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.

Sharks Can’t Get By Sabres, Lose 2-1

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE– The Buffalo Sabres scored two quick goals in the third period to beat the San Jose Sharks 2-1 Saturday afternoon. After the teams ground out two scoreless periods, Cody Hodgson took advantage of a defensive lapse to open the scoring at 3:43 of the third. Just over two minutes later, Nicolas Deslauriers extended the Sabres’ lead to 2. The lone Sharks goal was scored by Brent Burns less than 30 seconds after that.

Sabres goaltender Michal Neuvirth made 29 saves in the game, and 15 of those were in the third period. That reflects the sharp disparity in the Sharks’ play during the first two periods and the third. Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic said the team just took too long to wake up:

Just by looking at their record, 1 and 7, we shouldn’t have lost this game. But they’re a hard-working team, they play a good system. We were too late on waking up in the third.

Saying the Sharks needed to wake up did not entirely account for their defensively clean but otherwise tentative first two periods. Giving up the two goals let something loose for the team. Forward Tommy Wingels described it as a type of useful panic:

We played a more energized game in the third. When we kinda got behind you hit the panic button in a good way. But we’ve got to find a way to get those chances and that energy in our game earlier. It’s a work in process now but we can’t keep saying it’s things we’re going to work on. We’ve got to execute it now and see some changes.

Asked whether it stings more to lose to a team that has yet to win in regulation, Logan Couture said:

I think it stings that we’ve lost four in a row. I mean I could care less what the Buffalo Sabres are doing right now. San Jose Sharks have lost four straight games, two at home, and haven’t played well.

It can be difficult to identify important moments in games that are low in both penalties and goals. It could be little things like a puck passed into skates that snuffs out a nice zone entry, or a pass during a power play that ends up leaving the zone via an empty point. It appears that the team is just failing to communicate, again.

Couture mentioned two disappointing plays that he and Patrick Marleau failed to score on:

I didn’t know he was there until I heard the crowd actually. I was looking back. I heard the crowd so I looked up. He’s so fast it’s tough to get an angle to pass to him. It’s my fault on that one. But the other one, two on one, we’ve got to score on that one.

The team seemed constrained and there were definitely some knocks and pings in the engine.

The lines changed very little, if at all, through the game. James Sheppard started on a line with Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau. Joe Pavelski started the game on a line with Tomas Hertl and Joe Thornton. Chris Tierney was also back in the lineup, with Tommy Wingels and Matt Nieto onhis line. Finally, John Scott, Adam Burish and Andrew Desjardins made up the fourth line.

Of the forward lines, the one that stood out was the third with Tierney, Wingels and Nieto. Of those three, Sharks head coach Todd McLellan said:

Unfortunately they were on the ice for a goal but I thought Chris Tierney maybe had his best game for us. Tommy Wingels, Matt Nieto, certainly through the first two periods were our best line.

Through the first two periods, it looked like the team would make it through without giving up too many goals– their stated objective after the last couple of games.

As the first period wound to a close, the Sharks were being outshot 5-6 and the game remained scoreless. The Sharks were winning the faceoff battle 9-3, but there was little else to measure the game by. Neither team dominated in zone time, both were guilty of giving up the puck when they should not have. With 55 seconds left, Andrew Desjardins was called for interference and the Sabres went on a power play.

The Sharks killed off the rest of that penalty to end the period and to start the next one.  By the first tv timeout of the second, the shots were 8-7 Sabres. The Sharks’ game lacked excitement but they were still winning faceoffs and had not given up and goals yet.

The Sharks got their first power play when Rasmus Ristolainen went to the box for interference at 11:51 of the second. That power play featured some judgment lapses and communication failures but the Sharks did create some chances.

Possibly the most exciting chance of the period came when Chris Tierney managed to carry the puck behind the Buffalo net and try a wrap-around. It was close and very authoritative but it did not go in.

Buffalo got another late power play at the end of the second when Scott Hannan was called for tripping Chris Stewart. This time, the Sharks’ penalty kill looked much bolder. Two good short-handed chances punctuated the kill, until the Sabres lost their man advantage with a second left in the period. Tyler Ennis went to the box to set the Sharks up for an early power play in the third.

The second period ended with the shots 14-9 San Jose. The Sharks had won 17 faceoffs to the Sabres’ 10.

Wingels and Tierney started the third period with Vlasic and Braun, as the teams were still four on four. 24 seconds later, Wingels was called for holding the stick. That put the Sharks down a man and negated the power play they were anticipating. Burns, Pavelski and Hannan handled the four on three shift and made it back to four on four.

In the four on four play, Andrew Desjardins had the best chance on a breakaway. Sabres clogged the passing lanes but left him with a clear view of Sabres goalie Michal Neuvirth. Neuvirth stopped him. The penalties expired and the Sabres attacked at even strength.

Cody Hodgson scored his first goal. It looked as if the Sharks simply lost track of Hodgson and he found himself alone with an open net. Assists went to Drew Stafford and Zemgus Girgenson.

The second goal was a little like the first. The puck squeezed through Stalock’s glove side and trickled into the blue paint. No one was there to stop Deslauriers from putting it across the line. Assists went to Cody McCormick and Sam Reinhart.

Finally, the Sharks bit back at 13:50. Brent Burns put it past Neuvirth, as unassisted as it gets. Burns avoided Marcus Foligno at the blue line, carried the puck through the slot to the far boards and took a shot that flew through traffic and past Neuvirth. Buffalo did not lie down after that but the Sharks finally looked like they were in the hunt.

By the time Todd McLellan used his timeout with 1:38 to go, the Sharks had taken as many shots in the period as they had in the previous two combined.

Tommy Wingels led the Sharks in shots with four. John Scott led the team in hits with seven in just 5:52 of ice time. Brent Burns led the team in ice time with 22:30. Alex Stalock made 12 saves on 14 shots.

Lineup notes: Jason Demers was out, Mirco Mueller was in. Tye McGinn and Eriah Hayes were out, John Scott and Chris Tierney were in. Matt Irwin was still in the lineup, paired with Scott Hannan, while Mueller was back with Burns.

The Sharks reassigned Eriah Hayes to the Worcester Sharks of the AHL on Friday. Hayes played four games with the Sharks since his recall on October 18.

From a Sharks press release on Friday:

Sharks Defenseman Brent Burns, often recognized by his untamed hair and mountain-man beard, today announced the  return of Burnzie’s Buzzcut for Charity. In an effort to raise funds to support Defending the Blue Line, the Katie Moore Foundation, and the San Francisco Zoo, Burns is going to allow his teammates to give him a buzz cut and shave his beard. From now until November 1st, the Sharks Foundation will be accepting donations at sjsharks.com/buzzcut with the goal of raising $5,000 for each of these worthwhile charities.

 

Sharks Finish Road Trip with 4-2 Win Over NJ Devils

By Mary Walsh

The San Jose Sharks ended a three game road trip with a 4-2 win over the New Jersey Devils on Sunday. They picked up two wins in five days to close the gap between the Sharks and the Division-leading Ducks to five points in the standings.

Sharks goals were scored by Joe Pavelski, Raffi Torres, Matt Nieto and Patrick Marleau. Alex Stalock turned in a very good performance with 21 saves in his second win in a row. Devils goals were scored by Adam Henrique and Patrick Elias.

The first star of the game was Matt Nieto. Of Nieto, Sharks coach Todd McLellan said:

He played an excellent game, he seized the opportunity, played really well, was effective penalty killing, was very good on that line, obviously scored the winning goal.

What about Nieto sitting out the last game?

In his case it wasn’t so much sending a message it was getting some other people into the game who had to play. It was nice to see that he handled it properly and was ready to go today.

Nieto replaced Brent Burns on the top line Sunday. McLellan explained that decision:

I thought Burnzie had a good game but it’s been a long time since he produced and scored on that line. And just like everybody else we’ve got to to hold him accountable. Brent will work his way back.

The game was the first time the Sharks had played against ex-teammate Ryane Clowe, and he welcomed them to town with four hits. He gave one each to Justin Braun, Dan Boyle, Tommy Wingels and Jason Demers. During the second intermission, he was asked if those hits had a little extra energy behind them for his ex-teammates:

You’re right, you lean into them a little more. It’s something where obviously they’ve had a core together for a while, you know all those guys. It’s a little bit of me is trying to play physical, probably trying to play a little more physical against those guys.

But it’s also part of the game, I think we’ve got to get on our D and play physical against that D who skate well, who move the puck well, but we’ve got to make them defend.

The first period ended scoreless, with just one penalty call in the last minute of play. That call went to the Sharks. The shots were very close, just 10-8 for the Sharks.

New forward lines for the Sharks’ were clearly trying to find their way, most notably the line composed of Brent Burns, James Sheppard and Martin Havlat. How McLellan had never put those together is a mystery, as McLellan can be relied on to try everything at least once, and those three can provide some skill and scoring. How to communicate smoothly after not playing together is another matter. The line did not get credit for any shots on goal in the first period but did spend more time in the offensive zone than defending.

The other lines were adjusted accordingly, putting Tommy Wingels on a line with Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau. Matt Nieto came back into the lineup, on a line with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski. The fourth line was made up of Raffi Torres, Andrew Desjardins and Tim Kennedy. That line did not have much trouble sorting themselves out, and were generating good chances for themselves early in the game.

The defensive pairings had also been changed since the game in Buffalo two nights before: Matt Irwin was with Dan Boyle, Marc-Edouard Vlasic was paired with Jason Demers, and Justin Braun was with Scott Hannan. Finally, Alex Stalock was in net.

The first goal of the game came early in the second period. The Sharks’ Tommy Wingels screened the goalie for a Jason Demers shot from the point that was tipped by Patrick Marleau. The shot created a small rebound that came out to Couture who was sliding in near the post. Assists went to Marleau and Demers.

The second goal came from the Devils’ Adam Henrique to tie the game. What looked like a fairly manageable two on three fell apart for the Sharks when Henrique came down the slot and received a pass from Steve Bernier, who had escaped Tyler Kennedy along the boards. Sharks defenseman Justin Braun did not get back across the ice quickly enough to tie up Henrique. Assists went to Bernier and Eric Gelinas.

The Devils also scored the third goal, during another incident of missed coverage. Patrick Elias scored that, with assists going to Jon Merrill and Henrique.

The next goal tied the game again. This time a neutral zone pass from James Sheppard went to Raffi Torres, who went in to the Devils’ zone in a two on one with Joe Pavelski. Torres passed it to Pavelski, who passed it back. Torres had an open net and scored his third goal in two games this season.

The second period ended with the Devils on a power play after Marc-Edouard Vlasic was called for tripping Travis Zajac. The shots were 18-14 for the Sharks, the score still 2-2.

The Sharks killed off the last 30 seconds of the penalty without incident. Sharks’ goaltender Alex Stalock had to make some good saves on Jaromir Jagr and Ryane Clowe in the first minutes of the period.

A little over six minutes into the third, the Sharks had a scare after a giveaway in their offensive zone. A relentless attack from the Devils required several good saves from Stalock. The Sharks finally cleared the puck and executed a line change, putting the Thornton line on the ice. One quick pass from Joe Pavelski to Matt Nieto gave the Sharks the lead again.

The Sharks went right to the penalty kill when Jason Demers went to the box for tripping. The Sharks killed that off very effectively, as they had the two previous penalties. The Sharks spent a good deal of the penalty kill outside their own zone.

The Sharks went to the penalty kill yet again with less than six minutes left in the game. Justin Braun was called for hooking. The Sharks did not allow the Devils to spend much time in the offensive zone, but iced the puck shortly after the penalty expired. Sharks coach Todd McLellan took his timeout with 3:22 left in the period.

Shotrly after play resumed, the Devils made a fatal mistake, letting Patrick Marleau get off on a break away to score the Sharks’ fourth goal of the game. Tommy Wingels helped the Devils make that mistake by going ahead and driving for the net to take away a Devils defender and distract Cory Schneider.

The Devils pulled their goaltender with a little less than two minutes left, but even with the extra attacker the Devils could not score again.

Final score: 4-2 Sharks. The Sharks killed four of four penalties, Alex Stalock made 21 saves on 23 shots. The Devils killed one penalty, Cory Schneider made 18 saves on 22 shots. The teams were even in faceoff wins with 24 each.

The three stars were Matt Neito, Adam Henrique and Joe Pavelski. Justin Braun lead the Sharks in ice time with 21:03, Joe Thornton lead in shots with four.

The Sharks next play at home against the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday at 7:30 pm.

Sharks Underwhelm in 3-2 Win Over Calgary

By Mary Walsh

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tyler Kennedy had five of those shots for the Sharks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sharks Taking One Game at a Time

By Mary Walsh

The San Jose Sharks had a shootout against Washington, a shutout against Florida, and a wide-open nine-goal game with two hat tricks against Tampa Bay. Just like that, the Sharks have won three in a row after not being able to win more than one in a row for seven games. Perhaps the tide has turned. Perhaps the Sharks have really settled in and are doing what every team says they want to do, must do: take one game at a time.

Those three wins were not against the toughest opponents for the Sharks, even if they hadn’t beaten the Panthers in years and years. The Lightning are doing well in the East but the Sharks had already beaten them once this season. The difference this time was that the team was missing Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl and Martin Havlat. That inflates the importance of Saturday’s win, and all three wins.

It is a good winning streak, the Sharks have lost to worse opponents, with and without their big guns. Now the team will have to keep their feet on the gas.

Matt Nieto has been a boon to the team. 13 points in 37 games might not seem like that much, but as the Sharks have been looking for more scoring, from anyone, those are life support points. He might not be the solution to the lack of production from the lower six, but he is making the best of his time on the second line now.

Speaking of the bottom six, it seemed unutterably cruel that the fourth line’s goal was waived off on Saturday. Just about any other line could have spared it more readily. Having come so close to a goal there showed that Sheppard, McCarthy and Hayes can keep play in the right end of the ice, but it would be nice to get more points for their trouble.

Will Alex Stalock actually get more starts than any Sharks backup in recent history? I doubt it. He is on track to get just about as many starts as Greiss ever did. Whether he should get more starts, whether Antti Niemi should be forced to rest more before playoffs, it doesn’t appear that Todd McLellan will allocate the workload any differently than he has in previous years. He has said he will give Stalock more starts, but he might just mean more starts than he might have given a first year NHL backup goaltender in a non-Olympic year. It doesn’t mean Stalock will get 20 starts this season.

File that in the same box of mysteries as the Los Angeles-San Jose home ice advantage.

The Sharks are just eleven points behind the Ducks now. That’s a fairly enormous gap, but as Dan Boyle told the Mercury News last Tuesday:

We haven’t had to deal with such a significant gap, but we’ve got to believe we can get it done. You have to aim high, right?

The Sharks don’t have to catch the Ducks, they don’t even have to stay ahead of the Kings to be in the playoffs. Staying ahead of the Kings is probably more important than finishing first in their division. Whether it’s a haunting or a curse or a superstition or just two darn close teams, there is no point in testing that San Jose-Los Angeles home ice advantage. Psychologically, far better to be chasing the Ducks than the Kings.

There is no doubt that home ice would be good against the Ducks too, but even if you aim high, hunt one ghost at a time.

Stalock Shuts Out Panthers, Sharks Win 3-0

By Mary Walsh

Thursday, the San Jose Sharks defeated the Florida Panthers for the first time in head coach Todd McLellan’s tenure. The final score was 3-0, with goals from Joe Thornton, Matt Nieto and Joe Pavelski.

Alex Stalock earned his first NHL shutout, stopping 24 shots from the Panthers. The Sharks limited Florida’s “Killer Bs” to three shots on net. Those Bs are Brad Boyes, Sean Bergenheim and the second overall draft pick of 2013, Aleksander Barkov.

As of puck drop on Thursday, the Sharks had not beaten the Panthers since 2006, well before Todd McLellan became their head coach. They hadn’t played the Panthers a whole lot either (only four games) but that was an unexpected statistic.

While he remains the points leader for the Sharks, Joe Thornton still finds a way to make scoring a goal surprising. At the end of the second period, he broke away from the Sharks’ blue line, getting a step on several nearby Panthers, and gave himself room to beat one of the craftiest goaltenders in the NHL.

The obvious way to beat a goalie like Tim Thomas is to get enough traffic in front of him, force rebounds and hope to clean up some garbage. Do all that, or send a fellow veteran ex-Bruin in to outfox him one on one.

Before the start of the third period, CSN asked Sharks assistant coach Larry Robinson to confirm that Joe Thornton displayed excellent hands for that first goal of the game. Robinson chuckled:

Well, not bad, but he gave the puck away four or five times on the power play, so I was wondering where his hands went.

That described well how the game went for the Sharks. With four power play opportunities, including a minute and 29 seconds of five on three, the Sharks did not score a power play goal. Their penalty kill was much better, giving them some short-handed chances as well as preventing the Panthers from scoring on three power plays.

The Panthers started out with a flurry of shots on Alex Stalock. He kept them out of the net and the rebounds weren’t dangerously placed but he didn’t hold on to any of those shots, and the Sharks had their hands full trying to get the puck out of their zone.

Once they did get it out, the top line of Thornton, Brent Burns and Pavelski had better luck holding the puck in the Panther’s zone and putting some shots on net. Florida goaltender Tim Thomas didn’t let that go on for very long before catching hold of one of those shots.

After four minutes, the teams had a combined eight shots on net, three of those for the Sharks, two of them from Brent Burns. Three minutes later, the Sharks had taken the lead in shots at 9-6. That early push from Florida had not disconcerted the Sharks.

The Sharks’ first power play came at 10:55 of the period, when Barkov went to the box for hooking. With 1:29 left in power play, Bracken Kearns drew a high sticking call against Marcel Goc, giving the Sharks a lengthy five on three. San Jose was too tentative about moving the puck, letting Florida clear the puck several times, even five on three.

Not long after the penalties expired, San Jose’s Tommy Wingels went to the box for an illegal check to the head. With more review than referees are allowed, it was hard to see where Wingels made contact with Upshall’s head. The Sharks killed it off anyway.

Through the first period, the Sharks registered 21 shots on goal. The Panthers only added two more over the second half of the period.

3:20 into the second, Bergenheim escaped the San Jose defense and drove to the net to meet Stalock one on one. Stalock closed the door and held on through a few extra whacks and jabs before the whistle blew. That was an important save but it didn’t motivate the Sharks right away. A few minutes later, the Sharks had to kill a penalty when Brad Stuart was called for cross checking Tomas Kopecky.

The Sharks survived that penalty, and followed it up with a foray into Panthers territory, but almost eight minutes in to the period, the Sharks didn’t have a shot on goal, while the Panthers had six. The Sharks got their first shot at 12:08 of the period, from John McCarthy.

The Sharks were back on the penalty kill at 9:12, when Bracken Kearns was called for high-sticking. The Panthers’ power play was more dangerous this time, registering several shots in the first minute.

The Panthers lost the last 15 seconds of their power play to a high stick of their own, a questionable call on Scottie Upshall. The Sharks didn’t waste a lot of time starting their attack, but the Panthers cleared the puck and attacked short-handed in the first minute of the Sharks’ man advantage.

The last 30 seconds of the power play showed more urgency from San Jose but didn’t produce. Upshall gave them another chance less than three minutes later, with a hooking call. This call was less dubious as he hooked his stick securely around Sharks defenseman Justin Braun.

Upshall sat in the box for the full two minutes, as the Sharks’ power play did not score.

As the period wound down, with the game still scoreless, Stalock had a close call with Jonathan Huberdeau right up in his lap. After a brief scuffle along the boards, Joe Pavelski and Brent Burns got control of the puck and sent it up ice, where Joe Thornton was making a break. With Florida’s Mike Weaver and Dmitry Kulikov chasing him, Thornton pulled away and lifted the puck gently over Thomas to break the zero-zero tie. Assists went to Burns and Pavelski.

Early in the second period, Matt Nieto tried that. The breakaway was less surprising sice Nieto is known for his speed, but he tried to go five hole. Tim Thomas wasn’t likely to let the rookie get the better of him so soon after Thornton had beaten him. Thomas is notorious for luring players into shooting five hole, and disappointing them. A quick study, Nieto wouldn’t make the same mistake twice.

Back in the Sharks’ zone, Dan Boyle made the curious decision to put his stick shaft down on the ice to prevent a pass from getting to Upshall in front of the net. That didn’t work at all, and cost him seconds to get back in position. Nieto was all over Upshall, which gave Stalock just barely enough time to get a leg back across the crease and block the shot.

Tim Kennedy went the other way after that, where he drove the net and took an awkward-looking shot. Patrick Marleau and Matt Nieto were in hot pursuit and when the rebound popped out with Tim Thomas off balance, Nieto was able to get a quick shot over the Florida goalie. Assists went to Kennedy and Marleau.

Seven minutes later, the Sharks took a 3-0 lead when Pavelski took advantage of Thomas’s aggressive style. Thomas came out of the paint to cut down the options for Brad Stuart as he took a shot from the blue line. Brent Burns tipped that shot, but Thomas blocked it. Unfortunately for Thomas, Pavelski was there too, almost behind him, to pick up the rebound and knock it in. Assists initially went to Stuart and Braun, but were changed to Burns and Stuart, confirming the tip.

The Sharks outshot the Panthers in that final period 11-5, and 39-24 in the game.

The Sharks will play their next game on Saturday at 11am Pacific Time, in Tampa Bay against the Lightning.

Roster notes:
Martin Havat came off of the injured reserve list Thursday but did not play. Scott Hannan went on the list with what is likely a head injury, but is still described as only “upper body.” Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl, Raffi Torres and Adam Burish remain on the injured list.

Predators Bring Down Sharks 3-2

By Mary Walsh

Amid the hubbub of Olympic roster announcements Tuesday, the San Jose Sharks had a game to play in Nashville. They lost 3-2, but made a game of it despite yet more changes to their lineup, including the loss of Logan Couture to injury. Couture is scheduled for surgery, and is expected to be out for three to four weeks.

The Sharks were still without Tommy Wingels (upper body), Martin Havlat (lower body), Tyler Kennedy (flu) and Tomas Hertel (knee). No reinforcements were coming from the old list of injured, no Raffi Torres, no Adam Burish. Freddie Hamilton had just been sent down to Worcester, while Matt Nieto, Bracken Kearns and Eriah Hayes stayed with the big club. Hamilton was called right back up.

The game was an opportunity for new players to step up. One always wants a win, but it is not surprising that recently-arrived players in new positions, with new linemates, will probably need more than one practice to get in sync. Seeing the team find some cohesion as the game wore on should make the loss a little more palatable.

A failure to call goaltender interference in the second period made the Predators’ game winning goal count. The official explanation was that Marc-Edouard Vlasic had pushed Colin Wilson into Antti Niemi. Todd McLellan said a few words about that after the game* (from CSNCA broadcast):

Even if there was a touch of contact there, you’re not allowed to jump on top of the goaltender. We all know that, there’s a lot of people that understand that, but… it happened.

The game started out inauspiciously, when Joe Thornton was called for hooking just ten seconds into the game. The Predators’ power play was ranked 7th in the league. The Sharks’ penalty kill was ranked 14th. The Sharks killed the penalty, despite some failures to clear.

At 8:57, Matt Cullen was called for interference on Jason Demers, putting the Sharks on the power play.  It was an unspectacular power play. They only mustered one shot with that man advantage.

Possibly the Sharks’ best chance of the period came in the final minute, when Matt Nieto passed the puck from the blue line to Patrick Marleau in the slot, with Joe Pavelski in range of a rebound. Apart from that, the first period was a grind, at least for the Sharks.

The Predators kept them well to the outside whenever they gained the offensive zone. At the end of the period, the Predators led 10-7 in shots on goal and 9-4 in faceoffs.

At 6:11 of the second, David Legwand opened the scoring to give the Predators the lead. Joe Thorton and Jason Demers were both trying to move the puck away from Craig Smith but the puck got through both of them. Legwand got behind Demers and put a shot past Antti Niemi on the far side. It was Legwand’s first goal in 11 games. Assists went to Smith and Shea Weber.

The Sharks answered a few minutes later with a power play goal, after Mattias Ekholm was called for delay of game at 6:11. Joe Pavelski tipped a Dan Boyle shot from the blue line to tie the game. It was Pavelski’s 19th goal of the season, his 10th in the last 14 games. Assists went to Boyle and Demers.

Less than a minute later, the Predators retook the lead. Despite good pressure from Justin Braun, Ekholm got a backhand shot off, with good traffic in front of Niemi. The assist went to Legwand. It was Ekholm’s first NHL goal.

The Predators’ third goal came after Colin Wilson fell across Niemi’s right leg, pinning him in place and leaving the net wide open for Nashville defenseman Roman Josi’s shot. Officials apparently believed Wilson was pushed by Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Assists went to Weber and Wilson.

The Sharks didn’t score on their next power play, when Nick Spaling was called for holding the stick at 13:38 of the second. Nevertheless, the Sharks’ third power play was miles better than their first. The new lines seemed to be finding a groove.

The Predators outshot the Sharks through the second period as they had done in the first, 13-10.

Brent Burns drew a hooking call on Shea Weber with a driving play that gave the Predators a scare at 4:05 of the third period. The Sharks held the zone for about 45 seconds before the Predators could push the first power play unit out of the zone. The next good chances fell to Bracken Kearns on the second unit. The Sharks had four shots on that power play.

With under two minutes left and the Sharks’ net empty, Nieto found Marleau in front of the net for a tip in to make it 2-3. Assists went to Nieto and Demers. Todd McLellan used his time out shortly thereafter, but the Sharks ran out of time.

The Sharks outshot the Predators in the third, to bring the final count even at 28. Nashville won 32 faceoffs to the Sharks’ 20. The Sharks got credit for 12 takeaways to the Predators’ 9. The Sharks’ power play finished 1/4, the Predators’ 0/1.

Brent Burns led the Sharks in shots with five, and Patrick Marleau had four.  Ryan Ellis and Roman Josi each had five for Nashville. Mike Brown led the Sharks in hits with five, while Rich Clune and Kevin Klein led the Predators with four each.

————————————

*More of what McLellan said about that non-call:

Does it make it tougher? That’s a blown call, and we played 44 games, I go back to the Buffalo blown call in overtime, I go to the blown call in Winnipeg. I go to one against Minnesota, and I go to another one tonight, and that’s one in every eleven games. And I understand mistakes, because I make a lot of them behind the bench. But when you get an explanation from a group of people and it didn’t happen, it’s disappointing. It really, really is disappointing. And there’s also a protocol to follow in our league. That protocol is you get together and you discuss it. That didn’t happen either. So obviously I’m not very happy with it.

The lines McLellan started with, and pretty much kept in place through the game were: Burns-Thornton-Pavelski, Nieto-Marleau-Kearns, Hamilton-Desjardins-Sheppard, and Hayes-McCarthy-Brown. Defensive pairs were Stuart-Demers, Boyle-Vlasic, and Braun-Irwin. The only healthy scratch was Scott Hannan.

Ducks win New Year’s Eve battle

(Photo: Gary A. Vasquez, USA TODAY Sports)

By Pearl Allison Lo

 

ANAHEIM– Matt Belesky’s goal was the first consecutive goal for either team as the Ducks left for New Year’s Eve celebrations with a 6-3 win over the San Jose Sharks.

Belesky’s goal came at 18:30 of the second period, as he was aided by Nick Bonino, who had just scored about three and a half minutes earlier.

Anaheim’s now 15-0-2 record at home is their best such start in franchise history, as they snapped the Sharks’ four-game winning streak after losing to them Sunday.

San Jose’s Logan Couture commented, “We didn’t play very well tonight, you know, the second period, we were awful, one of the worst periods for our season, if not the worst…”

The 5-on-5 on ice with two players in the box became a 5-on-4 when the Sharks’ Matt Irwin was called for holding at 5:38 of the first period.

The Ducks’ Kyle Palmieri scored the first and lone goal of the period at 16:24, aided by Beleskey and Cam Fowler.

Antti Niemi made consecutive saves against Anaheim’s Corey Perry with just over 2:47 left in the period. As the first shot bounced off Niemi, Niemi’s second save became a glove catch from straightaway.

Perry then had a slashing penalty with 15 seconds to go to give San Jose a power play.

After a faceoff with about 14.7 seconds left, Couture thought the puck went in the net but it bounced off the goal post and then after a teammate’s missed attempt, Patrick Marleau got the rebound off Jonas Hiller and put the puck inside. However, the goal went under review and it was ruled that time expired before Marleau made the shot.

The Sharks made up for it though by scoring 35 seconds into the second period to tie the game. Dan Boyle was helped by Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton on the continuing power play.

A bouncing puck on top of the net as Niemi tried to find it and Boyle tried to prevent the puck from going in, almost led to an own goal.

The Ducks thought they scored later near the net but Niemi was able to stop the puck with his leg against the goal post.

Anaheim ended up outshooting San Jose 25-8 in the second period, after the Sharks outshot the Ducks 17-8 in the first.

Francois Beauchemin’s first goal of the season put Anaheim up 2-1 at 11:00 of the second. It was the third attempt by the team during the possession and went between Niemi’s legs. Ryan Getzlaf and Jakob Silfverberg assisted on the play.

About a minute and a half later, Couture switched stick sides and then aimed at the top of the net to retie the game, aided by Marleau and Marc-Edouard Vlasic.

The Ducks scored on the power play when Bonino was able to go around Niemo’s leg. Getzlaf and Fowler got their second assists of the game with Bonino’s goal to make it 3-2. This would be the first of four straight goals for Anaheim.

Before Beleskey’s goal, Thornton had an empty net but Ben Lovejoy was able to come up from behind and block Thornton with his stick.

Getzlaf got into a semi-breakaway and shot off the goal post and into the net to make it 5-2 at 1:14 of the third period. This gave him his fourth career 20-goal season and took Niemi out of the game.

Down shorthanded about 15 seconds later, Saku Koivu went into a clean breakway about a minute into San Jose’s power play. Koivu’s shot missed and Andrew Cogliano scored off the rebound against Alex Stalock, Niemi’s replacement.

The Sharks scored their second power play less than a minute later. Bracken Kearns got his second goal in two games against the Ducks as he tipped in Matt Irwin’s shot from the blue line in front of the net.

 

Game notes: Cogliano has started 500 straight NHL games, the fifth to do so in NHL history. San Jose starts the New Year playing the Edmonton Oilers January 2 at 7:30pm.