Blues Turn Tables On Sharks, Tie Series With 6-3 Win

By Mary Walsh

AP photo: St Louis Blues Jori Lentera (12) scores in the first period against the San Jose Sharks in game four at SAP Center on Saturday

SAN JOSE-Saturday’s Game 4 of the NHL’s Western Conference Finals was a complete reversal of Thursday’s 4-0 victory for San Jose. The St. Louis Blues tied the series 2-2 with a 6-3 victory, beating the San Jose Sharks in all three zones. The Blues’ power play went 2-4 while the Sharks’ power play went 0-4. Troy Brouwer and Kyle Brodziak each scored two goals for the Blues, with Jori Lehtera and Alex Pientrangelo adding to the tally. For the Sharks, Joe Pavelski, Chris Tierney and Melker Karlsson scored.

Oddly, the Sharks won on the shot clock and in the faceoff circle, the same way the Blues won those in the previous game. The fact that the Sharks were not shut out seems like a negligible detail.

It was the first time in these playoffs that Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer decided to pull goaltender Martin Jones from the game and put backup James Reimer in. It was a stark contrast to the consecutive shutouts that Jones pulled off in the last two games. On the performance of Jones, Sharks forward Tommy Wingels said afterwards:

We hung him out to dry tonight, he made some big saves there and he gave us a chance. We kept giving them more opportunities, odd-man rushes and guys alone at the net. So that’s certainly not on [Jones] at all, it’s on every guy in front of him.

It is anyone’s guess whether we will see these teams bring their best game to the same game in this series. The first game may have been the closest we will see, as each subsequent game has shown one team or the other at their best and the other very much not so. Of the Sharks’ performance Saturday, forward Logan Couture said: “We weren’t ourselves early. When you give a good team a two-nothing lead, and you give up a short-handed goal, that’s pretty much it.”

Tommy Wingels went into some detail about what the Sharks did wrong in this game:

We got away from our game. Our game is going north with it, it’s making plays where we’re there, it’s gettin pucks past their d-men, through the neutral zone and in on the forecheck. We got away from that, we turned pucks over, we turned it into a track meet for the first twenty, thirty minutes.

The only change in either lineup from Game 3 was Jake Allen, replacing goaltender Brian Elliott in the Blues net. After the game, Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock talked about the decision to put Jake Allen in net:

He gave us exactly what we needed. He’s a competitive son of a gun and we needed a battler in there. We needed somebody to really help us play better defense. And we played with more passion in front of him in our own zone because I made the goalie change. And I had to make that decision. But I just felt like we were allowing them too much easy space with [Elliott] in there. And [Elliott] was getting bombarded and we needed to just dig in a little bit deeper defensively if we were going to have a chance in this series.

Almost four minutes in, Roman Polak took a shot from the blue line that looked like it was in, at least from one end of the rink. A section in the audience got half way to their feet before seeing that it was not a goal. The crowd was ready and confident that any Shark could score from anywhere. The game did not fulfill their expectations.

Instead, five minutes in, the Sharks took the first penalty, a tripping call to Brent Burns. Before that power play was over, the Blues had taken the lead. The goal was Troy Brouwer’s, with assists to Robby Fabbri and Paul Stastny. Coach DeBoer challenged the play as offside but the goal stood up and the Sharks lost their timeout.

Shortly after the half way mark of the first, matters got worse for the Sharks. Jori Lehtera took a shot that Jones stopped, and the rebound went to the other side of the crease, where Robby Fabbri was waiting. Jones got across and stopped two shots, but a third rebound went out front to Lehtera, who put it under a prone Brent Burns and into the net.

The Sharks had their first power play a few seconds fater that, an interference call on Paul Stastny. The first power play unit did not look their worst, but they were not as sharp as they have been. The Blues took advantage of some poor passes and overdressed plays and killed the penalty. The second unit had no more success, and only a little less time. The first unit went off the ice with just under a minute left in the power play.

The next power play came with just 21 seconds remaining in the period, and it went to the Blues. As they waited for a delayed slashing call on Vlasic, another shooter drew Jones away from the net and got the puck behind him. Burns was there again he knocked the puck away.

Just over half way through the Vlasic penalty, Logan Couture put the puck over the glass and gave the Blues a two man advantage for 48 seconds. The Sharks survived both penalties and got a round of applause for it.

Their next power play, though, earned applause only from the Blues fans in the building.
Jaden Schwartz and Kyle Brodziak escapaed through the neutral zone with the puck, attacking two on one against Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Schwartz passed and Brodziak shot at the far corner on Jones, scoring his first of the playoffs short handed at 6:09, while Kevin Shattenkirk sat in the box for interference. An assist went to Jaden Schwartz. Their escape was explained by Joe Thornton after the game: “It was going to [Pavelski] and Pav thought [Couture] was behind him so he let it go. But it was just one of those plays where usually we make that happen and it just didn’t.”

The Blues’ second even strength goal came just after the half way point of the second. This one looked a lot like the previous one, when Jones had to get from one side of the net to the other and ended up too far from the center of his crease, giving [] an open net to shoot at. After that fourth goal, Peter DeBoer did the same thing Ken Hitchcock did in Game 3: he replaced the goalie. James Reimer hit the ice for the first time in the playoffs.

A minute or so later, a puck hit the netting above the Blues net, which caused the official to blow his whistle. When the puck landed, Hertl knocked the puck inth=o the Blues net. That got a reaction out of the Blues and got ?Hertl all tangled up in a scuffle. Oddly, the officials felt that Thornto ought to go to the box, along with Brouwer, both for roughing, but not each other.

The Four on four play seemed to favor the Sharks, or maybe it was the Blues sitting back on their 4-0 lead. In any case, the penalties elapsed and the score was still 4-0.

As the second wound to an end, the score stood at 4-0 and the shots were 21-15, both in favor of the visitors.

1:05 into the third period, the Sharks pushed back a little. The Thornton-Pavelsk-Hertl line worked their way into the offensive zone, accompanied by the Sharks wrecking ball defenseman, Burns. Burns took one of this familiar skates around behind the net to loosen things up and then made his way back out to the top of the slot. This all seemed to be a distraction as the puck got back to Joe Thornton while Joe p/avelski was making his way to the net.Hertl was already there, possibly screening Allen’s view of Thornton’s pass to Pavelski. It was Pavelski’s tenth goal of the playoffs, Thornton’s 11th assist and Martin’s 4th.

The Blues put the kibosh on the Shark’s excellent third period start when Joel Ward put the puck over the glass at 3:48. Just seven seconds into the power play, Troy Brouwer put the puck around Reimer, off the post and in. Assists went to Alexander Steen and Paul Stastny.

The next attack came the Sharks’ third line of Chris Tierney, Joel Ward and Melker Karlsson. It started with an uncustomary skate deep into the offensive zone, by Justin Braun. That set off a chain reaction that had the Blues scrambling around the energy and quickness of Tierney and Karlsson. They put at least four shots in the direction of the net before one went in at 6:57. The goal went to Chris Tierney with an assist to Melker Karlsson.

The Sharks had another power play at 7:07, but all they got for that was some padding for their shot count. Yet another power play came their way at 10:51. Stastny was in the box again, this time for tripping Chris Tierney. Still the Sharks power play could not launch.

With more than four minutes left, DeBoer pulled Reimer for the extra skater. All that accomplished was the Blues’ sixth goal into an empty net.

With Reimer back in the net, a good push by San Jose’s third line resulted in the Blues’ scoring an own goal while trying to clear Tierney’s pass out of Karlsson’s reach.

With 2:11 left, after a group discussion around the faceoff circle, Brenden Dillon and Carl Gunnarson came to blows. The crowd deemed Dillon to be the winner. Both players left the game. Alexander Steen and Tommy Wingels also received ten minute misconducts.

The final shot count was 34-27 San Jose.

Game 5 will be in St. Louis on Monday at 5:00 PT.

Stars Hand Sharks Third Straight Loss

By Mary Walsh

AP photo: The Dallas Stars Mattias (13) Janmark was on the mark finding the back of the net twice Saturday against the San Jose Sharks here he goes for a victory lap with teammates after his second period goal

SAN JOSE- The Dallas Stars beat the San Jose Sharks by a score of 4-2 on Saturday afternoon. It was the Sharks’ third straight loss, all on home ice. It also leaves them still waiting to clinch a spot in the playoffs. It was a disappointing follow up to Thursday’s defeat at the hands of the Edmonton Oilers, but Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer saw some positives in Saturday’s game:

I think we played a pretty good game tonight. Obviously we didn’t win. It was one of those nights where every mistake we made ended up in our net and we couldn’t buy one at the other end for a couple periods. You gotta be careful and make sure you keep the proper perspective. Obviously we want to be winning every game his time of year but we’ve won a lot of games over the season where we played like that. So we just gotta build on the positive.

Sharks goals came from Joel Ward and Tomas Hertl. Sharks goaltender Martin Jones made 13 saves on 16 shots. Two Dallas goals came from Mattias Janmark, and one each from Patrick Sharp and Jamie Benn. Antti Niemi made 34 saves on 36 Sharks shots. The shot discrepancy is not unfamiliar to the Sharks. After the game, Sharks defenseman Brenden Dillon said: “The last couple games I think we’ve been doing a pretty good job. That’s one of the top scoring teams in the league and we limited them to 17 shots against so obviously we can’t be satisfied when we still lose the game and get no points.”

The Stars’ Antoine Roussel was a conspicuous participant in the first six penalties of the game, including a fight with Tommy Wingels. His antics did slow the game down. After the game, Wingels said:

I don’t get it. It’s embarrassing, I don’t think that stuff belongs in the game. Every shift after that you’re going to try to fight again. The rest don’t want that, the players don’t want their teammates… the fans don’t want to see after every whistle you have to be broken up.

Those Roussel penalties were not the only ones in the game. In all, the Sharks had six chances on the man advantage, but did not score. Sharks captain Joe Pavelski said, of their power play:

You give our PP unit that much time, we’ve got to get one, you know. We’ve got to really find a way to produce, not just chances but goals. And we didn’t do a good enough job there. There were a few looks we had, we still need to be a little cleaner I think but this time of the year PKs are hard, they’re aggressive. You got to make those entries count, you got to make the faceoffs count, I didn’t win enough of those draws. They’re all parts where they really add to that momentum throughout the PP. Could do a better job, sure.

Missing from the Sharks lineup was Joonas Donskoi. He did skate in the warmups, which may indicate that his absence will not be a long one. Matt Nieto and Marc-Edouard Vlasic both missed their fifth games since injury on March 17. Dainius Zubrus moved up to the Couture line, and Micheal Haley played on the the fourth.

The Dallas Stars have sustained several significant injuries this season. They are presently without perpetual scoring threat Tyler Seguin and regular blue-liner Jason Demers. John Klingberg, talented young defenseman, recently returned from injury, giving his team a needed boost.

The first period was going by scoreless, with a penalty per team and a couple of scuffles. Brenden Dillon took a roughing minor against Antoine Roussel. Roussel then took a slashing minor against Micheal Haley. Roussel and Tommy Wingels finished with fighting majors around the 14 minute mark. At 15:28, the shot count was 12 to 3 Sharks. On the Stars’ fourth shot, the puck went over Martin Jones’ pad for Mattias Janmark’s 14th goal of the season. His shot from the blue line got a little help from passing traffic. Assists went to Jordie Benn and Ales Hemsky.

The Stars added to their lead 4:22 into the second. A miscalculation from Jones left him too far from the crease and the net open for Janmark. Tomas Hertl made an attempt to stop the goal, but he lacks experience as a goaltender. Assists went to Jason Spezza and Stephen Johns.

The first penalty of the game that did not involve Antoine Roussel came 6:40 into the second. The Sharks did not score. Joe Pavelski went to the box at 13:41 for boarding against Johnny Oduya. During the ensuing power play, Jason Spezza made a pass from below the faceoff circle across the ice and back. Patrick Sharp took the shot quickly and cleanly. Assists went to Spezza and Klingberg.

The Sharks had a late power play, at 15:35. Stephen Johns went to the box for elbowing Roman Polak. With four seconds left in the period, Klingberg was called for roughing, and Thornton received the same.

Seventeen seconds into the third, Stars captain Jamie Benn was called for hooking Joe Pavelski. As a result, the teams payed four on three for 1:40. The Stars went right to the man advantage when Dylan DeMelo was called for slashing, just as the Sharks power play expired.

Before the DeMelo penalty expired, Joel Ward put the Sharks on the board with a short-handed goal. Antti Niemi handled the puck behind the net and he made a pass up the wall. After the pass, Joel Ward skated in behind him and seemed to nudge him from behind. Niemi went down and was thus unable to get back to his crease before Ward could put the puck in an open net.

The Sharks closed the gap further at 5:48 with a goal from Tomas Hertl. Taking advantage of busy traffic in the slot, Brent Burns made a pass to Pavelski, who carried it a bit and tried a backhand shot. Hertl skated in behind him and caught the rebound for his 19th goal of the season. Assists went to Pavelski and Burns.

Alex Goligoski was caught hooking at 10:09, putting the Sharks back on their thus-far ineffective power play. It was not effective.

The Stars took another penalty at 13:24, this time to Mattias Lanmark for tripping DeMelo. Still no power play goal.

The Sharks took their time out with 1:35 left in the game, and set up for an offensive zone faceoff with their net empty. Dallas wont the faceoff and iced the puck. The Sharks made better use of the next faceoff and moved the puck around in the Dallas zone, but with 1:08 left in the game, the Stars’ Patrick Sharp took control of the puck, passed it to Jamie Benn and Benn put it in the empty net.

The Sharks next play on Monday against the visiting Los Angeles Kings at 7:00 PT.

Sharks Sink Rangers 4-1

By Mary Walsh

AP photo: San Jose Sharks Joe Pavelski is congratulated by Joe Thornton and Tomas Hertl after scoring third period goal vs. the NY Rangers on Saturday afternoon

SAN JOSE– The San Jose Sharks overwhelmed the New York Rangers in a 4-1 win Saturday. It has been a while since the Sharks passed the 50 shot mark in a game, but they did so Saturday. They pummeled Henrik Lundqvist with 47 before he left the game, and Antti Ranta faced five more, for a total of 52 shots. At the other end, Martin Jones faced 25 shots and stopped 24. Two San Jose goals were scored by Joel Ward, one by Joe Thornton and another by Joe Pavelski. Tomas Hertl picked up three assists in the game, while Patrick Marleau picked up an assist in his 1400th career NHL game. The lone Rangers goal was scored by Dan Boyle.

Three of the Sharks goals came in the third period, after a hard-fought two periods. After the game, Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer said: “I liked our game through 40 minutes. I thought that if we stuck with it, kept pushing and kept pushing, eventually we would find a crack and I think that’s what happened.”

Missing from the Sharks lineup were Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Matt Nieto, both injured in Thursday’s game against Arizona. Neither injury is expected to be long-term and the team anticipates they will both be back in time for playoffs. Dylan DeMelo was in for Vlasic, while Tommy Wingels returned from injury to fill out the forward lines. He was slotted in on the fourth line, while Chris Tierney moved up to play with Marleau and Ward. That was where Tierney had finished Thursday’s game as well.

After the game, Tommy Wingels talked about how the team should be able to handle the absence of key players:

Guys earn each other’s confidence. When you can show your linemates that you can contribute, you can show your teammates that you can be relied on, the depth shines. To go far in this league you need guys, you need a full team of guys who can do that. I think in this last stretch here, these past 25 games, we’ve really shown each other that any guy can stand up at any moment and that’s what you need.

3:16 into the first period, the Sharks were on the penalty kill. Just back from injury, Tommy Wingels was called for closing his hand on the puck. The Sharks killed the penalty off and followed up with a fairly amazing shift in the Rangers’ zone, complete with last-ditch keep-ins, falling pass interceptions and a couple of good shots. The team looked ready to play.

The Rangers responded with some strong shifts in the Sharks’ zone and the first period went back and forth that way without a goal. At the first intermission, the Sharks held slight leads in faceoffs and shots, and had half as many giveaways as the Rangers. The Rangers had blocked nine shots to the Sharks’ three.

Wingels went to the box to start the second period as well, taking Tanner Glass with him at 2:14. Wingels went for tripping Mats Zuccarello, Glass for roughing Wingels. No harm was done, but no benefit gained either as the four on four elapsed with the game still scoreless. The Sharks had their first power play at 6:01 of the second, for too many men on the ice. J.T. Miller did the time for the Rangers.

The Sharks power play was a bit unsteady at first, but found traction with the second unit. With 11 seconds left, Joonas Donskoi controlled the puck as it came around behind the Rangers net, and sent a quick reverse pass to Joel Ward in the slot. He wasted no time taking the shot for his 19th of the season. Assists went to Donskoi and Hertl.

Dan Boyle tied the game with 2:28 left in the second. Derrick Brassard and Dan Boyle surprised the Sharks with a two on one. Brenden Dillon went down to block Brassard’s pass to Boyle, but the puck got around him. It looked like Jones would stay with Boyle and stop the shot but Boyle waited him out and put the puck in with a nifty backhand. Assists went to Brassard and Marc Staal.

At the end of the second, the Sharks held a 37-18 shot lead.

Five seconds into the third, Marc Staal went to the box for delay of game. The Sharks power play started more quickly this time around but did not score. The Sharks had a series of good chances almost five minutes in, with as many as three tries in fewer seconds but Lundqvist stopped all of them.

Just past the five minute mark, though, the Sharks took the lead back. Tomas Hertl carried the puck over the line and fought his way around the Rangers defense. He carried the puck through a tight turn and to the front of the blue paint. Lundqvist stopped his shot but as Hertl was being taken down to the side of the net, Joe Thornton arrived in front to pick up the rebound and put it away. Assists went to Hertl and Joe Pavelski.

1:49 later, Marleau, Ward and Tierney skated in three on two. Instead of passing, Ward scored his 20th with a shot from the left circle. Assists went to Marleau and Paul Martin. The floodgates were open. Joe Pavelski scored his 33rd of the season in a two on none breakaway at 9:05. Tomas Hertl picked his third assist of the game, and Antti Ranta came in to relieve Lundqvist in goal. At that time, the Sharks held a shot lead of 47-21.

The Sharks took another penalty at 10:32, but not to Wingels. This time it was Dainius Zubrus, for tripping Ryan McDonagh. The Sharks killed the penalty handily, throwing in a couple of short-handed chances to boot. The Rangers looked deflated after that. They managed few shots, and took one more penalty with 1:07 left in the game. The penalty was to Dominic Moore, for boarding Dylan DeMelo. The Sharks made a modest effort to do something with the power play, but Paul Martin ended by holding the puck behind the Sharks net for the last several seconds of the game. It was a reasonable choice.

The Sharks next play on at 7:00 PT Sunday at SAP against the Arizona Coyotes.

Sharks Win 7-0 at Home

By Mary Walsh

photo credit: USA Today SJ Sharks Tomas Hertl scores on Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jonathan Bernier in Saturday’s Sharks laugher

SAN JOSE– The San Jose Sharks ran over the Toronto Maple Leafs by a score of 7-0 on Saturday. After the game, Sharks defenseman Justin Braun summed it up: “You can’t ask for much more, you know? Scoring, goalie played great. It’s one of those games you don’t drop and it works out that way.”

It would be an understatement to say that the Sharks have lacked depth scoring over the past dozen games, or even throughout the season. Players like Tomas Hertl, Tommy Wingels, Matt Nieto, Melker Karlsson, and Joonas Donskoi have all failed to pull their weight on the scoreboard. Saturday, they seemed hell bent on making up for that. Only time will tell if they can sustain it, but the 7-0 win on Saturday showed that they can do the job.

The Sharks started the game with distinctly different forward lines. They were: Donskoi-Couture-Karlsson, Pavelski-Thornton-Hertl, Ward-Marleau-Nieto, and Wingels-Tierney-Brown. After the game, Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer was asked whether these new forward lines was the key to success for the struggling players. He said:

I don’t think the line shuffles changed it. I think we’ve got a proud group in there, I don’t think… they weren’t happy about where we were sitting. I think they were smart enough to recognize we were doing a lot of good things. But we needed a little bit more out of everybody. And they fixed that themselves. Now again we have to build on that.

Tomas Hertl scored twice and earned an assist. Joonas Donskoi, Matt Nieto and Melker Karlsson each scored a goal, and Wingels earned two assists. Usual suspects, Brent Burns and Joe Pavelski, scored the other two goals. After the game, Tommy Wingels said:

I think when we have four dangerous lines out there you see the potential that this team has. And if we’re going to make a run and string some wins together, that’s what we’re going to need. Certainly a lot of guys feel better about their games today than they have in games past. Myself, other guys– be happy with it, gain some confidence and continue it on to the next game.

The other guy with a big blinking question mark over his head has been goaltender Martin Jones, who seemed to share his team’s allergy to wins on home ice. His performance Saturday made him look like he was worth the first round draft pick that the Sharks gave up for him. Especially in the first period, while the game was still scoreless, Jones was key. In all, he made 28 saves for the shutout. After the game, he said:

It was a close game before we started scoring in the second there. Obviously we had some timely goals in the second and kind of ran away with it but it was just a solid game from everybody from start to finish.

The Maple Leafs gave the Sharks ample opportunity to score, and the Sharks took advantage. It was the first goal, from Brent Burns, that seemed to open the flood gates for the Sharks. It was a stand out play under any circumstances, but his single-handed incursion early in the second period was pivotal for his team on Saturday. After the game, DeBoer said of the goal:

That was huge, because I thought we were a little tentative, we were almost in that ‘waiting for something to go wrong’ mindset. And he just said **** it and took the puck and that changed the game for us. That play changed the game.

The game did not start off like a high-scoring affair. The Sharks had the first power play, after Jake Gardiner was called for holding Tommy Wingels. The hold resulted in a three-player pile up in the Toronto net at 5:24. Once the officials untangled the players, the Sharks attempted to launch an attack with the man advantage. Their efforts were no real threat to Toronto, and the two minutes elapsed without the Sharks adding a shot on goal.

The Sharks took another swing at the power play with just 2:09 left in the first. Leo Komarov went to the box for boarding Longan Couture. This time, the Sharks did get a shot on goal, one from Brent Burns. The second unit of Ward, Hertl, Donskoi, Burns and Vlasic got another shot in, and another pile up in the goal crease.

At the end of the first period, the shot count was 12-7 Toronto. Five of those San Jose shots were from defensemen, Burns and Justin Braun with two each and Marc-Edouard Vlasic with one. The others were from Matt Nieto and Tommy Wingels.

At 4:18 of the second period, Brent Burns took the game over for a shitf, skated out of the neutral zone and into the offensive zone, fending off defenders most of the way, and put the puck past James Reimer. Assists went to Paul Martin and Joe Pavelski. It was Burns’ 17th of the season.

The Maple Leafs had their turn on the power play at 7:01, when Paul Martin was called for a high stick against Shawn Matthias. The San Jose penalty kill was more effective than their power play had been. Perhaps that is because Matt Nieto and Tommy Wingels don’t get much time on the power play. During the second minute of the penalty kill, Tommy Wingels chased a puck down in the offensive zone. The Maple Leafs seemed to have forgotten about the puck as they made a line change and almost no one went after Wingels. With Nieto darting down the other wing, a lone Toronto defender could not get back in time to prevent Wingels from making a late pass across to Nieto, who put the puck in the open net. Assists went to Wingels and Brent Burns.

The Sharks also killed the penalty.

Dion Phaneuf decided that Wingels was worth a five-minute fighting major, on top of the interference minor he received at the same time. The Sharks power play again lacked inspiration or cohesion.

Ironically, shortly after it expired, the Sharks extended their lead with a Joe Pavelski goal. Hertl’s pass from below the goal line was a thing of beauty, as he threw it behind him while facing the boards, hitting his mark perfectly. Pavelski was where he needed to be, right in front of the blue paint. Assists went to Hertl and Thornton.

Less than two minutes later, Justin Braun took a shot from high in the slot, which Hertl followed to the net. Hertl corralled the rebound and put it lightly over Bernier’s pad for a 4-0 lead. The lone assist went to Braun.

When the period ended, the Sharks were behind on the shot clock 19-21.

22 seconds into the third period, Matt Nieto was called for hooking. Martin Jones had to make several good saves in the first minute, a sign that the penalty killers were not as sharp as earlier in the game. The Toronto power play was also more composed.

A fifth Sharks goal came at 4:10. Chris Tierney caught a pass from Justin Braun at the Toronto blue line and sent it to Melker Karlsson as he darted across the line into the slot. Karlsson put the puck past Bernier and Toronto coach Mike Babcock made a coach’s challenge on the basis of a missed offside call. The challenge was overruled and the goal stood up. While Tierney’s skates were clearly across the line before the puck was, he had full control of it which negated an offside ruling.

Joonas Donskoi extended the lead to six when he took the puck from the half boards, evaded two different Toronto skaters, went behind the net and slid the puck in between skate and post. That was at 9:28 of the third, and assists went to Wingels and Vlasic.

Hertl scored again at 11:22, despite Bernier’s attempts to push him away from the net. Assists went to Braun and Vlasic.

The Sharks next play on Monday in Calgary against the Flames at 6:00 PT.

Sharks Earn “Good Point” in 4-3 Loss to Blackhawks

By Mary Walsh

photo credit: San Jose Sharks Marc Edouard-Vlasic

The San Jose Sharks fell 4-3 to the Chicago Blackhawks in overtime Sunday. It was the Sharks’ second loss in a row on this road trip, but it was a much better performance from the Sharks than we saw on Friday. Without several key players, the Sharks took the lead twice and hung in there against a formidable opponent. With this loss, the Sharks fell to 3-7-1 in their last 11 games against Chicago.

Sharks goals were scored by Joonas Donskoi, Tommy Wingels and Joe Pavelski. Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic scored his 200th career point in his 700th career game. Blackhawks goals came from Artem Anisimov, Patrick Kane, Andrew Shaw and the game winner was scored by Jonathan Toews. Chicago’s Corey Crawford made 33 saves on 36 shots.

After the game, Sharks captain Joe Pavelski said:

We gotta stay with it. We gotta stay with it ’cause we played a pretty good game. You know, it wasn’t good enough, that’s a good team over there and they find ways and we needed to find a way tonight and we didn’t.

Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer said:

That’s a good point for us, considering the circumstances. Coming in here, Karlsson went down just before the game, so we’re a little shorthanded. Played a lot of, you know, gave the young guys a lot of good minutes and they held up.

Of the team’s resilience after the second tying goal, he said: “We played a real solid game, I was real proud of our group and the effort top to bottom.”

The Sharks went into the game without forwards Joel Ward and Melker Karlsson. Joel Ward’s injury occurred in the final minute of Friday’s game in Ottawa, when Mark Borowiecky pushed him into the boards. Ward has historically been a very durable player, so for him to be injured bodes ill. After the game, DeBoer said that Karlsson had the flu.

Of Ward’s absence, Tommy Wingels said:

He’s a guy that plays big minutes for us, big situations, plays power play, penalty kill and a lot of five-on-five minutes. I think the guys did a good job of filling his minutes but we’ll see and we hope that he’s ready to go for the next game.

Still without Logan Couture, the team dressed seven defensemen after sending Barclay Goodrow back to the AHL Sunday. Just off of injured reserve, Ben Smith was in the lineup to face his old team. Dylan DeMelo was also dressed to fill out the bench, though the Sharks were still short one forward.

Of all the missing players, DeBoer said:

It’s not just Joel Ward. You know, Joel Ward’s a big missing piece, but when you add Couture and Karlsson to that, it’s a… you know… a second… first/second line for us that’s out of the lineup. It’s a big hole for us but I thought everybody stepped up and did a good job.

The Blackhawks were without forward Marian Hossa and had played the night before.

The Blackhawks took an early lead when Paul Martin lost the puck much too close to the Sharks net. Martin was hooked, causing him to bobble the puck instead of clearing it out of danger, but the officials did not agree. Really, Patrick Kane used his stick in such a way that had the hook on MArtin’s hands been missed, it could have beena tripping call since the stick that touched Martin’s hands was also between Martin’s legs, prying up one knee. The goal went to Artem Anisimov at 4:18.

Joonas Donskoi tied the game just over three minutes later, Patrick Marleau won a faceoff in the defensive zone, kicking the puck to Marc-Edouard Vlasic by the goal line. Vlasic tapped it to Justin Braun, who gave it right back as Vlasic went behind the net. Vlasic carried it around behind the net and sent a pass almost to the Chicago blue line, where Donskoi caught it for a breakaway. Donskoi escaped two pursuers and drew Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford out of position, then put the puck home to tie the game.

At 8:25 of the period, Mike Brown and Brandon Mashinter had a scrap. While they sat in the box, Andrew Shaw was called for interference, giving the Sharks the first power play of the game.

The first unit of Marleau, Pavelski, Hertl, Burns and Thornton did not have much luck, but the second unit of Donskoi, Wingels, Vlasic, Nieto and Marleau gave the Sharks a lead. A pass from Vlasic at the point got to Vlasic aboe the faceoff circle. Wingels sent a shot through traffic, including a good screen by Donskoi, right into the top corner. Assists went to Vlasic and Donskoi.

The lead did not last long. Under two minutes later, Duncan Keith took a shot from the Sharks’ blue line. Martin Jones stopped it, and then stopped another shot from Dennis Rasmussen. He could not stop Patrick Kane as he picked up the puck by the post and bounced it gently off of Jones’ back, into the net. The Sharks challenged the play as offside, but the goal held up and the Sharks lost their timeout. Assists went to Rasmussen and Keith.

The first ended with some minutes of back and forth, all chances being snuffed out early. Neither team managed to get very close to the other’s net.

About six minutes into the second period, Joonas Donskoi blocked a Duncan Keith slapshot with his right kneee and was slow to get up. He stayed on the ice, finally got to his feet and moments later blocked a Niklas Hjalmarsson shot with his left ankle. That got the puck out and he was finally able to get off the ice.

After that, Tomas Hertl took a shift in Donskoi’s spot on a line with Marleau and Nieto. Hertl turned up on various lines throughout the game, as the most-moving piece with only eleven forwards available.

With 5:15 left in the second, Paul Martin took a shot from the blue line, which Joe Thornton slowed down with a touch of his stick. The puck carried on towards the net, where Joe Pavelski stopped with his stick. This aloowed him to slide the puck around the goaltender for his seventh point on the road trip. Assists went to Joe Thornton and Paul Martin.

During the last 12 seconds of the period, Patrick Marleau was called for interference after he skated backwards into Corey Crawford.

The Sharks killed off the penalty, most of it in the third period. 2:15 into the third, Matt Nieto drew a holding the stick penalty. The Sharks did not convert on the power play, and had another chance at 4:35. Patrick Kane went to the box for high-sticking Vlasic, as he followed Vlasic into the corner.

Again, the Sharks did not score and just seconds after the power play expired, Andrew Shaw tied the game. After thwarting a three on one, the Sharks saw Shaw escape Paul Martin in the corner and then put the puck up over Jones’ shoulder.

The second half of the third period was so fast as to make overtime seem redundant. They went to the three-on-three session anyway, since no one scored in the mad scramble that was then end of regulation.

The overtime period was a good one. Where the first overtimes were helter-skelter, and some of the later ones have been too conservative, this one struck a nice balance of speed and defensive awareness. It was still a setting for unexpected situations, like the one that ended the game. The period saw several two-on-ones at both ends, until finally Matt Nieto was the one against Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. Kane had just come on the ice as Toews crossed the blue line. The pair made two passes to get around Nieto and then Toews beat Jones on the far side.

Joe Pavelski led the Sharks in hits with 11. Patrick Marleau led in shots with 9. Martin Jones made 28 saves on 32 shots.

The Sharks next play on Tuesday against the Kings in Los Angeles at 7:30 PT.

Wild Hand Sharks Sixth Straight Loss

By Mary Walsh

photo credit: Minnesota Wild Zach Parise

SAN JOSE–The Sharks lost their sixth in a row to the Minnesota Wild on Saturday. Generally, the game was close, with the 2-0 score including an empty net goal during the final minute of play. The goals were scored by Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu. Minnesota goalie Darcy Kuemper made 25 saves in the shutout, while the Sharks’ Martin Jones played an excellent game too, making 28 saves on 29 shots.

As the Sharks attempted to end their losing streak, head coach Peter DeBoer mixed his forward lines, with more frequency than he has done this season. Every single line was different from the last game, and all but one line changed within the game. It did not change the result, as the Minnesota Wild handed the Sharks their straight loss.

Minnesota recorded their first shot almost five minutes into the first period. It was a good, clean shot from the faceoff circle that Jones gobbled up without any fuss. The Sharks had four shots by then, but they looked like a team working out new lines, which they were. During the first period, the forward lines were: Pavelski-Hertl-Marleau, Wingels-Thornton-Karlsson, Donskoi-Tierney-Ward, and Brown-Carpenter-Zubrus. Every single line had been changed since the loss in Edmonton.

The Sharks had a power ply at 9:35 of the period, when Mikael Granlund went to the box for holding. The power play did not accomplish much, as the Sharks could not stop turning the puck over in the neutral and offensive zones.

At 16:06, some negligence from the Sharks defense allowed Tomas Vanek to get out of the neutral zone with the puck, and make a break for the Sharks’ zone. Jones stopped the shot and kept the game in a scoreless tie. Jones had to make another, tougher save in the final two minutes on Mikko Koivu, who also had too much time to plan and take his shot.

As the period wound down, the shots were tied as well, and the Minnesota took the lead. It was not on the scoreboard but it was a symptom of a momentum shift. The Sharks did have a few moments of offensive zone time at the end of the period, but Minnesota seemed to be getting stronger while the Sharks idled.

The Sharks’ Patrick Marleau drew a tripping penalty early in the second period, a result of a much stronger start for the Sharks. Their power play looked a little more organized as well, with more passes connecting and a very good chance for Joe Pavelski in the slot.

Coach DeBoer mixed up the lines a bit in the second, moving Karlsson to the Tierney-Ward line, and Donskoi to the Thornton-Wingels line. The latter had one of the best chances of the period, when Wingels and Donskoi followed a Thornton shot to the net and caused a pile up in the paint that the officials had to untangle after the whistle.

At the end of the period, Thornton, Pavelski and Marleau made an appearance on the ice together, suggesting yet more line juggling from the coach.

With 1:45 left in the second, Mike Brown was called for boarding, giving the Wild their first power play of the game. During the penalty kill, Joel Ward blocked a shot and was a little slow to get up.

The Sharks trailed in shots by just one at the end of the second, with the score still 0-0.

To start the third, Thornton was on the ice with Wingels and Pavelski. Then Marleau, Donskoi and Karlsson came on as a line. Then Ward, Tierney and Hertl. Only the fourth line remained intact, as it had throughout the game. To the credit of that line, they had been very effective at gaining the zone and creating chances, just not enough so to score.

The Wild finally broke the tie, after Jones had already made several tough saves. Zach Parise was left wide open in front of the net. Donskoi was the only Shark skater in the vicinity and he was a little too slow to react. Assists went to Mikael Granlund and Jason Pominville.

An empty netter for Mikko Koivu put the game away, but not until the final minute.

The Sharks’ shot leader was Joonas Donskoi with four. The hits leader was Tommy Wingels with seven. Wingels also had three shots to go with those hits.

The Sharks made a number of roster moves before Saturday’s game. Marc-Edouard Vlasic returned to the lineup, but Logan Couture was out again, this time with a small arterial bleed in his upper leg. There is no new timetable for Couture’s return, but in a press release, Doug Wilson said: “At this time, there is no projected time frame for his return to the ice but we do not expect this to be a long-term recovery. Fortunately, this injury is completely unrelated to his previous ankle injury.”

Dylan DeMelo played as Brenden Dillon’s partner. Forward Ben Smith was assigned to the San Jose Barracuda on a conditioning assignment. Forward Ryan Carpenter was called up. Matt Tennyson and Matt Nieto were scratches.

One other note: the Shark head stayed in the rafters Saturday. The Sharks did not skate through it on their way onto the ice.

The Sharks next play on Tuesday, December 15, in Montreal at 4:30 PT.

Lightning Strike Early And Often, Beat Sharks 4-3

By Mary Walsh

photo credit: AP of Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov skates as he scored twice aginast San Jose Saturday night

SAN JOSE: The San Jose Sharks finally scored a power play goal at home. They scored three, but lost 4-3 to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday. Tampa Bay’s 20th place penalty kill probably jumped up a couple of ranking spots after killing seven penalties on Saturday night. Or maybe not, since they also gave up three power play goals. The first one was to Matt Tennyson, who broke the cursed power play scoring drought for the Sharks. The second went to Joel Ward, and the third to Brent Burns.

Al Stalock made 16 saves on 20 shots for the Sharks, while Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop made 24 saves on 26 shots before leaving the game with an injury. His replacement, Andrei Vasilevskiy made seven saves on eight shots. Tampa Bay goals were scored by Eric Condra, Nikita Kucherov (two) and Brian Boyle. There were some bright spots in the Sharks’ game, but not enough.

Tampa Bay wasted no time getting the scoring started. Just 2:19 into the game, Nikita Kucherov was able to skate through the slot, avoiding one Sharks defender and using the other as a screen, to put a shot right under Stalock. An assist went to defenseman Victor Hedman.

Near the halfway mark, Joe Pavelski was called for high sticking. Really, the infraction occurred as much as a minute before the time of the penalty, as Tampa Bay tried to make something of the delayed call, skating at length with their net empty. Despite their efforts, they were unable to launch an attack until the power play was under way. Even then, they only recorded one shot with the man advantage.

It was not until after that power play expired that the Lightning struck again, this time with a pass from the wall, near or below the goal line, that seemed to bounce off of a well-placed stick in front of the blue paint. The goal went to Eric Condra, with assists to Andrej Sustr and J.T. Brown.

The Sharks drew a hooking call with 3:27 left in the period. Brian Boyle was the culprit. The Sharks had some difficulty getting their power play in order, and Tampa Bay’s penalty killers were aggressive.

Karlsson, Donskoi, Hertl, Braun and Martin took the ice with less than 30 seconds left in the penalty. The first power play unit was made up of Thornton, Pavelski, Ward, Marleau and Burns. The power play expired and the Sharks went into the first intermission down by 2-0. The Sharks were also trailing on the shot clock, with just four to Tampa Bay’s six.

The Lightning took another penalty, this time for too many men on the ice, but Tommy Wingels was called bout 30 seconds later for goaltender interference.

During the four on four time that followed, the Sharks kept the Lightning hemmed in their zone, and put a few shots on net to boot.

Around the seven minute mark of the second, the Lightning overwhelmed the Sharks’ fourth line of Chris Tierney, Dainius Zubrus and Mike Brown. The Lightning did not score, but the Sharks were trapped in their zone for too long.

The Sharks had another try on the power play at 9:20, when Braydon Coburn was called for holding. Tommy Wingels drew that call. The Sharks recorded a few shots during the power play but did not get anything past Bishop.

At 12:55, the Sharks seemed to have scored after a wild scramble, but the goal was called off as the referee lost sight of the puck and blew the whistle before the puck crossed the line.

That was followed by a holding call to Andrej Sustr, and again the bulk of the power play time was given to the top unit. They could not do anything with that time, but the second unit, if indeed that is what they are, did score. Matt Tennyson’s shot from near the point got by Bishop, with assists to Justin Braun and Tomas Hertl. The other skaters on the ice were Donskoi and Karlsson.

With just over five minutes left, Chris Tierney went to the box for tripping. The Sharks were doing a great job killing the penalty, often stopping the Lightning at the blue line. Half way through, Joel Ward was called for tripping as well, putting the Sharks down by two men for 50 seconds. The Sharks held them off for 30 of those seconds but Steven Stamkos and Kucherov took advantage of the Sharks being a little too far from their goal and found a 2 on 1 chance. A late pass from Stamkos set Kucherov up perfectly. He picked a corner over Stalock’s shoulder and gave Tampa Bay a 3-1 lead.

At the end of the second, the shots were 18-14 Sharks, the score 3-1 Lightning.

The Sharks’ belaguered power play had another shot 40 seconds into the third period, when Tomas Hertl drew a tripping call on Anton Stralman. Donskoi, Hertl and Karlsson started this one, but had no luck. The Ward-Marleau-Thornton unit came out for the second minute of the power play. No joy there either.

DeBoer put the third line out after the power play expired, with Wingels, Hertl and Nieto. They started well but Brian Boyle broke away with Brown in a two on one. Stalock stopped Brown’s shot but lost track of the puck. As it sat there behind his skate, Boyle tapped it in.

Jason Garrison went to the box next, 5:42 in, for interference. That power play started with a two on one chance for Tampa Bay. Burns and Stalock stopped them from scoring but the Sharks never gained any traction.

Victor Hedman went to the box at 8:13 for cross-checking Chris Tierney. Thirteen seconds into the power play, Brent Burns’ shot went off Joel Ward and by Bishop. Marleau was acting as a screen, and Bishop claimed there was some interference but the goal stood up after a review. Assists went to Brent Burns and Joe Pavelski.

With 11:10 left in regulation, Ben Bishop took a stick through the mask and left the game, being replaced by Andrei Vasilevskiy.

With the penalty count becoming ridiculous, Tampa Bay’s Alex Killorn went to the box for boarding Brenden Dillon.

Brent Burns was clearly on a tear as he took control of the power play, caught a puck at the point, skated backwards around the Lightning zone to pick his spot, and shot it over Vasilevskiy’s shoulder from the faceoff circle.

The Sharks had a couple fo chances after that but even with an empty net they could not truly control play in the offensive zone and no more goals were scored.

The Sharks next play on Tuesday at 6:00 PT, a road game against Calgary.

SJ Sharks Saturday game recap with Mary Lisa Walsh: Sharks Win 5-2 At Home

By Mary Walsh

photo credit CSNBA of the SJ Sharks Tommy Wingels

SAN-JOSE- The San Jose Sharks played the Calgary Flames Saturday, and won 5-2. As if in honor of Ryane Clowe night at SAP, the Sharks played a strong, physical, wily game. Tomas Hertl probably had the most rough and tumble game of his career. Mirco Mueller went to the box with a fighting major. Tommy Wingels, the team’s habitual hits leader, changed things up and was the Sharks’ shot leader for the game.

The first two goals of the game, and the first and third stars of the game, went to the second line of Tommy Wingels, Tomas Hertl and Matt Nieto. Two-thirds of that line was benched in the third period of their last game, so it was rewarding for all involved to see them play so well Saturday. After the game, head coach Pete DeBoer said:

They were a key part of the game tonight, set the tone with the forecheck, got us those two first period goals, key part. We need those guys. Great response game by them and now we need to continue to build on it.

The Sharks won the game without the help of one of their top four defensemen. Justin Braun missed the game and is likely to be out for longer with an infected elbow. The last time the Sharks lost the services of a top defenseman, they struggled badly.

Asked after the game how the defensive corps made the adjustment, Marc-Edouard Vlasic said:

We played well as a team, we didn’t turn pucks over, good support in the d-zone. Good forecheck… I mean, you can be missing two of your top d-men but if you play the way we did tonight you’ll win.

The win seemed a long time coming, as the Sharks’ road record is much better than their home record lately. Additionally, The Flames have been struggling this season, especially in the area of special teams. They posed a perfect storm as a visiting, struggling team that the Sharks should be able to beat. That sort of opponent has long been poisoned bait for the Sharks. That the Sharks prevailed in a big way could mean that the team is breaking some bad habits.

While the shot clock showed the teams even, the first half of the first period found the Sharks more often in the Flames zone than vice versa. Obviously, the Flames had enough time to take their share of the shots, but the Sharks seemed to have the edge to start the game.

There were a couple of near fights, one near each net. Everyone got involved, leaving few skaters not in the fracas, but no penalties were handed out, no one got knocked down, and the game went on.

The line combination of Tomas Hertl, Matt Nieto and Tommy Wingels had started the game with a lot of jump, and at 9:03 of the period, Tommy Wingels opened the scoring with a tipped shot from Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Assists went to Vlasic and Tomas Hertl.

The second goal was Hertl’s, a beautiful wrist shot from the bottom of the circle. Brenden Dillon caught puck on its way, kept it in, and made a quick pass to Hertl for the shot. The only assist went to Dillon.

The period ended 2-0 Sharks with the shots at 11-10 Sharks.

Patrick Marleau was called for holding just 1:31 into the second, giving the Flames the first power play of the game. The Sharks had a lot of trouble clearing the puck in the first minute, and Jones had to scramble. Once the Sharks did get the puck out, they were able to handle the rest of the kill.

At 4:23, Mirco Mueller was called for charging. The Sharks executed the second penalty kill handily, but remained trapped in their zone for some time after it was over.

The sharks had their own turn on the power play at 8:16 of the second. Derek Engellund knocked Nieto down a bit late near the net, which moved Hertl to jump into the fray and just miss being called for something himself. Engellund went to the box for roughing.

Beforew the power play was over, was called for high-sticking Hertl. Hertl protected his face with a hand but the hand seemed to suffer the consequences. Hertl recovered and the Sharks had a short five on three power play.

Seconds into it, Joe Thornton sent a neat little pass across to Joel Ward, who was standing undisturbed in front of the net. Ward was able to tap it in past Hiller.

While the second penalty was still playing out, Patrick Marleau took a shot from the left circle and beat Hiller with the help of some traffic in front of the blue paint. Assists went to Joe Pavelski and Brent Burns.

The period came to an end with the Sharks leading by four goals and five shots.

Just before the middle of the third period, Mirco Mueller and Joe Colborne had a very brief scrap that landed them both in the box for five minutes. It was very brief, but may have had the desired effect, on the Calgary Fames. 41 seconds later, Marcus Granlund skated into the Sharks zone and took a wrist shot that beat Martin Jones. It was his first goal of the season. Assists went to TJ Brodie and Mark Giordano.

25 seconds after that, Tommy Wingels and Marc-Edouard Vlasic scored on a rush the other way. Vlasic took Wingels’ pass from the half boards and shot the puck under pressure from a Flames defender. Vlasic did fall in the end, but the puck went in. Assists went to Wingels and Nieto.

During a scramble around the net at 11:40, Brenden Dillon was called for hooking. The Flames did not score there but, with 1:17 left in the period, they did. After playing the puck behind the net and hastily returning to his net, Martin Jones stopped a couple of shots as Flames skaters moved in, but Michael Ferlund’s shot trickled by him. It was Ferlund’s first of the season, and an assist went to David Jones.

Final score: 5-2 Sharks.

The Sharks’ newest player, Dainius Zubrus, played 13:15 minutes on a line with Mike Brown and Chris Tierney, and 2:02 minutes on the penalty kill. He had two blocked shots and two hits to his credit.

Due to an injury to Justin Braun, Brenden Dillon was paired with Marc-Edouard Vlasic, while Matt Tennyson and Mirco Mueller made up the third pair. They played 14:13 and 11:47 respectively.

The Sharks next play on Tuesday at SAP Center, against the Pittsburgh Penguins at 7:30 PT.

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.

Jones, Penalty Killers Lift Sloppy Sharks to 2-1 Preseason Win Over Canucks

By Matthew T.F. Harrington

A win is a win any time of the year, even preseason, so Tuesday night’s 2-1 San Jose Sharks win over the visiting Vancouver Canucks is a great final result. How the Sharks got there, however, was a different story.

“It’s a good thing it happened in the preseason,” said Sharks forward Tommy Wingels on the team’s sloppy effort Tuesday. “It’s good that we grinded it out and found a way to win the game. You don’t have your best at all times but certainly lots tonight we have to improve on.”

“It’s not the kind of game you’d like to have,” said Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer. “We found a way to win but we were sloppy with our puck management. We have a lot of things to work on. The good news is I thought our goaltending was excellent and our penalty killing was excellent.”

The Sharks scored a goal each in the first two periods, then used a 4-for-4 penalty kill effort and a 30-save outing from Martin Jones to cling to a 2-1 advantage and improve to 3-1-1 in the exhibition schedule with one last weekend road trip still remaining.

“(Assistant coach Johan Hedberg) has done a great job with these guys,” said Wingels on Jones and returning goalie Alex Stalock. “They’ve been at the top of their game from day one.”

Wingels tipped in his first goal of the preseason at the midway point of the first period, redirecting a Paul Martin point shot past Canucks netminder Ryan Miller.

“You don’t want to get too cute,” said Martin on the goal. “We’ve seen that, when you put the puck on net, good things happen. We have guys that are good around the cage and make plays down there.”

The lead would be short-lived, with the visitors scoring in the final minutes of the period. Winger Matt Nieto picked up a loose puck in the corner boards of the defensive end and spun a drop pass in front of Sharks keeper Martin Jones to jump start the rush. Instead, the puck was picked up by opportunist Jared McCann. The unmarked McCann ripped a shot over Jones’ shoulder for a goal with 1:26 remaining in the period.

The Sharks leading scorer in the preseason put them back on top at the 7:43 mark of the 2nd period. Brent Burns received a pass from Mirco Mueller and skated up the left side, burying a wrist shot between Miller’s pads for a 2-1 edge. Burns has a team-high 2 goals and 4 points over 3 preseason contests playing on a pairing with offseason acquisition Paul Martin.

“He definitely makes my job easier,” said Martin. “The hockey sense and the size with the skill he has being that big is impressive.”

“Coach has been great keeping us together, allowing us to grow our chemistry,” said Burns on his rearguard partner. “There are going to be reads that happen in a game in a split second where you’ve got to know what the guy is thinking. It takes time.”

The Canucks threw their weight around in the third period, drawing two power plays, including a 4-on3 to try to tie the game, but a valiant effort from the San Jose penalty kill kept the Sharks ahead. Chris Tierney, Justin Braun and Tommy Wingels all blocked shots shorthanded with just over 5 minutes left in the period. In total, the Canucks outshot San Jose 9-2 in the third (31-22 total), a period that saw DeBoer shuffle all four lines from the starting lineup.

“We wanted to give some guys some different looks in some different spots,” said DeBoer. “We weren’t really happy with where we were at in the game. We tried to shuffle the deck and it didn’t really work.”

The Sharks wrap up the preseason with two weekend road games, Friday in Arizona followed by a Saturday match-up in Anaheim. DeBoer is hoping to see a better performance out of his team, but understands knowing the team’s weaknesses before opening night in Los Angeles on October 7th is more important.

“You’re better having that now then next week,” said DeBoer. “We will know what we have to do better to have success on a consistent basis.”

Notes: After Joonas Donskoi received the opportunity on Friday to play on the top line with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski, it was rookie Nikolay Goldobin’s turn Tuesday. The 19-year-old Russian had one assist and was +1 with a shot on goal. “He did a good job. He definitely showed that he’s skilled enough to play with those guys,” said DeBoer… Chris Tierney left the ice early in the 2nd period after skidding into the Vancouver goal. He missed just one shift while visiting with the trainer and returned to play on his next shift…Tommy Wingels tongue-in-cheek after a successful night in the faceoff dot “I think we should expect that every night.”