Meier Scores 5, Sharks Beat Kings 6-2; It’s Timo Time all the time

San Jose Sharks right wing Timo Meier (28) raises the puck high, Meier scored five goals against the Los Angeles Kings on Martin Luther King Day at SAP Center in San Jose on Mon Jan 17, 2022 (AP News photo)

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE– Timo Meier scored five goals in the San Jose Sharks (21-17-2) 6-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings (20-14-5) Monday afternoon. It was the first time in Sharks history that a Shark scored that many in one game. Rudolfs Balcers also scored, for the second game in a row. James Reimer made 39 saves for the win. Anze Kopitar and Mikey Anderson scored for the Kings and Jonathan Quick made 11 saves in the loss.

Apart from Meier’s stunning play Monday, the game also saw the Sharks’ struggling power play score twice, Tomas Hertl earn four assists and Erik Karlsson get three, including his 500th.

After the game, Sharks Head Coach talked about the game:

“I’m very happy and proud for Timo, I think he’s put a lot of hard work in. For our team, a team that hasn’t scored a lot and has played well of late and hasn’t gotten quite the results that I think we deserve, it was nice to see, as a team, one of our big guys go off like that.”

Timo Meier scored his first of the afternoon at 3:02 on the power play. From just inside the left face-off dot, Meier caught a cross-ice pass from Brent Burns and whipped into the net on the short side. Assists went to Burns and Erik Karlsson.

Rudolfs Balcers made it 2-0 at 15:56 of the first. Balcers sent the puck out of his zone to Hertl in the neutral zone. Hertl carried the puck along the blue line before shooting it right down the slot. Balcers caught it with the back of his stick and then shot it past Quick on the glove side.

Meier scored his second at 18:48, unassisted. While he skated across in front of the blue paint, the puck went off of his skate. He spun and gathered it up for a quick roofer.

He completed the hat trick 21 seconds later. Hertl dug the puck out of the corner and got it to Meier in a nice shooting spot. Meier’s shot did not go in but he moved to the other side of the net and cleaned up a rebound. Hertl got the assist.

The busy final minute was not over, as Anze Kopitar scored for Los Angeles with just 16 seconds left in the period. Kopitar took advantage of a turnover at the blue line and then charged into the zone for a shot from outside the face-off dot.

Meier started working a second hatty to start the second period, with another power play goal at 1:24. He caught a cross-ice pass from Erik Karlsson just outside the face-off dot and scored with a quick wrist shot. Assists went to Karlsson and Hertl.

Meier scored his fifth goal at 19:32 of the second. He caught a cross-ice pass from Hertl, brought the puck around a defender with a toe drag. He shot it past Quick’s glove, off the post and in. Assists went to Hertl and Karlsson.

Mikey Anderson scored the only third period goal to make it 6-2. Drew Doughty centered the puck from low in the zone and Anderson tipped it in. Assists went to Doughty and Viktor Arvidsson.

The Kings out-shot the Sharks 41-17 in the game. The Sharks had three power plays, scored on two of them with two shots. The Sharks’ penalty kill allowed four shots through three penalties. In the face-off circle, the Kings prevailed with 53% of the draws.

The Sharks next play in Seattle against the Kraken on Thursday at 7:00 PM PT.

Sharks Fall to Penguins 2-1 in OT; SJ drops second straight game

Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Marcus Pettersson (28) and goaltender Louis Domingue, right, are in the process of prevent defense against the San Jose Sharks left winger Matt Nieto (83) in the third period at SAP Center in San Jose on Sat Jan 15, 2022 (AP News photo)

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE- The San Jose Sharks lost their first overtime game of the season, falling 2-1 to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Kris Letang and Jake Guentzel scored for Pittsburgh and Louis Domingue made 40 saves for the win. Rudolfs Balcers scored for San Jose and Adin Hill made 25 saves in the loss.

For the first time in a long time, the Sharks had Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson on the same power play unit. The Sharks had three power plays Saturday, one of those a double-minor, but still could not convert against the Penguins’ top-ranked penalty kill. Most of the Sharks’ power play shots came from the first unit, but short-handed chances were given up by both units.

Sharks’ Head Coach Bob Boughner did not put too much stock in the power play’s failure to score:

“I thought our power play had some great looks. At the end of the second and the beginning of the third, we had some great looks and we had traffic and we picked the rebounds off. I think our second unit was just very average, I thought we didn’t get anything going on the second unit but, you know, we did a lot of good things, the only thing we didn’t do was score but that’s not on our power play. I think Pittsburgh’s a good team.”

Rudolfs Balcers scored the first goal of the game at 7:01. Erik Karlsson chased down the puck as it came off the boards, then spun and sent it to the net. It went right to Balcers as he arrived in front of the net and angled his stick to deflect it in. Assists went to Karlsson and Timo Meier.

The Sharks held the Penguins to one shot for the first half of the period but at 10:56, Kris Letang tied it up. Letang skated around the outside to get behind the Sharks defense, then cut across the slot to score with a backhand over Hill’s right pad. Assists went to Jake Guentzel and Teddy Blueger.

The shot count for the period was 11-4 Sharks, and San Jose also led in the face-off circle with 53% of the draws. The Sharks took the only penalty of the period, and the penalty kill allowed no shots on goal.

The Penguins got more shots through in the second, with four on net in the first half of the period. The Sharks also had more, 8, at that point. By the end of the second, it was 17-8 Sharks.

With a little more than a minute left in the period, Jake Guentzel went to the box for four minutes after drawing blood from Jonathan Dahlen with a high stick. The Sharks power play ended the period with three shots on goal and a little under three minutes remaining to start the third period.

The Sharks had that power play and another in the third period. They had six shots with the man advantage and gave up four short-handed shots. Overall, the Penguins out-shot them by just one, 14-13.

Jake Guentzel scored the game winner 37 seconds into overtime. Sidney Crosby carried the puck into the zone and across the slot. Guentzel had just arrived at the blue paint when Crosby sent the puck back to him for an easy tap-in. Assists went to Crosby and Kris Letang.

The Sharks had an excellent night in the face-off circle, winning 67% of the draws. Noah Gregor led the team in shots with seven.

The Sharks next play on Monday at home against the Los Angeles Kings at 1:00 PM PT.

Radim Simek is still out with a lower body injury, and Alexander Barabanov is on the COVID-19 list. Jacob Middleton was put on the injured reserve list after being injured in Detroit on January 4. James Reimer is off of the injured reserve list and he backed up Hill on Saturday.

Sharks Fall to Devils, 3-2 in a Shoot-Out

The San Jose Sharks goaltender James Reimer in goal and the New Jersey Devils defenseman Damon Severson (28) who scores in the shootout for the game winner at SAP Center in San Jose on Sat Nov 6, 2021 (AP News photo)

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE- The San Jose Sharks lost 3-2 in a shoot-out to the New Jersey Devils Saturday at SAP Center in San Jose. Ryan Graves and Janne Kuokkanen scored for the Devils and Jonathan Bernier made 25 saves for the win. Sharks goals came from Rudolfs Balcers and Jonathan Dahlen. James Reimer made 26 saves in the loss.

New Jersey out-shot San Jose 10-9 in a scoreless first period. Each team had a chance on the power play, with the Devils power play getting two shots on goal and the Sharks power play getting three. The teams were also very close in the face-off circle, with the Sharks winning 11 draws and the Devils winning 10.

Rudolfs Balcers scored the first goal of the game early in the second period. The Sharks had just killed off an early penalty, having given up just one to the Devils power play. Mario Ferraro carried the puck all the way across the Devils blue line before making a pass through the blue paint to Balcers, who was able to put the puck in the net. Assists went to Ferraro and Brent Burns.

Devils defenseman Ryan Graves tied the game at 16:45 with his first goal of the season. He trailed the play into the zone and arrived just in time to catch a cross-ice pass from Nico Hischier. Reimer could not get across in time to stop the shot. Assists went to Hischier and Michael McLeod.

The teams continued to be very close in shots, with the second period count at 9-7 Sharks. In the face-off circle, the Devils improved to 61%, or 11-18. The Devils had the only power play in the period, and had just the one shot on goal.

Jonathan Dahlen made it 2-1 with a shot on the power play into the top corner at 4:21 of the third. Assists went to Brent Burns and Ryan Merkley.

Janne Kuokkanen tied tied it back up at 17:04 of the third. His shot was one of many that flew at James Reimer in quick succession. Kuokkanen was able to shoot while Reimer was prone across the goal mouth. Assists went to Jimmy Vesey and Colton White.

Logan Couture shot first and scored with an assertive wrist shot through the Bernier’s five-hole.

New Jersey’s Jesper Bratt shot next. His shot hit Reimer’s pad and seemed to stop but instead slid over the line to count for a goal.

Rudolfs Balcers shot next for San Jose but his shot hit the post.

Alexander Holz shot next for New Jersey and Reimer stopped his shot.

Tomas Hertl shot next, but Bernier deflected the shot away from the net.

Damon Severson shot last for New Jersey and scored. After a shimmy and a shake he lifted the puck over Reimer and up into the corner.

The final shot count was as close as ever, 28-27 Devils. In the face-off circle, New Jersey also prevailed, winning 54% of the draws. The Sharks power play scored on one of three chances, and their penalty kill was perfect against four Devils power plays.

The Sharks will hit the road now and play next in Calgary against the Flames on Tuesday at 6:00 PM PT.

Sharks Fall 5-4 in OT to Coyotes

San Jose Sharks goaltender Alexei Melnichuk (1) puts the stop on the Arizona Coyotes center Lane Peterson’s (93) putting the puck on net in the second period at SAP Center in San Jose Sat May 8, 2021 (AP News photo)

By Mary Walsh

The San Jose Sharks lost 5-4 in overtime to the Arizona Coyotes Saturday. For the Coyotes, it was the last game of the season. Arizona’s five goals came from Christian Dvorak (2), Jan Jenik, Conor Garland and Phil Kessel. Aiden Hill made 44 saves for the win. Rudolfs Balcers, Kevin Labanc, Timo Meier and Alexander Barabanov scored for the Sharks. Alexei Melnichuk made 27 saves in his first NHL start.

After the game, Sharks Head Coach Bob Boughner was asked about Rudolfs Balcers. He said:

“He’s another young guy that has probably played, with the schedule, more hockey than he’s ever been used to. And you can tell that some of these guys are hitting a little bit of a wall, physically and mentally. You know, I think once Rudy goes back in the offseason and trains and puts on a little more muscle and comes back after three months or three and a half months, and gets a regular training camp, I think you’re going to see even a better Rudy. He’s made major strides.”

Christian Dvorak scored during some four-on-four time at 3:32 of the first period. After skating away from the Sharks defense, he made his way to the slot and put a shot over Melnichuk’s shoulder. Assists went to Phil Kessel and Oliver Ekman-Larssen.

Rudolfs Balcers tied the game at 6:44. Alexander Chmelesvki carried the puck in along the boards and found Balcers in the slot with a pass. Balcers took the shot and the puck snuck under Hill and trickled over the line. Assists went to Chmelevski and Dylan Gambrell.

Dvorak scored his second of the period on a power play at 11:36. Christian Fischer set Dvorak up with a pass from below the goal line. Dvorak’s shot went by Melnichuk’s glove and in. Assists went to Fischer and Phil Kessel.

Kevin Labanc tied it back up at 15:28. Labanc skated into the zone with the puck while Erik Karlsson drew some attention from the defense. Labanc took the shot above the face-off circle and the puck flew around a defenseman and past Hill, just inside the post.

The Sharks out-shot the Coyotes 19-8 in the first period. The Coyotes had one shot in two power plays, and the Sharks had one shot in one power play in the first period.

Timo Meier gave the Sharks a lead at 5:26 of the second period. Meier caught a pass for Kevin Labanc as he skated into the zone. Fending off Alex Goligoski with one arm while driving to the net, Meier skated in front of the blue paint and pushed the puck around the goalie. Labanc got the assist.

Jan Janik tied it up again with a shot from a bad angle. The puck went behind Melnichuck’s head and hit just inside the far post. Assists went to Christian Fischer and Victor Soderstrom.

The Coyotes out-shot the Sharks 17-14 in the second period. The Sharks’ power play had two shots on goal in the period.

Conor Garland gave the Coyotes another lead at 16:07 of the third period. Garland skated around the defense for a pass in front of the goal. He was able to tuck the puck over the line into the far side. Assists went to Goligoski and Jakob Chychrun.

Alexander Barabanov tied the game again with 49 seconds to go in regulation. With the net empty and an extra skater for the Sharks, Evander Kane sent the puck to Tomas Hertl at the net, and Hertl passed it over to Barabanov just above the goal line. Barabanov took a quick shot into an open net. Assists went to Hertl and Kane.

The Sharks out-shot the Coyotes 14-4 in the third period, and had two shots on one power play.

Phil Kessel scored the game winner 2:30 into overtime. Kessel intercepted Dylan Gambrell’s pass to Erik Karlsson in the neutral zone. He skated into the Sharks zone and put a shot under Melnichuk before the goalie knew where it was.

The Sharks will play their last game of the season on Wednesday in San Jose, against the visiting Vegas Golden Knights at 6:00 PM PT.

Sharks Trounce Kings 5-2

The Los Angeles Kings left winger Austin Wagner (27) tries to skate around San Jose Sharks goaltender Martin Jones (31) behind the net at SAP Center in San Jose on Fri Apr 9, 2021 (AP News photo)

By Mary Walsh

The San Jose Sharks beat the Los Angeles Kings 5-2 Friday at the SAP Center in San Jose. Kevin Labanc, Patrick Marleau, Rudolfs Balcers, Dylan Gambrell and Tomas Hertl all scored for San Jose. Brent Burns had three assists and Martin Jones made 32 saves for the win. Alex Iafallo and Jaret Anderson-Dolan scored for Los Angeles and Calvin Petersen made 24 saves in the loss.

After the game, Sharks Head Coach Bob Boughner said:

“It was a good team win, it was a good team effort. They really came at us in the second period. We obviously didn’t like our second and I thought that, you know, they pushed hard and we didn’t really respond very well. But Jonesy was our best player tonight. And he’s in the zone, he’s seeing the puck and he made some big saves at the right time.”

Los Angeles scored first, at 2:27 of the first. Alex Iafallo, just arrived in front of the net, caught Dustin Brown’s quick pass from the boards and redirected it past Martin Jones. Assists went to Brown and Anze Kopitar.

The Sharks tied it up at 8:01. The Sharks had just finished killing a penalty, and won a defensive zone face-off. They broke out with Kevin Labanc carrying the puck. He carried it all the way down and took the shot. It went in. Assists went to Brent Burns and Mario Ferraro.

Patrick Marleau gave the Sharks the lead at 13:50 when Brent Burns sent the puck to the net and it went off of Marleau’s skate. Assists went to Burns and Marcus Sorensen.

Rudolfs Balcers made it 3-1 at 17:17, following Timo Meier on a breakaway. Petersen stopped the shot but Balcers was there to put the rebound away. Assists went to Meier and Erik Karlsson.

The Kings out-shot the Sharks in the first, 13-11. Each team had one power play. The Los Angeles power play had four shots on one power play and the Sharks power play had one in one.

In a scoreless second period, the Kings led again in shots, 11-8. They also led in penalties, taking two that resulted in a power play for San Jose. The Sharks took two shots in those two power plays. The Sharks had one penalty to kill and the Kings got one shot out of that. There were also two fights, which added a total of twelve penalty minutes on the score sheet. Jeffrey Viel fought Kurtis MacDermid and Marcus Sorensen fought Andreas Athanasiou. Sorensen and Athanasiou fought again at the final buzzer.

The Kings came to within one goal 1:02 into the third period, moments after a Sharks penalty expired. Jaret Anderson-Dolan scored, unassisted, by throwing the puck at the net from a sharp angle. The puck went from below the goal line, behind Jones’ near skate, off of his far skate and in.

Dylan Gambrell scored a short-handed goal at 17:00. Gambrell and Evander Kane broke away for a two-on-none. Gambrell passed first, then Kane passed it back, forcing Petersen to move in the crease. Gambrell took the shot. Assists went to Kane and Burns.

Tomas Hertl made it 5-2, shooting it down the ice into and empty net at 18:41. Assists went to Kane and Logan Couture.

The Kings won 58% of the face-offs through the game. The final shot count was 34-29 Kings.

The Sharks will play the Kings again on Saturday in San Jose at 7:30 PM PT.

Kings Shutout by Sharks 3-0; Jones stops all 30 shots

Los Angeles Kings center Jaret Anderson-Dolan, left, takes a shot for not on San Jose Sharks goaltender Martin Jones (31) at the SAP Center in San Jose on Fri Apr 2, 2021 (AP News photo)

By Mary Walsh

The San Jose Sharks went to Los Angeles and beat the Kings 3-0 Friday. Tomas Hertl, Timo Meier and Rudolfs Balcers scored for the Sharks and Martin Jones made 30 saves for the shutout win. Calvin Petersen made 33 saves for the Kings in the loss. The win is the third in a row for the Sharks. Three was a good number for the Sharks Friday.

Hertl, Meier and Balcers were skating on the same line. Meier had eight shots in the game and scored his first goal after a nine game dry spell. After the game, Sharks Head Coach Bob Boughner said: “From what we see tonight, if he’s playing that way, and he’s that confident, he can be dangerous. It was good to see. I think that whole line, Tommy Hertl, Rudy’s playing great hockey. Those guys were a force tonight.”

Of Martin Jones, Boughner said:

“He looks calm in there, you know, he’s making the right saves at the right time. He’s allowing us to get that second goal and keep it 1-0 instead of 1-1 and the game completely changes. And, you know, he’s been one of our better players now for the past three weeks.”

The Sharks took an early lead when Tomas Hertl tipped Nikolai Knyzhov’s shot from the point. Assists went to Knyzhov and Rudolfs Balcers. The time of the goal was 2:57.

There was just one penalty in the first period, to Anze Kopitar for tripping. The Sharks power play got credit for two shots on goal. The Sharks outshot the Kings 9-7 in the first.

Timo Meier made it 2-0 for the Sharks nine minutes into the second period. Tomas Hertl’s pass from behind the net landed just right on Meier’s stick for a one-timer. Assists went to Hertl and Balcers.

The Kings challenged the goal for goaltender interference. Balcers pushed Kings defenseman Drew Doughty into the crease and Doughty fell on Calvin Petersen. A second or two passed after that contact and the play moved around the net before the goal was scored. The challenge was unsuccessful.

While the teams were waiting for that to be resolved, referee Pierre Lambert was escorted from the ice, looking unsteady. He had been hit by a puck.

The second period saw two penalties to each team. The Sharks penalty kill gave up two shots and their power play took three. The shot count was 14-13 Kings.

At 7:59, Dylan Gambrell put the puck in the net with a nice shot down the middle. It was called back, however, when the Kings successfully challenged for offside.

The Kings pulled their goaltender with more than two minutes left. The Sharks took several shots at that empty net but it was Balcers with the fourth good look who hit it at 19:33. An assist went to Brent Burns, who was using Balcers’ stick. After Burns’ stick broke, Balcers gave him his and had just gone to get another when the puck came to him for the shot.

The third period was penalty-free and the sharks outshot the Kings 14-9. The Kings won the face-off battle in the game, winning 55% of the draws.

The Sharks next play on Saturday at 7:00 PM PT, again in Los Angeles against the Kings.

Sharks Tame Wild 4-2

The Minnesota Wild forward Nico Sturm (7) tries to reach for the puck as the San Jose Sharks center Patrick Marleau (12) and defenseman Erik Karlsson (65) defend during Wed Mar 31, 2021 at SAP Center in San Jose (AP News photo)

By Mary Walsh

The San Jose Sharks beat the Minnesota Wild 4-2 in San Jose Wednesday. Rudolfs Balcers, Ryan Donato, Nikolai Knyzhov and Evander Kane Scored for the Sharks, while Martin Jones made 26 saves for the win. The Sharks defense generated five points in the game. Kirill Kaprizov and Mats Zuccarello scored for the Wild, and Kaapo Kahkonen made 29 saves in the loss.

After the game, Sharks Head Coach Bob Boughner talked about the Sharks defensive game:

“I liked how aggressive we were in the d-zone, jump in and check. We didn’t give much, you know, we blocked shots. I thought we were really physical tonight, you know, and yeah, we played a lot in the o-zone. That is the blueprint for how we want to play on most nights and every night.”

Sharks Captain Logan Couture talked about what they need to do to carry this success forward:

“We’ve just got to keep playing the way we are. I thought we defended pretty hard and we created a lot of offense. We could have had more than the three we scored, or the fourth with the empty-netter, but a lot of good looks, I think our game’s in a good spot right now.”

In a scoreless first period, the teams each got credit for 10 shots. Evander Kane took three of those shots for the Sharks. Each team had one power play. The Wild had one shot on their power play and the Sharks had two on theirs. The Wild won 60% of the first period face-offs.

The Sharks got the scoring started in the second period, at 4:41. Rudolfs Balcers caught a pass from Tomas Hertl just as he arrived in front of the blue paint. He did not slow down as he stopped the puck on his backhand, then swept it around Kahkonen’s skate. Assists went to Hertl and Brent Burns.

The Sharks made it 2-0 at 9:22 with a power play goal. Brent Burns shot the puck right up the middle. Kahkonen stopped it but left a rebound. Ryan Donato was there to gather it up and tuck it under the goaltender. Assists went to Burns and Mario Ferraro.

That was the only power play for the second period. The Sharks outshot the Wild 14-9. The Sharks improved in the face-of circle, winning 55% of them.
Kirill Kaprizov cut the Sharks lead to 2-1 at 8:23. He carried the puck at speed from below the goal line, past one point to the other before taking the shot, which went past Jones on the far side. Carson Soucy got the assist.

The Sharks’ third goal started when Rudolfs Balcers carried the puck onto the zone. It was knocked off of his stick but Tomas Hertl was right there to get it back and pass it to Erik Karlsson. Karlsson found Nikolai Knyzhov just coming across the blue line, Knyzhov let the traffic settle into place in front of the net before shooting it past Kahkonen’s glove. Assists on Knyzhov’s first NHL goal went to Karlsson and Hertl.

Kaprizov knocked Logan Couture off the puck at 12:18. While Evander Kane was giving Kaprizov a piece of his mind about the hit, Ryan Hartman went after Kane. All the skaters on the ice converged after that but the result was just two minor penalties: cross-checking to Hartman and roughing to Kane.

The Wild made it 3-2 with their net empty and 12.1 seconds left in the game. Kevin Fiala took a shot from the point with three skaters blocking Jones’ view. The puck went off of Mats Zuccarello and in. Assists went to Fiala and Jared Spurgeon.

Evander Kane scored from just outside the Sharks’ blue line, into an empty net with one second left in the game. It was his sixth shot of the night.

The Sharks won the third period face-off battle 9-6. Each team had a power play in the period, with the Sharks taking three shots and the Wild taking two. In overall third period shots, the teams were tied at 9 each.

The Sharks next play on Friday against the Kings in Los Angeles at 7:00 PM PT.

Sharks Beat Blues 5-4

Photo credit: @SanJoseSharks

By Mary Walsh

The San Jose Sharks beat the Blues 5-4 in St.Louis on Saturday. Sharks goals came from Evander Kane, Logan Couture (2), Rudolfs Balcers, and Patrick Marleau. Sharks goaltender Devan Dubnyk made 28 saves for the win. The Blues goals were scored by Brayden Schenn, Zach Sanford, Ryan O’Reilly and Jordan Kyrou. Jordan Binnington made 22 saves in the loss.

Despite allowing another four-goal second period to the Blues, the Sharks persisted for the win. After the game, Sharks Head Coach Bob Boughner talked about coping with penalties and questionable calls: “We stuck with it and we had some great kills, character kills, and we found a way to get three points out of these two games. It could have easily been four.”

Evander Kane ended a four-game goal drought at 7:24 of the first, giving the Sharks the first lead of the game. Logan Couture tried to move the puck from the boards to Kane but it went to Zach Sanford instead. Sanford turned it right over to Kane, with some help from Kevin Labanc. Kane was ready to spin, settle the puck and shoot before Binnington could get set.

Couture doubled the lead at 10:10. Kane chased the puck down behind the net and sent it up ice to Kevin Labanc, who found Couture in front of the net with a quick pass. Couture tapped it right in.

The first period ended with the Sharks leading in shots 10-9, and in the face-off circle at 54%. The Sharks took one penalty in the first, and the Blues had one shot on that power-play.

The second period was much busier than the first. The Sharks added to their tally at 3:48. Rudolfs Balcers scored his first as a Shark by stopping above the blue paint and waiting for a pass from Tomas Hertl, who was below the goal line. Despite the Blues defense around him, Hertl got the pass cleanly to Balcers for a one-timer past Binnington.

The Blues scored at 4:45. Jordan Kyrou, with Marc-Edouard Vlasic blocking his path, bounced the puck off of the post from below the goal line. It went right to Brayden Schenn for a shot past Devan Dubnyk on the blocker side. Assists went to Jordan Kyrou and Mike Hoffman.

Patrick Marleau gave the Sharks a three-goal lead at 8:18. Evander Kane sent the puck under a leaping Matt Nieto to Marleau on the far side of the net. Marleau tapped it in behind Binnington.

The Blues came right back with their second goal at 8:37. Torey Krug took a shot from the Blue line that went off of Zach Sanford. The goal was reviewed for a high stick but was allowed. Assists went to Krug and Schenn.

Ryan O’Reilly’s one-timer from just above the goal line cut the Sharks lead to one at 15:30. The Sharks were short-handed as Mario Ferraro left the ice abruptly after losing his helmet. Assists went to Hoffman and Kyrou.

Kyrou tied it up ith just 1:19 left in the second. Kyrou skated in, two-on-one with David Perron. Perron drew the defensive attention so Kyrou took the shot and beat Dubnyk on the glove side. Assists went to Perron and O’Reilly.

The Blues led on the second-period shot clock, 15-10, and in the face-off circle, at 54%. As in the first, the Sharks took one penalty but the Blues didn’t get any shots out of it.

Couture, just on the ice after a line change, gave the Sharks a new lead at 11:51 of the third. His shot from the face-off circle slipped through traffic at the net before Binnington could find it.

The Blues pulled their goaltender with just over a minute left but the Sharks held on. The Blues took their first penalty in the third period, but it was offset by a penalty to the Sharks as well, for some four-on-four play. The Sharks took a second penalty in the third, but their penalty kill did not allow any shots. The final shot count was 32-27 Blues, and the face-offs went to the Blues 52% of the time.

The Sharks next play on Monday, back in San Jose, against the Minnesota Wild at 7:30 PM PT.

Gulls fly over San Jose, but Barracuda blows them out of the park with a 5-3 comeback

Photo: @sjbarracuda

By Alexandra Evans

SAN JOSE, Calif. — The San Jose Barracuda players, their families, staff, crowd members, and press were surrounded by canines as the Barracuda (8-8) took on the San Diego Gulls (7-10) this afternoon at SAP Center. Tonight’s crowd, which consisted of both humans and pooches, was the largest the Cuda has had since the season commenced.

Roster update: Forward Spencer Asuchuk was recalled from the Allen Americans and made his first 2017-18 appearance with the Cuda this afternoon. Asuchuk played with the Cuda in last year’s Calder Cup playoffs run. Marc-Olivier “Marco” Roy made his second appearance with the Cuda along with his first win.

After a 4-1 loss the day after Thanksgiving, the Cuda were determined to make a comeback. Since the start of the season, they have shown strength in doing so, coming back to beat the Ontario Reign, Texas Stars, San Antonio Rampage, Cleveland Monsters, and Manitoba Moose in matches following losses.

Offense and defense were strong on both ends in the first 20 minutes. The Cuda outshot the Gulls 10-5, with John McCarthy scoring the first goal just before the 12-minute mark, courtesy of Marcus Sorensen and Rudolfs Balcers. San Jose held San Diego scoreless for the remainder of the period.

Antoine Bibeau stepped in the net for Troy Grosenick at the start of the second period. San Diego amped up their offense. Despite the fact that San Jose exceeded them in shots on goal, San Diego notched three goals within the first five minutes. Julius Nattinen nailed the first one 51 seconds in, followed by Austin Ortega at 3:47 and then Giovanni Fiore at 4:11. The Cuda prevented the Gulls from scoring additional goals, ending the period on a power play, trailing 3-1. 

And then the momentum arose. The Cuda made two comeback goals in under 30 seconds to tie the score 3-3. Rudolfs Balcers notched a power-play goal at 3:57 and Adam Helewka, with his stellar hand-eye coordination, joined in on the action to score his second goal of the season at 4:20. Helewka sniped another one past Gulls goaltender Reto Berra at 10:38, breaking the tie and providing his team and the crowd with some relief. Two minutes later, Olivier Archambault posted an unassisted, game-winning goal. The final score was 5-3.

Bibeau made 14 saves on 17 shots to get the big win, while San Diego netminder Reto Berra had 34 saves on 39 shots.

Both Balcers and Helewka have been known to put up numbers–specifically scoring goals–throughout their careers, but tonight was the first time both of them scored since the season opener.

“I can’t take all the credit,” Helewka, glowing with satisfaction, said of his goals. “[My linemates, Spencer Asuchuk, Jon Martin, and I] had chemistry almost right away. [Instant chemistry] is rare, especially how hard it is to play nowadays, creating offense.”

Balcers proved himself to be a numbers guy last season with the Kamloops Blazers with 40 goals and 37 assists for a total of 67 points. So why did it take 15 games for him to find the back of the net?

“It’s about being patient,” Balcers, who leads the Cuda in assists with 11, contended in a post-game scrum. “I knew goals were going to come, but I didn’t know when… I haven’t had those barriers in my career, where you are right there [beside the net], but the puck doesn’t go in, but you can’t really do anything. Just work hard and be patient.”

One could attribute his goal-scoring hiatus to growing pains, which was discussed amongst Cuda staff and media profusely at the start of the season. Balcers, a rookie, has been improving with each game, and now that he has the monkey off his back, his scoring game should pick up as the season progresses.

Archambault inked a Player Tryout Agreement (PTO) with the Cuda on October 20. He said that he earned his second goal of the season tonight by just sticking and working in tandem with his line-mates, Marc-Olivier Roy and Brandon Bollig.

The Cuda head to Bakersfield for their next match on December 3 to face the Condors, affiliate of the Edmonton Oilers.

Also, Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic made an appearance with his pups tonight, and had the honor of making the first puck drop.

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Barracuda Claim Territory, Overthrow Moose 4-1

Photo: @sjbarracuda

By Alexandra Evans

SAN JOSE—The Barracuda retaliated against the Manitoba Moose big time this afternoon, overthrowing them 4-1 after a 5-2 loss the previous day.

The Cuda’s defensive game went up from yesterday in the first period. The Cuda took a few slick shots, but each was a “close but no cigar” type of situation; they just could not make it past Moose goaltender Eric Comrie, who is said to be an NHL starter for Winnipeg in the near future. In other words, the Cuda were strong on defense, not so much on offense despite two power play opportunities. The total of nine shots were comprised of two from Radim Simek, two from Adam Helewka, and one each from Rudolfs Balcers, Brandon Bollig, Danny O’Regan, Jacob Middleton, and Alexander True.

The second period started off strong defensively, and the Cuda took a 1-0 lead after O’Regan scored at the 4:10 mark with helpers from Middleton and John McCarthy. San Jose held on until 16:33, when Manitoba’s Patrice Cormier notched a power play goal to tie the score 1-1 after 40 minutes of play.

“[Comrie] is really good, I think I was just able to get through the defensive zone there have get a point-blank shot, and those are tough [for goalies] to stop,” O’Regan said of his goal.

The third period was the game-maker. The Cuda amped up their offensive game big time and scored three goals in these 20 minutes, despite a no-goal call for O’Regan, who made a shot attempt close to the two minute mark. Marcus Sorensen made a wrist shot at 1:53 after receiving a pass from Balcers (who would put up three assists before the 60 minute mark hit). Rourke Chartier, who was out six months due to injury, notched his first goal of the season “Logan Couture-style,” Coach Roy Sommer described, referring to the Sharks forward who currently leads the team in points with 14. Chartier’s goal was assisted by Balcers and Brandon Mashinter. Balcers also assisted Radim Simek’s empty-net goal at 17:22, as did Sorensen.

“He’s good,” Sorensen said of Balcers. “When he skates hard, he’s creating a lot of space for other people [to score]. It is fun to see him play.”

Balcers, who has one goal and 10 assists this season, added, “I didn’t expect that I was going to struggle with scoring goals this season, but I’m happy that assists come and that the other guys score.” Sommer noted that Balcers, in the past, has been more adept at putting up goals rather than assists.

Tonight’s starting goaltender, Antoine Bibeau, earned his second win with the Cuda. He only gave up one shot in the entire 60 minutes (he had 17 saves on 18 shots, and has above a .925 save percentage overall).

“[Tonight] was probably the best game I’ve played defensively, especially going into the third period,” Bibeau shared following the match. “It felt to me like a playoff game, how we were playing. We played hard, played everything right… We didn’t show up just to be here [today], we showed up to win a game.”

Forwards Kevin Labanc and Brandon Bollig were spot on about the fact that the key to success is playing with a two-way mindset, having confidence both offensively and defensively, though not so much confidence that effort subsides. Bollig added that attitude impacts the game significantly, which few could argue against. The momentum from yesterday’s third period translated well into today’s match, overall.

“We were a lot tighter,” Sommer said after the match. “We took time and space away [from the Moose], which made us play a lot better than last night.”

How can the Cuda carry on this kind of energy, cultivating wins, without becoming overly confident? I asked Adam Helewka, and he answered, “We just have to keep our game simple, not too pretty, and keep making the plays we made tonight, but at the same time, we just want to get pucks and bodies to the net.”

By “pretty,” Helewka suggested that making too many passes, and playing or shooting from the outside of the opposing team’s defense, would convey a “showy” type of game rather than competitive.