Barracuda capture Roadrunners and overthrow them with a 5-2 win


By Alexandra Evans

One win over the Tucson Roadrunners this week was clearly not enough for the San Jose Barracuda as they chased them down Wile E. Coyote style, earning a 5-2 victory at the Tuscon Convention Center.

San Jose put up two goals in the first period less than one minute apart. Julius Bergman sniped the first one on the power play at 12:45, and John McCarthy, who assisted Bergman’s goal, collected Paul Martin’s rebound off of Tucson goalie Hunter Miska and shot the puck, backhanded, past him. The Cuda ended the first period with a 2-0 lead; each team had eight shots on goal.

The scoring action translated into the second period as Brandon Mashinter received a pass from Jacob Middleton, putting the puck in the net just before the four minute mark. Emerson Clark notched his first goal with the Cuda at the five minute mark when he circled around Miska and located the low slot. Down 4-0, the Roadrunners tried to retaliate later in the period as Michael Bunting got a helper from Mario Kempe and sniped the puck past Cuda goalie Parker Gahagen at 9:10. Three minutes later, Trevor cheek scored one unassisted (and shorthanded) on a breakaway. The Cuda’s lead was cut in half, 4-2, at the end of the second.

Gahagen, who earned his first professional win tonight in the desert, and San Jose’s defense did not allow any additional goals in the third period. Brandon Bollig earned the team a 5-2 victory with an empty netter two minutes before the match ended.

The Cuda, now 11-10, return to action at home this weekend for a double header against the Bakersfield Condors: Saturday at 7:00 p.m. and Sunday at 1:15 p.m.

Sharks Without Hertl for Game 3

By Mary Walsh

AP photo: San Jose Sharks Tomas Hertl who sat out game three vs. the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup Finals

SAN JOSE–Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer has confirmed that Tomas Hertl will not play in Saturday’s Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final. He described Hertl’s injury as a lower body one. Of Hertl’s performance so far, DeBoer said:

He’s arguably been our best player for the first two games but injuries are no excuse this time of year, we’ve got someone who will go in for him and we’ll roll out there and be ready to play.

As for who will draw into the lineup, there is little mystery. When Matt Nieto returned to the lineup for Game 2, Dainius Zubrus was the odd man out. He will most likely be back in. On the subject of who will play in Hertl’s spot on the top line with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski, DeBoer said:

We’ve got a couple guys that’ve played in that hole before. Melker has before, and so has [Zubrus] played there before. I think the one thing that those two guys… you’ve got a guy that’ll hound the puck and work for it. Those two guys pretty much take care of the rest. I think we’ve got a lot of options there because of who we’re sticking them in with and I think it should be fairly seamless.

Sharks captain Joe Pavelski also weighed in on how Hertl has contributed to the team in the playoffs:

He’s been a big part of this team, especially the second half. You saw the smile on his face the last few rounds. He’s really enjoyed playing, he brings that energy. It’s tough to miss a guy like that if you have to. But somebody steps in, we’ve done it, we’ve done it for a while. We still expect a great effort from whoever comes in in a good role. We haven’t had a ton of injuries so there’s been somebody always ready to step in.

A the dust settles from Logan Couture’s comments on faceoffs, there remains the fact that the Sharks have not been very good in the faceoff circle. Among playoff teams, they have consistently been at the bottom in faceoff win percentage. It begs the question, what does the team do to still win the game, or 12 games, despite rarely starting with the puck? Logan Couture explained: “Get it back right away, put it in good places so we can forecheck and hold on to the puck in their end. There’s a few things you can do off a faceoff or forecheck that can turn the puck over.” So far, the Sharks have not been able to do any of those things very well against the Penguins. They will get another chance tonight.

Something else they will get a chance to do tonight is get back to their game. Apart from moving the puck quicker with simpler plays, thereby improving their execution, their forwards could probably backcheck more aggressively. Some time ago, I asked Sharks defenseman Paul Martin what it is about the Sharks that make them effective defensively:

[Jones] playing the puck, our forwards come back and support us and we rely on them to get out of the zone. I think everyone’s capable on our d-corps. When Roman [Polak] came over he kind of solidified that last pair and Brenden Dillon’s had  a break out year and he’s been great and he continues to improve. And the top four have been around for a while now. As far as experience, with [Vlasic] obviously, he’s a world class player, along with [Burns] they can bring something else that a lot of guys can’t.

I think we all can skate and get around the ice, and the ability to make that first pass out of the zone is big and I think we all understand the way we want to play. We all get along and so that’s big. The chemistry that we have is important.

Ironically, the formula Martin described there, with the forwards being as crucial to defense as defensemen are, pretty well describes how the Penguins have been playing. One has to wonder if it is even possible for two teams to play that way at the same time, or if they must first defuse their opponent’s arsenal.

The fact that Pete DeBoer has been here before, with the New Jersey Devils against the Los Angeles Kings, can only give fans so much comfort: his team forced a Game 6 but did not win the series. Is he hunting with a bigger boat this time?

Sharks Take Washington 5-2

By Mary Walsh

AP photo: The San Jose Sharks goalie Martin Jones stops one of 23 shots against by the Washington Caps on Saturday night

SAN JOSE– The San Jose Sharks defeated the visiting Washington Capitals by a score of 5-2 on Saturday. A wide variety of goals came from Joe Pavelski, Patrick Marleau, Brenden Dillon, Brent Burns and Joe Thornton. A power play goal, a short-handed goal, two even strength goals and an empty netter, combined with a strong defensive game showed the Sharks to advantage against the best team in the NHL. One more win will clinch a playoff berth for the Capitals, but they would not get it Saturday.

Goaltender Martin Jones made 23 saves for the Sharks, and some of those saves were more harrowing than others. He stopped a shot from a two-on-none breakaway in the second period. He stopped a penalty shot. He stopped a couple of shots that looked fairly unstoppable. He stopped almost everything the Caps threw at him. At the other end, Philipp Grubauer also made 23 saves, but the Sharks took more shots.

Tomas Hertl drew the first penalty of the game, a slashing penalty to Jason Chimera at 5:02. The Sharks power play was not systemically weak, but they seemed to have a lot of trouble handling the puck, as if it were bouncing or sticking unexpectedly. The Capitals did not have the same problem, so one could assume the problem was the opponent and not the ice. The Sharks had two shots on goal in the power play, but no goal.

The Sharks did score first, during some confusion at the Washington end of the ice. Joe Thornton was not confused, nor was Brenden Dillon, who sent the puck to the net and created a rebound for Thornton to pick up. Assists went to Dillon and Tomas Hertl.

The Capitals responded with several good chances of their own, but the Sharks minimized their time and space. On one play, a Shark lost his footing at the Caps blue line, allowing Ovechkin to escape through the neutral zone. Some good hustle from the Sharks defense got in his way before he could get a shot off.

Despite the pressure from the Caps, the Sharks maintained a small 11-9 lead on the shot clock as the first period wound to a close. With 14 seconds left in the period, Nick Spaling was called for a high stick against Jason Chimera.

The Sharks started the second period on the penalty kill and added a second penalty just 20 seconds in, a delay of game to Brent Burns. The three defenders for the Sharks were Joel Ward, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun. They stopped a couple of shots but eventually the skilled Washington power play was too much and TJ Oshie tied the game. Assists to Niklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin.

The Sharks went back on the penalty kill at 3:39, a boarding call against Joe Thornton. Couture, Martin, Burns and Karlsson started the kill, cleared the puck, and made way for a second unit of Vlasic, Braun, Marleau and Ward. The latter two broke away in the final 30 seconds of the kill for a two on one and a short-handed goal. The goal was Marleau’s, due to a last-second pass from Ward. A second assist went to Vlasic. It was Marleau’s 476th goal, putting him in 51st place among NHL all-time goal scorers.

The Caps had another excellent breakaway chance, with two skaters crossing the Sharks blue line without an escort. Sharks defenders got back in time to give the puck carrier a little grief, but he got a pass away to Matt Niskanen, who had time to take a shot. Martin Jones handled the shot cleanly and held on to the puck.

The Caps tied the game again just past the midway point. After a series of fumbles by the Sharks, from overskating the puck to drop-passing it to no one, the Caps launched a brief attack that ended with the puck taking an odd bounce off a skater in front of the net, and over Martin Jones’ pads. The goal went to Justin Williams, with assists to Evgeni Kuznetsov and Andrei Burakovsky.

The Sharks finished up the period with a power play, a hooking penalty to Kuznestov, drawn by Joonas Donskoi. The Sharks power play was interrupted when Jay Beagle earned a penalty shot when Burns slashed him during a short-handed breakaway. Jones stopped the shot and the Sharks power play carried over to the third period.

Joe Pavelski was not having a particularly good game, but 49 seconds into the third period he scored a power play goal. A fairly straight-forward play started with a pass from Brent Burns to Joe Thornton. Pavelski caught the pass from Thornton and backhanded it past Grubauer for the Sharks’ third lead of the game.

Another player’s game improved dramatically early in the third: Brenden Dillon’s. Although he already had a point, he did not have a good second period. At 2:51 of the third, however, he picked up Tierney’s pass on the blue line and sent a hard shot at the Washington net. The puck laced its way through traffic and gave Dillon his second goal of the season. Assists went to Tierney and Roman Polak. That was Polak’s first point since joining the Sharks jst before the trade deadline.

Couture had a chance shortly after that, finding himself briefly one on one with Grubauer. Grubauer snatched the puck out of the air and kept the score 4-2 Sharks.

Just past the midway point of the period, Joonas Donskoi blocked a pass with his stick and the puck deflected onto the Sharks bench, hitting Paul Martin. He left the bench with a trainer but returned to the ice during the next commercial break.

With a little over three minutes left, the referees drew the crowd’s ire after Mike Weber spent some time shoving Melker Karlsson’s face into the ice while kneeling on his back. It looked very much out of order but no penalty was called.

An empty net goal from Brent Burns closed it out.

The Sharks next play on Tuesday against the visiting Boston Bruins.

Sharks Fall to Senators 4-2

By Mary Walsh

AP photo Sens Kyle Turis pushes the Sharks Marc Edouard-Vlasic during first period battle for the puck in Ottawa

The San Jose Sharks lost the third game in their current road trip, falling to the Ottawa Senators by a score of 4-2. As they had the night before in Toronto, the Sharks scored first and then gave up the lead. Unlike the Toronto game, they followed up on a weak second period with a worse third. The Sharks gave the swift Senators too many opportunities, odd-man rushes and power plays. That translated into four goals, three scored in the third period. Those goals were scored by Bobby Ryan, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Chris Wideman and Erik Karlsson. The Sharks’ goals came from Joe Thornton and Brent Burns.

The first period went by scoreless, with just two penalties called in the final five minutes. Both went against Ottawa, but their penalty kill kept the Sharks off the board. In their first power play, a hooking call against Kyle Turris, the Sharks recorded no shots. The closest they came was a Thornton shot that went off off Joel Ward in front of the net. The second power play carried over to the second period, the result of a tripping call against Mark Stone at 19:18. It is worth noting that the penalties were drawn by Joonas Donskoi and Melker Karlsson. After the first period, the Sharks had a slight lead in shots at 13-12.

Ottawa and San Jose both tend to win when they score first, so the first goal was eagerly anticipated, if misleading. It came 29 seconds into the middle frame, during the carry over penalty time. Though they lost the opening faceoff, the Sharks regained control quickly. The top power play unit established themselves in the offensive zone and a quick pass from Brent Burns near the right faceoff circle found Joe Thornton on the opposite side. Thornton’s shot was quick and went through the traffic cleanly into the net. Assists went to Brent Burns and Joe Pavelski.

Just over a minute later, Tomas Hertl was called from tripping, giving the Senators the first of three power plays in the second period, including a five on three. The Sharks killed the penalties but gave up an even strength goal at 4:46. Justin Braun caught a puck in the defensive zone and seemed to be trying to pass it off the boards to Marleau. Bobby Ryan was quicker to the puck than Marleau. He skated in and around Braun and then beat Stalock to tie the game.

It was a bad spot in Stalock’s game, which did have some bright spots. Near the end of the second period, Brent Burns had a puck jump by him on the Senators blue line, allowing Ottawa defenseman Dave Dziurzynski and forward Alex Chiasson to go the other way, with only Paul Martin in position to defend. Martin stayed with Dziurzynski but could not prevent his pass below the faceoff circle. Alex Stalock read the play perfectly and came to the top of his crease to reach out and block the pass with his stick. He caught the puck up and tapped it in the direction of Brent Burns, who by now had come back to help out. It was a good indication of alertness and confidence from a goaltender who has not played a lot of games this season.

The game remained tied through until 8:19 of the third period. After a shot by Diurzinsky went off of Stalock’s mask, Pageau picked up the rebound and put a shot through Stalock. Stalock sensed that it was behind him, and turned to try to catch it, but it got by. Assists went to Dziurzynski and Cody Ceci.

Stalock made a quick trip to the bench after, where heStalock got a new mask. Evidently the shot to the head did some damage to his armor.

The Sens stretched their lead with just over seven minutes left. Dennis Wideman took a shot from the blue line, while Chris Neil blocked Stalock’s view. Two Sharks and another Senator were also in the goaltender’s line of sight, so he probably did not see the shot at all as it flew by into the top corner. Assists went to Curtis Lazar and Shane Prince.

Ottawa added to the lead when some offensive zone action from the Sharks left the ice open for another two on one against, this time by Karlsson and Hoffman, with Brenden Dillon trying to defend. Hoffman drew Stalock to the right, then sent a pass around Dillon to Karlsson. 4-1 Senators. Assists went to Hoffman and Bobby Ryan.

With 2:24 left, Brent Burns got one back for the Sharks. Hertl, Goodrow and Wingels got the play started and Burns skated in to finish it up with a shot from in front of the net.

The Sharks had a 20 second power play when Mark Borowiecki was called for boarding Joel Ward. It was not long enough to make a difference.

Final score: 4-2 Senators.

Goalie Craig Anderson made 31 saves on 33 shots for the Senators. Alex Stalock made 31 saves on 35 shots for the Sharks.

Brent Burns led the team by a significant margin with seven shots on goal. Joel Ward had four hits and four shots. The Sharks were outshot by the Senators 35-33.

Some of the Sharks lines looked different Friday. Dainius Zubrus skated with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski again, while Tomas Hertl skated with Barclay Goodrow and Tommy Wingels. Measuring by ice time, that second group made up Friday’s fourth line. Matt Nieto was promoted to the line with Marleau and Ward. As previously mentioned, Chris Tierney centered Melker Karlsson and Joonas Donskoi. Despite their stats in Friday’s game, that line looked pretty good. They drew penalties and showed promise as a unit.

The Sharks next play on Sunday in Chicago against the Blackhawks at 4:00 PT.

Marleau Scores 1000, Sharks Win Streak At Five

By Mary Walsh

photo credit: Patrick Marleau skated to his 1000th career point vs. Pens 11-21-15

In a 3-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, San Jose Sharks forward Patrick Marleau earned his 1000th career point, and his 1001st. Former Penguin, now Sharks defenseman Paul Martin scored his first goal of the season, and the Sharks extended their winning streak to five. Brent Burns scored two goals and goaltender Martin Jones stopped 38 of 39 shots. The Sharks did this despite the absence of head coach Peter DeBoer, who was away due to a personal matter.

The win holds added promise as the team changed their lineup somewhat from the group that won the last game in Philadelphia. Defenseman Matt Tennyson was in, Mirco Mueller was out. Nikolay Goldobin was in, while Micheal Haley was out. This was also the first game of this road trip that the Sharks won by more than one goal. It was a step forward in an already excellent road trip. After the game, Patrick Marleau described the team’s success on this road trip:

I think when we haven’t been our best, there’s different guys stepping up and playing key roles. Jonesy’s been playing great, but finding a way  to get those points, those wins is big. You’re not going to have it every night, and I think last game against Philly we saw that and we still found a way to get it in overtime. I think tonight we played a pretty strong sixty minutes against a very powerful offensive team with a  lot of good players over there.

The first power play of the game went to the Penguins, after a hooking call against Melker Karlsson. The Sharks penalty killers kept the Penguins at bay and only allowed one shot to get through to Martin Jones. The penalty ended in a two on one for Patrick Marleau and Joel Ward. Marleau opted to shoot, but he hit the near post.

The penalty kill seemed to energize the Sharks. After the break, they spent three long shifts in the offensive zone. During the third one, Brent Burns picked up a rebound from a Ward shot and put the puck in an open net. The second assist went to Marleau.

The assist was Marleau’s 1000th career point. When this was announced, the Pittsburgh crowd gave Marleau an understandably subdued but gracious round of applause.

The Sharks had to kill a second penalty when Mike Brown was called for kneeing at 12:40. The Sharks killed that off and had two unsuccessful power plays of their own before the first period ended. At the first intermission, the shots stood at 12-9 Pittsburgh.

The Sharks took another penalty early in the second. Joe Pavelski was called for high-sticking Rob Scuderi at 6:39. The stick drew blood so the Penguins had four minutes with a man advantage. It took the Sharks 90 seconds to clear the puck the first time. On a third zone entry, Phil Kessel found some space and tied the game. The goal came just shy of the two minute mark, so the Sharks had to kill the second minor despite the goal.

The Sharks regained the lead at 13:06 when Burns took a shot from the point just as Ward cruised across in front of Marc-Andre Fleury. The puck clipped Scuderi enough to change direction and make the Penguins goalie’s job harder. Assists went to Paul Martin and Patrick Marleau.

The Penguins had another power play at 17:21. when Paul Martin was called for high-sticking. Pittsburgh had an early shot but the Sharks kept them out of the zone for most of the penalty.

San Jose failed to convert on yet another power play early in the third, but some good chances set the tone for a strong period. 8:27 into the third, Paul Martin extended their lead to 3-1. His shot from the blue line went through traffic and Fleury after a great shift from Matt Nieto, Tomas Hertl and Joonas Donskoi. While Nieto and Hertl wreaked some havoc near the Penguins net, Donskoi sent the puck up to Martin for the shot. An assist went to Donskoi.

By the end of the game, the Penguins had a shot lead of 39-29 but the score was still 3-1 Sharks.

Logan Couture skated on Saturday in full gear. Couture explained that this was part of the process, and that he still had no specific return date: “I don’t plan that far in advance, I didn’t plan this whole trip in advance, like I said it’s kind of a day by day thing. All how it reacts.”

The Sharks next play on Sunday at 2:00 PT, in Columbus against the Blue Jackets. It will be their second meeting of the season. The Blue Jackets defeated the Sharks 5-2 on November 3 at SAP.

Ward Hat Trick Leads Sharks to 5-2 Win

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE– The Sharks ended a three-game losing streak by defeating the Carolina Hurricanes 5-2 on Saturday. To get them there, Joel Ward scored three goals. It had been quite a long time since anyone other than Joel Ward scored for the Sharks, nearly three games. So it was fitting that he be front and center when the team finally got back on the winning side.

It was not the most elegant win, but it was a win and Joel Ward certainly deserved his hat trick. Sharks goals were also scored by Joe Pavelski and Tommy Wingels, and San Jose goaltender Martin Jones stopped 32 of 34 shots for the win. For the Hurricanes, Justin Faulk and Riley Nash scored.

With Paul Martin back in the lineup and Joe Thornton still in it, the Sharks are starting to look like the team that started the season. Their opponent was not in top form, having played the night before, and the Sharks were able to capitalize on that early in the game. If you blinked at the wrong moment, like right after Tomas Hertl’s shot was stopped by Carolina goaltender Eddie Lack, you would have missed Joel Ward tucking the rebound in. It was not much of a rebound, more of a gently loose puck, but it was free enough for Ward to get his stick on just 1:21 into the game. Assists went to Patrick Marleau and Hertl. It was Joel Ward’s 100th career goal.

The Sharks’ second goal was also Ward’s. This one was challenged by Hurricanes coach Bill Peters. There was no question of interference, but rather a missed offside call. After reviewing the video, the referees verified that the play was onside. Thanks to Ward, the Sharks were up by two before the ten minute mark. An assist went to Brent Burns.

The Sharks took the first penalty, a hooking call to Joe Thornton against Ron Hainsey. The Sharks killed that off without much ado and hardly any whistles. The Sharks then took the second penalty as well, this one to Barclay Goodrow for high sticking Chris Terry.

By the end of the period, the Sharks were ahead on the scoreboard by two but trailing slightly (7-6) on the shot clock.

Less than three minutes into the second period, the Sharks took another penalty, a tripping penalty to Brenden Dillon. The penalties caught up to the Sharks this time, and just 30 seconds into the power play, Carolina scored. A pass along the blue line from Nathan Gerbe found Justin Faulk Rask at the point. Faulk’s shot went by Eric Staal and Sharks goaltender Martin Jones. It was a good screen and a clean shot.

The Sharks got it back at 6:06 of the period, when a short the Sharks swarmed the net after an offensive zone faceoff. Play seemed to stop when Eddie Lack (and apparently most other players) thought Lack had the puck behind him. He did not have it and it slid out near his skate and got pushed in by the goalie himself.

The goal went to Joe Pavelski with assists to Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Joe Thornton.

It was a rough night for Eddie Lack. The next goal came when the puck trickled through the five hole and sat behind him for a couple of seconds. There was no support nearby for the goaltender but there were two Sharks handy to help the puck over the line. The goal went to Tommy Wingels. Assists went to Chris Tierney and Paul Martin.

Cam Ward came in to relieve Lack. The Hurricanes were not out of it yet and they scampered back down the ice to attack the Sharks net. Jones had been facing some bouncing shots and he saw one fly over the net just before Riley Nash tucked one in from behind the net. Assists went to Noah Hanifin and Kris Versteeg.

As the second period ended, the Hurricanes had a distinct upper hand. More than once, the Sharks were trapped in their own zone and Jones had to handle wild, bouncing shots. The Hurricanes may not have scored, but they went into the intermission on a strong note. The shots stood at 19-14 Hurricanes.

The Hurricanes came back for the third without much loss of momentum. There were few whistles for the first five minutes, and finally, at 5:20, the Sharks got their first power play. Kris Versteeg went to the box for hooking. The Sharks held the zone for over a minute with their first power play unit, which now included Joel Ward alonside Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski, Patrick Marleau and Brent Burns. The second unit of Tommy Wingels, Tomas Hertl, Matt Tennyson, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Chris Tierney had little time to work with after that.

The third period featured traded chances from number twelves, when Patrick Marleau chased down a Carolina defender to create a good chance for the Sharks. Carolina’s number twelve, Eric Staal, responded by snatching up the loose puck and breaking the other way. Jones and Ward both did their jobs and nothing came of either try.

By the final minutes of the third, the Hurricanes were again outworking the Sharks… except for Martin Jones. Jones was outworking everyone. For the last four minutes, the Sharks looked like they were killing a penalty, and that was before the Canes pulled their goalie and actually had a man advantage.

With Jones in net and some luck, San Jose’s two goal lead held up. The final seconds saw the Sharks doing everything they could to get the puck to Ward in front of the open net. Finally, they did, and the hats flew. It was Ward’s second career hat trick.

Ward and Wingels were tied for the team lead in shots with four each.  Mike Brown led the team in hits with four. Burns (24:07) and Martin (21:54) led the team in ice time.

Justin Faulk led the Hurricanes with five shots. Brock McGinn led the team in hits with three. Eddie Lack made 9 saves on 13 shots. Cam Ward made 7 saves on 7 shots.

The Sharks next play on Wednesday against the Nashville Predators, in San Jose at 7:30 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.

Sharks Sign Paul Martin

By Mary Walsh

The San Jose Sharks have signed Paul Martin to a four year deal, according to Pierre LeBrun of ESPN. The former Penguins defenseman was reportedly sought by a number of teams. A four year contract might be surprising for a 34-year old defenseman, but most teams overpay for the players they get on the first day of free agency. This is why the Sharks have not traditionally gone this route. Sharks GM Doug Wilson must feel that Martin is worth the risk.

Martin started his NHL career with the New Jersey Devils. After five seasons with New Jersey, he was moved mid-season to Pittsburgh where he was a mainstay on the blue line for another five years. Dan Rosen had Martin in his list of top 20 free agents at, saying that he can be effective in many roles, including special teams and top pairing. Presumably, the Sharks will not require him to be on the top pair but that versatility certainly added to his value.

Last season, Martin came in 38th league-wide in average ice time, 33rd on the penalty kill and 70th on the power play. On his team, he was second in power play time, third short-handed and second in all ice time to Kris Letang. His defensive numbers suggest that he should be a reliable addition, at least for a couple more seasons.