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 Fall 2-1 to Blues in Shootout

Photo credit: @SanJoseSharks

By Mary Walsh

The San Jose Sharks lost to the St. Louis Blues by a score of 2-1 in a shootout Friday. Tyler Bozak scored for the Blues and Jordan Binnington made 30 saves for the win. Ryan Donato scored for the Sharks and Martin Jones made 33 saves in the loss.

After the game, Sharks Head Coach Bob Boughner said:

“I think we had seven or eight missed chances, missed the net, and the rest were blocked. I thought we had a ton of opportunities, especially rush chances in the slot. We looked to pass it or we got blocked or, like I said, we missed the net. So they hit the net on theirs. They’re a good team, a good offensive team and I thought Jonesy gave us a chance to win there.”

Ryan Donato scored for the Sharks at 15:08 of the second period. Hertl started the puck out and passed it to Sorensen in the neutral zone. As he crossed the blue line, he dropped it to Donato. Donato hesitated until a defenseman went down to block the shot, and then took the shot from the slot. Assists went to Sorensen and Hertl.

The two penalties in the first two periods both went to the Sharks and they were both for too many men on the ice. After the game, Sharks captain Logan Couture said: “Tonight the first one was on the forwards and the second one was on the d-men. I believe the first one, guys just heard the wrong line that was called and obviously that can’t happen. And the d-one, I’m not sure, I’m not down at that end.”

The Blues had two shots during the first power play and one in the second. The Blues outshot the Sharks in both periods, 12-9 and 12-7.

The Blues tied the game at 6:22 of the third period with a short-handed goal. Kyle Clifford took a shot that went off of Tyler Bozak’s shinpad, making it Bozak’s first goal of the year.

There were two penalties called in the third period, an interference call against Zach Sanford of the Blues and a misconduct against Kurtis Gabriel of the Sharks. Neither team registered a shot on the power play in the third. The Sharks improved a little in shots, leading 11-10 in the third.

The Sharks had all the shots in overtime with four, and they had some power play time as well.

The shootout was concluded in three rounds. David Perron’s shot was stopped by Martin Jones. Donato shot wide. Brayden Schenn scored over Jones’ shoulder on the glove side. Logan Couture scored over Binnington’s blocker. Vladimir Tarasenko scored by outwaiting Jones and sneaking the puck behind the goalie. Kevin Labanc tried the same thing but Binnington’s skate got in the way for a save.

The Sharks’ face-off numbers were not good, with a 38% win percentage. Tomas Hertl and Dylan Gambrell both won fewer than 25% of their draws. Both players have been taking a lot of draws and until recently put up good numbers.

The Sharks next play on Saturday at 6:00 PM PT, against the Blues again in San Jose.

Avalanche Bury Sharks in 7-3 Win

The Colorado Avalanche’s center Nathan MacKinnon (29) gets past the San Jose Sharks Mario Ferraro (38) to put the puck on net and Sharks goaltender Martin Jones (1) in the first period of Tue Jan 26, 2021 game at the Ball Center in Denver (AP News photo)

By Mary Walsh

The San Jose Sharks fell 7-3 to the high-powered Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday. The Avalanche goals were scored by Valeri Nichushkin, Brandon Saad (2), Joonas Donskoi, Mikko Rantanen, Devon Toews and Samuel Girard. Their goaltender, Philipp Grubauer, made 27 saves for the win. Sharks goals came from Noah Gregor, Ryan Donato and Logan Couture. Martin Jones made 14 saves on 19 shots before being replaced by Devan Dubnyk, who made 21 saves for San Jose.

Sharks Head Coach Bob Boughner described the moment he thought the game really started to unravel for his team:

“The most disappointing thing for me was, you know, okay it’s three-one after the first period, we had a good eight, nine minutes and we’re still in the hockey game and then we start on the power play. We turn one over, they go down and get a breakaway. Our next unit comes on, turns one over, it’s in the back of our net, it’s four one. Obviously, that’s when the game opens up a bit and we paid the price for it. You can’t open up against these guys and you can’t mis-manage pucks and that’s exactly what we did.”

Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson said:

“They played a good game today and we did not. I think we started okay but we still defended a lot, even though we got the first goal. I don’t think that was anything we really created. We got a good puck bounce. I think that once they started rolling, we became a little passive and we gave them a little too much room and, you know, we started doubting ourselves a bit. And that’s probably why the game ran away from us against a good team like this.”

The Sharks scored first, a double-tap from Ryan Donato at 10:39. He brought the puck up from the goal line and tried to shoot it through two defenders but it hit a couple of legs. He found it as it bounced and nudged it in for his third of the season. Assists went to Kevin Labanc and Logan Couture.

Colorado tied it up at 16:15. Valeri Nichushkin carried the puck down around behind the net and then sent it back to the blue line for a shot by Erik Johnson. Joonas Donskoi skated across in front of Martin Jones just as the shot came in and the puck hit him on the way in. Assists went to Johnson and Nichushkin.

The Avalanche took the lead less that a minute later. Cale Makar put the puck into traffic in front of Martin Jones and Brandon Saad knocked it in. Assists went to Makar and Andre Burakovsky.

Piling it on, Colorado scored a power play goal in the final minute of play. Nikolai Knyzhov was in the box for hooking against Tyson Jost. The Sharks penalty kill held off the Colorado power play for almost a minute before Mikko Rantanen scored with a hard shot from above the face-off circle. Assists went to Nathan MacKinnon and Makar.

At the end of the first, Colorado led in shots 16-9 and the Sharks had a slight lead in face-off wins of 52%.

The Avalanche kept rolling. The Sharks had an early power play in the second period, but half way through it, Valeri Nichushkin snatched the puck in the neutral zone and took it the other way for a short-handed goal.

Samuel Girard scored a few minutes later with a shot through what looked like all available skaters on the ice. Assists went to Tyson Jost and Kiefer Sherwood.

Devan Dubnyk came in to relieve Martin Jones in the Sharks net. After the game, Bob Boughner said: “I think both goalies were left out to dry multiple times tonight. It’s tough to make a goalie evaluation, I think that, you know, some of the plays that they made through the seam, and we actually made some saves on it, they scored on I think it was the second or third one. But you can’t allow seam plays.”

The Sharks’ third line showed some jump and scored one at 7:44. Some quick passes got the puck to the net just as Noah Gregor got there to tuck it in with a backhand. Assists went to Dylan Gambrell and Timo Meier.

Near the 13:00 mark, Devan Dubnyk got tangled up with J.T. Compher. He took some time to recover but did not leave the game.

The Avalanche resumed scoring at 13:30 when Devon Toews scored Colorado’s sixth of the night. Towes took a shot from the blue line that did not go in. Toews took another shot, this time into an empty net while Dubnyk was tangled up with another Colorado forward. Assists went to Gabriel Landeskog and Cale Makar.

Brandon Saad scored his second of the night at 15:01. Johnson, Kadri and Saad entered the zone and got around everyone but Vlasic and in a brief two-on-one, scored the team’s seventh.

The Sharks were outshot in the second 13-6.

Logan Couture got one back for San Jose at 12:43 of the third period. Kevin Labanc made a cross-ice pass to Donato as they entered the zone with Couture between them. Donato moved it back to the middle as they closed on the net and Couture tipped it in. Assists went to Donato and Labanc.

The only stat that favored the Sharks Tuesday was their face-off win percentage, finishing with 53%.

The Sharks next play on Thursday at 6:00 PM PT, against the Avalanche in Colorado again.

Sharks Beat Wild 5-3; SJ playing .500 hockey now at 3-3

The San Jose Sharks Mario Ferraro (38) tries to get the stick on the puck against the Minnesota Wild’s Marcus Foligno (17) at Xcel Energy Center in St Paul on Sun Jan 24, 2021 (AP News photo)

By Mary Walsh

The San Jose Sharks won 5-3 against the Minnesota Wild in St. Paul Sunday. Goals came from Ryan Donato, Evander Kane, Noah Gregor, Brent Burns and Matt Nieto. Martin Jones made 26 saves in the win. Wild goals came from Nick Bjugstad, Zach Parise and Kevin Fiala. Kaapo Kahkonen made 31 saves in the loss.

The game-winner from Brent Burns was a spectacular feat in itself, but it also came at the perfect time. Sharks Head Coach Bob Boughner said, of the goal:

“At that point in the game we were just, you know, we were taking on a little water, we had some kills in the third period. At that point in time you’re trying to maintain at least the point and trying to win it in overtime. You know, if you get a break, great. But guys like that, elite players, they find ways to make huge differences in the game and that’s exactly what Burnzie did. We needed that.”

Boughner made some changes before Sunday’s game. Forward Timo Meier moved down to the third line from the second line, to play with Dylan Gambrell and Noah Gregor. John Leonard came back into the lineup to play in Meier’s spot with Tomas Hertl and Evander Kane. The defensive pairs were also adjusted, with Mario Ferraro playing with Erik Karlsson and Marc-Edouard Vlasic playing with Brent Burns.

After the game, Timo Meier was asked about the line change. He said: “Playing with Gregor and Gambrell, I think it’s, you know, two good hockey players so I think it was an opportunity. I mean, Gregor with his speed and obviously Gambi, I think we had a lot of fun out there.” Asked about how he thought the game went for them, Meier said: “Every time we stepped on the ice we tried to make a difference and use our strengths and, you know, it worked for us.”

Asked what he thought of Meier’s performance, Boughner said: “He was a beast out there. I thought that every time his line was out there he was taking pucks to the net, dragging people on his back, he was finishing on the forecheck, all those kinds of things. That line played well together.”

The Sharks started fast, with three shots in the first two minutes of play. Still, Minnesota scored first at 4:21.

As Karlsson tried to defend a two-on-one, Kirill Kaprizov made the pass across to Zach Parise, who put the puck past Martin Jones as he tried to come across.

The teams traded penalties in the middle of the period, with no change in score.

The Sharks tied it up in the final minute of the period. Erik Karlsson drove the puck deep, and Kevin Labanc gathered it up below the goal line. Labanc made a neat backhand pass to Ryan Donato, who jammed the puck through two Wild players in the direction of the net. The puck touched one of the defenders and slipped under Kaapo Kahkonen.

The Sharks out-shot the Wild 12-3 in the first period, and won 64% of the face-offs. Tomas Hertl drew a penalty with 15 seconds left in the period, so the Sharks started the second on the power play. The Sharks gave up a short-handed chance to Joel Eriksson-Ek in the first minute of the second but no other damage was done.

The Sharks had another power play opportunity at 5:17. Late in the penalty, Donato made a drop pass to Timo Meier, then drifted toward the net. Meier, on the wall, made a pass over to Kane for a one-timer inside the circle. By then, Donato was skating across in front of the net to add a screen.

A little over a minute later, the Wild put the puck in the net, but they did so while pushing Martin Jones across the line with the puck. Bob Boughner challenged the goal and, after a review, it was called back.

Noah Gregor padded the Sharks’ lead at 8:26, his first goal of the year. Gregor skated into the zone with his line spread across the ice. He looked like he would pass as he came down the wall but then took the shot. An assist went to Mario Ferraro.

Nick Bjugstad cut the Sharks’ lead back down to one at 16:47. The teams were playing four-on-four after Jordan Greenway and Nikolai Knyzhov went to the box for matching roughing penalties. Bjugstad posted himself in front of the net for a tip around Mario Ferraro and the Sharks goalie. Assists went to Jared Spurgeon and Ryan Suter.

The Wild led in shots during the second period, 15-12. In the face-off circle, the Sharks won 57% of the second period draws.

The Wild tied the game 7:20 in to the third period with a power play goal from Kevin Fiala. It only took them three seconds of power play time. Ryan Suter got the puck out of an offensive zone draw and sent it to Fiala for a shot right up the middle. Assists went to Suter and Parise.

The Sharks snatched the game back with just 1:48 left in regulation. It was worth waiting for. Timo Meier had the puck after and offensive zone draw when Brent Burns came down off of the blue line. Meier got the puck to him and Burns bobbed and weaved his way through four Wild skaters before putting the puck away with a backhand lift. Assists went to Meier and Tomas Hertl.

Matt Nieto scored his second of the season into an empty net after gathering the puck in the D zone and carrying it out to take a shot a few strides over the Wild blue line. A quick review for off side showed that it was very close, even under the new rules that say any skate, on or off the ice, can keep you on side. The goal stood up.

Each team scored once in four power plays in the game. The Sharks finished with a solid lead in the face-off circle at 57%, though the Wild improved with each period. The standout Sharks in the face-off circle was Dylan Gambrell, winning 12 of his 16 draws (75%). Logan Couture won 11 of 18 (61%). Tomas Hertl was not very successful, winning just 9 of 22 (41%).

The Sharks next play on Tuesday against the Avalanche in Colorado at 6:00 PM PT.

Sharks Lose 5-3 to Coyotes Despite 3 Point Game for Meier

The San Jose Sharks Timo Meier (28) stick handling the puck, the Arizona Coyotes Christian Fischer (28), and the Sharks Logan Couture (39) in pursuit at Glendale Arena on Sat Jan 16, 2021 (AP News photo)

By Mary Walsh

The San Jose Sharks lost 5-3 to the Coyotes in Arizona Saturday afternoon. Arizona goals came from Phil Kessel (2), Barrett Hayton, Jakob Chychrun and Clayton Keller scored for Arizona. Timo Meier, Tomas Hertl and Ryan Donato scored for San Jose. Antti Raanta made 31 saves for the win Martin Jones made 19 saves in the loss.

After the game, Sharks Head Coach Bob Boughner said:

We spent a lot more time in their end in the O-zone, we played a little faster I thought. You know, they got a little bit of puck luck tonight. They were the better team in the first game. I thought we played a lot harder and a lot more structured in this game.

The Sharks led the game in many respects but not on the scoresheet. They outshot the Coyotes 34-26, they had four power plays to Arizona’s 3. San Jose scored in two of four power plays and killed two of three penalties. The glaring bad stat was in the faceoff circle. They won just 40% of them. The only Sharks skater to win more than half of his draws was Patrick Marleau, who took five draws and won four. Tomas Hertl won 7 of 18, and Logan Couture won 5 of 11. No one else took more than three or won more than one.

On the subject of faceoffs, Boughner said:

It’s something we gotta get way better at. I think that we struggled in the faceoff circle even in the first game. You know, it’s an important part of the game and I thought our puck movement was better off of won faceoffs. But we lost too many, and you’re chasing the puck all night.

The Sharks scored first at 3:34, with a power play goal from Ryan Donato. Conor Garland was in the box for tripping Marc-Edouard Vlasic. High in the slot, Timo Meier bobbled a shot but got it right back and sent it through traffic and off of Ryan Donato. Assists went to Meier and Mario Ferraro.

Arizona responded with their own power play goal at 12:31. Evander Kane was in the box for tripping Tyler Pitlick. Phil Kessel tried to send the puck in and it went off of Nikolai Knyzhov. It came right back to Kessel and he moved around the Sharks defense to make a backhand shot that went through before slipping past Martin Jones. An assist went to Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

Barrett Hayton gave the Coyotes a lead at 14:41. After a lot of play behind the net, Conor Garland made a quick pass to the Hayton in the slot. Assists went to Garland and Nick Schmaltz.

Timo Meier tied it back up less than a minute later. Meier was moving down the wall with the puck, while Kevin Labanc skated down the slot with Jakob Chychrun defending. Meier made the pass and it hit Chychrun and bounced into the net.

Arizona scored twice in the second period, the first a shot from the blue line from Ekman-Larsson. His shot went right through four skaters before hitting Phil Kessel on its way into the net. It was Kessel’s second of the game, with assists to Ekman-Larsson and Christian Dvorak.

Jakob Chychrun scored at 8:56. A clean face-off win in the offensive zone gave Chychrun a shot with lots of traffic as the face-off broke up. Derick Brassard got the assist.

Clayton Keller added to the Coyotes lead just 2:39 into the third period. After Brassard won another offensive zone faceoff, Ekman-Larsson held the puck at the blue line before trying for a tip from Keller in the slot. Martin Jones stopped that but Keller came right down for the rebound and put that one in. Assists went to Ekman-Larsson and Brassard.

Midway through the third, Boughner pulled Martin Jones and put Devan Dubnyk in. After the game, the coach explained that that was only to give Dubnyk sme ice tine before their next game. Since it did not come right after the fifth goal, it did not look like a reaction to Jones’ play in particular.

The Sharks had a power play start in the final minute of play, and scored their own goal right off of an O-zone faceoff. Just eight seconds into the power play, Tomas Hertl tipped Timo Meier’s shot from the top of the circle. Assists went to Meier and Erik Karlsson.

Roster changes: Jacob Middleton was in for Nick Meloche on the blue line.

The Sharks now travel to St. Louis for their next game at 5:00 PM PT on Monday, against the Blues.

Sharks Start Season with 4-3 Shootout Win Over Coyotes

The San Jose Sharks Tomas Hertl (48) jubilant after scoring against the Arizona Coyotes he is joined by Evander Kane (9), John Leonard (right of Kane), and Nilolai Knyzhov (71) in the first period (AP News photo)

By Mary Walsh

The San Jose Sharks started the 2021 season with a 4-3 shoot-out win in Arizona against the Coyotes. Tomas Hertl scored twice, John Leonard got two assists in his first NHL game. Evander Kane scored the Sharks’ third goal and Logan Couture scored the game-winner in the shootout. Conor Garland, Clayton Keller and Phil Kessel scored for Arizona. Martin Jones made 34 saves for the win, while Darcy Kuemper made 32 saves in the loss.

After the game, Logan Couture said: “I thought we were sloppy at times but I thought we did a lot of things really well. We had some speed through the neutral zone and that one line, Tommy Hertl’s line, created some nice goals. And Joner made some big-time saves when we had those breakdowns.”

Martin Jones did a lot of work during the long layoff and looked good Thursday. After the game, he said: “I think I took full advantage of the time and I put in a lot of work. So, it was nice to be able to play well in the first game but, you know, it’s one game, we gotta keep working at it here. There’s a lot of things that we can clean up.”

Couture gave a post-game nod to the rookie Sharks, saying: “Some guys played their first NHL game tonight, I thought they were terrific tonight.” Those first-timers were John Leonard and Nicholas Meloche. Leonard had two assists in his 13:14 of ice time. Meloche was a +1 in his 5:43 on the blue line.

Tomas Hertl scored twice in the first period for the Sharks, the first a power play goal at 12:43. Logan Couture took a shot from the boards, which bounced arond in the crease before Hertl put it away. Assists went to Evander Kane and Couture.

The second goal came with just over three minutes left in the period. John Leonard had just thrown the puck to the net, creating a rebound for Hertl to put away. Assists went to Leonard and Kane.

The Coyotes rallied in the second, Conor Garland scored for the Coyotes on a power play at 16:51 of the second period. Joel Kellman was in the box for tripping Derick Brassard. It was the Sharks’ third penalty in a row. The Coyotes were able to move the puck cross-ice several ties before Christian Dvorak’s shot found Garland’s tick for a tip in front of the net. Assists went to Dvorak and Jakob Chychrun.

Going into the third period, Evander Kane had two assists. With an aggressive charge to the net, and a Coyote on one arm, he scored the Sharks’ third goal a little past the midway point of the third period. Assists went to John Leonard and Tomas Hertl.

The 3-1 lead held up well into the third period.

Clayton Keller scored for the Coyotes’ with just 3:30 left in the third. Finding himself alone in the high slot, he caught the puck as it came out of a skirmish in front of the net and put it over Jones’ right shoulder before the goalie could get across. Assists went to Garland and Chychrun.

Phil Kessel tied the game up with just four seconds left in regulation. Under a lot of pressure with the Coyotes net empty, Martin Jones made a couple of good saves before it got by him. The Coyotes had three skaters in front of him and they all got a shot before Kessel’s went in. Assists went to Alex Goligoski and Clayton Keller.

The Sharks got a power play at 3:13 of overtime, when Clayton Keller was called for tripping Kevin Labanc. The Sharks OT power play started with Logan Couture, Brent Burns, Erik Karlsson and Tomas Hertl. After a shot went over the glass, Kane came onto the ice with Timo Meier and Ryan Donato, with Karlsson staying on. Neither unit scored before time ran out, in the power play and the period.

Each team scored on their first shot in the shootout, first Arizona’s Nick Schmaltz and the San Jose’s Ryan Donato. After that, Martin Jones stopped Clayton Keller and Conor Garland missed. Logan Couture scored to close it out.

The modified season has the Sharks playing against the Coyotes again on Saturday before moving on to St. Louis.