Sharks Lose 4-3 to Red Hot Sabres

photo from sfgate.com: Buffalo Sabres goaltender Linus Ullmark, right, reaches for the puck next to San Jose Sharks center Logan Couture during the third period of an NHL hockey game in San Jose, Calif., Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019.

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE- The Buffalo Sabres continued their hot start to the season with a 4-3 win over the San Jose Sharks Saturday. The win brings the Sabres record to 7-1-1. Buffalo goals came from Marcus Johansson, Casey Mittelstadt, Jeff Skinner and Zemgus Girgensons. Linus Ullmark made 29 saves in the win. Sharks goals came from Timo Meier, Tomas Hertl and Marcus Sorensen. Sharks goaltender Martin Jones made 31 saves in the loss.

After the game, Sharks forward Timo Meier said:

I think it was a good team game. We took some penalties that we probably shouldn’t have taken. It kind of took the rhythm out of our game, to kill off some penalties, and you know at the end, some energy that might miss. But overall, I think we played a pretty solid game. Like I said, too bad we didn’t come up on top but overall some stuff we can take out of this game.

Sharks Head Coach Peter DeBoer also thought the team played pretty well:

I liked their resiliency, I thought we battled all night. I thought our game was pretty good tonight. When I look at the seven or eight games we’ve played, that’s probably one of the better sixty minute efforts we got. Penalty kill did a good job, we got a power play goal. I thought we passed up some opportunities to shoot, you know, got a little cute around the net a few times. That might have been the difference.

The Sabres scored first at 12:10 of the first period. Henri Jokiharju carried the puck into the zone and made a drop pass to Marcus Johansson in the slot. Johansson took a shot just as Jokiharju passed in front of him. The puck went off of Jones and trickled across the line Assists went to Jokiharju and Marco Scandella.

The Sharks tied it on a power play at 16:00. With Marleau screening the goaltender, Timo Meier took a pass from Joe Thornton below the goal line. Meier’s quick shot went into the top corner for his second of the season. Assists went to Thornton and Erik Karlsson.

The Sabres took the lead back near the end of the second period when Casey Mittelstadt scored on a shot that was initially called a goal, then disallowed by the on-ice officials as being scored with a high stick. An official review reversed that reversal and called it a good goal. Assists went to Jokiharju and Jimmy Vesey.

The Sharks tied the game again 44 seconds into the third period on another power play. Erik Karlsson took a shot that went off of Buffalo’s Rasmus Ristolainen. Tomas Hertl had taken a shot that rebounded out to Karlsson. Hertl and Evander Kane we both nearby when the puck went in but it did appear that Karlsson was the last Shark to touch it. Nevertheless, the goal went to Hertl with assists to Karlsson and Logan Couture.

Buffalo took their third lead of the game at 2:28 of the third with a goal from Jeff Skinner. Marcus Johansson tried to take a shot as he skated to the net but he didn’t get all of it and instead the puck slid slowly toward Martin Jones. Jones kicked it away but had come out too far to properly recover when puck went to his right. Skinner skated in behind him and was able to backhand the puck into the net for his fifth of the season. Assists went to Jake McCabe and Johansson.

The Sharks tied it again just 22 seconds later when Brent Burns’ blue line shot went off of Marcus Sorensen’s skate. The puck bounced over Ullmark’s leg and under his blocker.

Zemgus Girgensons scored the game winner at 12:15 of the period. Johan Larsson took a shot from above the face off circle. Martin Jones was set to stop it but it hit Kyle Okposo in the back instead of getting through to Jones. That created a rebound that Girgensons was able to pick up and shoot back in before Jones could find the puck. Assists went to Okposo and Larsson.

The Sharks will play the Sabres again in Buffalo on Tuesday at 3:30 PM PT.

Sharks Put Out the Flames to Win 3-1

sfgate.com photo: San Jose Sharks center Dylan Gambrell, top, reaches for the puck behind Calgary Flames left wing Andrew Mangiapane during the third period of an NHL hockey game in San Jose, Calif., Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019.

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE — The San Jose Sharks defeated the Calgary Flames 3-1 at the SAP Center Sunday. It was San Jose’s first home win of the season. Sharks goals came from Timo Meier, Kevin Labanc, and Tomas Hertl. Martin Jones made 30 saves for the win. Elias Lindholm scored the lone goal for Calgary. Cam Talbot made 17 saves for the Flames.

The final score drew an eerie parallel to Patrick Marleau’s last regulation home game as a Shark in 2017, which was also against Calgary and was also a 3-1 Sharks victory. Though Marleau did not score Sunday, it is hard to ignore the impact his return has had on the team. After the game, Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer said:

I don’t think it’s an accident that we’ve won the last two and he’s been in the lineup. I think that’s a piece for sure. He just plays the right way, he does the right thing when he’s out on the ice, you know, all the time. It’s really helped solidify our lineup a little bit.

That solidification is evident to the players as well. Team captain Logan Couture said:

I thought Dylan Gambrell has played two really really good games now in a row. That’s something that we need. He’s been given an opportunity and I think these last few games he’s shown what he’s capable of. So, when we have that line playing well and the other three rolling over, we’re a tough team to beat.

The Sharks took an early 1-0 lead with a goal from Timo Meier at 3:04. Logan Couture carried the puck in around the Calgary defense and then paused at the red line before finding Meier right in front of the net. Assists went to Couture and Patrick Marleau.

San Jose added to their lead at 10:13 when Kevin Labanc skated through the neutral zone, handed the puck off to Tomas Hertl at the blue line, then got it back as he went flying into the zone. His wrist shot beat Cam Talbot glove side. Assists went to Hertl and Erik Karlsson.

Each team took one penalty and killed one in the first period. Calgary outshot San Jose by 11-6.

Calgary got one back at 6:43 of the second period. Calgary won an offensive zone draw and got the puck right to TJ Brodie at the blue line. He gave the ice a quick look and then took a shot right up the middle. Elias Lindholm tipped it mid-slot and past Jones glove side. Austin Czarnik was screening Jones until the lest second. An assist went to Brodie.

The Sharks reclaimed their two-goal lead at the end of the second period with a short-handed goal from Tomas Hertl. Brent Burns was in the box for tripping Michael Frolik. Logan Couture cut off a Calgary pass in the defensive zone, carried the puck all the way to the Calgary zone, then found Hertl just as he came into the zone. Hertl took a quick shot past Talbot for his first of the season.

Each team took a penalty in the second period, but neither scored on the power play. The teams were tied with 11 shots each in the second.

Calgary pulled their goaltender with almost three minutes to go in the game but could not alter the score. The final shot count was 33-20 Calgary.

The Sharks next play on Wednesday in San Jose against the visiting Carolina Hurricanes at 7:30 PM PT.

2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs: Blues Take 3-2 Lead in WCF, Beat Sharks 5-0

Photo credit: @PR_NHL

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE — The St. Louis Blues took a 3-2 lead in the NHL Western Conference Final, by defeating the San Jose Sharks 5-0 at SAP Center Sunday.

St. Louis got goals from Oskar Sundqvist, Vladimir Tarasenko and a hat trick from Jaden Schwartz. Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington made 21 saves in the shutout win.

Sharks goaltender Martin Jones made 35 saves in a losing effort. Through the game, San Jose was penalized eight times and lost four players to injury for several minutes or more. Only one of those returned to play in the third period.

After the game, Sharks forward Logan Couture commented on what he saw of the hits that sent Joe Pavelski and Tomas Hertl out of the game: “I saw the Hertl hit, I just saw the replay. Yeah, that’s a tough one. But, I mean they had one earlier, in Game 3, I believe on Braun. I think it was Game 3. And nothing happened, so they can do it again, right?”

Evander Kane hit a post in the first moments of Sunday’s game. Asked whether a goal there would have changed the momentum significantly, Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer said:

I think a few things could have changed the game. I thought we played well enough to come out of that first maybe up. I thought, arguably, a five-minute major on Tommy Hertl, that if it’s called, you know, that’s a momentum changing play right there. But we come out of the first down one-nothing and then Hertl can’t go, and you know, Karlsson can’t go and so we started taking on some water. I thought they took over in the second period. And then when Pav got hit high we lost our composure there in the third. And, not our finest moment but I understand where that emotion’s coming from with what he’s been through. We’ve just got to regroup, got to go in and win a game.

The Sharks had some excellent chances off the hop, including that Kane shot off the post. Then, at 5:50, the Blues got on the board. Erik Karlsson went down behind his own net to move the puck out, and sent it up the boards for Brenden Dillon. It went between Dillon’s skates and off the boards back into open ice. While the Sharks kept an eye on Alexander Steen and Pat Maroon in their zone, Oskar Sundqvist sped out of the neutral zone and shot the puck. Erik Karlsson had moved into the lane and Sundqvist used him as a screen, so the puck went right by Jones. That was the first of three unassisted goals in a row.

The Sharks out-shot the Blues 11-4 in the first, but the Blues won 56% of the faceoffs. Logan Couture had a notable drop off in face-off performance, against a number of Blues players after five minutes. The Sharks had two shots on their first period power play.

The start of the second was less good for the Sharks. After five minutes, the Blues had another goal and a 10-1 shot lead. The goal came off an ill-conceived attempt to move the puck across the slot by Jones. He was trying to clear the puck away after Brenden Dillon blocked the shot on its way in, but Jaden Schwartz skated to the net and put the puck around Jones without anyone getting in his way.

Moments later, the Blues were awarded a penalty shot after Brent Burns tripped Vladimir Tarasenko. Tarasenko put a shot over Jones’ glove into the top corner to make it 3-0. That was at 6:53. At 10:43, the Blues were on a four-minute power play after Donskoi caught Steen in the mouth with his stick. That did not last long as Tyler Bozak got called for holding Evander Kane. The two minute four-on-four generated little for either team, and the Sharks killed off the rest of the Blues power play.

With five left in the period, the shots were 18-4 Blues. By the end of the period, the Blues outshot the Sharks 20-6. the Blues also improved their faceoff advantage to 57%. Tomas Hertl was the only Shark to take more than five faceoffs and win more than 50% of them. He won 70%. On the Blues’ side, Tyler Bozak and Brayden Schenn won just over 70% of their face-offs.

Erik Karlsson did not skate during the last seven or so minutes of the period.

The Sharks started the second period with a pair of penalties, putting the Blues on a two minute five-on-three power play at 1:55. With Micheal Haley and Barclay Goodrow both in the box, Jaden Schwartz scored with a pin-balling shot that put the Blues up 4-0 at 2:19. Assists went to David Perron and Tarasenko.

The Sharks managed to kill off the remainder of the second penalty.

Before the middle of the third period, Tomas Hertl, Joe Pavelski, Erik Karlsson and Joonas Donskoi were all in the dressing room for repairs or worse. Donskoi skated two shifts at the start of the period before leaving with a bleeding face. Pavelski skated one shift. Hertl and Karlsson did not skate in the third.

Micheal Haley joined them for unsportsmanlike conduct and an additional misconduct. A tripping penalty to Timo Meier put the Sharks on another five-on-three penalty kill.

Donskoi returned to the game after the ten minute mark, with just under eight minutes remaining.

The Sharks got their second power play of the game at 13:12. They did not score. The Blues did, at 16:02. Another defensive collapse from the remaining Sharks allowed Schwartz to get open on that same side again. Another assist went to Tarasenko.

With a little more than two minutes remaining, Evander Kane took some penalty time: two for goaltender interference, two for slashing Edmundson, and a little more for misconduct.

Game 6 will be on Tuesday at the Enterprise Center at 5:00 PM PT.

NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Western Conference Final podcast with Len Shapiro: Despite loss, Sharks have advantage and home ice; series tied at 2-2

Photo credit: @SanJoseSharks

On the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Western Conference Final podcast with Len:

#1 As San Jose Sharks’ Justin Braun said after the game in St. Louis on Friday night, the start of the game buried the Sharks.

#2 The Blues got scoring help in the first period from Ivan Barbashev for his first postseason goal at 0:35 and the second one coming from Tyler Bozak for his fourth postseason goal at 17:53.

#3 After the game, Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer said the series is tied, the Sharks have home ice and DeBoer says he feels good about it.

#4 Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington stopped 29 out of 30 shots, shutting out the Sharks in the first and second periods.

#5 Game 5 comes back to San Jose on Sunday night at SAP Center. Despite the loss, the series with home ice for the Sharks looks to be in their favor.

Len Shapiro does the NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Western Conference podcasts each week at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs: Blues Tie Series with 2-1 Win Over Sharks

Photo credit: @SanJoseSharks

By Mary Walsh

The St. Louis Blues won 2-1 against the San Jose Sharks at the Scottrade Center Friday, tying the Western Conference Final series. Ivan Barbashev and Tyler Bozak scored for St. Louis, while Tomas Hertl got the Sharks’ lone goal. Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington made 29 saves for the win, while Sharks goaltender Martin Jones made 20 saves in a losing effort.

Asked whether there was an emotional let down after the Game 3 win, and whether that contributed to the slow start, Sharks captain Joe Pavelski said:

Not really, it really didn’t cross my mind. There’s a lot of emotion throughout the playoffs. You know, we’re in the Conference Finals, we’ve had overtime wins, we’ve had Game Sevens, we’ve had emotional games for sure. You just lace ’em back up for the next game and you get ready to go and you compete.

After the game, Sharks defenseman Justin Braun said: “Our second and third was really good. The start just wasn’t what we needed and kind of buried us for the night.”

Braun then gave more detail: “We started making plays and battling. I didn’t think we were very clean, we were losing a lot of battles in the first period and then we kind of changed our mindset and started going.”

Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer summarized his thoughts on the team’s situation with: “You’re in the Western Conference Final, 2-2, you know, against a really good team. I feel pretty good. We got home ice advantage. Yeah, I mean, you know, I feel good.”

The Blues started the scoring just 35 seconds in. The Blues’ fourth line trapped the Sharks in the defensive zone right off the draw and as Brent Burns tried to clear the puck from behind the net, Alexander Steen came around with a hit. Ivan Barbashev came down the boards and found the puck. He took a shot that went off of Gus Nyquist’s stick and into the net. It was Barbashev’s first of the playoffs.

They added another at 17:43, on the power play. It was the Sharks’ second penalty of the period. The Blues got one shot during their first power play. They had two in the second one. After winning the face-off, the Blues moved the puck around the zone a bit, until Vladimir Tarasenko took a shot from the point. Pat Maroon deflected it and Jones stopped it, but the rebound went right up the slot. Tyler Bozak got credit for the goal, though the puck appeared to go off of Justin Braun’s skate and under Jones. Assists went to Maroon and Tarasenko.

Along with the scoring lead, the Blues led slightly in shots (10-9) while trailing in face-offs (45%) at the end of the first period.

The Sharks had their first power play at 5:41 of the second period, a hooking penalty against Sammy Blais. The Sharks got two shots but no goal. The teams then played four on four after a scrum in the corner at 8:24. Marc-Edouard Vlasic went for slashing Jordan Binnington, and Brayden Schenn went for roughing Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Vlasic’s penalty looked like an attempt to dislodge the puck from under Binnington’s glove, as he poked the end of his stick into the gap at the front of the glove on the ice. Schenn took issue with that, as did the officials.

There was no scoring in the second, but the Sharks mustered a relentless attack in the final minutes of the period, racking up several shots and keeping the Blues trapped in their zone. The Sharks out-shot the Blues 11-8 in the period, but slipped in the face-off circle to 44%. By the end of the second, the Blues had out-hit the Sharks 24-14.

Tomas Hertl and the Sharks’ power play scored at 6:48 of the third period. Brent Burns took a shot from the blue line that trickled under Binnington. Joe Pavelski reached behind the goalie at the same time as Hertl did, and while Hertl was being tackled in the blue paint, the puck went over the line. Assists went to Burns and Erik Karlsson.

The Sharks were back on the power play at 9:52. As the first minute of that wound down, Tyler Bozak chipped the puck past Brent Burns and went for a short-handed attempt. Oskar Sundqvist jumped in to back him up. Bozak got a good shot off, and Sundqvist was there to get a rebound, but Jones did not give him one. The Sharks used their timeout after that. Even so, they did not get any shots during that power play.

At 12:33, the Sharks were called for too many men after the puck was passed to the bench where lines were changing. Joe Thornton swept the puck away before getting off the ice. Evander Kane got away for a short-handed shot, and the Blues had two shots on the power play.

With an offensive zone face-off and 2:02 left, the Sharks pulled Martin Jones for an extra skater. The Blues got a shot at the empty net right away, but missed. The Sharks kept the play in the offensive zone for more than a minute before the Blues found a way to get the puck out. The Sharks outshot the Blues 10-4 in the third, the biggest shot advantage in the game.

Erik Karlsson did not skate in most of the second half of the third period, but stayed on the bench. He was back on the ice for the final two minutes.

Game 5 will be on Sunday at 12 noon PT at the SAP Center in San Jose.

Sharks Beat Blues 6-3 in Game 1 of NHL Western Conference Final

Photo credit: @SanJoseSharks

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE — The San Jose Sharks defeated the St. Louis Blues 6-3 Saturday, taking a 1-0 lead in the Western Conference Final series. Timo Meier and Logan Couture created a stir with two goals each, while forwards Joe Pavelski and Kevin Labanc added goals to complete that hefty score. Blues goals came from Joel Edmundson, Ryan O’Reilly and Tyler Bozak. Sharks goaltender Martin Jones made 28 saves for the win, while Jordan Binnington made 19 saves for the Blues.

After the game, Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer was asked about how his team shut down the Blues’ formidable Tarasenko line, just as they had shut down Colorado’s top line in the previous series. DeBoer said:

St. Louis is built a little different. Obviously, they have that line, but I think they also have a couple other lines that are very good too. Their third line might have been their most dangerous line in the last series and I thought was good again tonight, got a goal in the third period. So they’re built differently. I think this is going to be more of a team effort to shut down their group and if we can get the match ups we want, great. If we can’t, the guys out there are going to have to get the job done.

Series predictions have some trends to rely on. By the end of the second round, the Sharks seemed to have shed their habit of giving up a goal in the first minute of the game, and they had scored the most goals in the 2019 playoffs. They had also given up the most third period goals. St. Louis was second in scoring third period goals and had given up 10 fewer goals per game than the Sharks. Both teams have had formidable penalty kills, but less reliable power plays.

The Sharks started the scoring early in the first after taking the puck away from the Blues in the neutral zone. Logan Couture and Gus Nyquist broke away from the Blues defense at the blue line and ended up 2-on-1 against Joel Edmundson. Nyquist passed across and Couture put it away for his 10th of the playoffs. The time of the goal was 3:31.

That first goal ignited the Blues, at least in terms of hits. Sundry contact was ignored by the officials, including a curious pair of hits on Tomas Hertl and an elbow to Timo Meier’s head.

The Blues tied the game with an end-to-end play by Jaden Schwartz at 9:13. Schwartz took Logan Couture down behind the Blues net without any reaction from the officials. He then skated the puck all the way down and shot it off of Joel Edmundson. It was Edmundson’s first of the playoffs. Assists went to Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko.

Joe Pavelski got the lead back for the Sharks in a 5-on-3 power play at 11:24. Brent Burns sent the puck to him off to the side of the net. Pavelski stopped the hard pass and shot it. Binnington got his pad in the way and Pavelski had to reach in and give the puck a couple of extra taps to get it over the pad. It was Pavelski’s fourth of the playoffs and his second since returning from injury. Assists went to Burns and Erik Karlsson.

Despite having to kill two penalties, the Blues led the Sharks in shots in the first period, 10-9. The Sharks had the edge in face-offs, winning 59%.

Kevin Labanc added to the Sharks’ tally at 7:41 of the second. He skated in down the left boards then took a hard right at the face-off circle. He took the shot as he exited the circle and the puck went through three skaters. The traffic may have even disguised the fact that Labanc was moving to shoot, so the goaltender had no chance. An assist on Labanc’s fourth of the playoffs went to Joe Thornton.

Ryan O’Reilly scored a tricky goal at 8:58 to make it 3-2. He got control of a sluggish rebound near the blue paint, drew it back until Martin Jones came out for the shot, then went around the goaltender and nudged it over the line. Assists went to David Perron and Sammy Blais. It was O’Reilly’s third of the playoffs.

Timo Meier scored at 10:24 after a beautiful poke check by Logan Couture at the blue line, keeping the puck in. Meier was pursuing the checked skater and was ready to turn and take it back to the net. He avoided the pursuing defensemen and waited until Binnington was down, then, while skating left, reached right to guide the puck around the goalie’s outstretched skate and into the net. Couture got the assist. It was Meier’s fourth of the playoffs.

The Blues got their first power play at 13:23. The Sharks did not let any shots get through but one of the attempts sent Goodrow limping to the bench.

The Sharks added another at 17:34 of the second, this one attributed to Timo Meier. Meier was behind the net and trying to move the puck forward.  Blues defenseman Vince Dunn got in the way. His skate was in the perfect position to redirect the puck in behind his own goaltender. Assists went to Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Gus Nyquist.

The second period shots were again very close, this time 11-9 Sharks. The Sharks won 58% of the second period face-offs.

Their third period scoring success in these playoffs made it all the less surprising when the Blues made it 5-3 at 13:01 of the third.

After several attempts to Jones’ right, the puck got across to the other side where Tyler Bozak was waiting to put it in. It was Bozak’s third of the playoffs. Assists went to Pat Maroon and Vince Dunn.

The Blues pulled their goaltender with 4:39 left in the game. The Sharks had their hands full defending those six skaters, but managed a couple of shots at the empty net. Logan Couture finally got one of them in the net at 17:39. Assists went to Joe Pavelski and Evander Kane.

Fisticuffs followed at the Sharks end. Barclay Goodrow was sent off after intervening in someone else’s dispute, for roughing against Robert Bortuzzo. Goodrow also got a misconduct against Bortuzzo. Bortuzzo was sent off for roughing against Goodrow and received an additional misconduct. They each got five minutes. Brenden Dillon and Oskar Sundqvist got two minutes each for roughing. All of that went down at 17:55.

For a clue to what the Blues will be working on before Game 2, here is what Blues head coach Craig Berube had to say after Game 1:

I thought that third period we got to our game, we were aggressive, we’re on the forecheck, controlled the puck in the offensive zone. We didn’t get there enough tonight. In the first period it was ok, I thought it was a pretty good first period other than the penalties. But second period we just got caught in that three-quarter ice game by them, they did a good job checking, forced some things on us and we got caught in some turnovers and they capitalized on them.

Game 2 will be on Monday in San Jose at the SAP Center at 6:00 PM PT.

NHL Stanley Cup Western Conference Finals podcast with Len Shapiro: Sharks-Blues meet for the sixth time for the Conference Finals

Photo credit: @Str8ToTheBanc

On the NHL Stanley Cup Western Conference Finals podcast with Len:

#1 This is going to be the sixth time that the San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues have met in the Western Conference Finals. In those six meetings, the Sharks have won three of those series.

#2 The Sharks in 2016 played their only Stanley Cup Finals and lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Are the Sharks a different team this season after facing elimination to the Vegas Golden Knights and taking out the Colorado Avalanche in seven games? Is this team more on a mission then that 2016 team?

#3 Sharks captain Joe Pavelski contributed to the cause with a goal after coming back from a critical concussion in Game 7 of the first round. How much did Pavelski inspire this team?

#4 In postseason play, the Sharks forwards Logan Couture and Tomas Hertl are in a two-way tie for second in NHL playoffs for scoring. Defensemen Brent Burns and Hertl have nine goals and 14 points so no doubt the Sharks are getting some offensive support.

#5 The Sharks open up the best of seven Saturday night at SAP Center in San Jose for Games 1 and 2. Len sets this series up for us.

Len is covering the NHL Western Conference Finals podcasts Saturdays at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

NHL Stanley Cup Conference Finals podcast with Joe Lami: Sharks’ DeBoer didn’t underestimate Avs; Bruins getting it done on the power play

nbcsports.com file photo: San Jose Sharks’ Joe Pavelski (8) and the St. Louis Blues’ Vince Dunn (29) battle for the puck as the two teams meet Saturday night for Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals at SAP Center in San Jose.

On the NHL Stanley Cup Conference Finals with Joe Lami:

San Jose Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer, after things settled down after the Sharks’ Game 7 victory on Wednesday night against the Colorado Avalanche, said the Avalanche were a team that handled a tough Calgary Flames team and got through them in the first round and it gave him some concern having to face Colorado.

While it gave DeBoer pause, he said he was proud of the job that the Sharks did in taking the second round against the Avalanche. Winning the second series without team captain Joe Pavelski, how both Brent Burns and Erki Karlsson both contributed with strong offensive performances. Burns and teammate Tomas Hertl combined with nine goals and 14 points.

The Boston Bruins held it together on Thursday night in Game 1 of the third round with a three goal win 5-3 over the Carolina Hurricanes, mostly because of the power play. The Bruins’ Marcus Johansson and Patrice Bergeron scored power play goals in 28 seconds. The Boston Bruins forward Charlie Wagner commented on the NHL Network that the Bruins took advantage of the power play, getting that huge 5-4 advantage gets them in their other end and they found their way to the back end of the net.

The Bruins, with their 5-3 win and having a 1-0 series lead, go to Game 2 on Sunday and the Bruins feel good to be on their home ice for this second game. Joe says the Bruins the huge favorite to take this series in five or six games.

Joe Lami does the NHL Stanley Cup Conference Finals podcast each Friday at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

Avalanche Force Game 7 with 4-3 OT Win Against Sharks

Photo credit: @SanJoseSharks

By Mary Walsh

The Colorado Avalanche defeated the San Jose Sharks 4-3 in overtime at the Pepsi Center Monday. The win means that the teams will come back to San Jose to play a seventh game in their second round playoffs series. Avs goals came from JT Compher (2), Tyson Jost and Gabriel Landeskog. Sharks goals came from Marc-Edouard Vlasic (2) and Brent Burns. Philipp Grubauer made 19 saves for the win, while Martin Jones made 22 saves in a losing effort.

Although the overtime game-winner was scored by the Avs team captain Gabriel Landeskog, Sharks forward Logan Couture said: “Their depth guys beat us tonight. We got beat by JT Compher, Tyson Jost, their second, third, fourth line.”

Similarly, two of the Sharks’ three goals also came from an unusual suspect, Marc-Edouard Vlasic.

After the game, Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer said: “We got three goals from our defensemen. I thought if there was one disappointing area, I thought our forwards could have found a way to do a little bit more. I thought, as a group, they have to be better for us if we’re going to move on here.”

The first period was marked by three penalties called in a bunch between 12:06 and 17:34. Two went against the Sharks, one on Kevin Labanc for holding, another on Joe Thornton for tripping Matt Nieto. A penalty against Colorado roughly 30 seconds into the second Colorado power play gave the teams 90 seconds of four-on-four. The Sharks only allowed one shot in those penalty kills, but got no shots during their very short power play. The Sharks only got credit for five shots in the first period, while Colorado got 11.

The second period made up for the lack of scoring in the first. The teams traded goals back and forth for four goals period.

Starting with a cross-ice pass in the neutral zone from Ian Cole to JT Compher, the Avalanche moved up the ice fast. Compher sent the puck back across the ice to Jost who was almost to the net, setting him up to shoot before Jones could get across. Assists went to Compher and Cole. The time of the goal was 6:04.

The Avs kept the pressure on for some shifts after that. A minute or so later, Brent Burns caught Mikko Rantanen with a hip check in open ice, sending Rantanen to the dressing room for a spell. The Sharks finally responded with some offensive zone time and after a couple of false starts, sustained pressure on the Colorado net.

They were rewarded with a goal at 14:36 from Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Timo Meier had just brought the puck in and tried to get a shot away as he fended off Cale Makar. The puck bounced harmlessly off of Grubauer, but Vlasic was trailing the play and time to lift the puck over the goalie’s pad. Colorado challenged the goal for goaltender interference, after Meier’s skate touched Grubauer’s pad. The goal stood up. Assists went to Meier and Gus Nyquist.

Colorado took the lead back at 18:44. A clearing attempt was thwarted by Alexander Kerfoot on the blue line. While Carl Soderberg carried the puck around the boards, Kerfoot moved to the net to provide a screen. With Vlasic pressuring him, Soderberg made a short pass to Compher, who was at the blue line. Compher’s shot whizzed by Jones unseen by the goalie. Assists went to Soderberg and Kerfoot.

The Sharks tied it again just over a minute later, with 10 seconds left in the period. Tmo Meier fought his way into the zone before losing the puck. Erik Karlsson was there to find it and make a pass to Brent Burns, who was just coming off of the bench. Burns skated in for the shot and beat Grubauer on the right side. Karlsson got the assist.

Through the second period, the teams were tied in shots as well as goals, with eight each.

JT Compher gave the Avs yet another lead four minutes into the third period. Colin Wilson got the puck across the line before he ran into the Sharks defense. Derick Brassard was coming into the zone too fast for the Sharks to adjust. He took the puck below the face-off dot for a bad angle shot that bounced off of Jones. Meanwhile, Compher had come down the other side and skated across in front of the net for a back hand shot over Jones’ pads. Assists went to Brassard and Wilson.

The Sharks had an astonishingly long offensive zone late in the period. A broken stick for Mikko Rantanen helped them out there. Rantanen got a new stick, but not before the Sharks had worn the Colorado defense to a frazzle. Finally, a shot from Marc-Edouard Vlasic tied it for the third time, at 17:32. Logan Couture made a short pass form behind the net to Vlasic. Vlasic didn’t have a shot, but he sent it through the blue paint, where Meier might have been able to knock it in. Instead, it went off of Nikita Zadorov’s skate and in. Assists went to Couture and Nyquist.

In the third period, the Sharks out-shot the Avalanche 8-5, and killed one more penalty during which they allowed not shots. Colorado dominated the face-off battle in the first period, winning 72% of them. As the game went on, the Sharks improved there, winning 52% in the second and 58% in the third.

Overtime did not last long. Colorado started the period with early pressure. The Sharks had a couple of good shifts in the second minute, but Colorado’s top line finally got on the board with the winner at 2:32. After the Sharks almost cleared the puck out of a battle in the corner, Cale Makar kept it in at the blue line and sent it back down. Gabriel Landeskog, who had dumped the puck in, then fought for it in the corner, was there in the slot to get the pass. The puck tried to bounce off of his stick but he reached for it and nudged it under Jones. Makar got the only assist.

Neither team has won two games in a row in this series. The last time the Sharks played in back-to-back seven-game series was 1994. Their next Game 7 will be on Wednesday at SAP Center in San Jose at 6:00 PM PT.

Avalanche Win 3-0, Tie Series with Sharks

Photo credit: @SanJoseSharks

By Mary Walsh

The Colorado Avalanche tied their second round series with the San Jose Sharks by winning in 3-0 in Denver on Thursday. Their goal scorers were Nathan MacKinnon, Colin Wilson and Erik Johnson. It was MacKinnon’s sixth of the playoffs, and his second in this round against the Sharks. Philipp Grubauer made 32 saves for the shutout win, while Martin Jones made 25 saves in the loss.

Sharks forward Logan Couture blamed turnovers for the loss: “I thought we turned way too many pucks over. Way too many, handed them goals off turnovers inside of our blue line, and just bad decisions with the puck.”

Couture also pointed to missed opportunities: “It seems like it’s been the story of this series where we’ve had some good looks, we don’t score, and it costs us. The amount of times where we’ve had, you know, breakaways or good looks in the slot and we don’t score, and they come back and they score soon after.”

Five Sharks had three or more shots on goal, and they had more than one breakaway Thursday.

The game was remarkably even for the first half. Shot counts were within two in each period, there were no penalties in the first and two per team in the second. The Sharks won 53% of the face-offs in both of the first two periods.

After the game, Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer said: “It was one of those games I thought, half way through, you know, I kind of had the feeling whoever was going to score first was probably going to win. And you know they got the goal, they got the energy they started to grab some momentum, win a few more battles than we were winning from that point on. But I really felt the game was right there at least up until that point.”

The Sharks’ first power play was cut short by an overlapping penalty to Kevin Labanc. That raised some eyebrows since Erik Karlsson had been conspicuously tripped while he carried the puck through the neutral zone, in full view of most observers. That was not called, which would have given the Sharks a two-man advantage.

The first goal came in the middle of the second period. It was scored by Nathan MacKinnon on a second effort, after Jones had already stopped a nice attempt. Cale Makar shot the puck for a deflection by Mikko Rantanen, and Jones stopped that with his mask, but the rebound went off of Burns in front of the net. Burns tried to knock it away from the net, but didn’t get all of it, so it started to fall down to the blue paint. MacKinnon was close enough to knock it past Jones.

The second Colorado goal came on a power play that saw Justin Braun in the box for tripping Alexander Kerfoot. A clearing attempt by Brent Burns was cut short by Colin Wilson and fell to Gabriel Landeskog to carry back in. The Sharks’ penalty killers were caught a little off kilter and, in a scramble by the net, none of them could get control of the puck again. It trickled out of traffic to Wilson, who had an open net by then. Assists went to Rantanen and Landeskog.

At 8:05 of the third, Braun went to the box again after a careless high stick that caught Colin Wilson in the face. Seconds before that penalty was to expire, Brent Burns joined Braun in the box for hooking Samuel Girard. The Sharks were doing a great job killing the first penalty, were in fact all south of the center line attempting some short-handed offense. Girard got past Burns and Burns got his stick up around Girard’s arms as Girard closed on the Sharks net. That gave the Sharks 14 seconds of five-on-three to kill.

The Sharks did kill it off. In the last two minutes of the period, they pulled Jones for an extra skater. Two goals in two minutes was unlikely even with six skaters. Instead, Colorado got their third of the night, put into the empty net by Erik Johnson. Assists went to Matt Calvert and Matt Nieto.

Game 5 will be in San Jose on Saturday at 7:00 PM PT.

Around the nine-minute mark of the third, Nyquist went down in a collision with MacKinnon and required some attention from the trainer. He did not miss much game time, if any, for that. The Sharks shortened their bench once again in the third period. Joakim Ryan did not skate in the third and Lukas Radil only had one shift. Micheal Haley and Marcus Sorensen also had their shifts cut down.