Sharks Win 5th in a Row, Beat Ducks 5-3

Photo credit: @SanJoseSharks

By Mary Walsh

The San Jose Sharks won their fifth in a row Saturday, defeating the Anaheim Ducks 5-3 at the Honda Center. Sharks goals came from the usual suspects: Tomas Hertl (2), Evander Kane, Brent Burns and Logan Couture. Martin Jones made 29 saves for the win. Rickard Rakell, Jakob Silfverberg and Max Jones scored for Anaheim, while John Gibson made 30 saves. Tomas Hertl has now scored in five games in a row. Regrettably, he left the game late in the third after a collision.

After the game, Sharks captain Logan Couture talked about Hertl’s contribution to the team: “He’s playing tremendous. You hate to say you get used to it, because he’s playing at such an elite level but the way that he’s been playing these last two years, three years, however long it’s been, he’s been at that level and he’s getting better, so he’s a big piece of this team for sure.”

Asked about the injury, Couture said: “Anything to the knee doesn’t look good but from what I’ve heard, he’s okay.”

Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer said: “I thought in the third we found another level. You know, our entire team, we talked between the second and the third, that we had an opportunity to win this game if we could get some more guys going.”

To that end, they made some line changes after the second period: “I think we needed some type of spark. I thought Hertl’s line was productive, I thought especially in the second period, I thought some of other lines were kind of vanilla. So we moved some things around, we regrouped between the second and third and I thought we came out with a good push.”

Anaheim struck first, just 1:09 into the first period. Rickard Rakell scored his sixth of the season with his team’s first shot of the game. A failed clear by Radim Simek took a bounce and ended up on Rakell’s stick as he was crossing the blue line. He skated in and took a quick shot from the top of the circle, beating Jones on the far side. An assist went to Jakob Silfverberg.

Tomas Hertl tied the game at 6:44 in a 2-on-1 with Barclay Goodrow. The play started when Marc-Edouard Vlasic broke up a 2-on-1, at the same time getting the puck to Timo Meier, who found Hertl breaking into the neutral zone. The puck wound up crossing the line between Gibson’s skate and Hertl’s stick blade, and the official did not see it. It was not until the next stoppage of play that an official review caught it. Assists went to Goodrow and Timo Meier.

A few moments later, Sharks defenseman Dalton Prout and Nicolas Deslauriers fought after a hit on Brenden Dillon. It was Prout’s first game back after being injured in the Sharks’ first game of the season in Las Vegas.

Tied at the end of the first, the teams were also very close in shots on goal (11-10 Sharks) and face-off wins (9-8 Ducks).

The Sharks got into penalty trouble early in the second period. Kevin Labanc was called for hooking at 4:18, followed by Melker Karlsson being called for a face-off violation as that first penalty ended. The Sharks managed decent short-handed attempts in each of those penalties and got lucky on a couple of plays before killing off almost four minutes short-handed.

The Sharks were back on the penalty kill at 12:30 after a tripping call to Brent Burns. 30 seconds in, Jakob Silfverberg pushed a puck under Martin Jones after a great cross-ice pass by Ryan Getzlaf forced the Sharks penalty kill to switch sides in a hurry. Assists went to Adam Henrique and Rickard Rakell.

The Sharks got a their second power play of the night at 13:56 when Max Jones was called for hooking Barclay Goodrow. They had a couple of good chances at the end of the power play, but could not push the puck through the melee in front of the net. No shots were recorded for the power play.

Tomas Hertl tied it again with a hard wrist shot from the faceoff dot at 18:28. Timo Meier had collected the puck from the below the goal line and found Hertl with a quick pass after a long shift on offense. The second assist went to Brent Burns. It was Hertl’s 10th goal of the season.

At the end of the second, the teams were still close in shots (11-10 Ducks) but now Anaheim had a heftier 9-6 lead in face-off wins.

The Sharks had their third power play of the night at 6:42 of the third. It did not start well, allowing two good short-handed rushes by the Ducks. Momentum shifted when Brent Burns gathered up the puck in the defensive zone. After a giving the power play time to set up, he carried the puck end to end and took his shot from the slot. It went off of a defenseman and past Gibson to give the Sharks their first lead of the game. Assists went to Evander Kane and Erik Karlsson.

Soon after, Dalton Prout was called for hooking. In the second minute of the power play, the Sharks had their own short-handed chance. Logan Couture carried the puck into the zone with Evander Kane on the other side of the ice. Couture waited until Kane was in shooting position to make the pass and caught Kane with a pass just above the blue paint. It was Kane’s 12th goal of the season and Couture’s 15th assist.

Anaheim answered with a goal at 15:50. Max Jones took a harmless-looking shot off the rush but it deflected off of Radim Simek’s body, bounced under Martin Jones and into the net. Assists went to Carter Rowney and Sam Steel.

The Ducks pulled their goaltender with just under two minutes left. Nick Ritchie, the sixth Anaheim skater, had a great chance just after taking the ice, but it went off of the post. In the final minute, Gibson was back in the net for a face-off in the Sharks’ zone.  Just as he was preparing to leave again, Logan Couture stole the puck skated out on a breakaway. With a couple of quick moves, Couture got Gibson moving and then shot the puck underneath him.

At then end of the game, the teams were still very close in shots (35-32 Sharks) and face-off wins (51% Ducks).

The Sharks next play on Saturday in San Jose against the Detroit Red Wings at 7:30 PM PT.

Sharks Beat Predators 2-1 in Shoot-out

Photo credit: @SanJoseSharks

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE — The San Jose Sharks defeated the Nashville Predators 2-1 in a shootout at SAP Center Saturday. Timo Meier scored to win in the seventh round of the shootout, and Tomas Hertl scored during regulation for the Sharks. Filip Forsberg scored for Nashville. Martin Jones made 24 saves for the win, and Juuse Saros made 31 saves for the Predators.

After the game, Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson said: “This is a good start. I think this was the first game where we felt right from the start no matter what the score was we felt like we were playing our game and we weren’t too worried about what they were doing. We were focused on the things that we needed to do well and I think we did that.”

Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer said: “I think 60 minute effort for sure. You know, I thought we handled the adversity of not scoring first even though we were playing well better than we have in the past. Stuck with it, and yeah I think it was our best 60-minute effort.”

Coming into Saturday’s game, Nashville had won 2 of their last 5, with their last game being a 9-4 loss in Colorado. The Sharks had also won 2 of their last five, and had just come off a high-scoring game that they prevailed in 6-5. Tightening defense was clearly a goal for both teams, so it should be no surprise that the game was scoreless through the first period and much of the second. In shots, the teams stayed within three or four, each leading for one period they each had two power plays and no power play goals. The Sharks had the lead in blocked shots and the Predators were doing better in the face-off circle.

Filip Forsberg broke the deadlock at 14:44 of the second. He scored his eighth goal of the season carrying the puck in from the blue line while fending off Erik Karlsson on his right. Despite Karlsson getting a stick in his way, Forsberg put the puck up and over Jones on the short side. Dante Fabbro got the assist for his pass from the Predators’ blue line.

With a little over a minute left in the second period, Dante Fabbro took an Evander Kane shot in the face and had to leave the game. He returned during the third period wearing a face cage.

Tomas Hertl tied it at 5:22 of the third period. He had a shot knocked off his stick during the zone entry but the Sharks retained control of the puck and eventually Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s point shot got to the net and Hertl was there to knock it in. Assists went to Vlasic and Erik Karlsson.

The score remained unchanged through the rest of the period and overtime, including an overtime power play for Nashville.

Before Timo Meier scored to win the shootout for the Sharks, Saros stopped shots from Kevin Labanc, Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl, Erik Karlsson, Evander Kane and Brent Burns.

Martin Jones stopped Matt Duchene, Ryan Ellis, Filip Forsberg, Kyle Turris, Ryan Johansen, Nick Bonino and Rocco Grimaldi.

The Sharks next play on Tuesday against the Edmonton Oilers in San Jose at 7:30 PM PT.

Jets Sink Sharks 3-2

Photo credit: @SanJoseSharks

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE — The San Jose Sharks fell to the Winnipeg Jets 3-2 on Friday at the SAP Center in San Jose. Jets goals came from Gabriel Bourque, Blake Wheeler and Nikolaj Ehlers, with goaltender Connor Hellebuyck making a heroic 51 saves in the win. Sharks goals came from Barclay Goodrow and Tomas Hertl with Martin Jones making 16 saves in the loss.

“It’s probably up there with our best game of the season. Disappointing to lose,” said Sharks captain Logan Couture, after a game in which the Sharks grossly outshot the Jets, 53-19.

The game might have gone to overtime with the teams tied 3-3 but for a disallowed goal in the second period.

“At the same time, we had a lot of other opportunities to put the puck in the net and we didn’t,” said Sharks forward Evander Kane, who had 7 shots on goal in the game and scored the disallowed goal.

Winnipeg struck first with a goal at 13:34 of the first period. Kyle Connor took advantage of a bouncing puck that eluded Brent Burns in the Sharks’ zone. He got control of it along the boards and then found Gabriel Bourque coming into the zone. Bourque skated up the middle and beat Jones on the glove side. Connor got the assist.

The Sharks too the first penalty of the game, an interference minor to Logan Couture at 19:06. The Sharks successfully killed the penalty for the rest of the first and the beginning of the second period. The Jets got three shots on goal during the power play.

They followed that up with a goal at 3:18 of the second. A pass from Marc-Edouard Vlasic found Jonny Brodzinsky in the neutral zone. He made a pass at the Jets’ blue line, finding Barclay Goodrow in the slot. Goodrow skated to the net and shot the puck by Hellebuyck on the short side. Assists went to Brodzinsky and Vlasic.

The Sharks’ first power play came just over a minute later. They got credit for two shots on goal

Evander Kane put the puck in the net at 7:22 of the second. He started by carrying the puck into the zone and around behind the net. He gave it to a defender, who sent it back around and to the point. the puck came back to Kane behind the net and he got it out in front for Labanc and Hertl to shoot, but Labanc was taken down in the crease and the puck came back to Kane as he emerged form behind the net. He quickly lifted it over the now-prone Hellebuyck and into the net.

The Jets challenged for goaltender interference and the goal was overturned.

Moments later, Blake Wheeler scored off a pass from Mark Scheifele at 7:53. Scheifele and Kyle Connor got the assists.

The Jets had a second power play at 9:41, in which they got one shot on goal.

The Sharks had a second power play starting at 17:11 when Mathieu Perrault was called for tripping Erik Karlsson. The Sharks tallied eight shots on goal and still could not score.

During the second period, the Sharks outshot the Jets 28-9.

The Sharks did finally tie it with a deflection from Tomas Hertl 49 seconds into the third period. Kane took the initial shot with a second assist going to Kevin Labanc.

With three minutes left in the third, the Jets only had 3 shots to the Sharks’ 12. The shot count for the game was 51-18 Sharks.

Nevertheless, the Jets scored next, taking a 3-2 lead at 18:36. Nikolaj Ehlers . Assists went to Jack Roslovic and Bryan Little.

The Sharks pulled their goaltender right after that, but couldn’t get by Hellebuyck again.

The Sharks next play on Saturday at 7:00 PM PT against the Vancouver Canucks in San Jose.

Jonny Brodzinsky was in the lineup for the first time since October 8, with Dylan Gambrell and Lukas Radil out as healthy scratches.

Sharks Put Out the Flames to Win 3-1

sfgate.com photo: San Jose Sharks center Dylan Gambrell, top, reaches for the puck behind Calgary Flames left wing Andrew Mangiapane during the third period of an NHL hockey game in San Jose, Calif., Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019.

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE — The San Jose Sharks defeated the Calgary Flames 3-1 at the SAP Center Sunday. It was San Jose’s first home win of the season. Sharks goals came from Timo Meier, Kevin Labanc, and Tomas Hertl. Martin Jones made 30 saves for the win. Elias Lindholm scored the lone goal for Calgary. Cam Talbot made 17 saves for the Flames.

The final score drew an eerie parallel to Patrick Marleau’s last regulation home game as a Shark in 2017, which was also against Calgary and was also a 3-1 Sharks victory. Though Marleau did not score Sunday, it is hard to ignore the impact his return has had on the team. After the game, Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer said:

I don’t think it’s an accident that we’ve won the last two and he’s been in the lineup. I think that’s a piece for sure. He just plays the right way, he does the right thing when he’s out on the ice, you know, all the time. It’s really helped solidify our lineup a little bit.

That solidification is evident to the players as well. Team captain Logan Couture said:

I thought Dylan Gambrell has played two really really good games now in a row. That’s something that we need. He’s been given an opportunity and I think these last few games he’s shown what he’s capable of. So, when we have that line playing well and the other three rolling over, we’re a tough team to beat.

The Sharks took an early 1-0 lead with a goal from Timo Meier at 3:04. Logan Couture carried the puck in around the Calgary defense and then paused at the red line before finding Meier right in front of the net. Assists went to Couture and Patrick Marleau.

San Jose added to their lead at 10:13 when Kevin Labanc skated through the neutral zone, handed the puck off to Tomas Hertl at the blue line, then got it back as he went flying into the zone. His wrist shot beat Cam Talbot glove side. Assists went to Hertl and Erik Karlsson.

Each team took one penalty and killed one in the first period. Calgary outshot San Jose by 11-6.

Calgary got one back at 6:43 of the second period. Calgary won an offensive zone draw and got the puck right to TJ Brodie at the blue line. He gave the ice a quick look and then took a shot right up the middle. Elias Lindholm tipped it mid-slot and past Jones glove side. Austin Czarnik was screening Jones until the lest second. An assist went to Brodie.

The Sharks reclaimed their two-goal lead at the end of the second period with a short-handed goal from Tomas Hertl. Brent Burns was in the box for tripping Michael Frolik. Logan Couture cut off a Calgary pass in the defensive zone, carried the puck all the way to the Calgary zone, then found Hertl just as he came into the zone. Hertl took a quick shot past Talbot for his first of the season.

Each team took a penalty in the second period, but neither scored on the power play. The teams were tied with 11 shots each in the second.

Calgary pulled their goaltender with almost three minutes to go in the game but could not alter the score. The final shot count was 33-20 Calgary.

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

Sharks Fall to Predators 5-2 in Nashville

mercurynews.com photo

By Mary Walsh

The San Jose Sharks lost 5-2 to the Nashville Predators Tuesday night at Bridgestone Arena. Nashville goals came from Roman Josi (2), Kyle Turris, Filip Forsberg and Dante Fabbro. Pekka Rinne made 33 saves for the win. Evander Kane and Brent Burns scored for San Jose, while Martin Jones made 20 saves in the loss. The Sharks are still looking for a win this season after four losses.

The only first period goal went to Nashville, at 6:16. Roman Josi scored after making a neutral zone pass to Colton Sissons, who carried the puck into the zone and then passed it back and into the slot. Josi was there to put it away. Assists went to Sissons and Ryan Ellis.

There was just one power play in the first period, a penalty to the Sharks’ Evander Kane for interference. The Predators outshot the Sharks 9-7 in the first.

In the second period, Josi scored again on a mid-period power play. Brenden Dillon was in the box for slashing Filip Forsberg at 9:40. A pass from the corner found Forsberg wide open in the faceoff circle, but his shot went off the post and bounced into the blue paint, where Marc-Edouard Vlasic swept it away, into the slot. Josi was there to shoot it back in for the goal.

The Sharks got their own power play goal at 15:12. Matt Duchene was called for interference on Kevin Labanc. A quick play off the faceoff moved the puck to Burns at the point. He moved along the blue line as if to pass ahead, then moved the puck back to Logan Couture, who took a shot from the point. Evander Kane tipped it in for his first of the year. Assists went to Couture and Burns.

The Sharks killed two of three penalties in the second period, and Nashville did the same. The Sharks outshot the Predators 18-7 in the period.

The Sharks started the third period with some good chances, but it was Nashville who scored at 2:51. A neutral zone breakdown allowed Kyle Turris and Calle Jarnkrok to go in two on one. Turris took the shot to give Nashvillea 3-1 lead. Rocco Grimaldi got the assist.

Nashville made it 4-1 at 7:24. Matt Duchene followed the puck down the slot and made a quick backhand pass across to Forsberg on the wing. Forsberg took the shot and beat Jones on the stick side as he came across. Assists went to Duchene and Mikael Granlund.

Brent Burns got one back for the Sharks at 15:37. The Sharks drew all of the Nashville defense off to one side with their forecheck. The puck slipped out across the ice, where Burns picked it up and shot it in with a hard wrist shot. Assists went to Lean Bergmann and Dylan Gambrell.

Dante Fabbro made it 5-2 with a shot all the way down the ice, in an empty net at 18:19. An assist went to Ryan Johansen.

The Sharks outshot the Predators 10-9 in the third, 35-25 in the game.

The Sharks next play against the Blackhawks in Chicago on Thursday at 5:30 PM PT.

Sharks Finish Preseason with 5-1 Loss to Vegas

photo from mercurynews.com: Evander Kane #9 of the San Jose Sharks shoves linesman Kiel Murchison in the third period of the Sharks’ preseason game against the Vegas Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena on September 29, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Kane received a game misconduct for an abuse of officials penalty. The Golden Knights defeated the Sharks 5-1.

By Mary Walsh

The Sharks dropped their final preseason game 5-1 to the Vegas Golden Knights Sunday in Las Vegas. Vegas goals came from William Carrier, Jimmy Shuldt, Jonathan Marchessault, Mark Stone and Reilly Smith. Danil Yurtaykin scored the only San Jose goal, during the third period. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 38 shots for the win, while Martin Jones stopped 17 of 21 shots during the first two periods and Aaron Dell made 10 saves on 11 shots for San Jose.

With almost all of the likely NHL lineup in the game, the Sharks managed 12 shots on net in the first period, but could not score. They did kill a penalty half way through the period, after Timo Meier was called for goaltender interference. Vegas had 14 shots and scored once at the end of the period. The Sharks had just gotten the puck out of their zone bu could not get it past the center line before Vegas carried it back in. Tomas Nosek carried the puck down along the boards while Carrier drove the net. Nosek took the shot and it went off of Carrier and in.

Early in the second period, Brenden Dillon was called for holding, putting the Golden Knights on the power play. Jimmy Schuldt scored in the second minute of that penalty. After a quick give and go along the blue line with William Karlsson, Schuldt’s shot from the point went right by Jones. Assists went to Karlsson and Reilly Smith.

A dispute between Evander Kane and Valentin Zykov at 7:31 resulted in matching roughing minors for the players and some 4-on-4 time for the teams. After almost a minute of very fast back and forth play, Jonathan Marchessault scored off the rush, making it 3-0 Vegas. Marchessault had a step on Joe Thornton coming through the neutral zone, and stayed just ahead of a charging Mario Ferraro as they bore down on the Sharks net.

Kane and Zykov went at it again at 10:17, this time receiving fighting majors.

The Sharks had a good shift in the offensive zone with about five minutes left in the period, until a quick pass from Schuldt found Max Pacioretty lurking at the Sharks blue line. Pacioretty took the puck in and made a quick pass to Mark Stone who shot the puck past Jones to make it 4-0.

On a line with Tomas Hertl and Evander Kane, Danil Yurtaykin scored at 1:10 of the third. Yurtaykin caught the puck behind the net, carried it to the front and put it in with a quick backhand into traffic. Assists went to Kane and Hertl.

A couple of minutes later, Reilly Smith made it 5-1 Vegas with a power play goal. Timo Meier was in the box for slashing Brayden McNabb, and it only took the Vegas power play 13 seconds to score. Assists went to William Karlsson and Marchessault.

The Sharks took 11 more penalties in the period, and Vegas took eight, but the score did not change. Among those penalties were misconducts for Evander Kane, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Max Pacioretty, Brenden Dillon, Deryk Engellund and Kevin Labanc.

Late in the first period, Logan Couture took a puck to the hand but he played through the game.

The Sharks’ lineup Sunday included new faces Lean Bergman, Danil Yurtakin and Jonny Brodzinsky up front. On defense, Dalton Prout and Mario Ferraro were in while Radim Simek and Tim Heed sat out.

The Sharks will be back in Las Vegas on Wednesday to start the regular season at 7:30 PM PT.

Golden Knights Beat Sharks 3-1 in Preseason

@SanJoseSharks photo

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE — The Vegas Golden Knights scored once per period to defeat the San Jose Sharks 3-1 in Saturday’s preseason game at the SAP Center. Max Pacioretty scored once and got assists on the other two Vegas goals, scored by Valentin Zykov and Alex Tuch. Antti Suomela scored San Jose’s only goal. Marc-Andre Fleury made 28 saves in the win, while Martin Jones made 26 saves for San Jose.

Three players made their first appearance in this preseason for the Sharks on Saturday: forwards Logan Couture and Melker Karlsson and defenseman Nikolai Knyzhov. Knyzhov was signed by the Sharks in July as a free agent.

Martin Jones gave up one goal on four shots in the first period. That goal came off of Valentin Zykov’s stick. Zykov found a rebound right in front of Jones and put it around him with a back hand. Assists went to Nick Pacioretty and Cody Glass.

At the other end, Marc-Andre Fleury saw eleven shots from the Sharks and stopped them all. Four of those shots came from Lean Bergmann, playing on a line Logan Couture and Jonny Brodzinski. Some of those shots also came on the game’s first power play, during which San Jose did not score.

Just past the seven minute mark of the second, Antti Suomela had a nice breakaway chance, displaying some speed. Fleury stopped his shot. Around the midpoint of the period, the teams were pretty close in shots, with Vegas at five and San Jose at four. Vegas had already surpassed their shot count from the whole first period.

Max Pacioretty scored the second goal for Vegas at 14:38 of the second. A play behind the net got out in front of Jones with just one defender to help him out. Pacioretty had a lot of room to move and shoot. Assists went to Cody Glass and Reilly Smith.

Moments after the next faceoff, a Marc-Edouard Vlasic shot from the blue line was neatly deflected by Antti Suomela to get the Sharks on the board. A second assist went to Kevin Labanc.

By the end of the period, the Golden Knights had 14 shots on goal while the Sharks had 9.

Just 18 seconds into the third period, Kevin Labanc was called for slashing Cody Glass. During the ensuing power play, Alex Tuch scored, giving the Golden Knights the 3-1 lead. Assists went to Pacioretty and Jimmy Schuldt.

The rest of the third period was full of penalties, compared to the single penalty called in the first two periods. Dalton Prout and Valentin Zykov were called at 4:36 for cross-checking each other. At 11:36, Nicholas Roy was called for hi-sticking Antti Suomela.

The next preseason game for the Sharks will be on Tuesday in Anaheim against the Ducks at 7:00 PM PT.

2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs: Blues Take 3-2 Lead in WCF, Beat Sharks 5-0

Photo credit: @PR_NHL

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE — The St. Louis Blues took a 3-2 lead in the NHL Western Conference Final, by defeating the San Jose Sharks 5-0 at SAP Center Sunday.

St. Louis got goals from Oskar Sundqvist, Vladimir Tarasenko and a hat trick from Jaden Schwartz. Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington made 21 saves in the shutout win.

Sharks goaltender Martin Jones made 35 saves in a losing effort. Through the game, San Jose was penalized eight times and lost four players to injury for several minutes or more. Only one of those returned to play in the third period.

After the game, Sharks forward Logan Couture commented on what he saw of the hits that sent Joe Pavelski and Tomas Hertl out of the game: “I saw the Hertl hit, I just saw the replay. Yeah, that’s a tough one. But, I mean they had one earlier, in Game 3, I believe on Braun. I think it was Game 3. And nothing happened, so they can do it again, right?”

Evander Kane hit a post in the first moments of Sunday’s game. Asked whether a goal there would have changed the momentum significantly, Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer said:

I think a few things could have changed the game. I thought we played well enough to come out of that first maybe up. I thought, arguably, a five-minute major on Tommy Hertl, that if it’s called, you know, that’s a momentum changing play right there. But we come out of the first down one-nothing and then Hertl can’t go, and you know, Karlsson can’t go and so we started taking on some water. I thought they took over in the second period. And then when Pav got hit high we lost our composure there in the third. And, not our finest moment but I understand where that emotion’s coming from with what he’s been through. We’ve just got to regroup, got to go in and win a game.

The Sharks had some excellent chances off the hop, including that Kane shot off the post. Then, at 5:50, the Blues got on the board. Erik Karlsson went down behind his own net to move the puck out, and sent it up the boards for Brenden Dillon. It went between Dillon’s skates and off the boards back into open ice. While the Sharks kept an eye on Alexander Steen and Pat Maroon in their zone, Oskar Sundqvist sped out of the neutral zone and shot the puck. Erik Karlsson had moved into the lane and Sundqvist used him as a screen, so the puck went right by Jones. That was the first of three unassisted goals in a row.

The Sharks out-shot the Blues 11-4 in the first, but the Blues won 56% of the faceoffs. Logan Couture had a notable drop off in face-off performance, against a number of Blues players after five minutes. The Sharks had two shots on their first period power play.

The start of the second was less good for the Sharks. After five minutes, the Blues had another goal and a 10-1 shot lead. The goal came off an ill-conceived attempt to move the puck across the slot by Jones. He was trying to clear the puck away after Brenden Dillon blocked the shot on its way in, but Jaden Schwartz skated to the net and put the puck around Jones without anyone getting in his way.

Moments later, the Blues were awarded a penalty shot after Brent Burns tripped Vladimir Tarasenko. Tarasenko put a shot over Jones’ glove into the top corner to make it 3-0. That was at 6:53. At 10:43, the Blues were on a four-minute power play after Donskoi caught Steen in the mouth with his stick. That did not last long as Tyler Bozak got called for holding Evander Kane. The two minute four-on-four generated little for either team, and the Sharks killed off the rest of the Blues power play.

With five left in the period, the shots were 18-4 Blues. By the end of the period, the Blues outshot the Sharks 20-6. the Blues also improved their faceoff advantage to 57%. Tomas Hertl was the only Shark to take more than five faceoffs and win more than 50% of them. He won 70%. On the Blues’ side, Tyler Bozak and Brayden Schenn won just over 70% of their face-offs.

Erik Karlsson did not skate during the last seven or so minutes of the period.

The Sharks started the second period with a pair of penalties, putting the Blues on a two minute five-on-three power play at 1:55. With Micheal Haley and Barclay Goodrow both in the box, Jaden Schwartz scored with a pin-balling shot that put the Blues up 4-0 at 2:19. Assists went to David Perron and Tarasenko.

The Sharks managed to kill off the remainder of the second penalty.

Before the middle of the third period, Tomas Hertl, Joe Pavelski, Erik Karlsson and Joonas Donskoi were all in the dressing room for repairs or worse. Donskoi skated two shifts at the start of the period before leaving with a bleeding face. Pavelski skated one shift. Hertl and Karlsson did not skate in the third.

Micheal Haley joined them for unsportsmanlike conduct and an additional misconduct. A tripping penalty to Timo Meier put the Sharks on another five-on-three penalty kill.

Donskoi returned to the game after the ten minute mark, with just under eight minutes remaining.

The Sharks got their second power play of the game at 13:12. They did not score. The Blues did, at 16:02. Another defensive collapse from the remaining Sharks allowed Schwartz to get open on that same side again. Another assist went to Tarasenko.

With a little more than two minutes remaining, Evander Kane took some penalty time: two for goaltender interference, two for slashing Edmundson, and a little more for misconduct.

Game 6 will be on Tuesday at the Enterprise Center at 5:00 PM PT.

Sharks Beat Blues 6-3 in Game 1 of NHL Western Conference Final

Photo credit: @SanJoseSharks

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE — The San Jose Sharks defeated the St. Louis Blues 6-3 Saturday, taking a 1-0 lead in the Western Conference Final series. Timo Meier and Logan Couture created a stir with two goals each, while forwards Joe Pavelski and Kevin Labanc added goals to complete that hefty score. Blues goals came from Joel Edmundson, Ryan O’Reilly and Tyler Bozak. Sharks goaltender Martin Jones made 28 saves for the win, while Jordan Binnington made 19 saves for the Blues.

After the game, Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer was asked about how his team shut down the Blues’ formidable Tarasenko line, just as they had shut down Colorado’s top line in the previous series. DeBoer said:

St. Louis is built a little different. Obviously, they have that line, but I think they also have a couple other lines that are very good too. Their third line might have been their most dangerous line in the last series and I thought was good again tonight, got a goal in the third period. So they’re built differently. I think this is going to be more of a team effort to shut down their group and if we can get the match ups we want, great. If we can’t, the guys out there are going to have to get the job done.

Series predictions have some trends to rely on. By the end of the second round, the Sharks seemed to have shed their habit of giving up a goal in the first minute of the game, and they had scored the most goals in the 2019 playoffs. They had also given up the most third period goals. St. Louis was second in scoring third period goals and had given up 10 fewer goals per game than the Sharks. Both teams have had formidable penalty kills, but less reliable power plays.

The Sharks started the scoring early in the first after taking the puck away from the Blues in the neutral zone. Logan Couture and Gus Nyquist broke away from the Blues defense at the blue line and ended up 2-on-1 against Joel Edmundson. Nyquist passed across and Couture put it away for his 10th of the playoffs. The time of the goal was 3:31.

That first goal ignited the Blues, at least in terms of hits. Sundry contact was ignored by the officials, including a curious pair of hits on Tomas Hertl and an elbow to Timo Meier’s head.

The Blues tied the game with an end-to-end play by Jaden Schwartz at 9:13. Schwartz took Logan Couture down behind the Blues net without any reaction from the officials. He then skated the puck all the way down and shot it off of Joel Edmundson. It was Edmundson’s first of the playoffs. Assists went to Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko.

Joe Pavelski got the lead back for the Sharks in a 5-on-3 power play at 11:24. Brent Burns sent the puck to him off to the side of the net. Pavelski stopped the hard pass and shot it. Binnington got his pad in the way and Pavelski had to reach in and give the puck a couple of extra taps to get it over the pad. It was Pavelski’s fourth of the playoffs and his second since returning from injury. Assists went to Burns and Erik Karlsson.

Despite having to kill two penalties, the Blues led the Sharks in shots in the first period, 10-9. The Sharks had the edge in face-offs, winning 59%.

Kevin Labanc added to the Sharks’ tally at 7:41 of the second. He skated in down the left boards then took a hard right at the face-off circle. He took the shot as he exited the circle and the puck went through three skaters. The traffic may have even disguised the fact that Labanc was moving to shoot, so the goaltender had no chance. An assist on Labanc’s fourth of the playoffs went to Joe Thornton.

Ryan O’Reilly scored a tricky goal at 8:58 to make it 3-2. He got control of a sluggish rebound near the blue paint, drew it back until Martin Jones came out for the shot, then went around the goaltender and nudged it over the line. Assists went to David Perron and Sammy Blais. It was O’Reilly’s third of the playoffs.

Timo Meier scored at 10:24 after a beautiful poke check by Logan Couture at the blue line, keeping the puck in. Meier was pursuing the checked skater and was ready to turn and take it back to the net. He avoided the pursuing defensemen and waited until Binnington was down, then, while skating left, reached right to guide the puck around the goalie’s outstretched skate and into the net. Couture got the assist. It was Meier’s fourth of the playoffs.

The Blues got their first power play at 13:23. The Sharks did not let any shots get through but one of the attempts sent Goodrow limping to the bench.

The Sharks added another at 17:34 of the second, this one attributed to Timo Meier. Meier was behind the net and trying to move the puck forward.  Blues defenseman Vince Dunn got in the way. His skate was in the perfect position to redirect the puck in behind his own goaltender. Assists went to Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Gus Nyquist.

The second period shots were again very close, this time 11-9 Sharks. The Sharks won 58% of the second period face-offs.

Their third period scoring success in these playoffs made it all the less surprising when the Blues made it 5-3 at 13:01 of the third.

After several attempts to Jones’ right, the puck got across to the other side where Tyler Bozak was waiting to put it in. It was Bozak’s third of the playoffs. Assists went to Pat Maroon and Vince Dunn.

The Blues pulled their goaltender with 4:39 left in the game. The Sharks had their hands full defending those six skaters, but managed a couple of shots at the empty net. Logan Couture finally got one of them in the net at 17:39. Assists went to Joe Pavelski and Evander Kane.

Fisticuffs followed at the Sharks end. Barclay Goodrow was sent off after intervening in someone else’s dispute, for roughing against Robert Bortuzzo. Goodrow also got a misconduct against Bortuzzo. Bortuzzo was sent off for roughing against Goodrow and received an additional misconduct. They each got five minutes. Brenden Dillon and Oskar Sundqvist got two minutes each for roughing. All of that went down at 17:55.

For a clue to what the Blues will be working on before Game 2, here is what Blues head coach Craig Berube had to say after Game 1:

I thought that third period we got to our game, we were aggressive, we’re on the forecheck, controlled the puck in the offensive zone. We didn’t get there enough tonight. In the first period it was ok, I thought it was a pretty good first period other than the penalties. But second period we just got caught in that three-quarter ice game by them, they did a good job checking, forced some things on us and we got caught in some turnovers and they capitalized on them.

Game 2 will be on Monday in San Jose at the SAP Center at 6:00 PM PT.

Sharks Beat Avs 3-2, Advance to Western Conference Final

Photo credit: @NBCSSharks

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE — For the fifth time in their history, the San Jose Sharks are going to the Western Conference Final after defeating the Colorado Avalanche 3-2 Wednesday. Sharks goals came from Joe Pavelski, Tomas Hertl, and Joonas Donskoi. Avs goals came from Mikko Rantanen and Tyson Jost. Martin Jones made 27 saves for the win, while Philipp Grubauer made 24 saves in a losing effort.

Sharks captain Joe Pavelski was a game-time decision Wednesday, and the final decision was to play.

After the game, Sharks forward Logan Couture said of Pavelski: “For a guy that missed playoff action for two weeks, to have the injury that he has, to come back, set up a goal, score a goal. I wish I could tell you what he’s gone through, from seeing it first hand, you wouldn’t believe that he’s playing right now, I’ll just say that. He played unbelievable.”

Due to Pavelski’s return, Joonas Donskoi was bumped down to the fourth line and then he scored the game-winning goal. Thus, the game-winners in both Sharks Game 7s were scored by fourth-liners, which was what Logan Couture said the team needed after Game 6. Couture was asked about that after Wednesday’s game. Couture said of Donskoi:

Donny was great, we needed something, I said it last time. We needed some other guys to step up and score goals and I thought they were very very good tonight. I thought Donny played excellent: he was all over the puck, created chances. They had a really good night when maybe my line, we didn’t create much and have too too many chances. So we needed it.

Nathan MacKinnon went down with a shoulder injury in the first two minutes of play. He returned around the 15-minute mark and appeared to be able-bodied again.

The first goal of the game quieted any concerns about Joe Pavelski’s readiness to play. Tomas Hertl retrieved the puck in the corner and sent it back up the boards to Brent Burns. Burns had time to pick his spot and that spot was right on goal, through the Pavelski tip lane. Pavelski caught the puck with the bottom of his stick blade and sent it bouncing at the net, much lower than Grubauer was ready for. It was Pavelski’s third of the post season. Burns and Hertl got the assists.

The Sharks added another at 11:35. After Evander Kane sent the puck around behind the Avs net, Pavelski retrieved it and then brought it back the way it came. As he passed the net, he passed to an unguarded Hertl, right above the blue paint. Hertl knocked it in quick as a cat. Two defenders, intent on Pavelski’s movements, had not noticed Hertl back there. The one who did notice was not close enough to stop him. Assists went to Pavelski and Kane.

Mikko Rantanen scored with just seven seconds left in the first period, cutting the Sharks’ lead in half. Samuel Girard took a shot right down the slot from the blue line and Rantanen tipped it up into the net. A second assist went to Gabriel Landeskog.

Colin Wilson appeared to have tied the game near the eight minute mark of the second, but the goal was challenged by the Sharks for an offside play. Upon review, the goal was disallowed.

Joonas Donskoi came off the schneid with the Sharks’ third goal of the game. Picking up the puck near the corner, he carried it around behind the net, came out front and took a wrist shot at the near top corner. It was his first goal since January. Assists went to Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson.

The Avs scored again 51 seconds into the third period. Alexander Kerfoot’s shot came out as a rebound that Colin Wilson tried to push back in, but Vlasic got to that. Vlasic’s clearing attempt hit Hertl and bounced back toward the net. Tyson Jost was able to reach it before Jones or Vlasic could. Assists went to Wilson and Kerfoot.

The Avs pulled their goaltender with 2:10 left in regulation, but the Sharks and their goaltender held them off.

Game 1 of the Western Conference Final will be on Saturday the 11th at 5:00 PM PT. The Sharks will host the St. Louis Blues at SAP Center.