Sharks Win in Buffalo, Beat Sabres 3-2

San Jose Sharks goaltender Adin Hill stops one of the 37 shots he saved against the Buffalo Sabers this one in the first period in Buffalo on Thu Jan 6, 2022 (AP News photo)

By Mary Walsh

The San Jose Sharks defeated the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 Thursday. It was just the Sharks’ fourth win in Buffalo in franchise history. Matt Nieto, Timo Meier, and Tomas Hertl scored for the Sharks. Adin Hill made 36 saves for the win. Jeff Skinner and Zemgus Girgensons scored for the Sabres. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen made 18 saves in the loss.

The Sharks were again without Logan Couture and Jonathan Dahlen but defenseman Mario Ferraro returned to the lineup from the COVID-19 list. Goaltender James Reimer was also unavailable due to a lower body injury of unspecified severity. This puts some pressure on Adin Hill to return to form as the starter.

Sharks Head Coach Bob Boughner mentioned that Adin Hill had his swagger back in Thursday’s game, and the team fed off of that confidence. He summed up the team’s performance as: “We weren’t perfect but we were a lot better and it’s a good sign.”

Sharks forward Matt Nieto talked about scoring a goal with his line-mates Andrew Cogliano and Nick Bonino: “We haven’t really created offense the way we would like to. We think we’ve gotten a lot of chances so it’s nice to get one tonight. Hopefully more start coming.”

Nieto started a brief first-period flurry of scoring for the Sharks at 12:27. Andrew Cogliano sent the puck up from the goal line to Nieto inside the face-off dot. Nieto took the shot from an awkward angle but got it by Luukkonen on the blocker side. Assists went to Cogliano and Nick Bonino.

Timo Meier made it 2-0 at 13:44. Tomas Hertl got the puck across the line and then dropped it to Meier. Meier took a quick shot from the point and rang it off the post and in. Assists went to Hertl and Mario Ferraro.

Tomas Hertl made it 3-0 at 17:24. Alexander Barabanov cleared the puck out of the Sharks zone and then chased it down to carry it into the Sabres zone. He dropped it to a trailing Hertl who took the shot from the slot for his 17th of the season.

Jeff Skinner scored for Buffalo at 7:56 of the second. Skinner pulled the puck out of a board battle and carried it to the slot before taking the shot. The puck went over Hill’s stick, off the post and in. Victor Olofsson got the assist.

Zemgus Girgensons made it 3-2 with a power play goal at 18:14 of the third. Tage Thompson took a shot from the point that went off of the bar and came back out to bounce down Hill’s shoulder before landing behind him. Before Hill could find it, Girgensons swept it in. Assists went to Thompson and Rasmus Dahlin.

The Sabres pulled their goaltender with 92 seconds left and made a good push but the Sharks held on.

The Sabres out-shot the Sharks in every period for a shot total of 39-21, and in the third period they out-shot the Sharks 22-5. The Sabres also beat the Sharks in the face-off circle, winning 60% of the draws. The Sharks only had one power play but had no shots on that one. The Sabres had three power plays in which they had seven shots and a goal.

The Sharks’ next game is on Saturday in Philadelphia against the Flyers at 4:00 PM PT.

Sharks Beat Senators 6-3; San Jose scores 3 unanswered goals in 3rd period

Timo Time the San Jose Sharks Timo Meier is exalted after scoring a third period goal against the Ottawa Senators at SAP Center in San Jose on Wed Nov 24, 2021 (AP News photo)

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE- The San Jose Sharks (10-8-1) won 6-3 against the Ottawa Senators (4-12-1) in San Jose on Wednesday. Matt Nieto, Tomas Hertl, Nick Bonino, Timo Meier, Logan Couture and Jacob Middleton all scored for San Jose. James Reimer made 26 saves for the win. Josh Norris, Brady Tkachuk and Connor Brown scored for the Senators and Matt Murray made 23 saves in the loss.

It was Jacob Middleton’s first NHL goal and Timo Meier had three points in the game. Nick Bonino scored his first point of the season in 700th NHL game.

The Sharks scored first but the Senators fought back to take the lead in the second period. The Sharks had a 3-0 third period to close it out. After the game, Sharks Head Coach Bob Boughner said:

“I was happy with the way we stuck with it. I think it could have went the other way on us real quickly. I didn’t like our first period at all. I thought we were playing an urgent team that was looking to get back on track and we knew they would come out hard. They won more battles than us and they were more hungry in the first period.”

The game started with and early fight, between Auston Watson and Jacob Middleton, before Matt Nieto gave the Sharks a lead at 7:16 of the first period. Nieto, Labanc and Weatherby broke into the zone three-on-two, with Nieto carrying the puck. With Weatherby driving the net, Nieto opted to take the shot and got it through on the far side. Assists went to Kevin Labanc and Erik Karlsson. It was Nieto’s first goal of the season.

Ottawa tied the game at 13:38 with a goal from Josh Norris. Assists went to Brady Tkachuk and Lassi Thomson. The goal was Norris’ eighth of the season.

The shots for the period were close, 12-11 Ottawa. Ottawa was better in the face-off circle, winning 60% of the draws. The Sharks power play had four shots on goal.

Tomas Hertl gave the Sharks the lead again just 47 seconds into the second period. Hertl carried the puck from behind his own net all the way to the other ed of the ice, finishing with a wrist shot into the near side. Assists went to Timo Meier and Mario Ferraro. It was Hertl’s eighth of the season.

The Senators tied it again at 14:38, when Brady Tkachuk scored his fourth of the season. Thomas Chabot’s shot from the circle went off of Tkachuk in the blue paint. Assists went to Chabot and Artem Zub.

Connor Brown gave the Senators their first lead of the game 93 seconds later. The teams were playing four on four when Chabot’s pass found Brown in the slot. Reimer was moving across as if to follow a cross-ice pass and he couldn’t get back in time when the pass stopped short. Assists went to Chabot and Tim Stutzle.

Nick Bonino scored his first of the season to tie it back up at 19:29 on the power play. Logan Couture made a pass down to Timo Meier on the goal line and Meier tapped it back up to Bonino for a shot from the slot.

The shots were close in the second period as well, 13-10 Senators. The Sharks improved in the face-off circle to 60%. Ottawa had three power plays as seven shots on the power play. The Sharks had two power plays and on power play shot. They also had one short-handed shot.

Timo Meier scored his seventh of the season to take the lead back for the Sharks. He held the puck for a moment, high in the slot, before sending a hard wrister under a Senators defender and over the goalie’s glove. Assists went to Rudolfs Balcers and Marc-Edouard Vlasic.

Logan Couture scored his seventh, into an empty net at 18:56. Jacob Middleton scored his first NHL goal at 19:28, into an empty net. Assists went to Andrew Cogliano and Erik Karlsson.

The Sharks power play had no shots in the the third period, and their penalty kill gave up none. Most of the penalty time in the third were overlapping our matching penalties, but the Sharks did have one full power play. The Sharks outshot the Senators 7-4 in the third.

The Sharks next play on Friday against the Toronto Maples Leafs at 7:30 PM PT.

Sharks Fall 5-4 to Golden Knights

Photo credit: @SanJoseSharks

By Mary Walsh

The San Jose Sharks fell 5-4 to the Golden Knights at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas Wednesday. Vegas goals came from Shea Theodore, Cody Glass, Nicolas Hague, Ryan Reaves and Alec Martinez. Marc-Andre Fleury made 29 saves for the win. Matt Nieto, Mario Ferraro, Kevin Labanc and Evander Kane scored for the Sharks. Devan Dubnyk made 32 saves in the loss.

The Sharks went into the third period with a 3-1 lead, but gave up four goals in the final frame. After the game, Sharks Head Coach Bob Boughner talked about how the game came undone:

“I think we pissed away a couple points. You know, the game got emotional and intense and physical, and I didn’t mind that at all. I think we did a good job sticking up for each other, those are things we want to keep doing. A little tough there when we lost [Couture], Hertl and Timo got called off the bench for concussion protocol after that hit all at the same time so we started juggling lines.”

Boughner did not consider that the real turning point. Rather, it came before that: “They didn’t have much going on the first six, seven minutes of that period and we had a horrible, horrible too many men call.”

Sharks Captain Logan Couture explained how it felt to let the game get away from them in the third:

“We played better. Should have won tonight, gave away points, so I mean it sucks to take away the moral victory in a game like this when you need to win and should have won. We’re in a position to win in the third period so, shitty feeling right now.”

Shea Theodore started the scoring at 3:45. Max Pacioretty gathered up an offensive zone turnover and passed it to Theodore at the point. Theodore’s slapshot sailed by Dubnyk, who may have been screened by some traffic.

San Jose took three penalties in the first period and their penalty kill allowed four shots. On the power play, they had three shots. For the period, the Sharks led in shots 11-10.

Matt Nieto got the Sharks on the board at 6:21. Timo Meier sent a pass from the goal line right onto Nieto’s stick by the blue paint. Assists went to Meier and Tomas Hertl.

The Sharks took a lead at with a goal from Mario Ferraro at 7:57. John Leonard’s shot went off of the post before Ferraro coraaled it behind the net and wrapped it around behind Fleury. Assists went to Leonard and Evander Kane.

Ryan Reaves put the puck in the net for Vegas at 11:00, but William Carrier was on top of Dubnyk when the puck went in. The Sharks challenged the goal and, after a review, it was called back for goaltender interference.

Kevin Labanc scored the Sharks’ third of the night at 15:07. Evander Kane attempted to deflect a shot from Ferraro on the blue line. When that didn’t go, he found it again and swept it in front of the net for Labanc to put away. Assists went to Kane and Ferraro.

The Sharks achieved their second period goal of avoiding penalties and the only one went to the Golden Knights. They outshot the Golden Knights 16-11 in the period, but did not get any shots on their power play.

Cody Glass scored for Vegas on the power play at 6:43 of the third period. John Leonard was in the box because his team was caught with too many men on the ice. The puck actually went off of Mario Ferraro’s skate. Assists went to Shea Theodore and Mark Stone.

Tomas Hertl and Mark Stone came to blows in front of the Sharks net moments later. Stone had delivered a hit on Timo Meier in the neutral zone. Meier was called away form the game for concussion protocol. That was Hertl’s first NHL fight.

Nicolas Hague tied the game at 10:03 with a shot right down the slot from the blue line. The assists went to Jonathan Marchessault and William Karlsson.

Logan Couture and Jonathan Marchessault fought shortly after that goal. That left the Sharks without Meier, Hertl of Couture for several minutes.

Ryan Reaves gave Vegas the lead at 12:27 with a deflection that bounced past Dubnyk. Assists went to Tomas Nosek and Zach Whitecloud.

Alec Martinez scored what would be the game winner at 14:46, on another power play. Labanc was in the box for tripping. the Sharks were just eight seconds away from killing the penalty when Tomas Nosek made a pass across the ice to Martinez. Assists went to Nosek and Theodore.

Evander Kane brought the Sharks back within on goal at 15:54 with a power play goal. Erik Karlsson took a shot from the point. Kane was there to battle for the rebound and tuck it in.

Vegas outshot San Jose 16-6 in the third period. The Sharks got two shots in on their one power play and the Golden Knights got seven shots in two power plays.

The Sharks won just 45% of the face-offs in the game. Of skaters to take more than five draws, only Logan Couture won more than 50%.

The Sharks next play on Friday against the St. Louis Blues at 6:00 PM PT, back in San Jose.

Sharks Fall 5-4 in OT to Golden Knights

The Vegas Golden Knights right winger Mark Stone (61), defenseman Alex Pietrangelo (7) celebrate left wing Max Pacioretty (67) overtime goal against the San Jose Sharks on Fri Mar 5, 2021 at SAP Center in San Jose (AP News photo)

By Mary Walsh

The San Jose Sharks lost 5-4 in overtime to the Vegas Golden Knights Friday in San Jose. Vegas goals came from Max Pacioretty (2), Reilly Smith, Chandler Stephenson and Alex Tuch. Oscar Dansk made 25 saves for the win. Sharks goals came from Brent Burns, Matt Nieto, Logan Couture and Matt Nieto. Devan Dubnyk made 17 saves for the Sharks, after taking over for Martin Jones. Jones made five saves on eight shots in the first 22 minutes.

After the game, Sharks Head Coach Bob Boughner talked about how his team reacted to an altercation between Ryan Reeves and Kurtis Gabriel:

“I thought that worked in our favor. I know they scored right after but we had a sense of togetherness on the bench and we never stopped attacking. It didn’t matter that they got that fourth goal. We had nine minutes or whatever that was at that point that we were determined to find a way to tie the game up and to get a point and to try to get two in overtime.”

Vegas scored first at 5:48. William Karlsson carried the puck around behind the net as if to do a wrap around, drawing Martin Jones to the left side of the net. Karlsson then passed the puck through the blue paint to Reilly Smith for a shot into a wide-open net. Assists went to Karlsson and Jonanthan Marchessault.

Vegas doubled their lead at 7:03. Abouncing puck elluded the Sharks defenders and landed just right for Chandler Stephenson to shoot it between Logan Couture’s skates and into the net. Assists went to Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty.

The Sharks outshot the Golden Knights in the first, 9-6. The teams traded power plays, with two apiece. The Golden Knights had two shots on the power play and the Sharks had just one. Vegas won 63% of the face-offs.

Vegas added to their lead just 2:57 in to the second period. Max Pacioretty’s shot from just below the blue line went right under Martin Jones and in. Assists went to Alec Martinex and Ryan Reaves.

The Sharks pulled Jones out and put Devan Dubnyk in net. Dubnyk warmed up in game with a quick glove stop on Pacioretty.

Brent Burns got the Sharks on the board at 6:01 with a power play goal. His shot went in and out so quickly that play continued until the Situation Room interrupted with a goal horn. It had hit camera just under the crossbar. Assists went to Ryan Donato and Timo Meier.

Matt Nieto brought the Sharks within one at 12:43. After knocking down an arial pass from Erik Karlsson in the neutral zone, Nieto carried the puck in two on one with Joel Kellman. Nieto took the shot instead of passing.

The shots were very closein the second, at 12-11 for Vegas. The teams again had two power plays apiece. The Sharks just had one shot in their power plays and that was Burns’ goal. Vegas had four shots through their second period power plays. The Sharks improved in the face-off circle, winning 52% of their draws.

Alex Tuch added a fourth goal to the Vegas tally, 26 seconds into the third period. A defensive attempt to knock the puck off of William Carrier’s stick merely swept it across to Tuch for a quick shot over Dubnyk’s shoulder. Assists went to Carrier and Keegan Kolesar.

Logan Couture trimmed that Vegas lead back down at 6:23. Moments before the goal, Couture intercepted a pass in the Sharks zone and then carried the puck the other way. A few tidy passes later, Couture took a shot right up the slot and past Oscar Dansk. Assists went to Erik Karlsson and Kevin Labanc.

With 7:56 left in the game, Ryan Reeves sustained a skate cut as he took Kurtis Gabriel into the boards. He had to be helped off the ice.

The Sharks had a late power play in the third period, and got two shots in there but did not tie the game until Kevin Labanc scored at 18:53. A long pass to the neutral zone from Brent Burns made its way all the way down before the Dansk tried to swat it away. Nieto was there to knock it in.

Overtime lasted 1:25 and ended with a goal from Max Pacioretty. A backhand pass from Alex Pietrangelo went through the slot to Pacioretty for a quick shot. Dubnyk could not get across in time to stop that one. Assists went to Pietrangelo and Mark Stone.

The teams were tied in shots in both the third and overtime periods, with eight each in the third and one each in overtime. The face-offs overall went to the Golden Knights at 57%.

The Sharks play the Golden Knights again on Saturday at 7:30 PM PT in San Jose.

Sharks Beat Ducks 5-4 in Shoot-Out

The Anaheim Ducks center Rickard Rakell (right) with outstretched stick can’t stop the San Jose Sharks right winger Matt Nieto (left) who takes the puck down ice on Fri Feb 5, 2021 in the Honda Center in Anaheim (AP News photo)

By Mary Walsh

The San Jose Sharks defeated the Anaheim Ducks 5-4 in a shoot-out at the Honda Center Friday. Sharks goals came from Matt Nieto, Logan Couture, Evander Kane, and Brent Burns. The shoot-out winner came from Kevin Labanc. Martin Jones made 33 saves for the win. The Ducks got goals from Adam Henrique, Troy Terry and Max Comtois (2). John Gibson made 26 saves in the loss. An eight-goal performance was unexpected from two of the lowest-scoring teams in the league. Stranger still, each team had a three-goal period.

After the game, Sharks Head Coach Bob Boughner talked about the stunning shift in momentum from the first period to the second, when the game lurched from 1-0 Sharks to 3-1 Ducks:

“Your character’s in question there, when you have such a good first period and you come back and all of a sudden, you know. Hey, our power play didn’t go as well as we thought and that we wanted, and we lost momentum I think that way. But, you know, at the end of the day it’s a five-on-five game and we’ve got to get our five-on-five game established again. I just didn’t like a couple of the goals. I thought we looked basically uninspired in parts of the second period.”

Coming into the game, the Ducks were 4-5-2 on the season. In their previous game, they defeated the Los Angeles Kings 3-1. Ryan Getzlaf was out with a lower body injury Friday. The Sharks were 3-5-0. Due to COVID protocol schedule changes, they had a week off after a shut-out loss to Colorado. Alexander Chmelevski made his NHL debut.

Matt Nieto started the scoring with his third goal of the year. Matt Nieto and Marcus Sorensen jumped into the zone two one one. Sorensen had the puck on the outside and waited until he was almost at the goal line before making a pass to Nieto in front of the net at 12:50 of the first period. Assists went to Sorensen and Alexander Chmelevski, Chmelevski’s first NHL point.

At the end of the first period, the Sharks had a 17-8 lead in shots. They had one shot on one power play, gave up a short-handed shot, and trailed in the face-off circle at 44%.

The second period was all Ducks. At 10:03, Adam Henrique tapped a rebound under Martin Jones to tie the game. Assists went to Derek Grant and Troy Terry.

A few minutes later, Terry scored to give Anaheim the lead. Cam Fowler brought the puck into the zone and then passed it to Terry on the outside. Fowler kept going and acted as a screen for Terry’s shot. The assists went to Fowler and Grant.

In the final minutes of the period, Max Comtois made it 3-1. The Sharks had just finished their second scoreless powerplay. An offside call led to a neutral zone face-off that Anaheim won. It took the a couple of tries to get through the neutral zone but finally they made it into the Sharks’zone. Rickard Rakell took advantage of a give-away and skated behind the Sharks net. He found Comtois with a short pass and Comtois’ shot squeezed between Jones and the post.

In the second period, the Ducks out-shot the Sharks 13-3 and won 60% of the face-offs. On the Sharks’ power play, they had one shot and gave one up.

After the game, Boughner acknowledged that a lot was said during the second intermission: “It was time to look ourselves in the mirror a little bit and it was a gut check. And they responded.”

The Sharks’ big guns did indeed respond in the third period. Logan Couture scored in the first minute. Couture dumped the puck in and Evander Kane chased it down in time to sling it in front of the net. Couture was at the net by then and tapped it in while goalie John Gibson was trying to come across. Assists went to Kane and Brent Burns.

Evander Kane tied the game with a short-handed goal at 2:06 of the third. He stole a pass meant for Hampus Lindholm. Chipping it to himself and took a shot from above the face-off dot. The puck sailed by Gibson on the far side.

Brent Burns gave the Sharks their second lead of the game at 8:04. John Gibson had just gotten back into his net after a stroll behind it. Burns took a pass from Ryan Donato and buried it.

The Ducks tied it back up with another goal from Max Comtois. The Ducks won a defensive zone draw, and followed that up with a gruelling long shift in the Sharks zone. Comtois received a cross-ice pass from Carter Rowney and shot the puck past Jones on the glove side. Assists went to Rowney and Lindholm.

The Sharks improved a little in the face-off circle in the third, winning 46% of them. The shot clock favored the Ducks 11-8.

The teams traded good chances for the first couple of minutes until a high stick penalty put the Ducks on the power play. The Sharks got a nice short-handed chance when Marc-Edouard Vlasic got control of the puck and carried it out of the zone. The Sharks killed off a good chunk of the power play moving the puck around the Ducks’ zone and taking one shot.

Ryan Donato shot first for the Sharks and scored. Rickard Rakell shot first for the Ducks and Jones made a great save.

Couture shot second for the Sharks but Gibson shut down the five-hole attempt. Comtois shot second for Anaheim but Jones stopped him with an outstretched toe.

Kevin Labanc shot third and, though he tripped over Gibson’s skate, he still got the puck in the net.

The Sharks next play on Saturday, in Anaheim again, against the Ducks at 7:00 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.

Avalanche Tie Series with 4-3 Win Over Sharks

Photo credit: @SanJoseSharks

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE — The Colorado Avalanche edged the San Jose Sharks in Game 2 with a 4-3 win at SAP Center Sunday, tying the second round playoff series at one apiece. Avs’ goals came from Gabriel Landeskog, Tyson Barrie, Matt Nieto and Nathan MacKinnon. Sharks’ goals came from Evander Kane and Brent Burns (2). Philipp Grubauer made 31 saves for Colorado, while Martin Jones made 28 saves on 31 shots for San Jose.

After the game, Sharks forward Evander Kane said: “I thought we did a good job early on, we just let them hang around too long.”

Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson elaborated on the same theme:

I think that we played well, we did a lot of good things out there. Just couldn’t find a way to score goals and got a little frustrated as the game went along and started doing our own thing a little too much. We know that doesn’t work in here and you know we should have learned by now but we didn’t. They capitalized on the chances they got and made us play from behind.

Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer pointed to the Sharks’ net-front presence as an issue: “I thought it was a pretty even game. I thought we didn’t get to their net enough. We had some real good looks where he made a couple big saves but I thought we could have made it a little tougher on him traffic-wise on our point shots. And I thought we could have done a better job in front of Jonesy, you know, on their point shots.”

Evander Kane started the scoring at 7:57 of the first. Kane was in front of the net and got behind Cale Makar as a blueline shot from Brent Burns came in. With a couple of strong moves, he fended off Makar and put the puck past Grubauer. Assists went to Brent Burns and Tomas Hertl. It was Kane’s second of the playoffs.

Colorado tied it up at 8:21. Tyson Barrie took a shot from the blue line into traffic and it went off of Gabriel Landeskog right on the edge of the blue paint. It was Landeskog’s second of the playoffs. Assists went to Barrie and Nathan MacKinnon.

The Avalanche got a lead on a goal from Tyson Barrie at 16:31. The play could have easily been called an icing, as Marc-Edouard Vlasic was the first to the hash marks, but the officials did not call it and play continued on.

After the game, Vlasic said “I’ll take the high road and wait for the League’s apology tomorrow.”

Barrie’s shot came from above the face-off circle when the puck emerged from a battle by the other side of the net. Jones was coming across from that and could not stop Barrie’s shot. Assists went to Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen.

Colorado’s lead expanded at 10:10 of the third. Martin Jones looked like he thought he had the puck frozen under him but it was slowly moving behind him. Brenden Dillon got his stick in there to push it away from the goal line but he hit it a little too hard and it bounced off of Jones back into the net. The goal went to Matt Nieto, his third of the playoffs. Assists went to Matt Calvert and Barrie.

The Sharks had some good luck in the form of Alexander Kerfoot’s broken skate, which left Brent Burns free to move and shoot without Kerfoot getting in his way. Burns did just that and brought the Sharks within one at 15:26. Assists went to Erik Karlsson and Marcus Sorensen.

That Sharks momentum was shattered when, moments later, Timo Meier allowed his stick to get into Nathan MacKinnon’s skate and that put the Avalanche on a power play. The Sharks killed off the penalty, but had little time to get the tying goal. With just over a minute to go, they pulled their goaltender for the extra skater. Nathan MacKinnon got control of the puck and put it in the empty net at 18:58. Assists went to Calvert and Philipp Grubauer.

The Sharks did get that third goal, in a 17-second power play at the end of the game. Four skaters battled for puck in the slot, but Tomas Hertl got to it first and tapped it ahead to Burns, who was moving through the outside of the face-off circle. He had a clear shot and he took it. Assists went to Hertl and Kane. That left the Sharks 10 more seconds to tie it with a fourth but they couldn’t get that done.

Melker Karlsson left the game late in the third period after being crushed against the glass by Derick Brassard.

Game 3 will be Tuesday at the Pepsi Center in Denver at 7:00 PM PT.

Sharks Win 7-0 at Home

By Mary Walsh

photo credit: USA Today SJ Sharks Tomas Hertl scores on Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jonathan Bernier in Saturday’s Sharks laugher

SAN JOSE– The San Jose Sharks ran over the Toronto Maple Leafs by a score of 7-0 on Saturday. After the game, Sharks defenseman Justin Braun summed it up: “You can’t ask for much more, you know? Scoring, goalie played great. It’s one of those games you don’t drop and it works out that way.”

It would be an understatement to say that the Sharks have lacked depth scoring over the past dozen games, or even throughout the season. Players like Tomas Hertl, Tommy Wingels, Matt Nieto, Melker Karlsson, and Joonas Donskoi have all failed to pull their weight on the scoreboard. Saturday, they seemed hell bent on making up for that. Only time will tell if they can sustain it, but the 7-0 win on Saturday showed that they can do the job.

The Sharks started the game with distinctly different forward lines. They were: Donskoi-Couture-Karlsson, Pavelski-Thornton-Hertl, Ward-Marleau-Nieto, and Wingels-Tierney-Brown. After the game, Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer was asked whether these new forward lines was the key to success for the struggling players. He said:

I don’t think the line shuffles changed it. I think we’ve got a proud group in there, I don’t think… they weren’t happy about where we were sitting. I think they were smart enough to recognize we were doing a lot of good things. But we needed a little bit more out of everybody. And they fixed that themselves. Now again we have to build on that.

Tomas Hertl scored twice and earned an assist. Joonas Donskoi, Matt Nieto and Melker Karlsson each scored a goal, and Wingels earned two assists. Usual suspects, Brent Burns and Joe Pavelski, scored the other two goals. After the game, Tommy Wingels said:

I think when we have four dangerous lines out there you see the potential that this team has. And if we’re going to make a run and string some wins together, that’s what we’re going to need. Certainly a lot of guys feel better about their games today than they have in games past. Myself, other guys– be happy with it, gain some confidence and continue it on to the next game.

The other guy with a big blinking question mark over his head has been goaltender Martin Jones, who seemed to share his team’s allergy to wins on home ice. His performance Saturday made him look like he was worth the first round draft pick that the Sharks gave up for him. Especially in the first period, while the game was still scoreless, Jones was key. In all, he made 28 saves for the shutout. After the game, he said:

It was a close game before we started scoring in the second there. Obviously we had some timely goals in the second and kind of ran away with it but it was just a solid game from everybody from start to finish.

The Maple Leafs gave the Sharks ample opportunity to score, and the Sharks took advantage. It was the first goal, from Brent Burns, that seemed to open the flood gates for the Sharks. It was a stand out play under any circumstances, but his single-handed incursion early in the second period was pivotal for his team on Saturday. After the game, DeBoer said of the goal:

That was huge, because I thought we were a little tentative, we were almost in that ‘waiting for something to go wrong’ mindset. And he just said **** it and took the puck and that changed the game for us. That play changed the game.

The game did not start off like a high-scoring affair. The Sharks had the first power play, after Jake Gardiner was called for holding Tommy Wingels. The hold resulted in a three-player pile up in the Toronto net at 5:24. Once the officials untangled the players, the Sharks attempted to launch an attack with the man advantage. Their efforts were no real threat to Toronto, and the two minutes elapsed without the Sharks adding a shot on goal.

The Sharks took another swing at the power play with just 2:09 left in the first. Leo Komarov went to the box for boarding Longan Couture. This time, the Sharks did get a shot on goal, one from Brent Burns. The second unit of Ward, Hertl, Donskoi, Burns and Vlasic got another shot in, and another pile up in the goal crease.

At the end of the first period, the shot count was 12-7 Toronto. Five of those San Jose shots were from defensemen, Burns and Justin Braun with two each and Marc-Edouard Vlasic with one. The others were from Matt Nieto and Tommy Wingels.

At 4:18 of the second period, Brent Burns took the game over for a shitf, skated out of the neutral zone and into the offensive zone, fending off defenders most of the way, and put the puck past James Reimer. Assists went to Paul Martin and Joe Pavelski. It was Burns’ 17th of the season.

The Maple Leafs had their turn on the power play at 7:01, when Paul Martin was called for a high stick against Shawn Matthias. The San Jose penalty kill was more effective than their power play had been. Perhaps that is because Matt Nieto and Tommy Wingels don’t get much time on the power play. During the second minute of the penalty kill, Tommy Wingels chased a puck down in the offensive zone. The Maple Leafs seemed to have forgotten about the puck as they made a line change and almost no one went after Wingels. With Nieto darting down the other wing, a lone Toronto defender could not get back in time to prevent Wingels from making a late pass across to Nieto, who put the puck in the open net. Assists went to Wingels and Brent Burns.

The Sharks also killed the penalty.

Dion Phaneuf decided that Wingels was worth a five-minute fighting major, on top of the interference minor he received at the same time. The Sharks power play again lacked inspiration or cohesion.

Ironically, shortly after it expired, the Sharks extended their lead with a Joe Pavelski goal. Hertl’s pass from below the goal line was a thing of beauty, as he threw it behind him while facing the boards, hitting his mark perfectly. Pavelski was where he needed to be, right in front of the blue paint. Assists went to Hertl and Thornton.

Less than two minutes later, Justin Braun took a shot from high in the slot, which Hertl followed to the net. Hertl corralled the rebound and put it lightly over Bernier’s pad for a 4-0 lead. The lone assist went to Braun.

When the period ended, the Sharks were behind on the shot clock 19-21.

22 seconds into the third period, Matt Nieto was called for hooking. Martin Jones had to make several good saves in the first minute, a sign that the penalty killers were not as sharp as earlier in the game. The Toronto power play was also more composed.

A fifth Sharks goal came at 4:10. Chris Tierney caught a pass from Justin Braun at the Toronto blue line and sent it to Melker Karlsson as he darted across the line into the slot. Karlsson put the puck past Bernier and Toronto coach Mike Babcock made a coach’s challenge on the basis of a missed offside call. The challenge was overruled and the goal stood up. While Tierney’s skates were clearly across the line before the puck was, he had full control of it which negated an offside ruling.

Joonas Donskoi extended the lead to six when he took the puck from the half boards, evaded two different Toronto skaters, went behind the net and slid the puck in between skate and post. That was at 9:28 of the third, and assists went to Wingels and Vlasic.

Hertl scored again at 11:22, despite Bernier’s attempts to push him away from the net. Assists went to Braun and Vlasic.

The Sharks next play on Monday in Calgary against the Flames at 6:00 PT.

Sharks Start Road Trip With 3-2 Win in Detroit

By Mary Walsh

The San Jose Sharks defeated the Detroit Red Wings on Friday by a score of 3-2. It was an excellent start to a six game road trip. Sharks goals were scored by Matt Nieto, Joe Pavelski and Melker Karlsson. Five Sharks defensemen had points in the game, and goaltender Martin Jones stopped 26 of 28 shots for the win. For the Red Wings, Dylan Larkin made an excellent impression skating in his first NHL game. He set up the Tomas Tatar for Detroit’s first goal. The other Detroit goal came from Teemu Pulkkinen in the final minute of the game.

The Sharks gave up the first goal early in the game, something they have been doing a lot lately. Despite giving up the first goal yet again, Martin Jones had a good bounce back game. After the win, he said:

I’ve got to find a way to come up with a save early in the game. That’s a lot of games in a row that we’re coming from behind here so… It makes it tough on us. You know, the guy makes a good shot but I’ve got to find a way to come up with a save early.

The most noteworthy change to the Sharks lineup was that Patrick Marleau moved to center the second line, with Joel Ward and Nikolay Goldobin on the wings. Melker Karlsson started on the top line with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski. Tomas Hertl centered the third line with Tommy Wingels and Joonas Donskoi. That left a fourth line centered by Chris Tierney with Matt Nieto and Mike Brown.

For the Red Wings, Pavel Datsyuk entered the lineup for the first time this season.

The Red Wings opened the scoring at 3:13 of the first period. A three on two was slightly aided when an official got in the way of Joe Thornton. Dylan Larkin carried the puck into the zone, then made a pass to Tomas Tatar on the wing. Tatar took the shot from above the circle and beat Jones on the far side, in the top corner. The goal went to Tatar with assists to Larkin and Niklas Kronwall.

Nikolay Goldobin earned the Sharks a power play by falling down and having it mistaken for a trip. It took Detroit almost a minute to clear the puck the first time. Later in the power play, Tommy Wingels was called for holding Darren Helm. That gave the teams 33 seconds of four-on-four play before the Red Wings power play. The Sharks penalty kill stopped the Red Wings from getting set up and gave them very little time to play in the offensive one.

Just as the power play ended, Sharks defenseman Matt Tennyson passed the puck out of the Sharks zone to Joe Thornton in the neutral zone. Thornton carried it in, pushed a weak shot at the net, then retrieved it behind the net, fighting off Drew Miller and Mike Green. As Thornton slid the puck back around in front of the net, Melker Karlsson arrived and popped it over Jimmy Howard’s pad to tie the game. Assists went to Thornton and Tennyson.

The Sharks survived another Detroit power play at 8:56, when Joel Ward was called for tripping. It was the first penalty of the season for Ward.

The Sharks took the lead late in the first, when Matt Nieto caught the puck on the left side of the net, carried it behind the net for a wrap around try, which did not go. He was ready for that, caught the rebound and put a shot up under the cross bar. The assists went to Brenden Dillon and Marc-Edouard Vlasic.

Nikolay Goldobin was still on the second line to start the second period. The way he was pulled off the first line in earlier games, his continued presence on the second line suggests that his coach is gaining confidence in him. The first half of the second period was relatively uneventful. There were no penalties and no goals.

Just past the halfway mark, The Sharks looked like they were getting set up in the offensive zone. Paul Martin saw an early opening and took a shot from the blue line as Joe Pavelski was skating across in front of the net. Pavelski turned and skated backwards to get his stick in position, then deflected the shot perfectly past Howard. The assists went to Martin and Justin Braun. The goal put Pavelski one away from 500 career points.

With less than a minute left in the period, some rough stuff in front of the Red Wings net put Joe Thornton and Luke Glendening in the box with two minutes each for roughing. Actually, it sent them to the dressing room since there were only 56.7 seconds left.

At the end of the second, the shots were 22-11 Detroit, the score 3-1 San Jose.

The third period rolled along without penalties or additional scoring. The Sharks only got credit for three shots during the period, but they limited the Red Wings to just six in the period.

With their goaltender pulled and 1:52 left in the game, the Red Wings closed the gap. With all of the Sharks and a couple of Red Wings lined up in the slot, Tomas Tatar passed the puck to Jakub Kindl at the point. Kindle passed it along the blue line to Teemu Pulkkinen, who slapped it into the top corner. Assists went to Kindl and Tatar. After that, the Sharks pushed back a little harder and tried, unsuccessfully, for the empty net.

Final score: 3-2 Sharks.

None of the Sharks had more than two shots, and those with two were Brent Burns, Tommy Wingels and Matt Nieto. Justin Braun and Melker Karlsson led the team in hits with four each. Marc-Edouard Vlasic led the team in ice time with 26:54.

Pavel Datsyuk led the Red Wings in shots with four. Dylan Larkin and Justin Abdelkader led the Red Wings in hits with four apiece. Jimmy Howard made 11 saves on 14 shots.

The Sharks next play on Saturday at 4:00 PT in Buffalo against the Sabres.