Sharks Offseason: Kane Accused, Jones Bought Out, Reimer Returns

Evander Kane (7) seen here skating against the Arizona Coyotes on March 26, 2021 has said his wife’s accusations that he bet on hockey are false. The NHL taking the charges serious are investigating to see if there is any proof that Kane did bet on hockey. (AP file photo)

By Mary Walsh

San Jose Sharks forward, Evander Kane, has been accused by his wife of betting on hockey games, including those he played in. She made the accusations by way of her Instagram account. Last Saturday, the NHL released a statement saying that they would investigate the charges. They said, in part: “The integrity of our game is paramount and the League takes these allegations very seriously. We intend to conduct a full investigation and will have no further comment at this time.”

The Sharks also responded to the charges, saying that they were in contact with the NHL about the allegations, and that they “support a full and transparent investigation into the situation to maintain the integrity of the game and consistency with our team values.”

Kane released his own statement denying the charges:

“Unfortunately, I would like to address the completely FALSE accusations that my estranged wife and soon to be ex wife has made against me. Even against the advice of my legal team I feel strongly that the public and fans hear this directly from me. I have NEVER gambled/bet on Hockey, NEVER gambled/bet on a Sharks game, NEVER GAMBLED/BET on any of my games and NEVER thrown a hockey game. The facts are I personally had my best season of my career last year and was the most consistent I’ve been throughout any season, I’m proud of that. I love the game of Hockey and would never do any of what was alleged. I look forward to cooperating with the league’s investigation, having my name cleared and looking forward to this upcoming season.”

Earlier in 2021, Kane publicly acknowledged that he had a serious gambling problem, and he filed for bankruptcy. The filing triggered a number of law suits from creditors. Despite those numerous investigations into his financial situation, this is the first time we have heard anyone seriously charge that he was betting on his own games.

In other offseason news from the Sharks, the team bought out goaltender Martin Jones’s contract. Jones quickly signed a one year dealwith the Philadelphia Flyers.

On July 28, the Sharks signed veteran goaltender James Reimer to a two-year contract. Reimer played 22 games with the Carolina Hurricanes last season, posting a 2.66 GAA and .906 save percentage. Reimer was with the Sharks in 2016 for their trip to the Stanley Cup Finals.

Earlier in the month, San Jose acquired goaltender Adin Hill from Arizona, along with a 2022 seventh-round pick, in exchange for Josef Korenar and a 2022 second-round pick.

The Sharks also added center Nick Bonino on a two-year contract and center Andrew Cogliano on a one-year deal.

On July 26, the Sharks traded defenseman Christian Jaros to the New Jersey Devils in exchange for forward Nicholas Merkley. Merkley signed a one-year, two way contract on July 28.

Forward Alexander True was the Shark selected by the Seattle Kraken in the expansion draft.

Sharks Lose 6-3 to Wild; Skid extends to 8 games

Minnesota Wild left wing Marcus Foligno (17) puts the puck past San Jose Sharks goaltender Martin Jones (31) in the first period at SAP Center in San Jose (AP News photo)

By Mary Walsh

The San Jose Sharks celebrated Patrick Marleau’s new record in NHL games played Saturday. It was the team’s first game at home since Marleau played his 1768th NHL game, surpassing Gordie Howe’s record, in Las Vegas last Monday. Family members were able to attend the game for the occasion. The Sharks all wore Marleau Jerseys for warm-ups. A pantheon of Sharks and NHL players and alumni spoke in a video presentation before the game. The only thing missing was an arena full of fans.

The Minnesota Wild won the game 6-3. Ryan Suter, Marcus Foligno, Jared Spurgeon, Kevin Fiala, Kirill Kaprizov and Nick Bonino all scored for the Wild. Kaapo Kahkonen made 27 saves for the win. Logan Couture, Evander Kane and Joachim Blichfeld scored for San Jose. It was Blichfeld’s first NHL goal. Josef Korenar made 15 saves during the second two periods, while Martin Jones made five in the first period. The win clinched a spot in the playoffs for the Wild. The loss was San Jose’s eighth in a row.

After the game, Sharks Head Coach Bob Boughner said: “The start was a disaster, right from the first shift, the first goal.” Boughner pointed out that there were several “new guys” in the lineup and this may have accounted for missed coverage and other errors during the game. He went on to say: “It’s no secret, you know, look at their lineup, look at our lineup, and, you know, we’re missing a little depth there. And you know, it got us early, let’s be honest, you know, second and third goal, that’s where it got us.”

The Sharks did have some unfamiliar faces on the bench Saturday. Greg Pateryn joined the defense in the absence of injured Radim Simek. It was his first game in teal since coming over from the Colorado Avalanche. He was on the ice for one goal against and one goal for the Sharks. Joachim Blichfeld was in the lineup for his sixth NHL game. He was also on the ice for one goal against and one goal for, which he scored. Neither player seemed to have an out-sized impact on the game. There were plenty of errors to go around.

As Boughner mentioned, the game did not start well for San Jose. Just 19 seconds in, Ryan Suter scored his second goal of the year, on the first shot of the game. Suter skated in with the puck and took a shot from the face-off circle. It whizzed by Martin Jones’s shoulder. An assist went to Jordan Greenway.

Moments later, Timo Meier collided with Kirill Kaprizov, Meier went to the bench but returned to play without missing much time.

Marcus Foligno added another 12 minutes into the first. Joel Eriksson-Ek carried the puck in in a two-on-one with Foligno. Eriksson-Ek made a pass at the last moment for Foligno the take the shot.

Jared Spurgeon made it 3-0 at 17:43 of the first. Spurgeon got by the Sharks defense and took a shot into the far corner. Ryan Hartman and Mats Zuccarello got the assists.

That first period saw the Wild out-shoot the Sharks 8-4. There was just one penalty called, a too many men on the ice call against San Jose. The Sharks penalty kill gave up no shots.

Josef Korenar was in the Sharks net to start the second period.

The score did not change again until the final minute of the middle frame. Marcus Johansson took a shot from the boards and created a rebound. Kevin Fiala was at the net to knock the bouncing puck in. Assists went to Johansson and Jared Spurgeon.

There were no penalties in the second period, and the Sharks led in shots 13-7.

Logan Couture got the Sharks on the board 1:19 into the third period. Couture passed the puck to Timo Meier as the skated to the net. Just as his pass got away, Couture was knocked down. As he slid, face-first, to the net, Meier’s rebound landed in front of him. He swept it into the net. Assists went to Meier and Rudolfs Balcers.

Kirill Kaprizov scored a power play goal to make it 5-1 at 4:28. Fiala swept the puck off the boards to the slot, where Kaprizov was ready for the shot. Assists went to Fiala and Nick Bonino.

Evander Kane scored for the Sharks at 4:47, when Nikolai Knyzhov took a shot from the blue line. Tomas Hertl knocked it out of the air and Kane cleaned it up for his 18th of the season.

Joachim Blichfeld scored his first NHL goal at 6:06. He took the shot from below the face-off dot. The puck went over Kahkonen’s glove and into the top corner.

Nick Bonino scored into an empty net at 19:38. An assist went to Ian Cole.

The Sharks took two penalties in the third period. The Wild’s power play got one shot on net during the period.

The Sharks next play on Monday against the Arizona Coyotes in San Jose at 7:30 PM PT.

Sharks Fall to Wild 3-2

The Minnesota Wild Nick Bonino (3) goes for victory skate after scoring a goal in the first period against the San Jose Sharks at the Target Center in St Paul on Fri Apr 16, 2021 (AP News photo)

By Mary Walsh.

The San Jose Sharks lost 3-2 to the Minnesota Wild at the Xcel Energy Center Friday. Nick Bonino, Mats Zuccarello and Zach Parise scored for Minnesota, and goaltender Cam Talbot made 20 saves for the win. Tomas Hertl and Evander Kane scored for the Sharks and Martin Jones made 15 saves in the loss.

The Sharks did not play a terrible game, but a loss at this point in the season is disheartening. After the game, Sharks Head Coach Bob Boughner said: “Tough to break down that game and say that we didn’t come out, we didn’t respond and we didn’t play well. I thought all those things happened.”

Sharks captain Logan Couture said:

I thought defensively we were pretty good. We didn’t give up much but there wasn’t much out there offensively. But we gotta find a way to do more. We only scored two, three goals over the last two games, or three games, so we need to find some more offense.

Evander Kane had a penalty-free game as well as a goal, despite several tense scrums throughout the night. After the game, Boughner said, of Kane:

“He plays hard, he kills penalties, he’s on the power play, he’s playing against the top lines, he’s been a good player for us all year. He’s still involved, he’s still trash-talking a little bit, he’s still throwing the body around but he’s staying within himself and I think that’s helped his five-on-five game for sure.”

The Sharks were on the board first, at 3:32. Tomas Hertl skated through the neutral zone and in the Wild zone, with some help from a stick lift by Patrick Marleau near the blue line. Hertl took the shot from the face-off dot and beat Talbot on the short side. Assists went to Radim Simek and Marc-Edouard Vlasic.

Nick Bonino tied it up at 9:30. A turnover right in the slot gave him a clear line to the net and he took it. It was unassisted.

The first period was penalty-free. The Sharks outshot the Wild 8-4 but won just 33% of the face-offs.

The Wild took the lead 2:15 into the second period with Mats Zuccarello’s goal. Right off an offensive-zone face-off, Zuccarello shot it under Jones. Viktor Rask got the assist.

Zach Parise scored what would be the game-winner just over a minute later. Matt Dumba made a pass across the slot to a waiting Parise at the net corner. Assists went to Matt Dumba and Nick Bonino.

The Wild outshot the Sharks 7-4 in the second. Each team had a power play. The Wild had three shots on theirs and the Sharks had one. The Sharks won just 31% of the second period face-offs.

Evander Kane scored a short-handed goal at 13:43 of the third period, bringing the Sharks to withing one. Kane knocked the puck free from Kevin Fiala at the point, then chased it down and shot it by Talbot on the glove side.

The Sharks had two penalties to kill in the third period, and out-shot the Wild 10-7. The Sharks penalty kill had two shots on goal and the Wild power play had two as well. The Sharks improved in the face-off circle to 50% for the third.

The Sharks next play on Saturday at 5:00 PM PT against the Wild, again in Minnesota.

Sharks Win Game 3 in OT, Climb Back in Series

By Mary Walsh

AP photo: San Jose Sharks Joonas Donskoi celebrates with teammates after scoring winning OT goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins at SAP Center on Saturday night

SAN JOSE–The San Jose Sharks defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final Saturday, by a score of 3-2. The Sharks now trail in the series 2-1. The game winning goal came in overtime from rookie Joonas Donskoi. Joel Ward and Justin Braun also scored for the Sharks, while their goaltender Martin Jones made 40 saves on 42 shots for the win. Ben Lovejoy and Patrick Hornqvist scored for the Penguins. It was the Sharks’ first overtime win this post season.

There was some talk about the Sharks being wide-eyed on their first trip to the Stanley Cup Final. There may be something lost in translation, but Joonas Donskoi, first-year NHL player, does not seem particularly nervous. Asked what it felt like to score probably the most important goal in Sharks history, he said: “I think I had a lot of scoring chances through the whole Final, and this was a good time to get it in.”

The game was the first time the Sharks won a majority of the faceoffs against the Penguins. The Sharks had three power plays and scored on none of them. Neither team scored on the power play. The Sharks won on the strength of their even strength play. It was an impressive change from Games 1 and 2.

The headliners for both teams were kept off the highlight reels Saturday. Of how Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun handled Sindey Crosby’s line, Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer said: “I thought Vlasic and Braun… you have to mention Brauny when you mention Vlasic too, I thought those two were excellent tonight, both ends of the rink, Brauny got a goal, defending, playing big minutes, they were fantastic.”

Melker Karlsson started the game in Tomas Hertl’s spot with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski, and the line had a good first shift. At 2:58 of the first, the Penguins were given a power play as a result of a call on Joel Ward for high sticking. Oddly, his stick did not appear above waist-high while the player he struck was bent down with his head low. It was odd because Ward took a stick to the face while falling that even drew blood in Pittsburgh, but that was not called.

The Sharks also seemed impatient with the penalty and went after the kill with determination. It was only after the Sharks killed the penalty that the Penguins scored off a shot from the blue line. The puck touched Roman Polak in front of the net. The goal was Ben Lovejoy’s.

As the ten minute mark approached, the Sharks still only had one shot on goal to the Penguins’ 8. They had not looked that bad. As if on cue, Justin Braun scored. He got the puck from Joe Thornton near the middle of the blue line, and with Melker Karlsson skating through the crease as a moving screen, Penguins goaltender Matt Murray never saw Braun’s shot coming. It sailed clean into the top right corner to tie the game. Assists went to Thornton and Marc-Edouard Vlasic.

The Sharks were not as bad as their shot count. Through the game, the Penguins blocked 38 shots. After the game, Joel Ward was asked about that number: “That’s a good sign. If you’re playing in the offensive zone, they’re blocking shots, you’re getting opportunities. So, just keep firing away.”

The Sharks were energized after Braun’s goal. The Penguins’ Phil Kessel had a breakaway shortly afterwards but Sharks goaltender Martin Jones stopped the shot and a defender came in fast to carry the puck away again.

The Penguins continued to outshoot the Sharks but in the final five minutes of the period, the Sharks racked up a good four shots and were generally looking stronger. The Penguins spent some time in the Sharks’ zone but both teams were doing a pretty good job of keeping the other to the outside and under heavy guard.

At the end of the first, the score was tied and the shots were 14-6 Penguins.

Early in the second, the game shifted gears for rougher terrain. Brent Burns took a punch to the face in the Penguins crease while trying to poke a puck past the goalie, and after that Justin Braun hauled a Penguin to the ice in the Sharks’ zone, but neither act was called as a penalty.

A little later, Chris Tierney and Joel Ward had a two on one chance but Penguins goaltender Matt Murray handled it. It served as a reminder that the Sharks had given up far too many two on ones in earlier games, and they seemed to be doing a better job of preventing them this time.

In the tenth minute of the period, the Sharks held the Penguins pinned in their zone for a long enough spell to draw a tripping penalty from Carl Hagelin. This gave the Sharks their first power play of the game. The Penguins killed it, but not without giving up a few more shots.

After 10 minutes, the Penguins had two shots on the period. After 15 minutes, they still had two. The Sharks had eight in the first fifteen minutes.

Just after the announcer proclaimed that there was one minute left in the game, Ben Lovejoy picked up a puck that looked like it was going out and threw it back at the net to regain the lead. The puck went off of Patrick Hornqvist, with assists to Ben Lovejoy and Olli Mattaa. It was the Penguins’ sixth shot of the period.

Almost five minutes into the third period, Nick Bonino caught Joe Thornton with a high stick and drew blood. It took the Penguins almost ninety seconds to clear the puck the first time. The power play seemed to lose energy after that and with 1:19 left in the penalty, DeBoer took his time out and gave his top power play unit a rest. That helped them a little but they still could not convert.

The second unit came on with seconds left in the penalty. The Penguins cleared the puck to the neutral zone. The Sharks stopped it short and went the other way. Joel Ward took the puck up the slot. With a Penguin between himself and the goalie, he took what must have been a deceptively hard shot. The puck went over Murray’s left shoulder, bending his glove back and tying the game just as the penalty expired. It was Ward’s seventh of the post season, with assists going to Joonas Donskoi and Joe Thornton.

At the end of regulation, the score was tied at two and the shots were 33-22 Penguins.

The first seven minutes of overtime went back and forth with grueling suspense. The Penguins were outshooting the Sharks 5-1. The Sharks lines seemed jumbled, whether by incomplete line changes or actual line adjustments. In any case, Chris Tierney, Melker Karlsson and Joonas Donskoi were in the Penguins zone stirring things up behind the net and along the boards. At 12:18, Donskoi carried the puck behind the net and came out the other side, then spun and shot in a quick motion. The game winner was Donskoi’s sixth goal of the playoffs. An assist went to Chris Tierney.

For Game 4, the teams will return to SAP Center in San Jose. Game time is 5:00 PT.