Meier Scores Two Goals, Sharks Beat Canucks 5-3

Photo credit: @SanJoseSharks

By Mary Walsh

The San Jose Sharks defeated the Vancouver Canucks 5-3 at the Rogers Arena on Saturday night, completing a sweep of their Western Canadian road trip. Two goals came from Timo Meier, including the game-winner. Tomas Hertl, Logan Couture and Kevin Labanc also scored three goals for the Sharks. Sharks goaltender Aaron Dell made 28 saves for the win.

Canucks’ goals came from Nikolay Goldobin, Alexander Edler and Bo Horvat. Canucks goaltender Jacob Markstrom made 25 saves in a losing effort.

Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer described Saturday’s game as a “huge, gutsy performance. You know, when you have the deck stacked, end of a road trip, we lost two men early, down two guys. You know, we were up and then kind of let them back in the game and still found a way to rebound. I thought it was a huge character…gutsy, all those adjectives.”

The game added some injuries to the road trip’s casualty list.

First, Melker Karlsson started the game with Joe Pavelski and Evander Kane, but left the ice in the first four minutes, limping after blocking a shot from Alexander Edler. Marc-Edouard Vlasic left the game about five minutes into the second period, after taking a deflected slap shot in the neck or face area. Neither player returned to the game, and the team had no updates in postgame.

Joonas Donskoi missed his second game since being injured in Edmonton. Joakim Ryan also missed Saturday’s game with an upper body injury.

Vancouver’s Nikolay Goldobin opened the scoring with a power play goal at 10:48. Goldobin’s quick shot around a lot of moving traffic beat Dell on on the right side. Assists went to Derrick Pouliot and Reid Boucher.

San Jose’s Kevin Labanc tied it up at 14:58, also with a power play goal. Pavelski scooped up a skittering rebound created by a Logan Couture shot, then tapped it over to Labanc for a close-in shot.

Couture added to the lead just over a minute later. Tomas Hertl carried the puck over the blue line and sent an ungainly-looking pass in Couture’s direction. Couture was still fighting his way toward the net. The puck reached him just as he started to lose his balance but his backhand shot went home. Assists went to Hertl and Mikkel Boedker.

Meier gave the Sharks a 3-1 lead less than two minutes into the second period. Right off an offensive zone faceoff, Brenden Dillon took a shot from the blue line and Meier tipped it in from the hashmarks.

Bo Horvat trimmed the Sharks lead at 5:23 with another Vancouver power play goal. Sam Gagner looked like he would take the shot, but instead passed the puck to Horvat, who was right on the doorstep. Assists went to Gagner and Alexander Edler.

Edler tied the game up with yet another power play goal. A Meier penalty was about to expire when Paul Martin went to the box for high sticking. The 16 second five-on-three was killed off by Braun, Tierney and Dillon, but with 34 seconds left in the second penalty, Edler’s slap shot found its way by Dell. Assists went to Gagner and Daniel Sedin.

The tie held until 8:07 of the third, when Meier took a great shot from above the faceoff dot and beat Markstrom on the right side. Assists went to Labanc and Braun.

Hertl put the nail in the coffin with an empty-net goal at 19:35. He carried it all the way from the Sharks’ net to the Vancouver zone, avoiding some defenders on the way before taking the shot.

The win puts San Jose five points ahead of Los Angeles and Anaheim, as well as the two current wild card teams, Dallas and Colorado. They still trail the Pacific Division’s first place Las Vegas by six points.

Paul Martin played his first NHL game in four months. Despite taking a penalty, he seems to be ready to step in. Tim Heed is another possibility to fill in on the blue line, playing currently with the AHL’s San Jose Barracuda.

The Sharks next play on Tuesday against the visiting New Jersey Devils, who are on a bit of a tear right now. They have won three in a row against Western Conference teams, including that noteworthy 8-3 win over Las Vegas. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 pm PT.

 

Barracuda Beat the Heat 4-1

By Mary Walsh

photo credit: San Jose Barracuda–The Barracuda get a split with a win against the Stockton Heat 4-1 on Sunday

The San Jose Barracuda defeated the Stockton Heat by a score of 4-1 Sunday. The loss ended the Heat’s 10 game home win streak and moved the Barracuda back into third place in the AHL’s Pacific Division.

In stark contrast to Saturday’s meeting, Sunday’s game started out as a low-scoring affair, with just one goal in the first two periods. The game opened up in the third, mostly for San Jose. Barracuda goaltender Aaron Dell deserves much of the credit for the win. His team was outshot 26-16 through the first two periods but he stopped them all until the third period. In all, he made 39 saves on 40 shots. John McCarthy scored two goals in the game, with goals also scored by Nikita Jevpalovs and Trevor Parkes. Freddie Hamilton scored the lone goal for the Heat and Stockton goaltender Kevin Poulin made 25 saves on 28 shots faced.

Nikita Jevpalovs opened the scoring Sunday, giving the Barracuda a first period lead. Nikolay Goldobin’s shot from the left side created a rebound for Jevpalovs to pick up and put away. Assists went to Goldobin and Mirco Mueller. Goldobin is currently working on point streak of six games, a season high for the team.

The second period did not start out as well as the first, with the Barracuda being outshot 7-1 in the first half. The rest of the period did not go much better for them, and Aaron Dell stopped 12 shots while his team only took 6. Still, Stockton had not scored and the Barracuda held on to their 1-0 lead.

The Barracuda started the third much better, taking a lead on the shot clock early, but at 5:16, the Heat tied the game with a goal from Freddie Hamilton. Assists went to Kenny Agostino and Garnet Hathway. It was Hamilton’s 14th goal of the season.

Gus Young was called for slashing at 6:18 of the third, and half way through the Stockton power play, Mirco Mueller was given an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty as well. Stockton took their time out to prepare for the five on three.

The Barracuda held on through the five on three and then, during the abbreviated five on four, John McCarthy escaped with the puck through the neutral zone and beat Poulin to give San Jose the lead back. The goal was unassisted.

Parkes was tripped at 9:53 by Gabriel Verpaelst, giving the Barracuda their first power play of the game. It was just their second power play of the weekend.

McCarthy scored again at 14:25, after Micheal Haley got the puck in while taking a hard hit. Trevor Parkes controlled the puck behind the net and got it to McCarthy who came in late to get to the net. Assists went to Parkes and Haley.

Parkes got the empty net goal at 17:40, with an assist to Joakim Ryan.

Raffi Torres played on Saturday but not Sunday, which was consistent with the team’s expectation that he would play in just one of the weekend games. Barclay Goodrow was also out of the lineup, possibly in case the Sharks had to call him up for Monday’s game. Mirco Mueller was in the lineup, having returned from his call up last week.

The Barracuda next play on Friday in Bakersfield at 7:00 PST.

Barracuda Shoot Down Stars 5-1

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE-The San Jose Barracuda defeated the visiting Texas Stars by a score of 5-1 Sunday. The game featured Nikolay Goldobin’s first AHL hat trick, and a fine performance from goaltender Al Stalock. Stalock made 21 saves on 22 shots. Jeremy Langlois and Ryan Carpenter each scored a goal, and Gus Young had three assists.

Both teams had played the night before, the Barracuda in Bakersfield and the Stars in Stockton. Even the recent arrivals, Stalock and Tierney, played Saturday with the Sharks. The Barracuda won their Saturday game 5-4 in a shootout. The Stars lost theirs 7-6, also in a shootout. Both teams had reason to be a little weary Sunday, but it did not show. Sunday’s game was fast and entertaining.

The first penalty of the game went to the Barracuda’s Jesse Mycham. The Barracuda killed it off with alacrity.

8:40 into the game, Nikolay Goldobin scored to put the Barracuda up by one. Chris Tierney sent the puck up from behind the goal line, where Goldobin’s arrival was well-timed. With a quick lift, he put the puck over the Texas goaltender’s glove. Assists went to Tierney and Gus Young.

The Barracuda set the pace for the rest of the period. Several shots on net went right into Deslauriers’ clutches, as the Barracuda did not have enough traffic in front of the Texas goaltender.

With just 2:25 left in the first, the Stars caught San Jose off guard and tied the game. Stalock caught Dickinson’s wrap-around shot with his pads but only by diving across the crease. The puck went under him, changed direction somewhere underneath the goalie, and trickled across the goal line. An assist went to Greg Rallo.

San Jose’s Jeremy Langlois took the lead back when he caught a long pass near the faceoff dot in the Stars’ zone, deked his way around Brennan Evans and then beat the goaltender with a backhand from in close. Assists went to Goldobin and Young.

The Stars took a penalty early in the second period, and Brendan Ranford went to the box for delay of game. The Barracuda power play had some good looks but their best chances were for tip-ins that did not work.

As the penalty ended, the Stars went the other way immediately, then got pushed back, only to get a breakaway chance, followed by more o-zone time. The Barracuda were very much on their heels but Stalock kept the puck out.

As the game reached its midpoint, San Jose pulled themselves together. At 10:35, Tierney beat a Texas defender near the faceoff circle and got a pass to Goldobin for a shot. Desrosiers stopped the first shot but Goldobin picked up his rebound and put it around the goaltender to give the Barracuda a 3-1 lead.

The Stars took another penalty, this time to Travis Morin for tripping. San Jose’s power play was less dangerous-looking than it had been, but it was not a liability. After the penalty expired, the Barracuda continued to keep Texas at bay, limiting their shots mostly to the outside and getting the puck out quickly.

By the end of the second period, the score was 3-1 Barracuda, the shot count was 17-14 Barracuda.

San Jose jumped right back in to start the third period. They skated in three on two to extend the lead. Ryan Carpenter carried the puck to the hash marks and passed it to Barclay Goodrow. Goodrow’s shot came back out for Carpenter to pick up and put in the net. Assists went to Goodrow and Trevor Parkes.

A few minutes later, Goldobin escaped the neutral zone and darted unfettered to the Texas net where he wrapped the puck around the goalie and in goal for a hat trick. The goal was unassisted.

The Texas team had a power play opportunity at 9:49 when Alex Gallant went to the box for interference. It was a much better power play than their first and they held the zone relentlessly. They still failed to gain any ground on the four goal deficit.

Final score: 5-1 San Jose. The win puts the Barracuda in the playoff picture for the moment. They are in third place out of seven teams in the Pacific Division.

The Barracuda next play on Wednesday against the Stockton Heat.

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There was plenty of roster activity from the Sharks on Sunday. As the Sharks started a four day break in their schedule, they sent forward Chris Tierney and goaltender Alex Stalock to play with the Barracuda. Matt Tennyson was sent down a couple of days earlier, and officially Stalock’s and Tennyson’s assignments are for “conditioning” purposes. This limits the stay to 14 days. Historically, these assignments were used to bring players back from injury, but there is no strict language in the rules saying that a conditioning assignment cannot be used to keep a player tuned up when he is not playing much with the NHL club. It is likely that both Tennyson and Stalock will be back with the Sharks soon.

Sharks Pounce on Panthers for 5-2 Win

By Mary Walsh

AP photo SJ Sharks Joonas Donskoi (27) scoring against Florida Panthers

SAN JOSE- The Sharks defeated the Florida Panthers 5-2 on Thursday. It was a great response to a very disappointing loss two days earlier against the Columbus Blue Jackets. It was also a noteworthy game for some other reasons. Joonas Donskoi scored a goal in his first game against the team that drafted him, and earned the first star of the game. It was Sharks defenseman Justin Braun’s 300th game. It was goaltender Al Stalock’s first home start of the season, and rookie forward Nikolay Goldobin earned his first NHL assist.

Al Stalock’s first home start began with a flurry of red and white. The Panthers began the period with a relentless attack that lasted several minutes. Less than 3 minutes in and recent Sharks call up Micheal Haley fought Shawn Thornton. This may have been a response to the Sharks being mostly trapped in their own zone for the span before that.

The Sharks finally did push play into the other end. After a few forays, the Sharks got serious. Brent Burns made a behind the back pass across the crease, and the puck was thrown at the net repeatedly by Joe Thornton, Joonas Donskoi and Burns too. They kept Florida goaltender Al Montoya jumping. The crowd was still exclaiming disappointment that none of those shots went in when Brent Burns took another shot and did score.

The second goal was scored by Joonas Donskoi, with assists to Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton. The puck only crossed the line after several bodies piled up in the blue paint, mostly Panthers. One Panther even launched himself over the paint into the net, as if to prevent a goal. But Donskoi just fell after him and knocked the puck in anyway. The goal stood up after a review.

The third goal was scored by the Panthers. After mostly winning a faceoff in the Sharks’ zone, Vincent Trocheck chased the puck to the crease and shot it past Stalock, who was a little too far from the net to get back in time.

Near the end of the first period, coach DeBoer started mixing up his defensive pairs. Vlasic skated with Burns, while Martin was on the ice with Dillon and then Braun was out there with Dillon. The defenseman shuffle did not carry over to the second period. Whatever occured to keep Matt Tennyson off the ice in those later minutes of the first, he was back with Dillon when their shift came in the second.

The second period again started with a strong push from the Panthers, but it did not take the Sharks long to push back.

At 3:48, Patrick Marleau skated in with the puck, going around a defenseman and cutting back across the crease. He had to make a hard turn to get back from the goal line and to the front of the blue paint. The maneuver looked unlikely to succeed. Maybe the goaltender thought so too, because he was not ready for Marleau put the puck in the far side of the net. Assists went to Joel Ward and Tomas Hertl.

The first penalty was called at 10:47 of the secod, a slashing call to Florida’s Dmitri Kulikov. The Sharks could not do anything with that. The next penalty came at 13:26, this time to Donskoi for interference on Jaromir Jagr. The Panthers did make something of their power play and with a minute and 20 seconds remaining in the penalty, they won a faceoff, made a quick cross-ice pass and Brandon Pirri sent it in from well above the circles. Assists went to Brian Campbell and Jussi Jokinen.

That seemed to galvanize the Sharks and a hush fell over the Tank for several shifts. Joe Thornton took an especially long shift and finally found himself in the zone with his linemates. A pass across the slot from Thornton to Donskoi resulted in a fine-looking goal. Unfortunately, Florida coach Gerard Gallant challenged the play as offside. The goal was overturned after the review.

In a three on one with trailing Panthers, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Justin Braun and Nikolay Goldobin descended on Montoya. A fine pass from Goldobin to Vlasic set up Vlasic’s first goal of the season. It was also Goldobin’s first NHL assist.

At the end of the second, the shots were tied at 22.

1:33 into the third, Tommy Wingels was called for roughing. The Sharks penalty kill was very efficient, limiting the Panthers to one and done attacks. As soon as Wingels was released, the Sharks went the other way and got set up for a couple of emphatic shots.

At 3:56, Florida defenseman Aaron Ekblad went to the box for hooking. The Sharks had some trouble getting set up and even had to go back to their own zone when a pass went awry and came up icing. When they finally did get set up, they only got a couple of shots on net before the Panthers pushed them back out.

At 12:20, Dillon went to the box for tripping Garrett Wilson. The Panthers did not get a shot on net during the power play, and the Sharks went right to the attack at the end of the penalty. Play was in the Panthers’ zone when the next whistle blew.

The Panthers pulled their goalie with a couple of minutes left. With just over a minute left in the game, Chris Tierney scored an empty-net goal. Assists went to Joe Thornton and Brent Burns.

Final score 5-2, San Jose.

Apart from the score, the game was very close in many regards. The shot count was 33-32 Florida, with the teams being tied at 11 each in each of the first and second periods. The Panthers outhit the Sharks 25-17, and won just one fewer faceoffs, with the Sharks leading 28-27. The Sharks blocked a few more shots, with 18 to Florida’s 13. With all of that counted and calculated, it is safe to say that Al Stalock had a better game than Al Montoya did.

The Sharks next play on Saturday at 7:30 when they host the visiting Anaheim Ducks. The San Jose Barracuda will also play at 1:00 pm for the season’s first double header at SAP.

Barracuda Defeat Reign For First Home Win

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE– The San Jose Barracuda defeated the Ontario Reign 4-2 for their first home win of the season. San Jose goals were scored by John McCarthy, Mirco Mueller, Jeremy Langlois and Nikolay Goldobin. After a long break between games, the Barracuda were very well-rested. The last time San Jose played was October 24, and that was a 3-0 loss to the Reign in Ontario. The break gave them a chance to practice and made the win all the more important. After the game, Barracuda head coach Roy Sommer said: “It’s big for us. The mood of the practices, everything’s going to be upbeat, their Halloween party’s tonight. So they can go have some fun, we have a day off tomorrow so it fits in good.”

Of the time between games, Sommer said that they had made good use of it: “I thought they had a good week of practice… I thought they went hard and everything was about going to the net and that’s where our goals were from tonight.”

The Reign were far from well-rested. Sunday’s game was their third in three days. The fatigue factor was something the Barracuda knew they should take advantage of. After the game, San Jose forward John McCarthy said:

They had a tough weekend, a lot of travel and we talked about kind of taking advantage of that in the first period, coming out… Because we know how it feels to be that team on the road. You come in after a long road trip and when a team’s all over you right away, it messes with your head.

Aaron Dell was in net for the Barracuda, with Peter Budaj at the other end for the Reign. Ontario has opted to use veteran goaltenders this season, with NHL veterans Budaj and Ray Emery playing as a tandem.

John McCarthy started the scoring for San Jose, 2:45 into the first period. Three Barracuda entered the Reign zone, with just two Ontario players defending. McCarthy went to the net and Trevor Parkes got the puck to him with a pass from the boards. Assists went to Parkes and Nikolay Goldobin.

The Barracuda also got the first power play, 7:44 into the period. Michael Mersch, Ontario’s leading goal scorer, went to the box for tripping. Just before that penalty expired, Nikita Jevpalovs went to the box for high-sticking. With 30 seconds left in the penalty, Mersch tied it up for the Reign. Assists went to Sean Backman (the Reign’s points leader) and Valentin Zykov.

Jevpalovs also took the Barracuda’s second penalty, this time it was hooking at 12:47.

The Barracuda were trailing by three shots at the end of the first period, and by the middle of the second they had only added four. The second period was far from shot-heavy, with the Reign only taking three by the ten minute mark. No penalties were called until the fourteen minute mark. The call was for holding and it went to Ontario’s Vincent LoVerde.

It only took Mirco Mueller four seconds to put a shot on net from the blue line. His shot went between two Barracuda skaters as they passed in front of the net and gave the Barracuda the lead. An assist went to Scott Timmins. It was the first goal from a Barracuda defenseman.

The Reign took the goal right back. Justin Auger won the puck behind the net and tried to wrap it around with a backhand. When that did not work, Ryan Horvat picked up the rebound and tossed the puck between Dell’s shoulder and the post. Dell’s vision was obstructed by his own defender and also Auger so he really did not have a chance. Assists went to Auger and Jonny Brodzinski.

The Barracuda had another power play chance at 15:34, when MacDermid went to the box for cross-checking. Nothing came of that, and the Barracuda shortly found themselves on the penalty kill when Patrick McNally went for hooking. That Reign power play did not last long, because Nic Dowd shoved Timmins face first into the glass. That evened the numbers up and put Dowd in the box for boarding.

The period closed with the teams tied at 2, and the Reign leading in shots 22-19.

The third period started with the teams playing four on four for a minute and one second. A 32 second power play for San Jose followed but did not produce a goal.

One of the Barracuda’s better chances came when Karl Stollery found himself in the slot with a clear view of the net. Unfortunately for him, his stick broke and the shot went wide. Seven minutes in and the Barracuda were keeping the Reign on their heels but Budaj was alert and preserved the tie with several saves.

The Barracuda were back on the power play at 9:38 to go, when Ontario’s LoVerde went for hooking. The resulting power play did not start especially well. The Barracuda spent several seconds chasing down the puck in their own zone and keeping it away from attacking penalty killers. The rest of the power play was broken up by stoppages and clears that limited scoring chances.

More four on four play commenced at 12:02 when Jordan Samuels-Thomas and Julius Bergman sat for two minutes. Samuels-Thomas was sent away for embellishment, while Bergman did time for tripping. Neither team profited from the penalties.

Back at even strength, San Jose’s Joakim Ryan escaped an attacking Ontario player in the Barracuda zone, then took the puck all the way to Reign territory. With Ontario defenders closing on him, he used a backhand pass to give the puck to Jeremy Langlois. Langlois carried it around behind the net before scoring with a wrap around.

Another four on four session began when Mirco Mueller and Ryan Horvat were confined with matching roughing minors. Neither team scored.

The Reign pulled their goalie in the final two minutes and it took the Barracuda nearly a minute to clear the puck out. Nikolay Goldobin followed it out and scored an empty-netter. Assists went to McCarthy and Peter Emanuelsson. With that goal and his assist, Goldobin had his first two points of the season in one game.

Final score: 4-2 Barracuda.

No Barracuda had more than three shots, but four had three: McCarthy, Ryan Carpenter, Patrick McNally and Goldobin. For Ontario, Mersch led in shots with six. San Jose’s Aaron Dell made 32 saves on 34 shots, while Peter Budaj made 25 saves on 28 shots.

The Barracuda next play on Saturday, November 7th against the San Diego Gulls in San Jose at 1:15 PT.

Sharks Lose 6-3 To Islanders

By Mary Walsh

The San Jose Sharks recorded their first loss of the 2015-16 season Saturday. The New York Islanders won 6-3, with goals from six different Islanders. Sharks rookie Nikolay Goldobin scored his first NHL goal and Joel Ward scored his first as a Shark.

In addition to having played the night before, the Sharks suffered a handful of injuries before and during Saturday’s game. Both factors probably contributed to a somewhat disjointed game from San Jose. After the game, Joe Pavelski said:

That’s the way the game goes sometimes. Definitely, I think there were times where we played our game the way we wanted to play and we were pretty tight and we did well. And then we opened it up too at times and got a little careless. A few bounces maybe didn’t go our way as well. If you’re playing a team like that, you can’t give them any space because they are so offensive and it just takes a little bounce for them to break it open and start feeling good.

Just before the game, news broke that Sharks defenseman Paul Martin was out with a lower body injury. The injury occurred during Friday’s game but Martin did finish that one. Depending on the length of his recovery time, this could be even worse news than Logan Couture’s absence. Martin was playing like the guy the Sharks hoped he would be when they signed him. Good matches for Brent Burns have not been easy to find.

To start the game, DeBoer opted to put Brenden Dillon with Burns, and pair Dylan DeMelo with Matt Tennyson. Goaltender Al Stalock made his first start of the season under some inauspicious circumstances. With Joonas Donskoi also still out, DeBoer decided to start Nikolay Goldobin on the top line again, with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski.

Islanders goaltender Jaroslav Halak was back from injury, playing his first game of the season. This mean that the Sharks barely missed facing an old teammate in goaltender Thomas Greiss, who is now backup for Halak.

Tomas Hertl took the first penalty of the game 3:16 in. He was called for hooking. Half way through the penalty, the Islanders were called for too many men on the ice. Jon Tavares served the penalty. Both penalties expired without a goal.

The Sharks had a good shift or two around the middle of the period, with the top forward line and the Burns-Dillon pair hemming the Islanders in their own zone for a bit.

At 6:56, the Sharks won a faceoff and this allowed Thornton to make a cross-ice pass to Braun, who shot it from the point. The puck went in but Joe Pavelski weas at the net and close enough to Halak to make Islanders head coach Jack Capuano challenge the goal. The challenge was overruled and the goal stood up. The goal went to Pavelski, with assists to Braun and Thornton.

With 2:13 left in the period, Mikhail Grabovski was awarded a penalty shot after he blew by Brenden Dillon and forced Dillon to trip him up to prevent a scoring chance. Al Stalock stopped the penalty shot and the Sharks carried on with their 1-0 lead.

At the end of the period, the shots were even at 10 each.

That changed quickly, as did the score, in a wild second period. Just 21 seconds in, Johnny Boychuk scored with a slapshot after Tavares won the faceoff. Anders Lee helped by screening Stalock. The lone assist went to Tavares.

The Sharks got it back right quick. The Sharks took control of the play in their defensive zone, and the top line was able to carry to puck up ice. Justin Braun disrupted the Islanders defense while Thornton made a perfectly timed pass across to Goldobin on the left wing. Goldobin was right where he needed to be to score his first NHL goal. Assists went to Thornton and Braun.

The Sharks had little time to celebrate as Brent Burns was called for tripping less than aminute later and the Sharks were back on the penalty kill. The Islanders tied the score agan with a briefly contested goal during which Stalock lost his mask. It appears that the puck caught him near the ear and broke a strap. The goal went to Anders Lee, with assists to Ryan Strome and John Tavares.

The whistles kept coming, as Travis Hamonic was called for tripping Pavelksi. The Sharks did not score on that power play.

A shot from Barclay Goodrow hit Ben Smith in the ear, about six minutes into the period. Smith left the game at the next stoppage, leaving the Sharks down by one skater. Smith did not return for the third period.

It took the Sharks a few shifts and a few saves from Stalock but they regained the lead. A big save against Kyle Okposo led to a break out for Matt Nieto and Joel Ward. Nieto carried the puck in and held on to it while Ward made his way to the net. Nieto’s patience paid off as his pass caught Ward at just the right time for Ward to tap it in over Halak’s pad. The goal was Ward’s first as a Shark and assists went to Nieto and Stalock.

The lead lasted about four and a half minutes. Josh Bailey took advantage of a Burns turnover to move the puck out from behind the net. Kyle Okposo found it in the slot and wasted no time throwing it at the net, where Bailey and Frans Nielsen redirected it past Stalock. The goal was Bailey’s and the assists went to Nielsen and Okposo.

The shot count for the period was 12-7 Islanders.

At 3:02 of the third, there was a curious delay for a review of a goal that no one seemed to have seen happen. The review confirmed that it did not happen. It was not clear until later which team did not score it. It turned out to have been a non-goal for the Sharks. The situation room had lost sight of the puck and could not tell if it had gone in.

The Islanders took their first lead at 4:18 of the third, when Okposo broke away after a neutral zone turnover. Stalock made the first save. It looked like Dillon would corral the crafty forward in the corner, but Okposo escaped again and beat Stalock with a wrist shot. The assist went to Josh Bailey.

Near the half way mark of the period, DeBoer put Marleau out with the top line. That was the second game that he started Goldobin there and moved him down late. He also moved Nieto to the second line after Tomas Hertl was hit in the mouth with a puck.

At 11:10, the Islanders took a two goal lead with a hard shot from the slot from Brock Nelson. The shot went past Justin Braun as well as Al Stalock. The goal was unassisted.

The Sharks went to the penalty kill at 12:49 when Braun was called for shooting the puck out of play. They killed that off as the clock ticked down.

DeBoer opted to pull his goalie with over three minutes left and the Islanders made the Sharks pay for that. The net had not been empty for many seconds when Frans Nielsen put the puck in it. It was Nielsen’s 100th career goal. DeBoer put Stalock back in the net.

Final score 6-3 Islanders.

Okposo, Boychuck and Tavares shared the Islanders lead in shots with five apiece. Jaroslav Halak made 22 saves on 25 shots for the win.

Pavelski, Marleau, Tommy Wingels and Brent Burns each had three shots in the game, and no Shark had more. Al Stalock made 27 saves on 32 shots.

The Sharks next play on Monday against the New York Rangers at 4:00 PT.

Sharks Beat Devils 2-1, Start Season 4-0

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.

Couture And Donskoi Out, Goldobin Called Up

By Mary Walsh

San Jose Sharks center Logan Couture will miss four to six weeks due to a broken right fibula. Per Curtis Pashelka of the Mercury News, the injury was sustained during practice in New Jersey on Thursday. In a press release Friday, Sharks GM Doug Wilson said:

Logan was injured in practice on Thursday in New Jersey and suffered a fractured right fibula at the ankle. He will be returning to San Jose to undergo surgery under the direction of Kaiser Permanente’s medical team. He is expected to miss 4-6 weeks.

Forward Joonas Donskoi is also out due to an injury sustained blocking a shot during the game against the Anaheim Ducks.

Rookie forward Nikolay Goldobin has been recalled to fill one of the open spots on the roster. Goldobin was the Sharks’ first round pick in 2014. Last season he played 38 games with HIFK in Finland and nine games with the Worcester Sharks of the AHL. This season he played one game with the San Jose Barracuda.

Forward Ben Smith, who was a scratch for the first three games of the season, will also join the lineup tonight as the team faces the New Jersey Devils. Saturday, the Sharks will play the New York Islanders in Brooklyn.

Sharks Defeat Ducks 3-1 in 4th Preseason Game

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE– Saturday, the San Jose Sharks defeated the Anaheim Ducks 3-1 in their fourth preseason outing. The game featured a preposterous number of penalties from the Ducks and yet another good showing from the line of Barclay Goodrow, Chris Tierney an Nikolay Goldobin. They earned all three stars. Two of the goals were Goodrow’s.  Goldobin picked up assists on both of those, and Tierney had an assist on one. The third Sharks goal was Logan Couture’s, while the lone Ducks goal was scored by Matt Beleskey.

Saturday, the Sharks again started with a jump ahead on the shot clock, but the gap was not so big. Midway through the first period, the shots were 6-2, the Sharks were working on their second power play and a 0-0 tie. Unlike last night’s squad, these Sharks also grabbed the lead on the scoreboard, during that power play. That goal was scored by Logan Couture and a power play unit of Demers, Irwin, Marleau and  Nieto. A few minutes later, Barclay Goodrow scored to give the team a two goal lead. The assist went, of course, to Goldobin.

The Sharks started the second with an early power play that quickly turned into a five on three with a delay of game penalty coming just four seconds in. Into the second minute of that power play, I was still looking to see who the second power play unit was. The first unit would not get off the ice, since the Ducks could not clear the puck. The top unit did not score either, but with 40 or so seconds left, Anaheim goaltender John Gibson stopped the puck and gave his penalty killers a rest. The Sharks’ second unit finally appeared: Barclay Goodrow, Chris Tierney, Nikolay Goldobin, with Matt Tennyson and Mirco Mueller on the blue line. It took them a few seconds but they scored, Goodrow’s second of the game. Assists went to Tierney and Goldobin.

The power play units got some more practice with yet another Ducks penalty. Just a shift or two had gone by when Nicolas Kerdiles was called for tripping. This time the first unit left almost a minute for the second unit to work with.  The second unit included DeMelo instead of Mueller this time.

At 8:42, San Jose’s Taylor Doherty and Anaheim’s Matt Belesky went to the box for matching slashing minors. That was kind of an unusual call.

In the last minutes of the first, Stalock made a save on a wraparound attempt that was very impressive. He does not look like someone trying to get up to speed. He looks more like someone competing for a spot, which, of course, he is. It may not be a spot in San Jose, he has that. But he is certainly capable of challenging Niemi for the starter’s role. No time like the preseason.

The first Ducks power play came at the end of the first period. The second Ducks power play came at the end of the second period. Both times, Melker Karlsson was in the box. In the first period it was for holding the stick. In the second it was for tripping. It was not his night.

The Sharks got another 5 on 3 power play, 1:16 long at 18:48 of the second period. That brought the Ducks to ten penalties, if you do not count the two matching minors. McLellan did not change anything on the first unit, and continued sending them out first. They seemed to need the practice.

It was not Jason Demers’ best night either. He could not seem to get a handle on the pucks sent his way during those many power plays. He spent a lot of time on the left side of the net. That looked like an awkward spot for him.

The third period started with the score at 3-0 Sharks and the shot count at 24-10 Sharks.

One of those rule changes made an appearance about seven minutes in to the third period. The officials called Anaheim’s Nicholas Kardiles for hooking, and gave a matching minor to Goldobin for embellishment. As if the call threw them off, the Sharks gave up a goal 1:38 in to the four on four. It was a fair case of the goalie being beaten by a good shot from an open player. Matt Belesky scored his first of the preseason with assists going to Marc Fistric and Kevin Gagne.

Shortly thereafter, Taylor Doherty fought Clayton Stoner. Stoner got an additional two minutes for roughing, but the Sharks’ power play did not score.

Final score: 3-1, shot count 33-17 Sharks. Attendance announced as over 16, 000.

Saturday’s roster:
Forwards: Andrew Desjardins, Patrick Marleau, John Scott, Logan Couture, Melker Karlsson, Freddie Hamilton, Eriak Hayes, Nikolay Goldobin, Matt Nieto, Barclay Goodrow, Daniil Tarasov, Chris Tierney

Defensemen: Jason Demers, Mirco Mueller, Matt Irwin, Dylan DeMelo, Taylor Doherty, Matt Tennyson

Alex Stalock was in net with Grosenick listed as backup.

Line combos:
Nieto/ Couture/ Marleau, Tierney/ Goldobin/ Goodrow, Hamilton/ Karlsson/ Tarasov, Hayes/ Desjardins/ Scott
Later in the game, Nieto and Hamilton swapped lines

Tennyson/Irwin, Demers/DeMelo, Mueller/Doherty

Power play units:
Marleau, Couture, Nieto, Demers, Irwin
Godolbin, Goodrow, Tierney, Tennyson, Mueller/DeMelo

Goldobin, Goodrow Stand Out in Sharks Pre-Season Win

By Mary Walsh

STOCKTON, CA–  No Daniil Tarasov at the Stockton preseason game between the San Jose Sharks and the Vancouver Canucks. For me, that simplified the list of players likely to make the Sharks NHL roster at the end of camp. The game re-complicated it. Nikolay Goldobin and Barclay Goodrow looked good enough to make anyone think twice. The Sharks won 5-2, and outshot the Canucks by an embarrassing margin to boot.

In the first four minutes of the Stockton game, the Sharks got credit for  three shots to none for the Vancouver squad. In goal for San Jose was Troy Grosenick, with Jakob Markstrom at the other end for the Canucks. After nine minutes, the shots were 8 to 1 for the Sharks. By the end of the period, it had stretched even more to 16-5 Sharks. Astonishing, really, that even prospects in the preseason can so accurately follow the Sharks’ classic MO: outshoot the opposition without much to show for it.

That did not last, that part where they had nothing to show for it.

Of the players to watch in Stockton, I had Tarasov near the top of the list for forwards, and his absence was disappointing. The game was a chance to get a better look at Nikolay Goldobin, the Sharks’ first round pick from this summer’s draft. With such a plethora of forwards competing for a spot, some with NHL experience, others with a lot of pro time in the minor leagues, the odds that a rookie drafted just this summer would make it were slim. Still, he played so well with Goodrow that I had to rethink. His skillset could be something the team needs right now. Goodrow and Goldobin stood out even before they started scoring: they found each other with passes, they knew when to help the other out. And then there were the two goals they scored- those were pretty showy too.

The first period ended scoreless, but things really picked up in the second. A too many men penalty from the Canucks put the Sharks on their second power play of the game. It took the top line a heartbeat or two after puck drop to take the lead. Joe Thornton skated across in front of the net, with Hertl trailing behind in case needed. Joe Pavelski got the puck to him without much trouble and Thornton put it in.

Nick Bonino took a slashing penalty at 9:30 of the second period. Goodrow and Goldobin were out there to start the power play and they  made the best of their communication skills. Goodrow scored off a neat pass from Goldobin. He got the puck from Mueller, a nice showing from the Sharks most recent first round picks.

The Sharks got yet another power play on a delay of game (puck over the glass by Vancouver’s Bobby Sanguinetti.)  With so much practice, it seemed inevitable that the Canucks would improve on their penalty kill. They did. They killed that one, but during the power play Marc-Edouard Vlasic demonstrated one of those new rule changes: he dove for a puck and reached it, while a Canuck was close by. The Canuck did not take advantage of the chance to skate into Vlasic’s outstretched stick and trip over it so no penalty was called. Nevertheless, that call is going to be hard to avoid.

Justin Braun took the Sharks’ first penalty of the game, holding at 9:30  of the second. Twenty seconds later, Vlasic joined him in the box for delay of game. That left  51, 67 and 10 to start the five on three. They were quickly replaced, as they cleared the puck a couple of times. 80, 67, 41 had the longest shift. The penalty killers did a very good job to keep the Canucks off the board in such a long five on three.

With under two minutes left in the period, Goldobin added a goal to his tally with a lovely wrap-around, preceded by some misdirection on the other side of the net. He squeezed the puck just between Markstrom and the post, possibly under the goalie’s skate blade. However it got through, it was snug. It was Goodrow, of course, who got the puck to him.

A quick check of the roster stats told me that Goldobin and Goodrow did not play on the same team last season.

The Sharks went up 4-0 with Pavelski’s first of the preseason, from Eriah Hayes & Dylan DeMelo at 4:17 of third.

The Canucks finally scored about nine minutes into the third period. Nick Bonino got the puck past Grosenik, and past DeMelo and Abeltshauser.

The Sharks got that back with a goal from Thornton, assisted by Dylan DeMelo.

Unfortunately, DeMelo and Abeltshauser were there again when the Canucks went the other way and scored a second goal for the Canucks. This one was scored by Niklas Jensen.

Final score, 5-2 Sharks. The final shot count was listed as 34-12.

John Scott acquitted himself well enough when he had a chance to move the puck, but he could be skated around by the quicker Canucks without much difficulty. A hard hit by Scott on Cedarholm drew the ire of Tom Sestito, who took a 10 minute misconduct for instigating a fight with Scott.

Braun and Mueller skated together quite a bit.  The only thing I would fault Mueller on in Tuesday’s game is that he was a little tentative.

With the other Sharks squad falling 4-2 in Vancouver, it seems that the 6,810 fans in the Stockton audience were the winners of the night. While a full-sized NHL arena can be hard to fill for a preseason game, the Stockton arena was just right. It gave the players an enthusiastic audience up close, and the audience got to watch the game in a more cozy setting with the arena mostly full. Stockton Arena is a very pleasant venue, and bringing the Sharks’ preseason squad there was a brilliant idea. It begs the question: will the Sharks renew their old affiliation with the Thunder? As of now, San Jose has no ECHL affiliate. Stockton has an NHL affiliate (NY Islanders) but many ECHL clubs are having to double up since the league contracted recently.