Stars Hand Sharks Third Straight Loss

By Mary Walsh

AP photo: The Dallas Stars Mattias (13) Janmark was on the mark finding the back of the net twice Saturday against the San Jose Sharks here he goes for a victory lap with teammates after his second period goal

SAN JOSE- The Dallas Stars beat the San Jose Sharks by a score of 4-2 on Saturday afternoon. It was the Sharks’ third straight loss, all on home ice. It also leaves them still waiting to clinch a spot in the playoffs. It was a disappointing follow up to Thursday’s defeat at the hands of the Edmonton Oilers, but Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer saw some positives in Saturday’s game:

I think we played a pretty good game tonight. Obviously we didn’t win. It was one of those nights where every mistake we made ended up in our net and we couldn’t buy one at the other end for a couple periods. You gotta be careful and make sure you keep the proper perspective. Obviously we want to be winning every game his time of year but we’ve won a lot of games over the season where we played like that. So we just gotta build on the positive.

Sharks goals came from Joel Ward and Tomas Hertl. Sharks goaltender Martin Jones made 13 saves on 16 shots. Two Dallas goals came from Mattias Janmark, and one each from Patrick Sharp and Jamie Benn. Antti Niemi made 34 saves on 36 Sharks shots. The shot discrepancy is not unfamiliar to the Sharks. After the game, Sharks defenseman Brenden Dillon said: “The last couple games I think we’ve been doing a pretty good job. That’s one of the top scoring teams in the league and we limited them to 17 shots against so obviously we can’t be satisfied when we still lose the game and get no points.”

The Stars’ Antoine Roussel was a conspicuous participant in the first six penalties of the game, including a fight with Tommy Wingels. His antics did slow the game down. After the game, Wingels said:

I don’t get it. It’s embarrassing, I don’t think that stuff belongs in the game. Every shift after that you’re going to try to fight again. The rest don’t want that, the players don’t want their teammates… the fans don’t want to see after every whistle you have to be broken up.

Those Roussel penalties were not the only ones in the game. In all, the Sharks had six chances on the man advantage, but did not score. Sharks captain Joe Pavelski said, of their power play:

You give our PP unit that much time, we’ve got to get one, you know. We’ve got to really find a way to produce, not just chances but goals. And we didn’t do a good enough job there. There were a few looks we had, we still need to be a little cleaner I think but this time of the year PKs are hard, they’re aggressive. You got to make those entries count, you got to make the faceoffs count, I didn’t win enough of those draws. They’re all parts where they really add to that momentum throughout the PP. Could do a better job, sure.

Missing from the Sharks lineup was Joonas Donskoi. He did skate in the warmups, which may indicate that his absence will not be a long one. Matt Nieto and Marc-Edouard Vlasic both missed their fifth games since injury on March 17. Dainius Zubrus moved up to the Couture line, and Micheal Haley played on the the fourth.

The Dallas Stars have sustained several significant injuries this season. They are presently without perpetual scoring threat Tyler Seguin and regular blue-liner Jason Demers. John Klingberg, talented young defenseman, recently returned from injury, giving his team a needed boost.

The first period was going by scoreless, with a penalty per team and a couple of scuffles. Brenden Dillon took a roughing minor against Antoine Roussel. Roussel then took a slashing minor against Micheal Haley. Roussel and Tommy Wingels finished with fighting majors around the 14 minute mark. At 15:28, the shot count was 12 to 3 Sharks. On the Stars’ fourth shot, the puck went over Martin Jones’ pad for Mattias Janmark’s 14th goal of the season. His shot from the blue line got a little help from passing traffic. Assists went to Jordie Benn and Ales Hemsky.

The Stars added to their lead 4:22 into the second. A miscalculation from Jones left him too far from the crease and the net open for Janmark. Tomas Hertl made an attempt to stop the goal, but he lacks experience as a goaltender. Assists went to Jason Spezza and Stephen Johns.

The first penalty of the game that did not involve Antoine Roussel came 6:40 into the second. The Sharks did not score. Joe Pavelski went to the box at 13:41 for boarding against Johnny Oduya. During the ensuing power play, Jason Spezza made a pass from below the faceoff circle across the ice and back. Patrick Sharp took the shot quickly and cleanly. Assists went to Spezza and Klingberg.

The Sharks had a late power play, at 15:35. Stephen Johns went to the box for elbowing Roman Polak. With four seconds left in the period, Klingberg was called for roughing, and Thornton received the same.

Seventeen seconds into the third, Stars captain Jamie Benn was called for hooking Joe Pavelski. As a result, the teams payed four on three for 1:40. The Stars went right to the man advantage when Dylan DeMelo was called for slashing, just as the Sharks power play expired.

Before the DeMelo penalty expired, Joel Ward put the Sharks on the board with a short-handed goal. Antti Niemi handled the puck behind the net and he made a pass up the wall. After the pass, Joel Ward skated in behind him and seemed to nudge him from behind. Niemi went down and was thus unable to get back to his crease before Ward could put the puck in an open net.

The Sharks closed the gap further at 5:48 with a goal from Tomas Hertl. Taking advantage of busy traffic in the slot, Brent Burns made a pass to Pavelski, who carried it a bit and tried a backhand shot. Hertl skated in behind him and caught the rebound for his 19th goal of the season. Assists went to Pavelski and Burns.

Alex Goligoski was caught hooking at 10:09, putting the Sharks back on their thus-far ineffective power play. It was not effective.

The Stars took another penalty at 13:24, this time to Mattias Lanmark for tripping DeMelo. Still no power play goal.

The Sharks took their time out with 1:35 left in the game, and set up for an offensive zone faceoff with their net empty. Dallas wont the faceoff and iced the puck. The Sharks made better use of the next faceoff and moved the puck around in the Dallas zone, but with 1:08 left in the game, the Stars’ Patrick Sharp took control of the puck, passed it to Jamie Benn and Benn put it in the empty net.

The Sharks next play on Monday against the visiting Los Angeles Kings at 7:00 PT.

Sharks Shut Out Jets in Home Opener

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE-One shut out is not like another. Where the Sharks played a solid game on Wednesday, their shut out of the Winnipeg Jets Saturday was not so shiny. Al Stalock showed that he absolutely deserves to be in contention as the starter, but the rest of the team went off the rails after the first 20-30 minutes of the game. The final score was 3-0, but the Sharks’ power play went 0-8.

Todd McLellan was blunt about how ominous that is:

… Three-nothing, people that didn’t see the game are going to say the Sharks are off to a pretty good start, but that was not a well-played game on our behalf by any means.We probably played a good 26-27 minutes and then after that we weren’t close to being the better team.

I thought our power play absolutely sucked the life out of our team tonight. Probably as weak as it’s been in a long long time and we’ve got some work to do there.

Despite the power play’s failure, the Sharks demonstrated that they can keep pucks out of their own net, and that they can play well defensively in front of either goaltender. Stalock, on the change of momentum in Saturday’s game, summarized what he saw of the Jets’ play:

They changed it up after the first period, obviously. They got pucks in deep, got pucks to the net, banged and crashed, sometimes maybe a little too hard. It was a tough game to battle through some of their big guys in front of the paint. Our defensemen did a good job clearing them out.

The win looks good on paper, the Sharks can bank the points, but the next practice agenda wrote itself tonight: power play, power play, power play.

The first goal of the game was scored with the second line on the ice. It was Vlasic’s goal with assists to Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau.

The second goal of the game came from a hard shot off Tomas Hertl’s stick. The Jets let Hertl get away and skate up the slot. He had time but he did not waste it. His shot appeared to go right through Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec. Assists went to Thornton and Pavelski at 5:12.

The Sharks’ first power play was a little untidy. The Jets were getting some short handed chances and seemed likely to get another when they were called offside. That gave the Sharks a moment to regroup but they never really got it together.

They had another chance in the last minute of the period when Toby Enstrom was called for holding. That was unproductive, in the end of the first and the start of the second.

The shot count was comfortably (for the Sharks skaters) lopsided. At the end of the first, the count was 15-3.

Their next power play came at 11:01 of the second. This time, Marleau was tripped along the boards in the offensive zone.

The shot count stood at 20-7 for San Jose. Stalock had seen a couple of shots a few seconds earlier as Jets crowded his net, two or three of them at least. In the mass of bodies, it was surprising that the puck did not find its way in.

The Sharks’ third power play did not come to anything either. Joe Thornton seemed very much off his game. His passes were going awry at an inordinate rate. I am sure he could have hit the side of a barn Saturday night, but an outhouse might have been a challenge.

The Jets got their first power play at 10:33 of the second. Adam Burish went to the box for closing his hand on the puck. The first penalty killers were Braun, Vlasic, Pavelski, and Marleau. Hannan, Wingels, Burns and Couture were the second unit. Nieto replaced Wingels in the last dozen or so seconds of the penalty kill. The Jets managed no shots on that power play.

The Sharks’ next power play came from a goalie interference call on Dustin Byfuglien late in the second. While the Sharks did not score, they did make some progress in terms of holding the zone and getting some shots on net. This is how the bar drops.

With almost thirty seconds left in the period, Patrick Marleau claimed the puck off a Jets miscue, and carried it all the way up the slot to beat Pavelec with a neat little lift. He had plenty of time, alone as he was in the zone, to take a shot without haste, giving the Sharks a 3-0 lead.

Joe Pavelski was called for hooking seconds later, so the Jets ended the second and started the third on a power play. The second period ended with shots at  26-16 for the Sharks.

Al Stalock held up well, whether waiting for the few shots he faced, or fighting through and around traffic in front of him. His forays out of the net were not too hair raising, and he seemed to be seeing the game well enough to not take too many chances in that department.

During the Sharks’ next power play, (a tripping call on Adam Pardy),  Matt Nieto was pushed into the Jets’ net without any semblance of subtlety. Unfortunately for the Sharks, most of their power play had already expired and they only had 20 or so seconds of five on three.

The Jets were making some progress on the shot clock, and had closed the gap to 26-22. The Sharks did not do a very good job of anything in that power play, aside from preventing short handed goals.

They would have yet another chance when Byfuglien went to the box again, this time for tripping at 9:03.

The Sharks did not score and Byfuglien was freed, but he was not out for long. As Stalock covered a relatively harmless shot, Byfuglien skated in and gave him a little snow shower. Stalock clearly saw it coming and he braced himself. Several Sharks took issues with the snow shower, as did the referee. Byfuglien received a two minute penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct and then a ten minute misconduct was tacked on.

One has to wonder what he said to get all of that for such indirect contact with the goaltender.

While the game started out very slowly for Stalock, it certainly picked up for him in the third. By the end of the second Byfuglien penalty, the Sharks still did not have a shot in the third period and the Jets had taken the lead for the game by the 14 minute mark.

The teams played a little four on four while Zach Bogosian and Scott Hannan spent two minutes in the box for roughing.

With two minutes left in the game, the Sharks were still looking for their first shot on goal.They never took it, but defended their own net sufficiently to hang on to the shut out.

The game ended in a frantic scramble in front of Stalock, but he kept the puck out. It was a fitting close to the game.