Feature: Sharks In Desperate Need of More Power Play Opportunities

Photo credit: @SanJoseSharks

By: Peter Elliott

CHICAGO–Peter DeBoer’s squad was deprived of something other than a win on Friday night: opportunities on the power play.

The Sharks only had one chance to execute on the man advantage in their 3-1 loss to the Blackhawks. It lasted 22 seconds.

San Jose’s only time on the ice with less than five red sweaters was during the third period, when Chicago defenseman Connor Murphy was booked to the penalty box with an interference minor. 22 seconds later, Brent Burns was sent off to the Sharks penalty box on a holding minor, offsetting the Sharks’ 5-on-4 upper hand. If I haven’t stressed it enough, 22 seconds is not enough time to type a tweet, much less let alone score a goal.

The power play had been a strength for the Sharks all season and a reason for their high offensive benchmarks. But lately, not so much.

The team is suffering through a scoreless 0-19 stretch in the power play category, an unusual drought for a team that has been so stellar on the man advantage for the majority of the season. The Sharks still remain among the best in the league in the category, up there with division leaders Nashville, Pittsburgh, and Tampa Bay. But if their recent struggles continue, they surely won’t keep up with that company for very long.

“We need to get a little bit of that confidence back, stepping over the boards and understanding that it can win us some games,” said Sharks captain Joe Pavelski of his team’s power play scoring skid, per Kevin Kurz of The Athletic. “We need to be better there. Bottom line is we need to execute, make another play, stick one in the net.”

As noted, it’s absence has been sorely missed on the offensive side of the ice recently. Especially on Thursday night during a 7-1 blowout at the hands of Nashville, in which DeBoer’s squad failed to net on a single goal during their five power play opportunities. The Sharks undoubtedly just need both more opportunities and repetitions with the power play. 

Success will come soon.

The power play magic that has helped the Sharks postseason aspirations is currently M.I.A., but luckily for the Sharks, they’ll have time to re-discover it before a Sunday evening game against Minnesota. The Wild boast a pedestrian penalty kill percentage of 80.8%, which makes the playoff contending Wild a ripe target for a power play resurgence.

San Jose has been able to maintain a 6-5 record in the month of February, although that is not ideal for a team in the middle of a tight playoff race. A stronger showing on the man advantage certainly could have alleviated some of those deficits.

The Sharks are set to square off against the Blackhawks again on March 1 in San Jose. Maybe then, the Sharks can get a power play that lasts a whole 30 seconds.

Couture Returns, Sharks Ground Flyers 4-2

By Matthew T.F. Harrington

photo credit: leadercall.com SJ Sharks Logan Courture

SAN JOSE, Calif. – When the schedule makers at the NBC Sports Network put Wednesday’s San Jose Sharks-Philadelphia Flyers match-up on the channel’s “Rivalry Night” there must have been some clairvoyants in the room. The midweek heavyweight tilt at the SAP Center had the type of snarl usually reserved for the Battle of California or the Keystone State Showdown.

Despite the distant between Silicon Valley and the City of Brotherly Love there was no, well, love lost between the two teams on the ice. San Jose (18-16-2) skated away with a 4-2 win in a heavy contest loaded with 53 hits, 46 penalty minutes and a few goals as well. Joe Thornton and Brent Burns lit the lamp for the Sharks, while Joe Pavelski scored a pair. In total, San Jose scored 3 power play tallies. Logan Couture had a pair of assists in his return to the Sharks lineup.

Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier tallied Philadelphia’s markers. Martin Jones made 17 saves on 19 shots to give the Sharks their 16th win in the last 19 games against Philly since 2002.

“Our special teams was the difference,” said Sharks coach Pete DeBoer. “That was a desperate team that came in here. They tried to be physical to the point of taking some bad penalties and we made them pay for that.”

Ever the cagey veteran, Joe Thornton inserted himself into the fray almost immediately Wednesday. The 36-year-old center was engaged from the drop of the puck, levying a pair of hits and nearly dropping the gloves with Radko Gudas after a heated discussion in the first period.

It was only a matter of time before no. 19 found his way onto the scoresheet, be it by roughing minor, fighting major, his usual assist or a goal. Luckily for Jumbo, it proved to be the latter at the 9:53 mark of the second period after the alternate captain flipped the puck over Mason’s shoulder on a San Jose power play.

“I was just enjoying the game,” said Thornton. “That’s why you play the game, the fun moments.”

Thornton started the play, taking the puck behind the visitors’ net. He swung the puck to Mason’s left, connecting with Patrick Marleau at the faceoff circle. Marleau went back up the wing to Thornton, who had now positioned himself just outside the crease. From there, Thornton slapped the puck up and over Mason’s left shoulder for his 7th goal of the season.

Logan Couture, returning to the ice after missing 7 games with an arterial bleed in his right leg, also assisted on Thornton’s goal. It was Couture’s 3rd point of the season (all assists) in just his 6th game after missing 24 of the first 26 games with a leg injury.

“It’s great,” said Burns when asked how it feels to have Couture back. “It’s tough when you see a guy out for a while. You see how hard he’s working and the bad bounce when he came back. IT’s great to see. IT’s going to be a little while for him to eventually feel comfortable, but it’s good to see him back.

“You could see it in the lineup right away,” added Pavelski. “That’s another big time player. What he brings to the team, the energy he brings and the confidence definitely helps.”

He looked comfortable in his return, playing 15:22 minutes with a -1 rating. He would also assist on Burns’ game-tying strike in the 3rd.

“It was a great crowd,” said Couture. “We need to build on this, but it feels good to come back and win the game.”

In total, Couture saw 5:43 of power play time.

“On the power play I felt comfortable,” said Couture “I had the puck. It was lucky that we had some many power plays. I was able to establish that game, feel the puck, get some chances, build my confidence up that way.”

“It comes naturally to him,” said DeBoer of Couture’s work on the power play. “Those guys have a special chemistry. We just have to keep that up.”

The Flyers (15-14-7) responded with a Claude Giroux score with 4:11 left in the 2nd after the centerman won the faceoff from Thornton and flung the puck into Jones’ midsection. While Jones made the initial save, the puck’s momentum carried it down to the ice and between the netminder’s pads for the Flyers captain’s 12th goal of the campaign.

“I’ve had Claude on a couple teams I coached,” said DeBoer. “I had him on the Canadian team. He’s a special guy. He’s the best in the world at different things. The goal surprised me, but not who did it.”

Philadelphia took the 2-1 lead on a defensive lapse by the Sharks early in the 3rd. Wayne Simmonds and Sean Couturier were sprung on a 2-on-0. Couturier took Simmonds’ feed and put it on his backhand to best Jones for his 6th of the year 4:19 into the 3rd.

Though the Sharks haven’t had many power play opportunities at home (their 44 man advantages entering Wednesday ranks dead last in the NHL), they also haven’t taken advantage of the special teams edge either. They have the 8th worst power play percentage at home this year, a mere 15.9 percent. Despite those figures, San Jose managed to get it down a man up not once, but twice, Wednesday night with Brent Burns finding the equalizer 5:54 into the final period of regulation.

“In the past few games a bounce buried us at times,” said Pavelski. “We got that feeling on the bench tonight where it wasn’t going to get us down. We got a big power play goal from Burns to get us back in there. It felt good.

With RJ Umberger in the sin bin for slashing Brenden Dillon, the Sharks newly potent power play set up in the Flyers’ end. Joe Thornton took the puck from the right faceoff dot and slid it to Couture in the front right crease. Couture’s no-look backhand pass missed Marleau’s stick, but landed on a crashing Burns’ tape in the slot. Burns ripped the shot over Mason’s blocker to knot the contest up 2-2 with just under 14 minutes to play.

“We have certain sets we work on,” said Couture. “Burns’ goal is a set that we’ve had for a while. You have Marleau in the slot and he usually comes down the side which opens the backdoor for Burns.”

The power play nearly was the culprit of the game-winner for San Jose, but a matter of seconds changed the Sharks special teams night. Captain Joe Pavelski netted his 19th of the year just 3 seconds after Shane Gostisbehere exited the box at the 13:45 mark on a cross-ice one-timer from Justin Braun.

Pavelski, who missed Tuesday’s practice with the flu, earned his power play goal almost 5 ½ minutes later to ice the contest. The forward took a pass from Marleau on the boards and ripped a backhander past Mason for his second of the night after Marc-Eduoard Vlasic held the puck in at the blue line.

“You can see his importance to us,” said DeBoer. “All the big guys were great though, Thornton, Vlasic Braun, (Paul) Martin.”

The Sharks ended the night converting half of their power plays, going 3-for-6 with a Flyer in the box.

“Our power play unit does well when we’re moving and reading off each other,” said Burns.

When asked about how it felt for the NHL’s worst home team to get a win in front of a sold-out, the Sharks captain was frank.

“It’s what we expect,” said Pavelski. “Obviously now that’s the template we have to copy and play with. It was a good win tonight. We can’t get ahead of ourselves.”

The Sharks get another stab a wowing the home crowd when they welcome the Winnipeg Jets to the Shark Tank January. After that, they’ll continue the homestand with contests against Eastern Conference foes the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs.

Notes:

Tommy Wingels dropped the gloves twice, once in the second against Chris VandeVelde and again in the 3rd against Jakub Vorachek. Because only a punch or two was thrown, the 2nd altercation was ruled a minor for roughing, not a five minute fighting major. DeBoer on Wingels: “I thought Tommy Wingels had one of his best games all year. He was in the middle of it. He jumped in and fought for a teammate.” …Brent Burns leveled VandeVelde with a hit in the offensive zone that injured the Flyers Forward. Said Burns: “Most of the time I turn around and hit with my butt. I felt pretty strongly that I hit him in the midsection strongly. It’s tough to see someone get hurt. I hit him in the midsection, I don’t know if he hits his head on the ice or what but it’s tough to see.”

Early Deficit Undoes Sharks in Homestand Finale with Islanders

By Matthew T.F. Harrington

SAN JOSE, Calif. –True to recent form, a poor start once again took a bite out of the San Jose Sharks chances for a win Tuesday night at SAP Center. The Sharks (7-8-0) allowed two goals to the New York Islanders in the opening five minutes and never managed to dig themselves out of the quick hole they found themselves in, falling 4-2. Joel Ward and Brent Burns tallied the Sharks goals, while Alex Stalock made 20 saves in a relief appearance. Perennial Hart Trophy candidate John Tavares netted a pair of goals to lead the Islanders (8-5-3) to victory.

“We wanted to get a better start and it just didn’t happen,” said Sharks Captain Joe Pavelski after the game. “A bad bounce or bad change, it happens. You’ve got to fight through it.”

San Jose has now lost 7 of 9 games this season when allowing the opponent to score first. The Sharks scored first in their first 5 games of the season, but have yet to score first in consecutive games since. Over the last 10 games, the Sharks netted the first goal only twice. Their record over the last ten games now stands at 3-7-0.

Sharks starting goalie Martin Jones’ night ended after facing just three shots. San Jose coach Peter DeBoer had seen enough from Jones and opted to pull his netminder for Alex Stalock after goals from John Tavares and Mikhail Grabovski in the first 3:30 of play.

“We need a momentum change,” said Jones. “Alex stepped in the last couple games and played great. It’s no fun being pulled but I’m not surprised.”

“You’ve always got to be ready,” said Stalock. “That’s the job of a back-up, injury or change of pace.”

The Islanders captain Tavares struck the opening blow on a rebound of a Brock Nelson shot, the first two shots of the game, at the 36 second mark. Three minutes later, Grabovski managed to turn a defensive zone faceoff into a rush up ice and a wrist shot for his third goal of the season.

“You can give up a bad goal in this league and recover,” said Sharks coach Peter DeBoer. “You can’t give up two goals and expect to win.”

Joel Ward regained a stake of the team lead in goals in the second period on a piece of strong forechecking against Travis Hamonic. Ward lifted Hamonic’s stick along the boards, picking the Islander’s pocket before power to the net. The veteran beat former Shark Thomas Greiss in the crease for his 8th goal of the season at the 10:14 mark of the period.

“We got within one, which gives us a chance,” said Pavelski. “But we want to be playing with the lead.”

Despite only cutting the deficit in half, the Sharks second period performance gave plenty of hope to fans and coaches alike. San Jose outshot the Islanders 14-6 in the frame, drawing the 16,558 fans in attendance to a standing ovation following one specific spectacular shift.

All the momentum built up from a strong second was zapped from the building with another quick strike to open the third. Isles defenseman Johnny Boychuk scored his second goal in as many games, rocketing one of his patented slap shots past Stalock clean for a 3-1 lead 45 seconds into the final frame of regulation.

“I thought it was going to hit my pads,” said Stalock. “It’s a bad feeling when you have no sensation of a puck.”

Brent Burns made the game interesting late, taking a Thomas Hertl pass from behind Greiss and slicing it past Greiss pad for his 5th goal of the season with 5:11 left to play. Despite an offensive surge for the Sharks, Greiss managed to hold on for the win following his 34 save effort. John Tavares added an empty net goal to ice the win for New York.

With the Sharks going 1-3 on a recent homestand, they’ll be looking forward to the road. They’ve fared much better away from SAP (4-3) than at home. They’ll open a six-game road trip with back-to-back contests in Detroit Friday night and a meeting with Jack Eichel’s Buffalo Sabres Saturday afternoon. The six city trip will also make stops in Boston, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Columbus.

Notes: The Sharks had one power play on Tuesday and failed to score, running the streak to 21 straight power plays at home without a goal. They have yet to score on the man advantage at home this season…Melker Karlsson returned to action with the Sharks, playing almost 16 minutes and registering 3 shots on goal while primarily playing on the top line with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski. On having Karlsson return to the line-up DeBoer said: “I thought he was good. First game in a long time. You can see that he’s an NHL player. He can help us”.…The loss puts the Sharks below .500 for the first time all season.

Pavelski Scores a Pair But Sharks Stumble Against Blue Jackets

By Matthew T.F. Harrington

SAN JOSE, Calif. – The San Jose Sharks saw Tuesday night’s contest at SAP Center against the reeling Columbus Blue Jackets as an opportunity to take advantage of a team in turmoil. Instead, the Sharks (6-6-0) now find themselves looking answers after losing 5-2 in a match-up against a team with only a pair of wins on the season.

Joe Pavelski scored both goals for the Sharks and goalie Martin Jones struggled through a 17 save, 4 goal performance against a Columbus team that recently fired their coach and was struggling under new coach John Tortorella.

“It was not good enough,” said Jones. “We played a backwards game, let up an early goal and let in a few soft ones in the 2nd. We need to be better. Everyone needs to be better. We got outworked tonight.”

The Sharks dug an early hole after committing two penalties in the opening five minutes. They managed to kill off a Chris Tierney stick infraction a minute and a half into the game, but weren’t as lucky after defenseman Brenden Dillon skated to the box 4:23 into the game.

With the man advantage, Brandon Dubinsky skated to the left faceoff dot and took a shot on Sharks goalie Martin Jones. Jones stopped the initial attempt, but Brandon Saad was waiting in the goal crease to tuck the loose puck home for a 1-0 lead with 12 seconds left on Dillon’s infraction.

“We got the first kill,” said Pavelski. “We almost got through the second one which would have given us a boost. We were on our heels early. It has to change, we have to break this mold where we’re getting scored on first.”

The Sharks Captain matched the team-best of 7 goals on the season in the waning seconds of the first period. Pavelski crept into Sergei Bobrovsky’s crease, redirecting a point shot from Justin Braun past the Russian netminder with 1:04 left in the period.

The Blue Jackets regained their lead nearly halfway through regulation after Scott Hartnell beat Jones for his 5th goal of the season at the 8:54 mark. Hartnell started the play behind the Sharks net, skated out towards the faceoff dot to Jones’ right then spun around and ripped a shot rapid-fire that beat Jones over the near post shoulder.

Pavelski again drew the Sharks three minutes later, receiving a backhand feed from Joonas Donskoi before deking out Bobrovsky to move past Joel Ward for the team lead in goals.

Pavelski’s goal was the result of a heads-up forecheck from Donskoi along the offense boards. Donskoi snuck behind Nick Foligno preparing to move the puck out of the Columbus defensive end and sent it back towards the goal line for Pavelski’s tally. The assist on the play was Donskoi’s 2nd career NHL point and first since returning from injury October 28th.

“It’s hard to come back after an injury,” said Donskoi. “I think it’s getting better but I’m not happy. We still lost. It’s disappointing.”

The tie was short lived due to miscommunication by Jones and defenseman Brent Burns. Jones went to play a dump-in behind his net and settle the puck for Burns. Burns, however, didn’t react in time to stop an advancing Blue Jacket from springing the puck loose. Columbus forward Boone Jenner snuck in to net his 7th goal with 1:28 left in the 2nd.

If the Jenner goal didn’t deflate the Sharks heading into the 2nd intermission, defenseman Ryan Murray’s strike with 59 seconds left in the period certainly did. Murray slid a point shot through a crowd in front of the net to put Columbus up 4-2 and chase Jones from the contest.

“I think it went off one of our guys’ gloves,” said Jones. “It was a bit of a deflection, a bit of a screen.”

Over his 40 minutes of ice time Jones allowed 4 goals while making 17 saves. His replacement, Alex Stalock, faced only 2 shots over the final period, but Matt Calvert scored an empty netter for the final 5-2 marker.

At the other end of the ice, Bobrovsky stood on his head for most of the contest to earn his third win of the season. The former Vezina trophy winner turned aside 41 of 43 shots he faced, keeping the Sharks power play off the board after four opportunities.

“For our power play we demand a lot out of ourselves,” said Pavelski. “We expect a lot. It’s just unacceptable. It was a big momentum swing for us. We’ve created some momentum off it when we’ve had chances. It doesn’t do anything for the wins.”

“Everybody goes through tough stretches,” said Jones. “We know we have a good group in here. We know we’ll respond. We’ve got the group in here to do it. The main thing is to show up tomorrow, have a good practice and move on.”

The Sharks will have to move on quickly with the Florida panthers coming to town Thursday night followed by a visit from another reeling team, the Anaheim Ducks. The Southern California rivals come to town Saturday night with a lowly 2 wins and six points, tied for the lowest mark in the NHL.

Rinne, Predators Fourth Line Prey on Sharks

By Matthew T.F. Harrington

SAN JOSE, Calif. – The San Jose Sharks hoped having a pair of forwards return to the line-up Wednesday night might bring about scoring depth, especially at home where coach Pete DeBoer had final change and a chance at exploiting mismatches. Despite the returns of Joonas Donskoi and Ben Smith, the Sharks (5-4-0) scoring woes continued in a 2-1loss to the visiting Nashville Predators (7-1-1). Pekka Rinne held the Sharks to a lone goal, a goal by center Joe Pavelski, on 21 shots.

“He’s a good goalie,” said Pavelski. “He’s one of the better ones in the league. With all the goalies you have to get traffic. If they see it, they stop it.”

The Finn shut down San Jose to one goal or less for the fourth time in the last six games. In those games, the Sharks are 1-3-0, topping the New Jersey Devils 2-1 in the shootout for the sole victory on October 16th.

Nashville winger Eric Nystrom baffled Jones early, unleashing a dart from the left circle that beat the San Jose netminder to his stick side at the 3:22 mark of the 1st.

“You need a save there,” said Jones. “Early in the game you need a save there. It’s tough to come back from. That’s a tough defensive team with a good goalie.”

The Sharks held a 9-7 advantage in shots on goal after the period, but goalie Pekka Rinne and the Predators withstood a San Jose power play to get the home team off the stat sheet after 20 minutes.

It took 15 shots, but the Sharks final snuck a puck past Rinne in the 3rd period, with the Sharks captain tying the game 1:28 into the frame. Pavelski pounced on a rebound in the crease off a Matt Tennyson shot for his fourth of the season. Matt Nieto, taking a turn on the top line after playing the majority of the game on the third forward unit, also picked up an assist.

“It feels good to score,” said Pavelski. “But that’s that moment, then you move on for the next one. They got the next one. It takes away from it.”

Calle Jarnkrok gave Nashville that next one halfway through the period, taking a Gabriel Bourque pass and ripping it over Jones’ glove for his first goal of the season, the game winner Wednesday.

“The difference tonight was that their fourth line had two goals,” said Sharks coach Peter DeBoer. “That was the difference in the game. Everyone else cancelled each other out.”

In total, Nashville scored on 2 of 24 shots against Jones.

“They didn’t have much,” said Pavelski of the Predators offensive chances on the night. “We didn’t have much. That’s how it is against those guys. The power play has to start putting one in.”

The Sharks special teams was 0-2 on the night, extending a scoreless streak to six straight opportunities with the man advantage. They also went 2-2 on the penalty kill.

“The special teams battle was even tonight,” said DeBoer. “They didn’t get one either. We need to start scoring there for sure. We had some great looks. Eventually something is going to go in.”

The Sharks will be looking for some treats from their nearly-whole lines and power play unit on Halloween when they visit the Dallas Stars Saturday before continuing the road trip with a pit stop in Colorado. After that, the team returns to SAP for four-straight home contests.

Sharks save game in shootout

sharks-niemi

Photo credit: AP

By Pearl Allison Lo

With the game down to the final round, San Jose’s Antti Niemi, backed by goal support, held on for a 3-2 win Tuesday over the Colorado Avalanche.

The Sharks now have their third two-game win streak of the season, as they continued their energetic run from last game versus the Anaheim Ducks. They had a season-high 23 shots in the first period and held their opponent scoreless in the first for the tenth time in eleven games.

Colorado had just come off an overtime loss.

Niemi continued to hold strong after San Jose killed off a power play from 3:55 on in overtime. In the shootout, Patrick Marleau and Joe Pavelski were perfect in the offensive role as Niemi stopped Alex Tanguay and Matt Duchene.

The Sharks were only able to score one goal through two periods, thanks mainly to Avalanche goalie Seymon Varlamov who stopped 49 of the 51 shots he faced.

At 9:23 of the first, San Jose’s Brent Burns got his third goal in as many games as he earned his 300th NHL point. Joe Thornton picked up the loose puck behind Varlamov after Burns went down to the ice. Thornton then passed to Mirco Mueller at the blue line and Burns deflected in his shot.

Shortly after, Varlamov was able to make five saves in less than a minute starting at 9:49. The last three came within a span of five seconds, two of them rebounds by Tomas Hertl off the crossbar and a wrister from Thornton, as Varlamov completed a 360 degree turn.

Duchene had a chance with 1.5 seconds left in the first right up front, but Niemi dove to make the save.

Colorado tied up the game shorthanded at 13:24 of the second. Erik Johnson saw Tanguay at the other end of the ice and passed. With just Logan Couture and Niemi in front of him then, Tanguay went around Couture, moved back and shot the puck behind a sprawled out Niemi. Jan Hejda had the second assist.

With 5.6 seconds left, Marleau had a one-on-one, but it was saved.

The Avalanche got their first lead in the third period at 3:04. Hejda bounced the puck off the boards from the goalline to Ryan O’Reilly near the first blue line, who passed it to Gabriel Landeskog. Landeskog then angled the puck near the goalline to get Niemi.

Couture re-tied the game at 5:03, starting and ending the play. He broke up a pass at the other end and passed it to Tommy Wingels. Wingels then passed it behind to Justin Braun as two defenders approached. Braun’s shot hit the post and Couture came from behind to finish.

Game notes: Neither team scored on the power play, going a combined 0-for-7. The Sharks will finish up their road trip Thursday against Minnesota at 5p.

Sharks’ shots don’t count in preseason opener Part 1

Photo: The Canadian Press

By Pearl Allison Lo

Although San Jose had a overall 34-19 shot advantage, they weren’t enough as the Canucks’ goalies beat the Sharks’ split squad playing in Vancouver Tuesday, 4-2.

Bo Horvat scored the game winner at 11:33 of the third after winning a faceoff. Horvat was aided by Derek Dorsett and Mike Zalewski.

Starting at 5:35 in the first, San Jose had four shots on goal, including one by Matthew Nieto after he had a takeaway, in under 30 seconds.

The Canucks’ Jordan Subban scored the only goal of the first period.  He was aided by Hunter Shinkaruk and Linden Vey at 7:51.

The Sharks’ Taylor Fedun who led all with six shots on goal, was busy starting at 15:11, with a blocked shot, two shots on goals and a missed shot in just over 20 seconds.

Each team had a power play opportunity in the period, but Vancouver was the more active with seven opportunities during to one.

San Jose got most of their shots during the second period, outshooting the Canucks 18-5.

Vancouver starting goalie Eddie Lack came out around the 12th minute. His team had seven giveaways during the period before that. Lack was replaced by Joel Cannata who was tested early, and able to withstand one power play, before Brent Burns scored during the Sharks’ second power play of the period at 16:07. Burns was helped by Patrick Marleau and Logan Couture.

Shinkaruk scored less than a minute later though to give the Canucks back the lead. He was assisted by Alex Friesen and Vey.

Marleau then came back just over a minute later to score single-handedly at 18 minutes into the period. He scored on his own takeaway.

Vey capped the game with less than 30 seconds left, as he scored on an empty netter. Four San Jose opportunities in the 18th minute preceded the goal. Daniel Sedin and Radim Vrbata aided as Vey earned his third point of the night.


Game notes: Both Burns and Vancouver’s Kevin Bieksa led with four blocked shots apiece. They were also the two players on the ice the most, with Bieksa on for 28:25 and Burns on for 26:39. Other leaders were Dane Fox with four hits. Meanwhile, in Stockton, the Sharks’ other split squad ended up with a more dominant score to even San Jose’s preseason opener, beating the Canucks 5-2. The Sharks will come back together when San Jose plays the Phoenix Coyotes Friday at 7:30pm.  

Sharks’s OT win breaks Kings’ home playoff win streak

Photo credit: AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

By Pearl Allison Lo

LOS ANGELES– Patrick Marleau scored his third playoff goal in Game 3 of this series to lead San Jose to a 3-0 series advantage with a 4-3 win over the Los Angeles Kings Tuesday.

Up until the Sharks’ win, the Kings had won all of their playoff games at home since June 11, 2012.

Besides two straight Los Angeles goals, the scoring went back and forth.

Marleau was aided by Scott Hannan at 6:20 in this much tighter game than the previous two. The goal was their only shot in overtime. Goalie Antti Niemi is now 12-2 in OT careerwise in the playoffs.

Teammate Logan Couture commented on overtime, “…they really took it to us for the first five minutes of that overtime, then we got a lucky bounce and that’s the way things go sometimes.”

On their second shot of the game and 11 seconds into their power play, San Jose’s Brent Burns scored at 3:16 of the first, helped by Joe Thornton and Dan Boyle.

The shot on goal margin for the Kings increased to 7-2, but they could not get the puck in the right spot.

The Sharks paid for a puck over the glass penalty by Jason Demers at 3:23 of the second. Los Angeles’s Tyler Toffoli was able to pass the puck just past Tommy Wingels, and Jarret Stoll shot right away to even the game at 1-1 at 4:48. Drew Doughty also assisted on the play.

The Kings’ Marian Gaborik then single-handedly intercepted one of the passes on his teams’ side and turned it into a 3 on 2 man advantage and goal at 7:59 for the 2-1 lead.

It was short-lived though. Marleau fished the puck out from alongside the boards and passed it to Jason Demers near the blue line. Demers then aimed at the net and Long Beach native Matt Nieto tipped in the puck, to even the game back up at two at 9:17. It was Nieto’s first career playoff goal.

Los Angeles got their fourth power play when James Sheppard was called for tripping. San Jose put the puck over the glass again, but the referees did not make the call.

The other half of Sheppard’s power play continued in the third. Seven seconds before it expired, Jeff Carter had a tip-in from Anze Kopitar and Doughty.

It took more than two power play opportunities following that goal, but three seconds after the second one at 9:17, Sharks’ rookie Tomas Hertl put the loose puck in, persisting several times after it went off goalie Jonathan Quick. Overall in the period, San Jose outshot the Kings 23-8. Hertl was aided by Wingels and Marc-Edouard Vlasic.

The Kings’ head coach Darryl Sutter said, “It’s a tough field, and we won’t go away quietly.”

Game notes: The Sharks go for the sweep at Staples Thursday at 7:30pm.

Ducks win Pacific; Sharks will face Kings

Photo Credit: (USATSI)

By Pearl Allison Lo

ANAHEIM– The end of San Jose’s biggest game of the regular season equaled the Ducks’ second straight Pacific Division title, as the home team won for the last time this regular season series, 5-2 Wednesday.

The Sharks now know they will face a familiar Southern California foe in the playoffs, Los Angeles, for the second year in the row as well.

San Jose will have Joe Thornton, which was questionable as he crumbled near the end of the game. Afterwards, what happened was described as a “stinger,” as Coach Todd McLellan said “(Thornton) got hit up in the chest area.”

The game-winner was Patrick Maroon’s first career multi-goal game at 9:35 of the second and brought in goalie Alex Stalock. Teemu Selanne got his second assist and Hampus Lindholm chipped in on the attack. The Ducks never looked back afterwards. Rookie goalie John Gibson won his second game in a row and stopped 36 shots.

The team’s first power play opportunities came almost simultaneously. 15 seconds after the interference penalty to San Jose’s Brent Burns ended, Anaheim was called for too many men on the ice.

Gibson was able to fight off shots by Jason Demers earlier, but Demers broke through at 18:17 of the first, to score the game’s first goal. Joe Pavelski aided on the goal.

The Ducks’ Corey Perry, however, went stick to stick with Justin Braun and tied the game with three seconds left in the first period. Matt Beleskey and Francois Beauchemin got the assists.

Three individual mini fights broke out to cap the end of the first period and led to a Sharks’ power play to start the second period.

Anaheim got their first lead when Selanne passed the puck to Maroon. Maroon then went around the net chased to make the game 2-1 at 3:32 of the second.

17 seconds after San Jose killed their second penalty, Logan Couture re-tied the game at two at 7:23.

The Sharks’ goalie change didn’t halt the Ducks, as they moved further ahead when Beleskey got Perry’s rebound off Stalock. It was the game’s first two-goal margin at 16:46.  Ryan Getzlaf had the second assist.

Beleskey then went in the box with 24.8 seconds left and San Jose started the third period on the power play again.

Demers ran into Stalock who fell backwards and hit the goalpost. After he was down and later came back up again, Stalock was called for delay of game for the puck going beyond the glass at 12:35.

It looked like a 6 on 4 with 2:44 left, but Gibson came back and Jakob Silfverberg scored a shorthanded empty net goal at 18:22. Andrew Cogliano got his 20th assist.

Both teams were coming off 3-0 games as Anaheim killed all five of the Sharks’ power plays.

Game notes: The Sharks’ Bracken Kearns played after returning from Worcester Tuesday. Before the game, it was announced that the Ducks’ Luca Sbisa would not play because of an upper body injury. San Jose’s Marty Havlat and Raffi Torres were also ruled out. Anaheim’s Cam Fowler returned from his mid-March knee injury.  The Sharks’ second to last regular season game will be Friday at 7p versus the Colorado Avalanche.