Sharks Ground Lightning with 5-2 Win

Photo credit: @SanJoseSharks

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE — With a 5-2 win, the San Jose Sharks handed the Tampa Bay Lightning their first regulation loss in 16 games at SAP Center Saturday night. Evander Kane scored his 199th and 200th NHL goals in the game, while Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski and Lukas Radil also added goals for the Sharks. Lightning goals came from Victor Hedman and Mikhail Sergachev. Martin Jones made 17 saves for the Sharks, while Andrei Vasilevskiy made 28 saves for the Lightning.

After the game, Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer said: “I thought it was a solid sixty minutes for us. I thought we got big contributions, I thought our big guys were really good, especially Karlsson and Burns and Brenden Dillon on defense. Jonesy made some saves when he had to. Special teams were good and I thought all four lines contributed. You know, when you’re playing the best team in the league, we knew we needed that kind of effort and we got it.”

San Jose had some lineup challenges to overcome before the game. With three of their regular defensemen (Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Justin Braun and Radim Simek) out with injuries, the blue line included regular seventh defensmen Tim Heed and Joakim Ryan. Playing in his first NHL game, Jacob Middleton filled out the blue line six. Ryan played with Brent Burns while Heed and Middleton made up a third pair.

After the game, DeBoer talked briefly about the blue line adjustments: “It’s hard to take three defensemen out of your line up and survive and it’s a credit to the young guys who came in. I thought Middleton came in, gave us some good minutes. I thought Joakim Ryan played a real good game and so did Heeder.”

The Sharks opened the scoring at 9:27 of the first. Erik Karlsson’s pass found Timo Meier on his way through the neutral zone. As he crossed the blue line, Meier got a pass to Logan Couture just above the faceoff circle. Couture took the shot as he passed the hash marks and beat Andrei Vasilevskiy. Meier and Karlsson got the assists.

Moments later, at 10:01, Joe Pavelski added one with an impressive turning (and falling) shot right in front of the blue paint. Brent Burns got the assist for finding Pavelski with the pass.

Victor Hedman got one back for the Sharks during an ill-tied line change from the Sharks. Steve Stamkos found him flying up the slot and the Sharks were not quite ready for Hedman to be in position so quickly. Assists went to Stamkos and Ondrej Palat.

The Lightning outshot the Sharks 8-4, but the Sharks won 63% of the faceoffs in the first.

Those faceoff wins helped Evander Kane and the Sharks power play retake a two goal lead early in the second period. Pavelski won an offensive zone faceoff, getting the puck to Erik Karlsson at the point. Karlsson sent it across the ice to Brent Burns, who bumped it back across to Kane. Kane was not far below the blue line and Joe Pavelski had moved to the net, where he screened Vasilevskiy’s view of the shot. Assists went to Burns and Karlsson.

Just seconds later, Mathieu Joseph got by Tim Heed on his way into the Sharks zone. He caught Mikhail Sergachev streaking to the net with a pass and trimmed the Sharks lead to one again. A second assist went to Ryan Callahan.

The second period saw two more penalties killed, one for each team. The Sharks out shot the Lightning in the second period 12-9 but their faceoff win percentage slipped to 56%.

The Sharks got an early power play in the third period, but could not score on it. About half way through that power play, Tomas Hertl sustained an injury during an inadvertent collision. He did not leave the game.

The Sharks did score at 5:18. Evander Kane carried the puck across the blue line, moving past Stralman. Joonas Donskoi kept stride with Kane, staying between him and Stralman as Kane skated below the hash marks and took the shot to give the Sharks a 4-2 lead. An assist went to Brenden Dillon.

Kane went to the box a couple of minutes later for high-sticking Nikita Kucherov, but the Sharks killed the penalty off.

Lukas Radil extended the Sharks lead to 5-2 at 12:20, after Timo Meier tipped a Brent Burns shot. The tip bounced behind Vasilevskiy and out of the blue paint, landing just in front of Radil by the post. Radil lifted it neatly into the net. Assists went to Meier and Burns.

By the end of the game, the faceoff win percentage was dead even between the teams.

The Sharks next play on Monday at 7:30 PM PT against the visiting Los Angeles Kings.

Sharks Fall to Kings 3-2 in OT; Kovalchuk Scores 2 Goals

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE — The San Jose Sharks lost 3-2 in overtime to the visiting Los Angeles Kings Saturday. Ilya Kovalchuk, just returned from a 10-game absence, scored twice for Los Angeles, including the overtime game-winner. Alex Iafallo also scored for the Kings, while goaltender Jonathan Quick made 29 saves in the win. For the Sharks, goals came from Lukas Radil and Joe Pavelski, and goaltender Martin Jones made 28 saves in the loss.

The Sharks’ special teams were both defeated by the Kings, though each team only had one power play in the game. The faceoffs were fairly even through the game at 51% to 49% for the Sharks. It is worth noting that the Kings blocked 29 shots to the Sharks’ 11.

The first goal for Los Angeles came on a power play at 4:28 of the first from Ilya Kovalchuk. Timo Meier was in the box for hooking Jake Muzzin when Brendan Leipsic carried the puck behind the Sharks net to send it back up to Alex Iafallo at the point. His pass found Jake Muzzin in the slot, but he didn’t have a clear shot. So he passed it to Kovalchuk at the bottom of the faceoff circle, and his shot beat Jones on the short side. It was Kovalchuk’s sixth of the season, with assists going to Muzzin and Iafallo.

The Kings led the Sharks in shots in the first period, 15-8.

At 8:09 of the second period, Oscar Fantenberg had a goal taken away for goaltender interference by Dustin Brown. Brown was in the blue paint, behind the Sharks’ Brenden Dillon. He could have argued that Dillon kept him in the paint, crowding Jones, but he got into that paint on his own.

The Sharks had a power play opportunity near the end of the second period, but did not score. The Los Angeles penalty kill did an excellent job of controlling the puck and play in general.

The Sharks did outshoot the Kings during the second period, 13-6, but still trailed 1-0 to Los Angeles.

The Kings started the third period mostly playing keep away from the Sharks, to good effect. For good measure, they scored a second goal at 5:15. Dustin Brown carried the puck below the goal line, then sent it to Iafallo for a perfect shot over Martin Jones. It was Iafallo’s eighth of the season, with assists to Brown and Nate Thompson.

The Sharks finally got one by Jonathan Quick at 10:18 of the third period. Lukas Radil, skating across the goal mouth, deflected Timo Meier’s shot from the boards. The puck went over Quick’s shoulder and off the crossbar for Radil’s third goal of the season. Assists went to Meier and Erik Karlsson.

San Jose left the tying goal until the final minute. With the Sharks net empty, Erik Karlsson passed the puck to Brent Burns, waiting just below the blue line. He sent the puck to the net, where Joe Pavelski was waiting to deflect it in. It was Pavelski’s 23rd goal of the season, with assists to Burns and Karlsson.

The overtime period lasted 2:29, at which point Kovalchuck put the puck behind Jones to end the game.

Erik Karlsson could possibly hear from the Department of Player Safety regarding a hit he made on Austin Wagner during the second period. Wagner did not return to the game after that hit.

That question will be answered before the Sharks next play, on Sunday at 5:00 PM PT, when they will host the Arizona Coyotes.