an opportunity. I mean, Gregor with his speed and obviously Gambi, I think we had a lot of fun out there.” Asked about how he thought the game went for them, Meier said: “Every time we stepped on the ice we tried to make a difference and use our strengths and, you know, it worked for us.”

Asked what he thought of Meier’s performance, Boughner said: “He was a beast out there. I thought that every time his line was out there he was taking pucks to the net, dragging people on his back, he was finishing on the forecheck, all those kinds of things. That line played well together.”

The Sharks started fast, with three shots in the first two minutes of play. Still, Minnesota scored first at 4:21.

As Karlsson tried to defend a two-on-one, Kirill Kaprizov made the pass across to Zach Parise, who put the puck past Martin Jones as he tried to come across.

The teams traded penalties in the middle of the period, with no change in score.

The Sharks tied it up in the final minute of the period. Erik Karlsson drove the puck deep, and Kevin Labanc gathered it up below the goal line. Labanc made a neat backhand pass to Ryan Donato, who jammed the puck through two Wild players in the direction of the net. The puck touched one of the defenders and slipped under Kaapo Kahkonen.

The Sharks out-shot the Wild 12-3 in the first period, and won 64% of the face-offs. Tomas Hertl drew a penalty with 15 seconds left in the period, so the Sharks started the second on the power play. The Sharks gave up a short-handed chance to Joel Eriksson-Ek in the first minute of the second but no other damage was done.

The Sharks had another power play opportunity at 5:17. Late in the penalty, Donato made a drop pass to Timo Meier, then drifted toward the net. Meier, on the wall, made a pass over to Kane for a one-timer inside the circle. By then, Donato was skating across in front of the net to add a screen.

A little over a minute later, the Wild put the puck in the net, but they did so while pushing Martin Jones across the line with the puck. Bob Boughner challenged the goal and, after a review, it was called back.

Noah Gregor padded the Sharks’ lead at 8:26, his first goal of the year. Gregor skated into the zone with his line spread across the ice. He looked like he would pass as he came down the wall but then took the shot. An assist went to Mario Ferraro.

Nick Bjugstad cut the Sharks’ lead back down to one at 16:47. The teams were playing four-on-four after Jordan Greenway and Nikolai Knyzhov went to the box for matching roughing penalties. Bjugstad posted himself in front of the net for a tip around Mario Ferraro and the Sharks goalie. Assists went to Jared Spurgeon and Ryan Suter.

The Wild led in shots during the second period, 15-12. In the face-off circle, the Sharks won 57% of the second period draws.

The Wild tied the game 7:20 in to the third period with a power play goal from Kevin Fiala. It only took them three seconds of power play time. Ryan Suter got the puck out of an offensive zone draw and sent it to Fiala for a shot right up the middle. Assists went to Suter and Parise.

The Sharks snatched the game back with just 1:48 left in regulation. It was worth waiting for. Timo Meier had the puck after and offensive zone draw when Brent Burns came down off of the blue line. Meier got the puck to him and Burns bobbed and weaved his way through four Wild skaters before putting the puck away with a backhand lift. Assists went to Meier and Tomas Hertl.

Matt Nieto scored his second of the season into an empty net after gathering the puck in the D zone and carrying it out to take a shot a few strides over the Wild blue line. A quick review for off side showed that it was very close, even under the new rules that say any skate, on or off the ice, can keep you on side. The goal stood up.

Each team scored once in four power plays in the game. The Sharks finished with a solid lead in the face-off circle at 57%, though the Wild improved with each period. The standout Sharks in the face-off circle was Dylan Gambrell, winning 12 of his 16 draws (75%). Logan Couture won 11 of 18 (61%). Tomas Hertl was not very successful, winning just 9 of 22 (41%).

The Sharks next play on Tuesday against the Avalanche in Colorado at 6:00 PM PT.

Sharks Lose 4-1 to Wild; Sharks Dubnyk allows two goals against former team

The Minnesota Wild’s Zach Parise puts the puck on net as San Jose Sharks goaltender Devan Dubnyk can only watch it go in in the second period during Fri Jan 22, 2021’s contest at the Xcel Energy Center in Minneapolis (Minneapolis Star Tribune photo)

By Mary Walsh

The San Jose Sharks lost 4-1 to the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Minnesota goals came from Joel Eriksson-Ek, Zach Parise, Kevin Fiala and Jordan Greenway. Cam Talbot made 11 saves on 12 shots in the first period. Kaapo Kahkonen made 17 saves after coming in for an injured Talbot. Matt Nieto scored the Sharks’ one goal and Devan Dubnyk made 25 saves on 27 shots faced for San Jose.

After the game, Sharks Head Coach Bob Boughner said that he was generally pleased with the first 40 minutes, but the team needs more from the power play and the top six:

“We didn’t generate a lot of emotion from our power play, especially when we had chances. Didn’t capitalize on our chances. [LeBanc] Banker missed one here on the back door and it was basically a 2-1 game in my mind but … you know what, we need more from the big guys. We got another goal from Matt Nieto, on that fourth line here, and, you know, we need our best players to be our best players.”

Sharks forward Timo Meier explained what the team needs to do to create more offense: “It starts obviously in the D zone, breaking out better. Come with more speed through the neutral zone and I think a big thing is holding onto pucks in the offensive zone and wear down the D. I think that’s where we gotta do a better job.”

As for what is missing from their power play now, Meier said:

“I think we gotta just keep it more simple, get some pucks through. Net presence is important. I think for some amount of time we’re moving the puck well but we’re not really dangerous in front of the net. So I think we’ve just gotta fight to get, you know, an ugly one and that’ll give us some confidence back.”

Joel Eriksson-Ek scored first for the Wild just 5:01 into the first period. Jordan Greenway took a shot from the boards that Eriksson-Ek deflected in, from right on the edge of the blue paint. Assists went to Jordan Greenway and Ryan Hartman.

Matt Nieto tied the game just 1:11 later. Patrick Marleau got control of the puck ow in the zone and passed it to Erik Karlsson who was coming down from the blue line. Instead of takig a shot, Karlsson deviously tapped it over to Nieto i the slot. Nieto took the shot with two players in Talbot’s eyes. Assists went to Erik Karlsson and Patrick Marleau.

Each team had two power plays in the period, and each gave up short-handed chances in their first power plays. Evander Kane had a second short handed chance in the second Minnesota power play. The Sharks’ second power play looked very good, with the team holding the zone for over a minute before play stopped. Ferraro and Donato both made some nice plays.

When play stopped, Minnesota’s Talbot appeared to be injured but remained in the game. He did not, however, come back in the second period.

Minnesota took a lead in the second period, at 13:17. Zach Parise had just been stopped by Dubnyk but, seconds later, Parise was back in front of the net creating a screen for a shot from Nick Bjugstad. Dubnyk stopped that one but Parise found the loose puck and put it past the Sharks goaltender.

There were no penalties in the second period until 17:39, and then a few penalties were assigned after a near-fight between Jordan Greenway and Marie Ferraro. Ferraro got two for roughing, while Greenway got a double minor for roughing.

A power play for Minnesota early in the third did not change the score. The game remained 2-1 until the final two minutes. The Sharks made a final push by pulling their goaltender with just under two minutes left. That did not work out as Erik Karlsson could not hold the ouck off of a faceoff. Kevin Fiala snatched the loose puck at the Minnesota blue line and carried it down for the empty net goal, giving the Wild a 3-1 lead.

The Sharks persisted with the empty net only to have the Wild gain control again. Jordan Greenway took a shot from his own zone and made it 4-1. Assists went to Joel Eriksson-Ek and Marcus Foligno.

Despite the loss, there was one one bright stat in the Sharks’ game: they did better in the face-off circle, winning 58% of them. Tomas Hertl won all six of his draws, Logan Couture won a respectable 50% of his six draws, and Ryan Donato won two of his three.

The Sharks next play on Sunday, again in Minnesota at 5:00 PM PT.