Sharks Fall 5-2 to Blues, San Jose 1-3-0 Since Coaching Change

sfgate.com photo: St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo shoots for a goal against the San Jose Sharks during the third period of an NHL hockey game in San Jose, Calif., Saturday, Dec. 21, 2019.

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE- The Sharks fell 5-2 to the St. Louis Blues Saturday. Blues goals came from Jordan Kyrou, Jaden Schwartz, Alex Pietrangelo, and Ryan O’Reilly. Jake Allen made 34 saves in the win. Sharks goals came from Brent Burns and Stefan Noesen. This was Noesen’s first game as a Shark after being claimed off of waivers from the Pittsburgh Penguins on December 19. Martin Jones made 23 saves in the loss.

The Sharks are 1-3-0 since Bob Boughner took over as Sharks Head Coach on December 11. In two of those games they gave up five or more goals against. After Saturday’s game, Sharks captain Logan Couture described the Sharks’ offensive zone struggles:

I thought in the offensive zone we didn’t have enough, I guess polish around their net, you know, we weren’t winning enough battles to score enough goals. The pucks were there, he wasn’t handling many of the shots well. There were a lot of rebounds in the slot, we just didn’t get there to got the second opportunities.

Asked for a reaction to these two losses in a row where the Sharks out-shot their opponent, Couture said: “I don’t care about shots on goal, I care about us losing. We’ve been doing a lot of that. So, the feeling sucks, I mean it’s not fun.”

At the other end of the ice, the Sharks fell short as well. Sharks goaltender Martin Jones said: “Made some mistakes that we shouldn’t be making late in the game and they cost us. When you do that you need a save and we’re not getting that either.” Of Jones’s performance, Bob Boughner said: “He was pretty decent. He gave us a chance. I think their first goal was just okay but there’s not much he could do on the other two. We ask our goalies not to try and have to win us a game, just give us a chance. I thought he gave us a chance tonight.”

The Sharks out-shot the Blues in the first period 15-6 but the period ended with the Sharks on a power play and no goals scored.

Brent Burns changed that at the start of the first period, before the Sharks power play expired. He scored his first goal in 16 games with a beautiful shot that went off the post and in. Receiving a pass from Burns in the corner, Erik Karlsson took a moment to settle the puck at the top of the slot before sending the puck back to Burns for the shot above the face-off circle.

The Blues got that back in less than two minutes. Jordan Kyrou entered the zone and split the defense with his formidable speed. One on one with Jones, his back hand went right under the goaltender.

The visitors went on to take the lead at 5:30 of the period during a power play caused by a delay of game penalty to Evander Kane. Brayden Schenn sent the puck right through the blue paint in front of Jones and Jaden Schwartz had his stick free on the other side of the net so he could tap the puck in. Assists went to Schenn and David Perron.

The Sharks tied it back up when Brenden Dillon’s stretch pass found Stefan Noesen just above the St. Louis blue line. Noesen caught it in stride and skated until he was a nose ahead of the Blues defender before he took the shot. He beat Jake Allen on the short side. Assists went to Dillon and Burns. It was Noesen’s second of the season and his first as a Shark.

The shot count was a little closer in the second period, 13-9 Sharks.

St. Louis took the lead back at 11:07 of the third period with a goal from Alex Pietrangelo. Pietrangelo and Ivan Barbashev came out of the neutral zone with only Marc-Edouard Vlasic back. Vlasic effectively eliminated the pass so Pietrangelo shot from the top of the face-off circle and put it in the top corner. Assists went to Jaden Schwartz and Brayden Schenn.

The Sharks got a game-ending power play at 16:53, not unlike the end of their last game in Arizona. The Sharks could not score again and this time they also gave up a short-handed, empty net goal. That was scored by Ryan O’Reilly with an assist to Justin Faulk. Alex Pietrangelo scored another at 19:52.

The Blues out-shot the Sharks 13-8 in the third period.

The Sharks next play on Sunday at 7:00 PM PT against the Vegas Golden Knights.

Blues Shut Out Sharks 4-0

Photo credit: @StLouisBlues

By Mary Walsh

The San Jose Sharks fell 4-0 to the St. Louis Blues at the Scottrade Center on Friday–their second loss in a row, both to Central Division teams. Goals came from Alex Pietrangelo, Ryan O’Reilly, Jaden Schwartz and Alexander Steen. Chad Johnson made 33 saves for the shutout. Sharks goaltender Aaron Dell made 27 saves on 31 shots for the Sharks.

Each team had four power plays, but all of the goals were at even strength. It was the sixth win of the season for St. Louis and the sixth loss for the Sharks.

After the game, Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer said: “I think yesterday we were reckless but we had energy. Today we were reckless without energy.”

Sharks captain Joe Pavelksi said: “We’re a better team than we showed the last two games. Just the simple breakdowns, kind of getting out of the system, we kind of see what happens. It can cost you.”

Asked about the Sharks’ defensive game, Pavelski said: “I’m fine with our foundation, you know, I’m really satisfied with that. It’s about us executing it a little bit better. And we need to be a little bit more committed to it.”

Asked if the breakdowns might be attributed to having new faces on the team this season, Sharks forward Logan Couture said: “We’re 17 games in. It’s almost a quarter of the season. You can use that excuse for one or two or maybe even three, you can’t use it for 17. So, we’ve got to figure it out.”

After the game in Dallas on Thursday, coach DeBoer made some line changes. Marcus Sorensen was with Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton, while Evander Kane was on a line with Antti Suomela and Joonas Donskoi. Barclay Goodrow was on a line with Rourke Chartier and Melker Karlsson. With Tomas Hertl still out with concussion symptoms, Kevin Labanc was on the top line with Logan Couture and Timo Meier. On defense, Tim Heed stepped into Joakim Ryan’s spot with Brent Burns. Aaron Dell was in net, which was to be expected in the second game of back to backs.

The Blues scored at 14:50 of the first period. The teams were playing four on four, with Joe Pavelski and Vince Dunn in the box for mutual slashing penalties. Ironically, no one was in the box for Alex Pietrangelo’s stick to Barclay Goodrow’s face, which sent the Sharks forward to the room for repairs.

Just over 30 seconds into the penalties, Pietrangelo caught a pass from Vladimir Tarasenko right in the slot. He had time to pick a spot and shoot over Dell’s shoulder. Assists went to Tarasenko and Ryan O’Reilly.

The Sharks ended the first period in the middle of a power play. That power play wound down without a goal to start the second period. The Blues extended their lead with a goal at 5:28 from Ryan O’Reilly. The Sharks had been outshooting the Blues 5-0 on the period, including some short-handed chances, but play went the other way and Tarasenko got the puck out from behind the Sharks net to Jaden Schwartz. Schwartz sent the puck across the slot to O’Reilly, who caught Dell moving across.

Almost ten minutes later, the Blues scored again. This time, the goal followed a prolonged assault from St. Louis. The Sharks were forced to ice the puck and the Blues took advantage of tired defenders. Jaden Schwartz went to the net an awaited a pass from Tyler Bozak to his right. the short pass set him up for a nice shot over a moving goalie. Assists went to Bozak and Alexander Steen.

The Blues ended the second period on a power play and started the third finishing it off. The Sharks got their third power play of the game at 8:11 of the third. The power play was not very strong and the Sharks gave up a short-handed breakaway to Bozak in the final seconds. Dell was able to prevent another goal.

At 12:21, Steen scored a fourth for the Blues while Sharks got tangled up with a flurry of Blues skaters in the slot. Steen skated around and through the traffic and put his shot over Dell’s pads. Assists went to Bozak and Colton Parayko.

Brent Burns took a tripping penalty moments later, putting the Sharks on the penalty kill. The Blues did not take chances with their power play and killed time, holding the zone. Dell made a good glove save on Parayko, but didn’t have to make many saves for that penalty kill.

The Sharks next play on Sunday back in San Jose against the Calgary Flames at 6:00 PM PT. That game will kick off a six-game homestand for Team Teal.

Sharks Break Buffalo Curse With 2-1 OT Win

By Mary Walsh

photo credit AP Sharks Joe Pavelski scores first period goal vs. Red Wings

The Sharks finally defeated the Buffalo Sabres in Buffalo, breaking a ten year losing streak with an overtime win. Before Saturday, the Sharks had only won one game in Buffalo and that was in 2005. After the win, Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer said:

It’s a good feeling. It’s a big weight to carry around: ten years. I didn’t know it was that long until kinda dug into it here today, so I think the guys were happy to get that monkey off our back. It was a hard fought game, we pushed out early and they came back at us. Both goaltenders I thought were excellent. It was a good game.

Sharks captain Joe Pavelski picked up his 500th NHL point. It was just the second time that Sharks goaltender Martin Jones played in back-to-backs, and the second time he won both games. It was just the second time the Sharks went to overtime this season, and they won both games.

The game was remarkably even, though each team had moments of dominance. The shots were 32-31 Sharks, faceoffs were 31-29 Sabres. Each team had three power plays, and the Sharks scored on one. The teams were within one on giveaways and takeaways, and the Sharks blocked eleven shots to the Sabres’ eight. It was only fitting that such a close game go to overtime.

The Sharks drew a penalty in the first minute of play, when Tommy Wingels skated into the Buffalo zone and was slashed by Jake McCabe. As a result, the Sharks took the lead on a power play goal from Marc-Edouard Vlasic, at 1:48. Patrick Marleau screen Buffalo goaltender Chad Johnson. Assists went to Joe Pavelski and Brent Burns. It was Pavelski’s 500th career point.

The Sharks took their first penalty at 8:26, for having too many men on the ice. Just 34 seconds into that, Marc-Edouard Vlasic made contact with Ryan O’Reilly’s upper body, and was called for tripping. Martin Jones, Paul Martin, Joel Ward and Brent Burns weathered some close calls during the five on three time. Pavelski, Dillon and Hertl went out for the second part of the kill, and finished it off.

With 1:36 left in the period, Joe Pavelski was called for tripping Jake McCabe. The Sharks had a steady penalty kill, leaving the Sabres with just 26 seconds left of power play to start the second period. at the end of the first, the Sharks held a 9-8 lead in shots as well as the 1-0 lead on the scoreboard.

The Sabres took their second penalty at 7:34 of the second period. Carlo Colaiacovo was called for tripping Joe Pavelski. San Jose’s second power play was much less effective than their first. The Sabres penalty killers not only kept the Sharks out of the zone, but backed them into the defensive own zone and took a shot or two.

In the final four minutes of the period, Mike Brown went to deliver a check on Tyler Ennis. Ennis seemed to lose his footing before being hit and fell backwards awkwardly into the boards. He appeared to be shaken up but he did not leave the game.

The Sabres dominated play in the final minutes of the period, but could not beat Martin Jones. Except for the one penalty, the second period was quite even. The shots were tied at nine each for a total of 18-17 Sharks.

Early in the third period, coach DeBoer started adjusting his lines, moving Matt Nieto into Goldobin’s spot and alternating others with the fourth line. Late in the second period, Goldobin lost track of the puck at an inopportune moment, allowing a dangerous scoring chance for Buffalo. That seemed like a forgivable offense but in general his play had not been as strong as prior games Saturday.

At 4:33, Buffalo defenseman Cody Franson left the game after sliding into the boards feet first.

While Goldobin’s second period miscues did not result in a goal against, the new second line was on the ice at 6:27 when Ryan O’Reilly won the puck away from Paul Martin near the Sharks blue line. O’Reilly had time to take a clean shot past Jones on the far side. Assists went to Rasmus Ristolainen and Josh Gorges.

At 14:35 of the third period, Tommy Wingels lined up Sabres center Zemgus Girgensons for an open ice hit, but Girgensons seemed to duck and Wingels sailed over him. Wingels may have caught Girgensons in the head with a knee as he fell over his target. Girgensons stayed down. Colaiacovo went after Wingels, and was called for the roughing. Girgensons went to the dressing room.

The Sharks power play started pretty well, and Brent Burns had a chance one on one with the goalie, but his shot caught the edge of the goalie’s pad and wound up hitting the post. The Sharks spent the rest of the power play in the offensive zone but could not score.

In the final 20 seconds of regulation, Jack Eichel took the puck and skated end to end around every Shark that tried to get in his way. Eichel did get a shot off but Jones stopped it. The Sharks that had been chasing Eichel almost ran over Jones as he tried to corral the puck. He did keep it out.

The teams headed to overtime three on three. DeBoer opted to start with Thornton, Pavelski and Burns. The Sabres started with Ristolainen, Gionta and O’Reilly. Hertl, Vlasic and Marleau went next for the Sharks, then Vlasic, Wingels and Karlsson. Cody Franson had to defend all three Sharks skating into the zone, and opted to fall over Wingels’s stick to prevent a shot or a pass.

With 2:10 left in overtime, Tomas Hertl had the puck along the boards. He fell but held on to the puck and managed to turn and skate into the slot to take a shot. The rebound started a flurry of shots from the Sharks. Vlasic took a slap shot from the blue line that created a rebound for Marleau to pick up near the net. He put the puck over Johnson for the game winner.

Patrick Marleau led the team in shots with five, Tommy Wingels led in hits with six. Martin Jones made 30 saves on 3 shots for the win.

The only change to the Sharks lineup was on defense, where Mirco Mueller got a look, in Matt Tennyson’s spot with Brenden Dillon. Mueller and forward Nikolay Goldobin, both rookies, skated very limited minutes in the game but neither were on the ice for goals against.

Zemgus Girgensons led the Sabres in shots with five, and Josh Gorges led the team in hits with four. Former Shark Jamie McGinn had three shots and three hits. Chad Johnson made 30 saves on 32 shots.

The Sharks next play on Tuesday in Boston against the Bruins at 4:00 PT.