Sharks Beat Avalanche 5-2, Erik Karlsson Returns

Photo credit: @SanJoseSharks

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE — The San Jose Sharks finished the 2018-19 regular season with a 5-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche at SAP Center on Saturday night. The win was Peter DeBoer’s 400th as an NHL Head Coach and Gus Nyquist’s 500th NHL game. Evander Kane scored his 30th of the season bringing the Sharks tally to four players with 30 or more goals this season. The Sharks’ 101 points earned them second place in the Western Conference. It was a good final game of the regular season. Sharks goals came from Brent Burns, Evander Kane, Kevin Labanc, Gus Nyquist and Micheal Haley. Martin Jones made 28 saves in the win, while Colorado’s Semyon Varlamov made 25 saves in the loss. Colorado goals came from Tyson Jost and Nathan MacKinnon.

After the game, Sharks forward Evander Kane said: “It was good to close the season out with a win, and have another 100 point season here. I think it’s nice to have a victory like that and to have everybody feeling good about their games heading into next week.”

Sharks fans got some good news on the injury front Saturday. Erik Karlsson was back in the lineup though Timo Meier was not, after an injury sustained in Thursday’s game against Edmonton. Meier is expected back for the playoffs and Karlsson had the second highest ice time Saturday.

After the game, Pete DeBoer said of Karlsson’s performance Saturday: “We went into the game and we didn’t really have a plan other than we wanted to play him normally until there was either red flags or he started to fatigue or the trainers thought that was enough. Really, he felt good, you know, deep into the third period so that was good.”

Colorado struck first, just 2:56 into the game. A Colorado shot was blocked high in the slot and the puck wandered in a crowd before being controlled again, by Tyson Jost. The shot went past a number of skaters before getting by Jones. Assists went to Samuel Girard and Erik Johnson.

Evander Kane had a nice breakaway chance, which led to an offensive zone face-off for the Sharks. Right off of that face-off, Brent Burns scored with a blast from the blue line. Tomas Hertl got the assist.

A few minutes later, Evander Kane gave the Sharks a 2-1 lead at 11:15. Kane was in front of the net battling two Colorado defenders when Gus Nyquist got the puck to the net with a spinning pass. Kane shrugged off the two defenders to find the puck and nudge it under Semyon Varlamov. Assists went to Nyquist and Brenden Dillon.

The Sharks were out-shot by the Avalanche 12-10 in the first period, but overwhelmed them in the face-off circle, winning 74% of them. The bulk of those face-offs were taken by Thornton, Goodrow and Hertl.

The Avalanche scored another early goal in the second period, this one at 1:29. Nathan MacKinnon scooted between Sharks defenders while catching a pass from Gabriel Landeskog. He stayed ahead of the Sharks just long enough to get a quick shot off, beating Jones on the glove side. Assists went to Landeskog and Samuel Girard.

Kevin Labanc scored at 6:57, giving the Sharks their lead back. Joe Thornton brought the puck into the zone and then waited for his line-mates to get into position. Labanc received the pass and seemed to be trying to pass it to Sorensen who was almost at the blue paint. Instead, the puck went off of an Avalanche stick and up and over Ian Cole and Sorensen, landing behind Varlamov. Assists went to Thornton and Sorensen.

The shot count tilted slightly in the Sharks’ favor in the second, ending up 12-9 for the Sharks. San Jose maintained their face-off success, still at 73% by the end of the second.

The Sharks did not give up a goal in the first five minutes of the third period. Instead, they scored again at 14:15. Evander Kane retrieved the puck in the corner and sent it away from the boards, where Nyquist picked it up on his way through the face-off circle. He picked the near corner of the net and sent the puck over Varlamov’s shoulder. It was Nyquist’s 22nd of the season. Assists went to Kane and Tomas Hertl.

The Avalanche pulled their goaltender with over three minutes to go. Joe Pavelski put the puck into that empty net with 3:01 left in the game, but it was challenged as off-side. Joonas Donskoi tried to straddle the blue line while the puck crept across but he couldn’t keep his back skate on the ice. The goal was called back.

A little over a minute later, Micheal Haley was able to break away and score in the empty net to make it 5-2. Brent Burns got the assists on that one.

The final shot count was 30-30, and the Sharks won 69% of the face-offs. Barclay Goodrow took 14 of the face-offs and won 86% of them.

The playoff schedule will be announced shortly. The Sharks will start at home next week, against the Vegas Golden Knights.

Sharks Pulled Down By Predators 4-2

Photo credit: @SanJoseSharks

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE — The San Jose Sharks lost 4-2 to the Nashville Predators at SAP Center Saturday. The loss was the second home game in a row in which the Sharks failed to clinch their 2019 playoff spot. The Predators got goals from Viktor Arvidsson (2), Filip Forsberg and Colton Sissons. Juuse Saros made 24 saves in the win, while Martin Jones made 26 saves in the Sharks loss. Sharks goals came from Joe Thornton and Timo Meier.

Nashville scored first and early, just 1:07 into the game. Craig Smith, Colton Sissons and Calle Jarnkrok went into the Sharks zone 3-on-2, with Smith was well away on the right wing and the Sharks defense focussed on Sissons and Jarnkrok. Jarnkrok pulled up at the blue line and made a pass to Smith. Smith carried the puck in and took a shot but it came back out and Sissons had to clean it up.

No one reviewed or challenged the goal, but after his shot Smith did skate into the blue paint and fall backwards over Martin Jones. Jones was certainly prevented from doing anything to stop the Sissons shot.

Micheal Haley and Wayne Simmonds fought at 5:59. The cause of the dispute was unclear, though the invitation came from Haley. Barclay Goodrow took a roughing penalty at the same time, putting the Predators on a power play. That power play did not last long as Ryan Johansen was called for slashing Joe Pavelski less than 20 seconds into it. No goals came from any of that.

The Sharks spent the last couple of minutes of the first evicting the Predators from their territory, but Team Teal did not muster much in the way of offense. An exception was a shift from Logan Couture and Timo Meier that did lead to some shots on Saros.

By the end of the period, the Predators were outshooting the Sharks 14-11. In the face-off circle, the Sharks had improved through the period from winning just 25% early to winning 53% by the first intermission.

The Sharks tied it briefly at 4:09 of the second. Logan Couture made a short backhand pass to Joakim Ryan on the blue line. With Couture slightly screening the shot, Ryan sent it in. Saros stopped it but kicked a rebound out for Joe Pavelski. Pavelski took the shot, which Saros stopped as well, but Meier was there on the other side of the goal mouth to put that rebound away. Assists went ot Pavelski and Ryan.

That tie lasted all of 24 seconds, before Viktor Arvidsson gave Nashville the lead again. Filip Forsberg got an assist.

The Sharks had a power play at 7:09 after Sissons went for slashing Hertl. That power play generated a couple of good chances but no goal for San Jose.

The teams played 4-on-4 after Colton Sissons and Joe Thornton exchanged cross-checks at 12:59 of the second. they played 4-on-4 against at 16:36 after Roman Josi was called for interference against Timo Meier and Meier was called for unsportsmanlike conduct (embellishment?).

During that 4-on-4, Brent Burns joined the rush and received a subtle little pass from Thornton. Burns bulled his way into the zone, but instead of shooting, he veered off at the last and dropped a pass to Thornton, who was in front of the blue paint. Thornton touched the pass just enough to put the puck over Saro’s pad and in the net. The assists went to Burns and Marc-Edouard Vlasic.

At the end of the second, with the score tied, the Sharks had taken a small lead in shots 21-20. They slipped a little on the face-off dot, down to 49% after two periods.

7:04 into the third, Filip Forsberg gave the lead back to the Predators. His wrap-around shot went off of Tim Heed’s stick as Heed tried to stop the shot. Martin Jones was a slow getting back across the net after losing his balance on a stop moments before. Assists went to Matt Irwin and Ryan Johansen.

Shortly after the 10-minute mark, Logan Couture and Timo Meier collided and hit each other up high. Couture went to the bench but neither player left the game. Kevin Labanc cross-checked Roman Josi at 11:00, giving the Predators a power play. The Sharks killed that off.

The Sharks pulled Jones for the extra skater with a little more than one minute left in regulation. Nick Bonino quickly intercepted a pass and sent it out. Viktor Arvidsson skated after it to score into that empty net.

The Sharks will next play on Monday, in San Jose, against the Vegas Golden Knights at 7:30 PM PT.

Sharks Beat Blackhawks 5-2, M. Karlsson Scores 2

Photo credit: @SanJoseSharks

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE — The San Jose Sharks beat the visiting Chicago Blackhawks 5-2 Sunday night. Despite the absence of Erik Karlsson, the Sharks still got three goals from Swedish players in the third period. Melker Karlsson scored two and Marcus Sorensen scored one. Tomas Hertl and Timo Meier added two more for the Sharks. Martin Jones made 28 saves for the win. Dylan Strome and Erik Gustafsson scored for Chicago and Cam Ward made 29 saves in the loss.

Both Erik Karlsson and Evander Kane missed a second game in a row with injuries. After the game, Sharks Head Coach Peter DeBoer talked about winning without them in the lineup:

Take out two critical pieces like that out of somebody’s team and you’re in tough. But I thought our fourth line was excellent tonight, I thought Tim Heed’s been playing great hockey for us. That’s what good teams do on nights when guys are out or nights when a line is off a little bit, another line picks it up. I thought Tommy Hertl and his line were real good tonight so, you know, that’s part of winning hockey.

Tomas Hertl gave the Sharks a 1-0 lead at 12:16 of the first. He carried the puck into the zone, pestered somewhat by Duncan Keith, and when Cam Ward went down to block the shot, slipped the puck around him. Tim Heed got the assist.

Chicago tied it up in the final minute of the period with a goal from Dylan Strome. A few good offensive shifts from Chicago was followed by a neutral zone turnover by the Sharks. That gave the Blackhawks a two on one of Dylan Strome and Alex DeBrincat. Strome looked like he would pass, but he shot and beat Jones on the blocker side. DeBrincat and Brent Seabrook got the assists.

At the end of the first, Chicago held the lead in shots 11-7. The Sharks had won 67% of the face-offs.

Early in the second, Timo Meier gave the Sharks the lead back. He started by sending the puck around the boards to Tim Heed before moving to the slot. Then, from above the hash marks, he tipped Heed’s shot, sending the puck just under the goalie’s glove. Tomas Hertl screened Ward so the goalie really had no chance to see the shot coming. Assists went to Heed and Joonas Donskoi.

Erik Gustafsson tied it back up at 6:40. After a little give and go up by the blue line with Jonathan Toews, Gustafsson moved to the middle of the ice and took a shot right up the middle, going through three skaters aligned in a perfect screen. The puck brushed the underside of Jones’s sleeve as it went in. Assists went to Toews and Keith.

The Sharks outshot the Blackhawks 14-12 in the second period, but their face-off win percentage dropped to 53%.

4:27 into the third, the Sharks took the lead back with a great shot from Marcus Sorensen skating to the net. Joe Thornton and Joonas Donskoi had spent a spell around the net and boards. Thornton and Donskoi got the assists.

During a delayed penalty against Chicago, Melker Karlsson extended the lead to 4-2. It was a well-deserved goal for a fourth line that had been close to scoring several times in the game. Karlsson tipped a Brent Burns shot tipped from the hash marks. The time of the goal was 8:16, with assists going to Burns and Micheal Haley.

Karlsson scored again at 17:38. The Chicago net was empty when Karlsson picked Goodrow’s clearing shot out of the air. He broke away and took his shot from the Chicago blue line. Assists went to Goodrow and Haley.

The Sharks killed three of three penalties, one per period and had one power play during which they did not score. They allowed eight shots on the three penalty kills and got one on the power play. The final shot count was 34-30 Sharks and they won 51% of the face-offs.

The win puts the Sharks just three points behind the Pacific Division and Western Conference leaders, the Calgary Flames.

The Sharks next play on Thursday against the visiting Montreal Canadiens at 7:30 PM PT.

Barracuda Fall to Reign Again

By Mary Walsh

photo credit: San Jose Barracuda

The San Jose Barracuda lost by a score of 4-1 to the Ontario Reign on Sunday. In ten games already played against Ontario, San Jose has just two wins and two overtime points. The teams will play two more times, on March 16 and March 30, both at SAP Center.

Ontario’s Peter Budaj stopped 18 of 19 shots, while Troy Grosenick made 19 saves on 23 shots for San Jose. Neither team scored on the power play, though the Reign only had one chance while the Barracuda had four. Micheal Haley and Kurtis MacDermid had the only fight in the game, though MacDermid also went to the box two other times, once for diving and once for delay of game.

The first goal of the game was scored by Brett Sutter, acquired near the trade deadline by the LA Kings from the Minnesota Wild. It was his first goal for Ontario, in his fourth game with them. Andrew Crescenzi picked up the assist.

The second period saw more goals for the Reign. At 1:09, Michael Mersch, the team’s leading goal scorer gave Ontario a two goal lead. Assists went to Nic Dowd and Sean Backman, the team’ points leader. The Reign added a third goal at 13:15, this time from Dowd, with assists going to Mersch and Backman.

The Barracuda finally got on the board in the third, with a goal from John McCarthy. It was his 14th of the season, and the only point earned by a Barracuda player in the game.

Ontario extended their lead to three again, at 14:58. While Ontario defenseman Andrew Forbot sat in the box for tripping, Justin Auger scored shorthanded. Crescenzi picked up an assist.

San Jose is not out of playoff contention yet, they are getting close. They sit fourth place in the Pacific Division, five points behind the third place San Diego Gulls. The new AHL playoff format allows the fourth place team in the Pacific into the playoffs if they have more points than the fifth place team in the Central division. The Barracuda would need even more points to catch the Charlotte Checkers.

The Barracuda next play on Wednesday at 7:30 PT. As mentioned above, they will face the Reign again at home.