Texas Stars Outshine Cuda 3-2 In Shootout

Photo credit: @sjbarracuda

By Alexandra Evans

CEDAR PARK, TX—The Cuda held on tight for an entire 60 minutes and an overtime period, but could not outshoot the Texas Stars, who took home a 3-2 win in a shootout. Close, but no cigar.

John McCarthy, Filip Sandberg, and Oliver Archambault started in the forward position; Jacob Middleton and Nick DeSimone started on defense; Troy Grosenick started in goal (though he ended up allowing two goals on 26 shots, and one in the shootout). The first period remained silent, ending with no score.

Sandberg has been working on getting faster since arriving in San Jose for his United States hockey debut. The Stockholm, Sweden native’s hard work translated on the ice tonight as he notched San Jose’s first goal of the game fifteen seconds into the second period (assisted by Archambault and Middleton), evening out the score 1-1. Later on in the period, Texas came back when Matt Mangene snaked his way passed San Jose’s defensive zone and scored at 8:25. San Jose held up until the 18:58 mark when Roope Hintz’s shot struck the left post before entering the net.

McCarthy scored his first goal of the season on the power play, tying the game 2-2 at 6:42 into the third period. Rudolfs Balcers and Adam Helewka assisted McCarthy’s goal. Helewka, who has been playing very much in sync with Danny O’Regan the past few games, recently shared that he feels his playing style works in sound with McCarthy in addition. It most certainly appears so.

The score remained 2-2 after 60 minutes, leading both teams into an overtime match. It was still 2-2 after the OT interval, and so the shootout began.

O’Regan, Balcers, and Mike Brodzinski were all given chances to score during the shootout, though they were unable to make it past Texas goaltender Mike McKenna (who made a total of 26 saves out of 28 shots). The Stars took home the 3-2 win after Travis Morin notched the only goal of the shootout.

This may have been San Jose’s second consecutive loss in two days, but it’s not over yet! The Cuda (now 3-4) will travel to Southern California to face the Ontario Reign (the AHL affiliate of the Sharks’ cross-state rivals, the Los Angeles Kings) on November 1.

Random fact: Sharks defenseman Brenden Dillon played for the Texas Stars from 2010-2012. He also made his NHL debut with Dallas during this stint.

Sharks Lose to Coyotes in Shootout

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE–Saturday night, the Arizona Coyotes beat the San Jose Sharks 4-3. The game went to a shootout giving the Sharks one badly needed point but little else to celebrate. The game’s first and last goals were both scored by Antoine Vermette. The Coyotes’ Devan Dubnyk made 40 saves for the win. For the Sharks, Tommy Wingels, Andrew Desjardins and Joe Pavelski all scored to get the team to overtime.

The Sharks’ first goal of the game snapped a five game pointless streak and a ten game goalless streak for Tommy Wingels. It was an impressive short-handed goal to boot. After the game, Wingels said:

Our penalty kill gave one up early in the game so to get one back was important for us.

You’re not happy when you get scored on the penalty kill, and whether that makes you anticipate better or try harder, psychologically, I don’t know but Goody made a really good play. Both getting it out and on the rush so I just had a the easy job of putting it in.

Andrew Desjardins’ goal was his first of the season.

While many have said that practice is very important, so important that the lack of it may account for some of the Sharks’ recent losses, Todd McLellan did not think it important enough to sit a player who has never practiced with the team. After being traded to the Sharks for Jason Demers, Brenden Dillon arrived in time for the morning skate, but his gear did not. Despite not being able to participate in that practice, he was in Saturday’s game, paired with Brent Burns. Matt Irwin sat out.

The Arizona Coyotes have found ways to lose a lot of games this season. Sometimes they play very badly, other times they just draw the short luck straw. In any case, they quickly tumbled down the Pacific Division standings and have languished there through the first quarter of the season. All of that, next to the Sharks’ recent habit of losing to weak teams, did not bode well.

The Sharks gave up the first goal at 6:08 of the first period, to the Arizona Coyotes power play. The puck trickled out in front of Niemi and Antoine Vermette tapped it through the five hole. The Sharks seemed to have a serious communication failure there, as no one at all was defending Vermette as he loitered in the slot not far from the blue paint.

The Sharks also gave up the second goal, this one a shot from David Schlemko as he skated in fast enough to give himself a clear view of the net. It went just inside the post and out again, almost as if it did not want to rub the two goal lead in.

The Sharks did outshoot the Coyotes in the first, 11-7, despite the penalty. Still, none of those shots could beat Coyotes goaltender Devan Dubnyk.

The Sharks started the second period with some unconvincing play in the offensive zone. They were not very difficult for the Coyotes to push back out.

At 2:46, Andrew Desjardins went to the penalty box for tripping Tobias Rieder. A short-handed excursion quickly followed and gave the Sharks a draw in the Coyotes zone. After the draw, the Sharks again took control and after a couple more tours of the Coyotes’ end, Barclay Goodrow, Mirco Mueller and Tommy Wingels went in three on one to get the Sharks on the board. After such a lackluster start to the game, that brazen attack was certainly surprising.

Tommy Wingels also drew the Sharks’ first penalty, a holding call on Shane Doan at 11:34. The Sharks’ power play had a couple of good chances, most notably an opening for Brent Burns, but he hooked the puck up into the netting and out of play.

At 15:34, Vermette went to the box for boarding Tyler Kennedy. The second Sharks power play looked a lot less dangerous than any of their penalty kills. Then, 19 seconds after the power play ended, Andrew Desjardins found himself with a clear view of the net from the faceoff circle. He also had the puck. He shot it past Dubnyk and tied the game.

By the end of the second period, the Sharks led in shots 25-13.

The tie did not last long. 52 seconds into the third period, during a ferocious Coyote attack on the Sharks’ net, a rebound came out and pinballed around before Shane Doan helped it past Dillon and Niemi. Assists to Sam Gagner and Tobias Rieder.

At 7:12 of the period, Arizona’s Michael Stone went to the penalty box for tripping Patrick Marleau. Just prior to the penalty, the Sharks were showing distinct signs of life. A couple of good passes to get them out of the zone involved McGinn and Dillon, and some clean, composed puck movement from the Thornton line, put pressure on the Coyotes defense.

The power play was a little slow getting started, marked by a number of passes that required some patience. The Sharks waited the Coyotes out, until Couture was able to find Burns at the middle of the blue line with a tidy pass that Burns blasted on net. Joe Pavelski deflected it in to tie the game again.

The rest of the period seemed to be played mostly in the Sharks’ zone, but in the final seconds of the period the Sharks made a very good push, complete with good shots from Joe Pavelski and a zone entry with maneuvers through traffic from Sheppard. That last one, had Sheppard managed to put the puck in the net, would have been a nice addition to a highlight reel. Alas, he did not and neither did anyone else.

1:05 in to overtime, Coyotes captain Shane Doan went to the box for high-sticking Matt Nieto, who went to the bench holding his right hand gingerly. The Sharks’ power play featured an amazing almost goal saved by a Coyote sprawled in the net behind Dybnyk. Nothing else came close. A small pile up in the net at the end of the power play did remind me of this accident. Just like that pileup, everyone walked, or skated away. Unlike that accident, it was over very quickly.

The shootout went all three rounds, with Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski and Barclay Goodrow shooting for the Sharks. Sam Gagner, Mikkel Boedker and Antoine Vermette shot for the Coyotes. Vermette shot last and was the only shooter to score.

Joe Pavelski led the Sharks in shots with seven. Tommy Wingels led the team in hits. Three Sharks blocked three shots each: Patrick Marleau, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun. Antti Niemi made 22 saves on 25 shots.  Newcomer Brenden Dillon had one shot on goal, four hits and one blocked shot.

Jason Demers, who presumably had his equipment in time for the morning skate, seems to be fitting in nicely with the Dallas Stars.

The Sharks next play at 7:30 on Wednesday the 26th. They will face the visiting Calgary Flames at SAP Center in San Jose.

Sharks Lose to Jets in Shootout, Losing Streak at 5

By Mary Walsh

The San Jose Sharks started a five game road trip with a 5-4 shootout loss to the Winnipeg Jets. Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan summed up the good and the bad of Sunday’s game:

That was much better. Not everybody that watched tonight’s game got to see what we did against Vancouver, which was poor. So we made strides as far as competitiveness, I still don’t think we were at our best. Thought we looked slow, especially to retrieve pucks. They’re a very quick team and they exposed some of our speed issues in certain areas that we have to get better. The goals they scored, we’d sure like to have a couple of them back but full marks to them.

The Sharks will need to polish their shootout skills. Unlike last season, when they had exceptional results in shootouts, now they have scored only three times in five shootouts, and won only once. McLellan acknowledged this in the post game interview:

We practice it probably too much now. We created a whole bunch of different situations in practice, we’ve gone through different guys, they’ve got to score. There isn’t magic, you’ve got to beat the goaltender. Right now there’s too much pressure on Niemi in a shootout to be perfect. I don’t know what we are now, we’ve tried different guys, the only one who’s scored this year is [Couture.] So we’ve got to find a way.

With a shortage of shootout specialists since the Spring purge of 2013, San Jose will need a few more shooters to come forward.

Seven times this season, the Sharks have scored in the first two minutes of the game. They did not do so Sunday in Winnipeg. Instead, the Sharks took a penalty. While Sharks defenseman Scott Hannan sat in the box for high-sticking Devin Setoguchi, the Sharks’ penalty kill went to work against the 29th ranked power play in the NHL. Penalty killed off, the Jets continued to attack. The Sharks didn’t have a shot on goal until six minutes had elapsed in the period. By the 13 minute mark, the Jets had outshot the Sharks 10-2.

Moments later, Jets Captain Andrew Ladd went to the box for tripping Sharks’ defenseman Dan Boyle. It took Boyle 14 seconds to score with a blast from the slot. During a CSN intermission interview, Boyle credited Joe Pavelski with clearing the lane for him, while Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau got in front of Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec.

The audience went quiet. They stayed quiet as Tomas Hertl burst across the Jets blue line moments later. Jason Demers’ pass from the Sharks zone was perfectly timed to hit Hertl just shy of Jets territory. It was a great pass and a good shot, modest enough to offend no one while still scoring.

Jets Head Coach Claude Noel responded by calling a time out. He used it well. The Jets continued to lead the Sharks by a wide margin in shots and zone time. During the last minute of the period, Evander Kane went to the box for goaltender interference and put the Sharks back on the power play. The period ended with the Jets challenging short-handed.

The Sharks had a two goal lead but by every other measure, they were being out-played. By the end of the period, the shot count was 15-9 for Winnipeg.

The Sharks started the second period on the power play. The Sharks had a few good chances but did not score. The Jets went back to work, but the Sharks pushed back quickly, showing more confidence and accuracy with their passes, giving Pavelec more work.

The Jets caught a break when a Matt Irwin shot was blocked and then taken away by Matt Halischuk, who carried the puck in. Halischuk’s pass came late enough to look like he would shoot, and Frolik got by Dan Boyle to put the Jets on the board from the other side of the net.

The audience had barely finished cheering when Tommy Wingels responded with a quick shot over Pavelec’s shoulder. Braun cleared the puck off the boards and it hit Wingels just as he crossed the line. The Jets couldn’t stop him. The goal came 41 seconds after Frolik’s.

It took the Jets a minute and 20 seconds to answer with another goal, this one from Dustin Byfuglien (his first of the year) on the blue line. The Sharks left him briefly uncovered with a clear lane for his shot all the way to the net.

At 12:21, Devin Setoguchi earned a power play for the Jets, an intereference call on Hannan. The Jets’ power play didn’t tie the game for them, but five minutes later, a shot from Grant Clitsome bounced off Justin Braun and past Niemi’s glove to tie the game.

In the final second of the middle period, Dustin Byfuglien shot the puck over the glass for a delay of game penalty. The Sharks escaped the second without giving up the lead, and would start the third on the power play.

That power play was underwhelming. The second unit’s strategy through the neutral zone failed twice as they shot the puck in from the red line. Jets got to the puck first and sent it back out before all five Sharks were in the zone.

The Sharks had another chance at 3:19 when Halischuk went to the box for tripping Tyler Kennedy. San Jose’s first power play unit of Thornton, Marleau, Pavelski, Boyle, and Couture took 40 seconds to score.

Logan Couture, lurking by the side of the net, took a pass from Joe Thornton and sent the puck through his legs behind him, where Boyle found it and put it in the net. Had Boyle not succeeded, Joe Pavelski was nearby as well. It was a beautiful play.

At 11:05 of the third, a bizarre series of penalties cycled through a 5 on 4 SJ, to a 4 on 4, to a 4 on 3 WPG, back to 4 on 4 and to 5 on 4 SJ. The numbers changed so quickly, it didn’t seem to matter who had more men on the ice, the play went back and forth throughout the sequence.

The teams didn’t slow down once they were back at even strength. The back and forth play went down to the last minutes, when Todd McLellan used his time out. The Jets appeared to benefit more from the break than the Sharks did. They won the next faceoff in the offensive zone and Ladd tied the game two shots later.

Two minutes into overtime, Tommy Wingels was involved in his second discounted goal of the season. Wingels, positioned in front of goaltender Pavelec, lost the shoving match and ended up too close to Pavelec. The goal that followed seconds later was disallowed for goaltender interference. McLellan commented on the call after the game:

If you’re a Shark you’re questioning it, if you’re a Jet you agree with the call. It’s a discretionary call that occurs in a game. He was allowed to make the first save easily, it’s the second one, it’s the rebound and I don’t know who has the right to that ice, I don’t understand it. But we move on.

The Sharks were not penalized further on the play, and the game went to a shootout.

The Jets shot first, with Andrew Ladd shooting third for Winnipeg and scoring the shootout winner. He skated in and lifted the puck from what appeared to be an impossibly close angle. Niemi saved the first two shots from Blake Wheeler and Brian Little. The Sharks’ shooters were Logan Couture (save), Tommy Wingels (miss), and Dan Boyle (save).

Final shot count: 46-34 Winnipeg. The Sharks’ power play went 2-6, their penalty kill was 2-2.

Notes:

The scratches were Brad Stuart and John McCarthy. That put Matt Irwin in as Dan Boyle’s partner, and left Mike Brown on the fourth line.

The Sharks’ next game is Tuesday in Calgary at 6:00 pm PST.