By Mary Walsh
The San Jose Sharks won their fourth in a row to start the season. They needed overtime and a shootout to defeat the New Jersey Devils 2-1. Goaltender Martin Jones set a new shutout record for the franchise, spanning from the team’s first game of the season to the final minutes of the fourth game. Regulation goals were scored by Patrick Marleau for the Sharks and Adam Henrique for the Devils. The game was a far cry from the trouncing that they gave to the Washington Capitals, but in light of recent injuries, it was a good win.
Earlier Friday, the Sharks announced that they would be without the services of forwards Logan Couture and Joonas Donskoi. Head coach Peter DeBoer opted to make wholesale changes to his lines when he lost the top top six forwards. Bringing Ben Smith in as fourth line center, he moved Chris Tierney to the third line between Tommy Wingels and Matt Nieto. Tomas Hertl moved to the second line between Patrick Marleau and Joel Ward. Nikolay Goldobin took Donskoi’s place next to Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski.
Near the end of the game, DeBoer moved the more experienced Barclay Goodrow to that top line. Patrick Marleau took on some additional penalty killing minutes in Couture’s absence, while Paul Martin took the point on power plays. The number of adjustments required spoke to the importance of Couture to the team.
The Sharks’ penalty kill streak ended at 15, and Martin Jones set a new shutout streak for the franchise. The game was not pretty but it did keep their winning streak alive.
Less than three minutes in, the new second line of Hertl, Joel Ward and Patrick Marleau scored. The goal featured a good board battle won by Hertl, followed by a smart pass from Ward to a well-positioned Marleau. All in all, that line looked good.
Martin Jones has not given up a goal since 1:49 into the Sharks’ first game of the season on October 7. Shutouts in game against the Ducks and the Capitals put Jones in a position to break Al Stalock’s shutout record of 178:55, 45 seconds into Friday’s game. He did that and set the new one at 234:33. A couple of pucks got by him during that time, only to have the goals waived off, but it is still a tremendous record.
Jordin Tootoo and Mike Brown took matching roughing penalties at 8:58 of the period but the four-on-four minutes did not change the score. The first period ended with the score still 1-0 Sharks, and the shot count 10-5 Sharks.
Early in the second period, Tomas Hertl had a scoring chance thwarted by a slash to the hands from Adam Larsson. No penalty was called but Hertl looked a little sore. That hand could bear watching. The first power play of the game went to the Devils at 14:01 of the second. Joe Pavelski was called for hooking. The Sharks killed it off, keeping their penalty kill record perfect at 12-0.
With 2:06 left in the period, Goldobin drew a penalty against Jon Merrill. The ensuing power play highlighted how the Sharks were losing some momentum. They let Stephen Gionta escape the zone for a short-handed chance just over half way through the power play.
Gionta saw his rebound go to Josefson, who put it in the net, but the goal was waived off because Gionta made contact with Martin Jones before the shot went in. The contact was initiated while Gionta was still outside the crease, and ended with Gionta falling over Jones in the crease. The contact certainly slowed Jones down, but calls like that are going to make this season interesting. It was probably worth a coach’s challenge, but Devils head coach John Hynes did not make one.
At the end of the second period, shots were 23-17 Sharks, with the 1-0 score unchanged.
Less than two minutes into the third period, the Devils were back on the power play after Justin Braun was called for holding the stick. With 43 seconds left in the power play, Brenden Dillon shot the puck out of play in the defensive zone and gave the Devils a two man advantage. The Sharks survived the five-on-three and were about to kill the second penalty when Marc-Edouard Vlasic shot the puck out of play and joined Dillon in the box. The second two man advantage would only last 17 seconds. Chris Tierney managed to clear the puck out during the short five-on-three. Matt Nieto cleared it next, letting the team refresh their lines. The Sharks managed to steal the puck in the neutral zone shortly after that, getting a quick short-handed chance for Pavelksi. Several quick clears by the Sharks frustrated the rest of the Devils power play.
Jones made his 100th consecutive save once the teams were back at even strength.
Chris Tierney and Tommy Wingels had a good chance around the nine minute mark but Corey Schneider stopped it. Tierney had a very good game and proved that he is a great option for the Sharks in that third line center spot.
The Sharks penalties were not done, as they were called for too many men with under five minutes left in the third. The Martin Jones shutout streak ended with a power play goal from Adam Henrique. The score was still tied at the end of regulation.
The Sharks only had a 32-28 lead in shots as overtime started. Thornton, Pavelski and Burns started for the Sharks in three-on-three. Next came Marleau, Hertl and Vlasic. DeBoer put Tierney on the third unit with Wingels and Martin.
With 11.3 seconds left in overtime, Burns tripped Henrique and went to the box. The 4-on-3 power play looked good for New Jersey but they ran out of time.
The Devils shot first, starting with Adam Henrique (goal). Jacob Josefson shot second (save) and Mike Cammalleri went third (miss) .
The Sharks’ shooters were: Joe Pavelski (goal-smokin’ shot, top shelf), Brent Burns (goal-very slippery backhand). No third shooter was needed for San Jose.
The shot leaders for the Sharks were Joe Pavelski, Brent Burns and Paul Martin with four apiece. Burns (30:38) and Martin (30:09) led the team in ice time by a sizeable margin.
The Sharks next play Saturday in Brooklyn against the New York Islanders. The game will start at 4:30 PT.