Peter DeBoer Out as Sharks Head Coach

Photo credit: @CompleteHkyNews

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE — Peter DeBoer is no longer the head coach of the San Jose Sharks. His time with the Sharks ended today, after the team returned from a winless four game road trip. They have just 15 wins this season in 33 games, and have lost their last five games. The Sharks also announced that assistant coaches Steve Spott and Dave Barr and goaltending coach Johan Hedberg were dismissed as well.

Assistant Coach Bob Boughner was named interim head coach, with Roy Sommer as assistant coach and Mike Ricci as associate coach. Evgeni Nabokov will step in as goaltending coach.

In their press release, General Manager Doug Wilson said: “When you have had a level of past success, change is never easy, but we feel this team is capable of much more than we have shown thus far and that a new voice is needed.”

The Sharks started this season with one of the worst Octobers in team history, only to rally in November and claw their way back into the playoff picture. Instead of continuing on that trajectory, they have dropped again to sixth in the Pacific Division and a recent record of 4-5-1. The team is laboring with a minus 25 goal differential. Only one team in the league has allowed more than the Sharks’ 114 goals against this season, and that is the Detroit Red Wings. That is somewhat shocking with two Norris Trophy winning defensemen on the Sharks’ blue line.

DeBoer became the Sharks head coach at the end of the 2014-15 season, replacing Todd McLellan. His tenure with the Sharks had an eerie similarity to his time with the New Jersey Devils, the NHL team he coached before the Sharks. In his first season in New Jersey, he led the Devils to the Stanley Cup Final. Their record declined steeply from there. Under DeBoer’s leadership, the Sharks also reached the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in team history. That was DeBoer’s first season with the organization and, as with the Devils, that was the high point of his record in San Jose.

Sharks Tough It Out, Beat Golden Knights 2-1 in OT

Photo credit: @SanJoseSharks

By Mary Walsh

The San Jose Sharks defeated the Vegas Golden Knights 2-1 in overtime Thursday, in Vegas. Sharks goals came from Timo Meier and Logan Couture. Aaron Dell, making his first start in three weeks, made 37 saves for win. The lone Vegas goal came from Brayden McNabb and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury made 27 saves.

Aaron Dell last played on November 2, seven games ago for the Sharks.

After the game, Sharks forward Timo Meier said: “He was incredible, he made some really big saves for us, he was steady all game in net. And that’s a big win and he definitely was a huge part of that.”

In his first game of the season, Antti Suomela seemd to scored the first goal. From high in the face-off circle, he tipped Brenden Dillon’s shot from the point at 6:08. Las Vegas challenged it for goaltender interference by Timo Meier. Merrill had given Meier a push as he hit Fleury’s glove while skating around him at the edge of the crease. The officials did not consider the push to be relevant and the goal was disallowed.

The Sharks started Thursday’s game without Tomas Hertl and Dalton Prout,  and Melker Karlsson and Radim Simek both left the game early with injuries. No injury details were forthcoming after the game but Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer said:

It was a big character win for us, was a lot of thing stacked against us with some of the injuries in the lineup, obviously coming into this building and what happened the last couple times we’ve been in here. So, I thought our guys dug deep, I thought we got contributions from everybody. I didn’t think we had any passengers tonight and obviously Deller gave us a big game.

The Sharks took the only penalty of the first period, and that was to Logan Couture for tripping Reilly Smith. The Golden Knights had two shots on that power play and 14 shots in the period to the Sharks’ 6.

When Timo Meier scored at 1:26 of the second period, it counted. Skating through the neutral zone, Meier caught a pass from Dylan Gambrell and went tearing into the Vegas zone. Nate Schmidt had a step on him, but a stutter step got him around the defenseman and a hard stop by the goal sent Schmidt into the post as the puck went into the net.

By the middle of the period, the Sharks were being out-shot 8-2, and that was before they took a penalty for too many men on the ice at 9:12. Vegas got two shots on that power play as well.

The Sharks’ first power play came at 13:14 of the second, a tripping penalty to Marc-Andre Fleury against Marcus Sorensen. The Sharks got one shot early in the power play, but spent a lot of time stuck in the defensive zone after that, being turned back in the neutral zone again and again. They finished with two shots in that power play. The Sharks were out-shot in the second period 14-11.

The Sharks took their third penalty of the game at 4:18 of the third period when Brenden Dillon was called for interference on Cody Eakin. The Sharks had a couple of scares during that one, but their goaltender was up to the challenge and bailed them out. Vegas only had one shot in that power play.

Vegas tied it up at 10:18 of the third when Brayden McNabb took a shot from the top of the face-off circle. The puck found its way into the net through traffic. William Carrier got the assist.

The Sharks were on the power play at 11:17 when Cody Eakin was called for slashing Timo Meier. The Sharks had three shots in that power play. The Sharks had six shots for the period, as did Vegas.

In overtime, the shots were 6-4 Sharks after Logan Couture ended it at 3:20. His breakaway was made possible by a pass-interrupting tip from Marc-Edouard Vlasic in front of the Sharks net. Fleury stopped Couture’s initial shot, but Couture closed on the net and poked the puck under the goaltender before any defenders could catch him.

The three stars went to Logan Couture, Brayden McNabb and Ryan Reaves, likely for the 12 hits he got credit for.

The Sharks next play on Saturday back in San Jose against the New York Islanders at 7:30 PM PT.

Flames Roast Sharks 5-3, Sharks to Face Las Vegas in First Round

Photo credit: @SanJoseSharks

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE — The San Jose Sharks fell 5-3 to the Calgary Flames at SAP Center Sunday. The win clinched the Western Conference for Calgary, while the loss cemented San Jose’s playoff position at second in the Pacific Division. They are now certain to face the Vegas Golden Knights in the first round. Calgary goals came from Sean Monahan, Mark Jankowski, Dalton Prout, Mikael Backlund and Michael Frolik. Sharks goals came from Timo Meier, Logan Couture and Kevin Labanc. Flames goalie Mike Smith made 12 saves in the win, while Sharks goalie Aaron Dell made 23 saves in the loss.

The Sharks are still without Joe Pavelski, Erik Karlsson and Radim Simek. Pavelski and Karlsson are expected to return for the playoffs if not before. Asked about what he hopes the team will accomplish before playoffs, Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer said:

I want to get healthy. I think that’s probably the biggest thing. I think it catches up to you. You know, you can go to the well so many times with guys but I think we’re missing some of our key people here. And it shows in a game like that, against a team that is healthy at this time of year that’s one of the top teams in the league and we had a hard time with it.

After the game, Sharks defenseman Brenden Dillon was also asked about how the injury list changes the game. He said:

I don’t think defense is one guy or one D-pair or one forward or one goalie, to be honest. I think for us, over the years that’s kind of been our brand of hockey, is defensive style, and you definitely see the result when we get away from that. I think all around we’re trying to be a little more aggressive but I think we’ve got to kind of find that happy medium for it.

Timo Meier gave the Sharks an early lead 12:01 into the first period. Logan Couture and Joonas Donskoi were in the corner competing for the puck against two Flames. They got the puck out of the corner to the face-off circle, where Meier had just arrived. He got control of the puck while reversing direction just enough to use a defenseman as a screen and shoot the puck past Smith on the far side. It was Meier’s 30th of the season, a career high. Donskoi and Couture got the assists.

The Sharks made it through the first 10 minutes of the opening period without giving up a goal but the Flames heated up in the second half. At 14:58, Sean Monahan tied the game with a quick shot off a feed from Johnny Gaudreau. While Marc-Edouard Vlasic harried Gaudreau and Justin Braun guarded the passing lane, no one was really on Monahan as he slid up to the blue paint. Assists went to Gaudreau and Rasmus Andersson.

At 15:29, Mark Jankowski gave Calgary the lead, pulling the puck out of a crowd that was moving across the slot. His quick shot went under Dell to the back of the net. Assists went to James Neal and Austin Czarnik.

Less than a minute later, again, the Flames scored to make it 3-1. Dalton Prout, with his first goal since 2016, snuck by Vlasic and Couture in the neutral zone to chase the 1-on-1 between Tim Heed and Andrew Mangiapane. Mangiapane passed to Prout as they approached the net and Prout’s shot beat Dell. Assists went to Mangiapane and Garnet Hathaway.

During the first period, the Flames had 11 shots to the Sharks’ 6, and Calgary own 67% of the face-offs.

The only goal in the second period went to the Flames when Mikael Backlund made it 4-1 at 7:27. Receiving Noah Hanifin’s pass from the boards, Backlund stopped it with his skate and tried to get control of it but failed. Instead, it pinballed across the goal mouth and the off of Joakim Ryan’s skate and into the net. Assists went to Hanifin and Gaudreau.

The Flames out-shot the Sharks 14-3 and won 56% of the face-offs in the second period. The Sharks took two penalties to Calgary’s one.

The Sharks had a little more than a minute of power play time to start the third period, and got another power play at 2:01 but did not score on either of those.

At 5:23, the Sharks finally got one back. Tomas Hertl made a big zone entry, pushing through and dancing around defenders. He carried the puck down below the face-off dot before passing it across the ice to Timo Meier. Meier sent it back across the ice to Logan Couture, who had just arrived in the slot. His shot went in before Mike Smith could get across. It was Couture’s 27th goal of the season. Meier and Hertl got the assists.

Calgary took that one back about three minutes later. Sharks and Flames converged behind the Sharks net and when the puck came back out, Mark Giordano and Michael Frolik were set up on either side of the ice with a clear view of Dell. Giordano passed it to Frolik for the shot and Dell could not get across in time. Assists went to Giordano and Matthew Tkachuk.

Kevin Labanc got one more for the Sharks at 16:34 of the third. He had just passed the puck to Tim Heed in the slot and Tim Heed tapped it right back to him for the shot from the right side. It was Labanc’s 15th of the season. Assists went to Heed and Joakim Ryan.

The Sharks next play on Tuesday in Vancouver against the Canucks at 7:00 PM PT.

Sharks Ground Lightning with 5-2 Win

Photo credit: @SanJoseSharks

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE — With a 5-2 win, the San Jose Sharks handed the Tampa Bay Lightning their first regulation loss in 16 games at SAP Center Saturday night. Evander Kane scored his 199th and 200th NHL goals in the game, while Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski and Lukas Radil also added goals for the Sharks. Lightning goals came from Victor Hedman and Mikhail Sergachev. Martin Jones made 17 saves for the Sharks, while Andrei Vasilevskiy made 28 saves for the Lightning.

After the game, Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer said: “I thought it was a solid sixty minutes for us. I thought we got big contributions, I thought our big guys were really good, especially Karlsson and Burns and Brenden Dillon on defense. Jonesy made some saves when he had to. Special teams were good and I thought all four lines contributed. You know, when you’re playing the best team in the league, we knew we needed that kind of effort and we got it.”

San Jose had some lineup challenges to overcome before the game. With three of their regular defensemen (Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Justin Braun and Radim Simek) out with injuries, the blue line included regular seventh defensmen Tim Heed and Joakim Ryan. Playing in his first NHL game, Jacob Middleton filled out the blue line six. Ryan played with Brent Burns while Heed and Middleton made up a third pair.

After the game, DeBoer talked briefly about the blue line adjustments: “It’s hard to take three defensemen out of your line up and survive and it’s a credit to the young guys who came in. I thought Middleton came in, gave us some good minutes. I thought Joakim Ryan played a real good game and so did Heeder.”

The Sharks opened the scoring at 9:27 of the first. Erik Karlsson’s pass found Timo Meier on his way through the neutral zone. As he crossed the blue line, Meier got a pass to Logan Couture just above the faceoff circle. Couture took the shot as he passed the hash marks and beat Andrei Vasilevskiy. Meier and Karlsson got the assists.

Moments later, at 10:01, Joe Pavelski added one with an impressive turning (and falling) shot right in front of the blue paint. Brent Burns got the assist for finding Pavelski with the pass.

Victor Hedman got one back for the Sharks during an ill-tied line change from the Sharks. Steve Stamkos found him flying up the slot and the Sharks were not quite ready for Hedman to be in position so quickly. Assists went to Stamkos and Ondrej Palat.

The Lightning outshot the Sharks 8-4, but the Sharks won 63% of the faceoffs in the first.

Those faceoff wins helped Evander Kane and the Sharks power play retake a two goal lead early in the second period. Pavelski won an offensive zone faceoff, getting the puck to Erik Karlsson at the point. Karlsson sent it across the ice to Brent Burns, who bumped it back across to Kane. Kane was not far below the blue line and Joe Pavelski had moved to the net, where he screened Vasilevskiy’s view of the shot. Assists went to Burns and Karlsson.

Just seconds later, Mathieu Joseph got by Tim Heed on his way into the Sharks zone. He caught Mikhail Sergachev streaking to the net with a pass and trimmed the Sharks lead to one again. A second assist went to Ryan Callahan.

The second period saw two more penalties killed, one for each team. The Sharks out shot the Lightning in the second period 12-9 but their faceoff win percentage slipped to 56%.

The Sharks got an early power play in the third period, but could not score on it. About half way through that power play, Tomas Hertl sustained an injury during an inadvertent collision. He did not leave the game.

The Sharks did score at 5:18. Evander Kane carried the puck across the blue line, moving past Stralman. Joonas Donskoi kept stride with Kane, staying between him and Stralman as Kane skated below the hash marks and took the shot to give the Sharks a 4-2 lead. An assist went to Brenden Dillon.

Kane went to the box a couple of minutes later for high-sticking Nikita Kucherov, but the Sharks killed the penalty off.

Lukas Radil extended the Sharks lead to 5-2 at 12:20, after Timo Meier tipped a Brent Burns shot. The tip bounced behind Vasilevskiy and out of the blue paint, landing just in front of Radil by the post. Radil lifted it neatly into the net. Assists went to Meier and Burns.

By the end of the game, the faceoff win percentage was dead even between the teams.

The Sharks next play on Monday at 7:30 PM PT against the visiting Los Angeles Kings.

Evander Kane Scores Four Goals and Nets First Career Hat Trick, Sharks Douse Flames 7-4

Photo credit: @SanJoseSharks

By Mary Walsh

The San Jose Sharks defeated the Calgary Flames 7-4 at the Scotiabank Saddledome  on Friday night. The Sharks scored seven goals compared to the Flames’ four goals. New Sharks left wing Evander Kane scored four of those goals, tying the Sharks’ record for most goals in a game. The other Sharks who scored that many goals were Owen Nolan, Tomas Hertl and Patrick Marleau.

Hertl, Kevin Labanc and Eric Fehr scored the remaining balance of goals for San Jose. Johnny Gaudreau, Troy Brouwer, Mark Jankowski and Michael Ferland scored for Calgary.

After the game, Sharks captain Joe Pavelski said this about Evander Kane:

It’s always a special night when someone can score three, and then for him to get that fourth, you know, it’s pretty cool to see. He’s definitely made a huge impact on us as a team, on his teammates. And, you know, he’s been one of those guys driving the bus here for the last week or two and he came through big for us tonight.

The Sharks started the game on the right foot. Just five minutes in, Timo Meier seemed to have scored, but his stick was above the crossbar when he touched the puck.

Undeterred, Kane scored only a minute later. Kane took a rising wrist shot from just below the blue line as he raced into the zone. Mike Smith missed the puck with his glove as it fell toward the goal. Jannik Hansen got the lone assist.

The Sharks had a power play after Mikkel Boedker was tripped up on a breakaway 37 seconds after the goal, but they did not get a shot on goal.

Gaudreau left the ice briefly after a collision with two Sharks players, seeming to severe  his arm or hand, but nothing was wrong and he quickly returned to the ice.

Brouwer tied it up with 3:18 left in the period. Sharks goalie Martin Jones had come out to handle the puck, but he was back in the net before Brouwer took his shot from the slot. Curtis Lazar made the pass to Brouwer from below the goal line. Assists went to Lazar and Matt Stajan.

The Flames took the lead at 2:10 of the second period. Mark Jankowski was high in the faceoff circle when Meier pulled the puck out of a crowd and tried to pass it to some Sharks defensemen in the middle of ice. Jankowski intercepted it and took a quick shot that went over Jones’ shoulder. A lone assist went to Garnet Hathaway.

The Sharks’ Melker Karlsson drew a holding the stick penalty that gave the Sharks their second power play at 2:45. This time, they did get a shot on goal, but they also gave up a two-on-one short-handed chance.

After the power play, Tierney was moved to the top line with Pavelski and Kane. With that line on the ice, Dylan DeMelo took a shot from the blue line and Kane tipped it in to tie the game again at 6:29. DeMelo and Brenden Dillon picked up the assists.

Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer made another line change, putting Fehr, Karlsson and Meier together. They created a good chance almost eight minutes into the second, getting two shots on goal.

The Flames took the lead again at 10:16. Gaudreau skated in with the puck, handled it around two Sharks players near the boards, then darted to the slot before taking the shot. Assists went to Ferland and Michael Stone.

Labanc tied it again at 11:42, with a wrist shot from the left side, using a Calgary defenseman as a screen. Brent Burns got the lone assist.

The Sharks found themselves on the wrong side of two penalties close together, starting at the 12:24 mark. They had to defend 45 seconds of five-on-three after Kane joined Tierney in the box. The Sharks killed all of that off, but they seemed to have burned some fuel doing so.

With a little over three minutes left in the second, Tierney got control of the puck behind the net after Pavelski pushed it through a board battle. Tierney found Kane in front of the blue paint with a quick pass. Kane took a shot, then caught the rebound and took another shot to net his first NHL hat trick.

The Sharks extended their lead with only 1:58 left in the second period. Justin Braun carried the puck in along the boards and sent the puck to the net. Hertl was right there at the crease to tap the puck under the goaltender. Assists went to Braun and Marc-Edouard Vlasic.

The third period went all wrong for the Flames. Pavelski took a shot from the blue line just as Mike Smith was getting settled after a trip behind his net to retrieve the puck and play it not very well. Kane was standing by to deflect it in for his fourth of the game, just 1:02 into the period. With that goal, Kane tied the Sharks record for most goals in a game.

That was it for Mike Smith. David Rittich came in to replace him.

Calgary coach Gen Gulutzan decided to pull his goaltender for the extra skater with almost six minutes still to go. The move paid off with Micheal Ferland parked in front of the net while the Flames moved the puck relentlessly around the Sharks’ zone. When the shot finally came, Ferland put the puck in with a backhand shot from a tight angle.

Fehr scored the Sharks’ seventh goal into the still empty net at 16:02. Hertl got an assist on that one.

The Sharks next play on Saturday in Vancouver at 7:00 pm PT.

After being injured Wednesday in Edmonton, Joonas Donskoi remained out and was replaced by Jannik Hansen for tonight’s game. There was no timetable for Donskoi’s return yet.

Feature: Sharks In Desperate Need of More Power Play Opportunities

Photo credit: @SanJoseSharks

By: Peter Elliott

CHICAGO–Peter DeBoer’s squad was deprived of something other than a win on Friday night: opportunities on the power play.

The Sharks only had one chance to execute on the man advantage in their 3-1 loss to the Blackhawks. It lasted 22 seconds.

San Jose’s only time on the ice with less than five red sweaters was during the third period, when Chicago defenseman Connor Murphy was booked to the penalty box with an interference minor. 22 seconds later, Brent Burns was sent off to the Sharks penalty box on a holding minor, offsetting the Sharks’ 5-on-4 upper hand. If I haven’t stressed it enough, 22 seconds is not enough time to type a tweet, much less let alone score a goal.

The power play had been a strength for the Sharks all season and a reason for their high offensive benchmarks. But lately, not so much.

The team is suffering through a scoreless 0-19 stretch in the power play category, an unusual drought for a team that has been so stellar on the man advantage for the majority of the season. The Sharks still remain among the best in the league in the category, up there with division leaders Nashville, Pittsburgh, and Tampa Bay. But if their recent struggles continue, they surely won’t keep up with that company for very long.

“We need to get a little bit of that confidence back, stepping over the boards and understanding that it can win us some games,” said Sharks captain Joe Pavelski of his team’s power play scoring skid, per Kevin Kurz of The Athletic. “We need to be better there. Bottom line is we need to execute, make another play, stick one in the net.”

As noted, it’s absence has been sorely missed on the offensive side of the ice recently. Especially on Thursday night during a 7-1 blowout at the hands of Nashville, in which DeBoer’s squad failed to net on a single goal during their five power play opportunities. The Sharks undoubtedly just need both more opportunities and repetitions with the power play. 

Success will come soon.

The power play magic that has helped the Sharks postseason aspirations is currently M.I.A., but luckily for the Sharks, they’ll have time to re-discover it before a Sunday evening game against Minnesota. The Wild boast a pedestrian penalty kill percentage of 80.8%, which makes the playoff contending Wild a ripe target for a power play resurgence.

San Jose has been able to maintain a 6-5 record in the month of February, although that is not ideal for a team in the middle of a tight playoff race. A stronger showing on the man advantage certainly could have alleviated some of those deficits.

The Sharks are set to square off against the Blackhawks again on March 1 in San Jose. Maybe then, the Sharks can get a power play that lasts a whole 30 seconds.

Opinion: Sharks Even the Score, but Let the Game Slip Away 3-1 to Blackhawks

Photo credit: @SanJoseSharks

By Mary Walsh

The San Jose Sharks dropped a 3-1 decision to the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center on Friday evening. Three Chicago goals came from Jan Rutta, Nick Schmaltz and Artem Anisimov. The lone Sharks goal came from Timo Meier.

Chicago goaltender Jean Francois Berube made 42 saves for the win, while San Jose goaltender Martin Jones made 33 saves for the loss.

The Blackhawks have struggled this season, but they looked better than their overall season record. This was only Berube’s 14th NHL start and first for this season.

Sharks defenseman Brent Burns was asked if this was a missed opportunity, playing against an inexperienced goaltender. Burns responded: “It’s a pretty good team over there. I don’t think you can take that team lightly. Yeah, I mean it is. I don’t know. I think that’s a game we’ve got to win for other reasons. I think just losing the night before you want to rebound with two points. That’s the tough part I think.”

Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer was asked about that goaltender as well. His response was a bit more emphatic.

We don’t have any gimmes. So if you’re insinuating that this is a gimme for us because they’ve got an inexperienced goalie, then that’s ridiculous. You’ve been around the NHL long enough to know: every team you play has a chance to beat anyone on any given night.

Of the overall game, Sharks captain Joe Pavelski said:

I think we definitely got better as we went on. Our second period was better, even though we didn’t have the lead. It was something in the third, took us a little bit to get going. But it felt like it was… It’s wierd… We’ve got to the check out this game tape right now, it feels like we should have won that game. We’re a little disappointed we didn’t come away with the win.

The first period was scoreless and penalty free. The Sharks had a 15-10 edge in shots. Burns and Chris Tierney each took three of those shots.

The first goal came at 5:46 of the second period, when Rutta took a shot that was blocked by a mass of skaters in front of Jones. The blocked shot came right back to him so he shot again and that one went it. Assists went to Schmaltz and Anthony Duclair.

Schmaltz’s goal came just 2:01 into the third period. Justin Braun’s pass to Mikkel Boedker in the Sharks’ zone missed and the puck was picked up by Duclair on his way into the zone. He sent the puck back across the slot to Schmaltz. Jones could not get across and Schmaltz had an open net. Duclair got the assist.

The Sharks finally got on the board right off an offensive zone faceoff. Pavelski won the faceoff and got the puck to Brent Burns. Timo Meier picked up a drop pass from Burns and took a quick shot from high in the slot. Burns and Pavelski got the assists.

The third Chicago goal was an empty-netter at 19:29. Anisimov’s goal came after several tries from various Blackhawks players and several blocked shots by Sharks.

The Sharks are still in second place in the Pacific, but the Ducks are just one point behind them. San Jose’s power-play goal drought has now been extended for eight games and 13 days featuring 19 power plays.

The Sharks will wrap up this road trip on Sunday against the Wild at 5:00 pm PT.

Sharks Shut Down Dallas Stars, Win 5-2

photo from The San Jose Sharks Mikkel Boedker (89) goes for the victory skate in front of the Sharks bench after scoring a first period goal his first of two against the Dallas Stars Sunday night at SAP Center in San Jose

by Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE– The San Jose Sharks beat the Dallas Stars Sunday, taking a 5-0 lead before giving up two goals in the third period. The Sharks have now won eight of their last ten games. Mikkel Boedker scored twice for the Sharks, with additional goals from Joe Pavelski, Melker Karlsson and Justin Braun. Martin Jones made 26 saves for the win. Gemel Smith and Tyler Pitlick scored for Dallas and Kari Lehtonen made 22 saves on 23 shots after coming in to relieve Ben Bishop who made just one save on five shots in the first period.

The win might not erase the team’s horrific 6-0 road loss in Dallas last New Year’s Eve, but was a major improvement. Sharks defenseman Justin Braun was asked about the two games later. “We were actually moving in this game. Back in Dallas everyone left their legs somewhere else,” he explained. Sunday was different. “It was great. Everybody was coming above on the backcheck and shutting down their speed so, yeah, that was huge.”

Also significant was how long the Sharks held a 5-0 lead, from 5:00 of the second period to 5:35 of the third. Despite significant absences like Joe Thornton and now Tomas Hertl, the team is proving to be resourceful and tenacious. After the game, Sharks Head Coach Pete DeBoer said:

As a coach you hate those types of leads, especially with a lot of game left and we had that big lead for a long time. You know the other team’s going to push and they’ve got some quality. We just kept talking about if we allow them open it up a little bit they’re a team that can easily score four or five goals in a period. So I thought we stuck with it overall for a good length of time and did a good job with it.

The first period was a goaltender’s nightmare for Ben Bishop. By the time the Sharks had put five shots on net, they had four goals.

The first came just 29 seconds in, from Joe Pavelski. Taking advantage of a Jamie Benn turnover in the neutral zone, Marc-Edouard Vlasic caught the puck as it crossed the Sharks blue line. He returned the puck quickly to Pavelski, who sent it behind his back to Timo Meier. Meier carried it in but Dallas wrested control soonafter. As Tyler Seguin tried to clear it, he put it right on Pavelski’s stick. Pavelski’s spinning backhand found its way through traffic, went off the post and in. Assists went to Meier and Vlasic.

The second goal came from that same line at 5:59. Meier took a shot from the blue line that missed the net just enough to bounce off the boards behind it. Melker Karlsson was on the doorstep to poke it in when it bounced in front of the post. Assists went to Meier and Pavelski.

Jannik Hansen moved the puck into the Dallas zone but it didn’t go far before bouncing off of a Star. The ricochet first whizzed by Chris Tierney, then by Alexander Radulov and finally landed on Mikkel Boedker’s stick as he skated into the zone. His wrist shot from the circle went between Bishop’s pads and in. Assists went to Hansen and Justin Braun.

Boedker scored again at 17:23. Chris Tierney held on to the puck for a long time at the end of a Sharks power play, sending it once to Joakim Ryan on the blue line, only to get it right back from him. Finally, he saw Boedker ready in the slot and passed it perfectly for Boedker’s one-timer. The shot went into traffic and under Bishop’s blocker before the very tall tender could react. The goal came one second too late to end the Sharks power play goal drought. Assists went to Tierney and Vlasic.

Dallas opted to change goaltenders then, putting Kari Lehtonen in net.

The second period started much as the first had, but only produced one Sharks goal. Five minutes in, Joe Pavelski sent the puck up the boards as a Dallas defender closed on him. Braun picked that up and took the shot and it went in. Assists went to Pavelksi and Karlsson.

Jones’ shutout bid ended at 5:35 of the third. A miscue put Daniel O’Regan in front of Jones while Gemel Smith caught a pass from Brett Ritchie and took it to the net. Jones saw the shot too late. Assists went to Ritchie and Stephen Johns.

Dallas scored again at 8:57. A shot came in and Jones almost had the puck when it slipped away in front of him. Tyler Pitlick was right there to pick it up and put it in with his backhand.

Brent Burns left the ice briefly during the first first period Sharks power play, and returned very quickly. He left again during the third period less than four minutes in after two shifts. He did not return. As things stand now, Pete DeBoer expects Burns to be on the upcoming road trip.

The Sharks next play in St. Louis against the Blues on Tuesday at 5:00 pm PT.

Sharks give up lead to Oilers, but storm back to win 6-4

Photo credit:

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE — The San Jose Sharks took a three-goal lead, gave it up and fell behind and then came back to beat the Edmonton Oilers 6-4 at the SAP Center on Saturday night.

In a topsy-turvy contest, Sharks captain Joe Pavelski earned four points, while defenseman Joakim Ryan scored his first two NHL goals, including the game-winner late in the third period. Tomas Hertl and Barclay Goodrow rounded out the Sharks goal-scoring and goalie Aaron Dell made 27 saves for the win.

Zack Kassian scored two goals for the Oilers. The other two coming from Leon Draisaitl and Brandon Davidson. Goalie Al Montoya made 24 saves.

Ryan had waited some time for those goals.

“It took me about 45 games to get a goal so definitely nice to get that first one and then getting that second one is even better,” Ryan said after the game.

Of Ryan, Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer said:

I was really happy for him. He shows up every day, doesn’t say much, just works hard. You know, we’ve been asking our defensemen all year all of them to get up in the play and help us create offense. You know, playing with Burnzie it’s easy to kind of sit there and just watch him go. It was nice to see Jok take advantage of that. I mean Todd and that staff know Burnzie, you know they really key on him when we play them and tonight Jok recognized that and jumped into a few holes at the right moment and showed a lot of maturity.

The Sharks had an impressive first period. They outshot the Oilers 14-9. Despite taking one penalty, they outdid their opponent in every respect from hits to takeaways.

Joakim Ryan opened the scoring with his first NHL goal just 1:15 in. Joonas Donskoi, deep in the offensive zone, turned quickly and made a pass back to Ryan on the blue line. Ryan’s quick wrist shot was partially screened by Oilers defenders moving in front of their goalie. Assists went to Donskoi and Pavelski.

Pavelski added another at 7:21. Pavelski’s goal was listed as unassisted, but it did get a little help from an official. E88’s pass to E25 seemed to deflect off the official’s skate, making 25 reach to catch it. Then when 25 tried to pass it back to 88, the puck again changed direction in the vicinity of the official’s skate, causing it to go into the side of the net, where Pavelski picked it up and put it in the net.

The Sharks also started the second period well. Jannik Hansen forced a turnover near the Sharks blue line, which allowed Barclay Goodrow to pick up the puck in the neutral zone. He skated into the Oilers’ zone and took his shot from the top of the faceoff circle at 2:30 of the second. It was Goodrow’s fifth goal of the season. Hansen got the lone assist.

At 11:11 of the second period, Chris Tierney and Mikkel Boedker flubbed a two-on-one in the Edmonton zone. The puck ended up in neutral ice and was picked up by Zack Kassian for a breakaway. His goal was unassisted.

After the game, Boedker said: “I tried to make aplay up towards our bench for the guys jumping on. And I missed and unfortunately it ended up in our net. The same with Tierns, he was trying to make a play. Those things happen but we’ve got to limit those mistakes.”

The Sharks got their only power play of the game at 9:46. The Edmonton penalty kill was effective, just like it has always been on the road so far this season.

Aaron Dell faced a Connor McDavid breakaway a couple of minutes after that penalty expired, as he escaped the Sharks in the neutral zone and was almost at the Sharks’ net before anyone caught up to him. Dell was able to get in front of the shot and the rebound was picked up by his defenseman.

The Sharks goaltender was less successful when faced with another breakaway at 14:20. Kassian broke away during a poorly executed change on defense and scored a second goal. Assists went to Yohann Auvitu and Kris Russell.

By 18:02 of the period, the Sharks’ game seemed to be coming entirely unraveled. They had only taken four shots by the time Leon Draisaitl scored Edmonton’s third goal. An assist went to Oscar Klefbom.

The Sharks ended up getting credit for five shots in the second period, while the Oilers had nine, just like they did in the first period.

Just 1:21 into the third period, a Draisaitl pass across the goal mouth found defenseman Brandon Davidson and his shot gave the Oilers their first lead of the game. Assists went to Draisaitl and Michael Cammalleri.

Tomas Hertl responded at 3:41. He scored his 15th of the season with a backhand shot that tied the game. Assists went to Logan Couture and Kevin Labanc.

The Oilers had another chance on the power play at x, when Couture was called for goaltender interference. They had almost killed that off when Brent Burns lost part of his stick and did not seem to realize it. He was called for playing with a broken stick, giving the Oilers a seven second five-on-three.

By the time the Sharks killed those penalties off, there was just under four minutes left in regulation.

With under three minutes left, Ryan scored again. He skated down the slot and took a shot. That one did not go in, but it generated a perfect rebound for his to put home. Assists went to Pavelski and Timo Meier.

At 18:48, Pavelski put the puck in the empty net to give the Sharks a 6-4 lead. Assists went to Tierney and Melker Karlsson.

Jannik Hansen, after sitting out for seven games, drew into the lineup after Joel Ward was sidelined in Thursday’s game against the Las Vegas Golden Knights. Ward’s injury is described as day-to-day and, from the look of the hit, is in the shoulder region.

Up Next: The Sharks next play on Sunday in Anaheim against the Ducks at 5:00 pm PT.

Sharks Use Speed and Defense to Beat Penguins 2-1

Photo credit: San Jose Sharks

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE — The San Jose Sharks defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-1 on Saturday, in a close, fast contest. The Sharks’ goals came from Timo Meier and Tomas Hertl. The Penguins’ lone goal came from Conor Sheary.

Aaron Dell made 31 saves for the Sharks. Dell has been stellar as backup this season, but due to an injury to regular starter Martin Jones, Dell will start again tomorrow in Anaheim. “That’s what I’m here for, ” Dell said during his postgame interview. “If they need me for three more games, they need me for one game, I’ve just got to take it as it comes.”

Casey DeSmith made 34 saves in a losing effort to Pittsburgh.

Two days ago in Colorado, the Sharks lost 5-3 after a slow start that put them in a hole they fought to get out of.

Taking the positives from that game into Saturday was vital. After Saturday’s win, Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer said:

I thought we played a real solid game. That’s a real good team, obviously and we picked up where we left off at the end of the Colorado game. I thought we really got on our toes and battled and played a real solid sixty minutes.

The Penguins started the scoring early with a Conor Sheary goal at 3:31. He caught Dominik Simon’s pass from behind the net and had a clear shot at the net. Assists went to Simon and Sidney Crosby.

It took the Sharks most of the period to get that goal back but Timo Meier tied it up at 17:44. Brent Burns made a pass from the Sharks’ zone that Joe Pavelski caught near the opposite blue line. Pavelski pulled up just across the line and sent the puck across the ice to Timo Meier, getting by three Pittsburgh defenders. Meier took a quick shot and beat DeSmith over the left pad. Assists went to Pavelski and Burns.

The Sharks outshot the Penguins 14-8 in the first.

Burns went to the box for tripping, giving the Pens a second power play at 2:12 of the second. The Sharks cleared the puck four times while killing the penalty. They came out of it and earned their own power play less than two minutes later. The Sharks were unable to get through the neutral zone for the first 50 seconds, but once they got through, they were there to stay and created a couple of chances. The power play was cut short when Dylan Demelo was called for hooking.

As the teams transitioned from a 4-on-4 to a Penguins power play, Chris Tierney and Joonas Donskoi held the puck in the Penguins’ zone, taking a bite out of the Penguins’ power play time. As the Demelo penalty wound down, the Penguins did make a good push and Dell had to make few stops, including a point-blank shot from Evgeni Malkin.

Kevin Labanc had a very good chance near the 10-minute mark when he scooped up a rebound and took a shot before DeSmith could reset. He tried to push it under DeSmith’s pads, but the Penguins goaltender closed the gap with a glove and made the save.

Sheary caught a Burns shot in his forearm and left the ice with 5:08 left in the second.

Through the second period, the Penguins had the advantage in shots, 16-11.

Joonas Donskoi drew a cross-checking penalty to give the Sharks a power play at 1:49 of the third. In the offensive zone, Pavelski won the first faceoff of the power play and Burns took the puck to the point. Pavelski redirected Burns’ shot, but it did not get through. Tomas Hertl was on the doorstep to grab the loose puck and push it through at 1:53. Assists went to Pavelski and Burns.

The Sharks kept the pressure on for the next several minutes. Labanc had a nice breakaway chance at the 11:39 mark, but DeSmith was up to the challenge.

The next dozen minutes of play looked like a track meet with nearly constant movement up and down the ice, pausing only for one-and-done’s at both ends. Hardly a whistle blew and the puck rarely stopped. In all that, the Sharks were outshooting the Pens 11-6, with only one of those coming on that very short power play.

The speed of that stretch and most of the third period was remarkable. “They’re a fast team,” said DeBoer. “They play fast and I thought we did too tonight. It was a good hockey game, I thought it had a playoff feel to it.”

The game did not slow down much after the television break. Tensions erupted after Patric Hornqvist cross-checked Hertl. Hertl reciprocated and that led to more jostling, and finally, a cross-check from Malkin put him in the box. Hertl also sat with just over three minutes left. The Penguins pulled their goaltender for the extra attacker.

The Sharks had several chances at the open net, but had to settle for the 2-1 win.

Hertl was very happy after the game, saying that it was “was a really good game for all three periods, all four lines. Deller he played really great in net, you know he saved a lot of chances and it’s a huge point against a team that is really hot now.”

Up Next: The Sharks next play on Sunday in Anaheim against the Ducks at 6:00 pm PT.