Flames Roast Sharks 5-3, Sharks to Face Las Vegas in First Round

Photo credit: @SanJoseSharks

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE — The San Jose Sharks fell 5-3 to the Calgary Flames at SAP Center Sunday. The win clinched the Western Conference for Calgary, while the loss cemented San Jose’s playoff position at second in the Pacific Division. They are now certain to face the Vegas Golden Knights in the first round. Calgary goals came from Sean Monahan, Mark Jankowski, Dalton Prout, Mikael Backlund and Michael Frolik. Sharks goals came from Timo Meier, Logan Couture and Kevin Labanc. Flames goalie Mike Smith made 12 saves in the win, while Sharks goalie Aaron Dell made 23 saves in the loss.

The Sharks are still without Joe Pavelski, Erik Karlsson and Radim Simek. Pavelski and Karlsson are expected to return for the playoffs if not before. Asked about what he hopes the team will accomplish before playoffs, Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer said:

I want to get healthy. I think that’s probably the biggest thing. I think it catches up to you. You know, you can go to the well so many times with guys but I think we’re missing some of our key people here. And it shows in a game like that, against a team that is healthy at this time of year that’s one of the top teams in the league and we had a hard time with it.

After the game, Sharks defenseman Brenden Dillon was also asked about how the injury list changes the game. He said:

I don’t think defense is one guy or one D-pair or one forward or one goalie, to be honest. I think for us, over the years that’s kind of been our brand of hockey, is defensive style, and you definitely see the result when we get away from that. I think all around we’re trying to be a little more aggressive but I think we’ve got to kind of find that happy medium for it.

Timo Meier gave the Sharks an early lead 12:01 into the first period. Logan Couture and Joonas Donskoi were in the corner competing for the puck against two Flames. They got the puck out of the corner to the face-off circle, where Meier had just arrived. He got control of the puck while reversing direction just enough to use a defenseman as a screen and shoot the puck past Smith on the far side. It was Meier’s 30th of the season, a career high. Donskoi and Couture got the assists.

The Sharks made it through the first 10 minutes of the opening period without giving up a goal but the Flames heated up in the second half. At 14:58, Sean Monahan tied the game with a quick shot off a feed from Johnny Gaudreau. While Marc-Edouard Vlasic harried Gaudreau and Justin Braun guarded the passing lane, no one was really on Monahan as he slid up to the blue paint. Assists went to Gaudreau and Rasmus Andersson.

At 15:29, Mark Jankowski gave Calgary the lead, pulling the puck out of a crowd that was moving across the slot. His quick shot went under Dell to the back of the net. Assists went to James Neal and Austin Czarnik.

Less than a minute later, again, the Flames scored to make it 3-1. Dalton Prout, with his first goal since 2016, snuck by Vlasic and Couture in the neutral zone to chase the 1-on-1 between Tim Heed and Andrew Mangiapane. Mangiapane passed to Prout as they approached the net and Prout’s shot beat Dell. Assists went to Mangiapane and Garnet Hathaway.

During the first period, the Flames had 11 shots to the Sharks’ 6, and Calgary own 67% of the face-offs.

The only goal in the second period went to the Flames when Mikael Backlund made it 4-1 at 7:27. Receiving Noah Hanifin’s pass from the boards, Backlund stopped it with his skate and tried to get control of it but failed. Instead, it pinballed across the goal mouth and the off of Joakim Ryan’s skate and into the net. Assists went to Hanifin and Gaudreau.

The Flames out-shot the Sharks 14-3 and won 56% of the face-offs in the second period. The Sharks took two penalties to Calgary’s one.

The Sharks had a little more than a minute of power play time to start the third period, and got another power play at 2:01 but did not score on either of those.

At 5:23, the Sharks finally got one back. Tomas Hertl made a big zone entry, pushing through and dancing around defenders. He carried the puck down below the face-off dot before passing it across the ice to Timo Meier. Meier sent it back across the ice to Logan Couture, who had just arrived in the slot. His shot went in before Mike Smith could get across. It was Couture’s 27th goal of the season. Meier and Hertl got the assists.

Calgary took that one back about three minutes later. Sharks and Flames converged behind the Sharks net and when the puck came back out, Mark Giordano and Michael Frolik were set up on either side of the ice with a clear view of Dell. Giordano passed it to Frolik for the shot and Dell could not get across in time. Assists went to Giordano and Matthew Tkachuk.

Kevin Labanc got one more for the Sharks at 16:34 of the third. He had just passed the puck to Tim Heed in the slot and Tim Heed tapped it right back to him for the shot from the right side. It was Labanc’s 15th of the season. Assists went to Heed and Joakim Ryan.

The Sharks next play on Tuesday in Vancouver against the Canucks at 7:00 PM PT.

Sharks Douse Flames for 3-1 Win

Photo credit: @SanJoseSharks

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE — The San Jose Sharks started a six-game homestand with a 3-1 win versus the Calgary Flames. Sharks goals came from Evander Kane, Joonas Donskoi and Joe Pavelski, who were on the same line. For San Jose, Martin Jones made 29 saves for the win. For Calgary, Mike Smith made 26 saves and their lone goal came from Sean Monahan. It was Logan Couture’s 600th NHL game.

50 seconds into the game, Joe Pavelski picked up a wandering puck as it made its way out of some confusion along the Calgary blue line. He turned with it and found Kane moving into the zone. Kane took his time and then the shot zipped over Smith’s outstretched glove. Assists went to Pavelski and Donskoi. That was Pavelski’s first assist of the season.

The Sharks outshot the Flames in the first period 12-8. The Sharks had one power play in the first, and it carried over into the second period without generating a goal.

At 1:28 of the second period, the same line of Kane, Donskoi and Pavelski scored again. Kane held the puck behind the Calgary net long enough for Donskoi to get to the front of the net, then made the pass to Donskoi under Mikael Backlund’s stick. It was Donskoi’s fourth goal of the season. Assists went to Kane and Pavelski.

Calgary struck back at 6:02 of the middle frame with a goal from Monahan. Erik Karlsson lost his footing just above the Sharks blue line, giving the puck up to Mark Jankowski, who was headed into the Sharks’ zone with Monahan right behind him. Monahan overtook him and Jankowski passed the puck up to him for an unobstructed shot. The lone assist went to Jankowski.

After that goal, Timo Meier left the ice with what appeared to be a cut on his leg. Kevin Labanc stepped into his spot with Couture and Hertl. Meier was not gone long and only missed the one shift.

The Sharks put a lot of pressure on the Flames late in the period. Marcus Sorensen had a nice breakaway with just under six minutes left in the second, but Mike Smith stopped his shot. The Sharks followed up with a two on one moments later, but couldn’t convert. With 2:45 left in the period, Evander Kane carried the puck in with Donskoi on a two on one. Kane passed and Donskoi shot, but Smith got across for a great save.

At the end of the second, the Sharks again led in shots, this time 11-8 for the period.

Just over three minutes into the third period, the teams played four-on-four after Sean Monahan was called for tripping Meier and Meier was called for embellishment. Neither team scored but the Sharks did put some pressure on the Flames, who were outshooting them 4-0 in the opening minutes of the period.

The Sharks got credit for their first shot of the period at 6:38. The shot came during a delayed penalty on Calgary, which sent Mark Giordano to the box for hooking. The Flames killed that penalty off just as they had the two previous Sharks power plays.

At 8:22 of the third, Martin Jones had to preserve the Sharks’ lead against a penalty shot awarded to Sam Bennet. Bennet was awarded the shot after Brenden Dillon was called for holding during Bennet’s breakaway chance.

As the clock ticked past the 15-minute mark of the third, the Flames were outshooting the Sharks 12-4. Logan Couture went to the locker room in the second half of the period with an injury.

With under a minute left, Pavelski scored into an empty net, securing the win despite the lack of effective Sharks’ offense in the third period. Hertl got an assist on the goal.

The Sharks next play on Tuesday against the visiting Nashville Predators at 7:30 PM PT.

Sharks Catch Flames But Can’t Beat Them

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE-After a very poor first period, the San Jose Sharks rallied but still lost 4-3 to the Calgary Flames Saturday. The game winner was scored by Sean Monahan just 24 seconds into overtime. Other Flames goals were scored by Dennis Wideman, Joe Colborne and Jiri Hudler. Sharks goals were scored by Joe Thornton, Logan Couture and Melker Karlsson. Joni Ortio made 19 saves on 22 shots for the win, while Antti Niemi made 19 saves on 23 shots for the Sharks.

Todd McLellan did not mince words after the game: “We got what we deserved and we’re probably fortunate we got that. The start was unacceptable to a man.”

A number of Sharks mentioned that some video clips and the right words during the first intermission helped them right the ship in the second and third periods. It is hard to ignore the fact that coach McLellan changed the line combinations after the first. When the game started, the forward lines were: Patrick Marleau-Joe Thornton-Matt Nieto, Joe Pavelski-Logan Couture-Melker Karlsson, Barclay Goodrow-James Sheppard-Tommy Wingels, Tomas Hertl-Tyler Kennedy-Tye McGinn. To start the second period, those top two lines had been changed to: Thornton-Karlsson-Pavelski, Couture-Marleau-Wingels.

Asked whether those changes had anything to do with the second period recovery, Joe Pavelski said: “Woke everyone up. Whether you shuffle them around or not, in that situation, I think we’re going to be much better. Couldn’t be much worse there.”

The Flames scored their first two goals early, leaving the Sharks reeling a little. With Justin Braun and Marcus Granlund battling for space in front of him, Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi did not see Dennis Wideman’s shot coming in from the blue line. In 40 seconds flat, Calgary had the lead. Assists went to Joe Colborne and Mason Raymond.

About four minutes later, Jiri Hudler went to the box for tripping, giving the Sharks the first power play of the game. The power play started with a couple of quick clears by Calgary, then an offsides call that pushed the Sharks back out a third time. The Sharks did gain the zone a couple of times but never got a shot on goal. Instead they were pushed out again and again, and finally lost control of the puck in their own zone to give up a short-handed goal. The goal was scored backhand by Joe Colborne, his fourth goal of the season. The assist went to Matt Stajan.

With five minutes left, the Sharks went on the penalty kill as Tyler Kennedy went to the box for slashing. The penalty kill looked almost as good as the Flames’ had looked, allowing just one shot to get to the net, and ousting the Flames from the zone without allowing them to loiter for too long.

The Sharks spent the last minute of the period in a prolonged attack at the Calgary end, but still finished the period with only four shots on goal to the Flames’ 11.

The Sharks came out for the second period so ferociously that it broke the jumbotron. Just 12 seconds in to the second period, Couture took a shot from the half boards to beat Joni Ortio. The scoreboard picture flickered, froze and went black. It took about five minutes to recover. (There is no evidence that Couture’s shot actually caused the technical failure.)

At 2:10 of the second, the Flames were called for too many men on the ice, putting the Sharks on a power play. This Sharks power play was much more effective. A first unit of Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture, Patrick Marleau and Brent Burns tied the game up in 30 seconds. The goal was scored by Joe Thornton, with assists going to Joe Pavelski and Patrick Marleau.

In less than five minutes, the Sharks had almost pulled even on the shot clock as well, outshooting the Flames 6 to 1.

Before the midpoint of the period, the puck went in the Flames net yet again but the play was reviewed. It had gone off of Melker Karlsson’s skate and the call had to go to Toronto to count as a goal. It did, giving the Sharks their only lead of the game. Assists went to Joe Pavelski and Justin Braun.

The Flames tied it back up when Jiri Hudler scored off of a pass that had bounced of a Sharks skate. It was a good shot from just below the hash mark, through quite a few bodies.  Assists went to Mikael Backlund and Mark Giordano.

The shot count for the period was 10-6 Sharks.

Both teams looked a little tentative to start the third period. In the first five minutes, the Sharks had two shots on goal, the Flames none.

Near the half way point of the third period, Matt Tennyson was called for hooking, which occurred in a tumble into the boards. Tennyson seemed to get the worst of that encounter despite being the one in the box.

The Flames power play had a good chance when Sean Monahan found some space to Niemi’s left but the Sharks goalie came out to stop him and the penalty killers had the rest of the ice covered. It was a very efficient kill.

Patrick Marleau tried to untie the game with about five minutes left. He skated up the ice and through some Calgary defenders and got a shot off, then caught the rebound and threw it back in. The Calgary goalie was having none of that solo act.

Several Sharks had more chances to untie it but time ran out. The shot count at end of regulation was 22-21 Sharks. The Sharks had outshot the Flames 8-4 in the third.

McLellan put Wingels, Couture, Dillon and Braun out to start OT. The Flames got the first shot and ended the game quickly after the offensive zone faceoff. It was over just 24 seconds into the fourth period.

Joe Colborne was named the first star of the game, while Logan Couture was the second. Couture not only had a goal but he will also need some dental work on two or three teeth after meeting some errant sticks in the game. Couture’s three blocked shots were also commendable. The third star went to Justin Braun, who finished the game with two assists.

The Sharks’ next game is on  Monday when they host the visiting New Jersey Devils at 7:30 PT.