Kapanen’s Pair of Goals Caps 5-3 Leafs Win Over Sharks

Photo credit: @SanJoseSharks

By Matthew Harrington

SAN JOSE–Concerns about the San Jose Sharks team defense weren’t alleviated Thursday night with the Sharks dropping a 5-3 contest to the Toronto Maple Leafs (13-6-0) at SAP Center on Thursday night. San Jose offseason target John Tavares scored, Kasperi Kapananen netted a pair and Frederik Andersen made 42 saves to seal a Maple Leafs win. Erik Karlsson picked up a pair of assists while Kevin Labanc, Joe Pavelski and Marc-Edouard Vlasic scored for San Jose (10-7-3).

Just like in Tuesday’s game, the Sharks had the lead after a strong 1st period, but unlike the comeback win against Nashville Tuesday, the Sharks couldn’t finish the job Thursday. Toronto scored three unanswered goals in the second and third periods for the win.

Practically every goal could be linked back to a lapse in decision making that made the Sharks vulnerable defensively. The game-tying goal 2:31 into the second came with two Sharks below the Maple Leafs’ goal line and another two along the faceoff dots. That left only Joakim Ryan back as the defender of a 2-on-1 when Brent Burns’ pass was picked off by Tyler Ennis. Ennis fed Josh Leivo, who ripped a shot over Sharks goalie Martin Jones’ blocker for his second of the year.

The game-winning goal proved another egregious play, amplified by the Sharks being on the power play. Pavelski chose a soft backhand chip up the boards from the blue line that Mitch Marner read and picked off easily. His co-winger Kapanen knew his teammate had it and fled the defensive zone, leading to an academic pass and breakaway goal with 7:54 left in the second. The game-winning goal was Kapanen’s 8th of  the year and second of the game.

Mitch Marner tacked on the dagger goal with 6:06 left in the third, taking a stretch pass from his goalie Andersen right at San Jose’s blue line. From there Marner curled to the outside, wrongfooting Jones before firing a shot few in the NHL could save. The Sharks fired a salvo on Andersen, especially with their net empty, but none of their 15 third period shots could tickle the twine.

The goal outage for San Jose was strange after their ability to score at will in the first. The two teams combined for 28 shots and five goals in the first, with the goals coming in all varieties.

First came Tavares’ goal 2:10 into the game. The Sharks aggressively pursued Tavares in the offseason before he inked his seven-year, $77 million deal with Toronto, which led to a chorus of boos every time he touched the puck Thursday. A even louder boo erupted from the crowd after Tavares banked a puck from behind the net off Vlasic’s skate and into the Sharks net for a 1-0 Maple Leafs lead.

The puck luck evened out for the Sharks after Labanc scored 5:28 into the game. Andersen misplayed a dump-in, thinking the puck would carom out the opposite side of the dump instead of following the puck as it came back on the same side. It came right to Labanc for the tap-in and a tie game.

Kapanen’s first goal came on another case of puck mismanagement after Evander Kane tried to peel back while entering the Toronto zone but lost the puck instead, flinging it back after a Johnny Dermott pokecheck. Patrick Marleau picked up the puck and fed Kapanen for the one-time finish and a 2-1 Leafs lead with 8:13 left in the first.

Pavelski scored the Sharks’ lone power play goal in three opportunities after Burns’ shot-fake pass hit the captain on the far post for the soft-touch redirect. Marc-Edouard Vlasic added a one-timer for his first goal of the year with 1:39 left in a highly entertaining first period.

The Sharks continue the homestand, welcoming the St. Louis Blues to the Shark Tank Saturday. They’ll hope to be with Tomas Hertl in the lineup again after he sat out Thursday’s game due to an injury sustained in the the Tuesday tilt with Nashville.

NHL podcast with Matt Harrington: Jackets on a roll, get ninth win past Caps; Leafs with five-goal win, 6-1, over New Jersey; NHL matchups for tonight

Photo credit: nhl.com/bluejackets

On the NHL podcast with Matt:

#1 The Columbus Blue Jackets (9-6-1) got by the Washington Capitals 2-1 Friday night. The Jackets got a goal from Oliver Bjorkstrand at 17:16 in the first period and Anthony Duclair got goal number seven of the season at 5:09. Not much offense from the Caps.

#2 The Toronto Maple Leafs (11-5-0) and the New Jersey Devils (6-7-1)  skated to a 6-1 five-goal Leafs victory Friday night. The Leafs scored four goals in the second period and they’re not slowing down.

#3 The Vancouver Canucks (10-7-1) are in Buffalo (9-6-2) tonight. How dangerous, how improved are these Canucks this season?  The Sabers won it by a goal 4-3 in a shootout beating a tough Canucks team after having a two goal deficit.

#4 The Chicago Blackhawks (6-7-3) face the Philadelphia Flyers (8-7-1) at the Wells Fargo Center. Is this an evenly matched game or do the Flyers have the home ice advantage when the puck drops tonight? The Flyers blanked the Blackhawks 4-0 for the Hawks seventh straight loss.

#5 Tonight, the Golden Knights (7-8-1) are in Montreal (8-5-3). Taking a look at the Knights’ offensive leaders: Jonathan Marchessault leads the team with 14 assists, seven goals, and William Karlsson eight assists, and for the Montreal Canadiens, Max Domi 19 points, nine goals, and Jeff Petry with 11 assists.

Matt does the NHL podcasts each Saturday at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

NHL Podcast with Daniel Dullum: Kadri takes part of Thornton’s beard off; Jagr to be released by Flames; Breakthrough for Byfuglien first goal in 33 games

Photo credit: @BarDown

1 Leafs’ Nazem Kadri tugs at Thornton’s beard; Toronto beats Sharks

2 Jamr Jagr of the Calgary Flames will be released by the club he is age 46 and the Flames plan to pay for the rest of the year

3 Jets star defenseman Dustin Byfuglien scores first goal in 33 games

4 Golden Knights get 9th win in 10 games, beat Blackhawks in Chicago

5 Longtime NHL referee Bruce Hood dies at 81

Daniel Dullum does the NHL Podcast each week at http://www.sportsradioservice.com





Joe Thornton loses beard, Kevin Labanc gets shootout goal, but Leafs edge Sharks 3-2 in shootout

Photo credit: @JonnyRoot_

By Pearl Allison Lo

The San Jose Sharks’ Joe Thornton lost a piece of his beard to kick off the game and the Toronto Maple Leafs ended the shootout in the sixth round to win, 3-2.  

Thornton and Nazem Kadri got feisty right from the start, dropping the gloves just two seconds into the game. Kadri pulled out a piece of Thornton’s beard, which was a sight to see on the ice and in Sharks goalie Aaron Dell’s glove.

Toronto’s Auston Matthews scored in the beginning of the shootout, Kevin Labanc tied it at two in the third round and Tyler Bozak went up high to score the game-winner in the shootout.

Both goalies were stellar. Martin Jones stopped 26 shots for the Sharks and Frederik Andersen made 33 in a losing effort for the Leafs. The fact that Andersen’s final stop of the game was against Chris Tierney was the cherry on top, as Andersen had previously turned over the puck to Tierney in the second, resulting in a goal.  

The Sharks were more known for their penalty kill, but the Maple Leafs’ continued to look top-shelf, shutting out their last three opponents: 0-for-3, 0-for-3, and 0-for-5, respectively.

Toronto not only ended their three-game losing streak, but a 10-game one against the Sharks.

Though, not as swift as the beard fight, the two first-period goals also occurred in quick fashion at the end of the period.

Matthews scored his team-leading 18th goal at 18:37, redirecting Connor Carrick’s point shot. William Nylander got the second assist.

Brenden Dillon scored his first of the year 31 seconds later off a faceoff win. Brent Burns and Timo Meier set up Dillon’s play.

Toronto’s special teams worked on both ends. Despite the Sharks drawing three straight penalties, Kadri scored the first and only special teams goal of the night at 12:40 of the second during a four-minute high-sticking minor against Burns. It was Kadri’s first goal since November 30. He had also just missed two games prior to his return last game. Mitchell Marner and Morgan Rielly contributed to the goal.

San Jose re-tied the game when Tierney, a Keswick, Ontario native, was gifted the puck. After a faceoff, the puck went straight to Andersen, with Tierney hearing straight down the slot as well. It was a well-timed push as Andersen’s second touch went away from him and then Tierney scored to Andersen’s left.

One of Andersen’s saves included a point blank save versus Joe Pavelski on the tail end of a bit of a 2-on-1 with Thornton in the third.

Jones made three saves within 22 seconds, two of them just five seconds apart with less than five minutes left.

The last regulation shot came from the Maple Leafs’ Jake Gardiner with three seconds left on the clock.

In overtime, Marner’s high stick on Tierney ramped up the intensity as the Sharks got a four-minute power play of their own at 3:10. Pavelski, Burns and Logan Couture each had overtime shots on goal with Pavelski taking a wide shot as well.

In the shootout, after Matthews, the turns went to Burns, Couture, Marner, Pavelski, Labanc, Nylander, Joonas Donskoi, James van Riemsdyk and former Shark Patrick Marleau. Like Bozak, Tierney also shot up high, but his puck hit the crossbar.

Game notes: San Jose had five games in December that went beyond regulation.

The Sharks won faceoffs (52%-49%), hits (30-16), blocks (13-12) and giveaways (8-17).

Up next: San Jose will try to get full points when they face the Ottawa Senators Friday at 4:30 pm PT.

Sharks Acquire James Reimer and Jeremy Morin

By Mary Walsh

photo credit: galleryhip.com goaltender James Reimer dealt from the Toronto Maple Leafs to the San Jose Sharks will not be joining the team on Sunday night in Vancouver

The San Jose Sharks have acquired goaltender James Reimer and forward Jeremy Morin from the Toronto Maple Leafs, in exchange for goaltender Alex Stalock, forward Ben Smith, and a conditional fourth round pick in the 2018 NHL draft. The move is a good one for San Jose. It adds depth up front and experience in net that the team needed, in exchange for players who were not getting much ice time with the Sharks.

From today’s press release:

“James is an experienced NHL goaltender who will help add to our depth at that position as we head down the stretch run of the season,” said Wilson. Jeremy gives our group another versatile forward and a player that our coaching staff is familiar with.  We’re excited to add them both to our organization.”

Reimer, 27, has played in 207 NHL games with Toronto, posting a .913 save percentage and 2.83 GAA. He has 11 shutouts and played in seven playoff games in 2013.

Morin, 24, has played this season with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies, and previously played 82 NHL games with the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Chicago Blackhawks. He was drafted by the Atlanta Thrashers in 2009 and played under Sharks assistant coach Steve Spott with the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL.

Goaltender Al Stalock played in 62 games for the Sharks and posted a .911 save percentage and a 2.37 GAA for a record of 24-19-7.  Ben Smith was acquired last Spring from the Chicago Blackhawks and scored two goals and three assists in 25 games. Of the departing players, the press release said:

“Alex and Ben have both been important members of our team on the ice but even more importantly, they are both tremendous teammates and first-class individuals,” said Wilson. “They will be missed and we want to thank them for everything they have  given to the San Jose Sharks organization and our fans.”

Sharks Add Steve Spot, Bring Back Frazer McLaren

By Mary Walsh

The San Jose Sharks announced today that they have named Steve Spott as an assistant coach and signed Frazer McLaren.  Both spent last season with the Toronto Maples Leafs organization. Spott was an assistant coach last season, and the organization’s AHL head coach the season before. From the Sharks press release:

“I’m excited to work with Steve again,” said DeBoer. “We have a great relationship and he has grown significantly as a coach in the seven years since we last worked together. We are very fortunate he was available.”

A native of Toronto, Ont., Spott spent two seasons with the Maple Leafs organization, serving as the head coach of the Maple Leafs American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate Toronto Marlies in 2013-14. He led the team to a record of 45-25-2-4, winning the North Division title and earning a spot in the Western Conference Final, where the Marlies fell in seven games to the eventual Calder Cup-winning Texas Stars.

Spott has an extensive history with Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer. He spent eleven seasons as an assistant under DeBoer with the OHL’s Plymouth Whalers and Kitchener Rangers. Spott became Kitchener’s head coach and general manager in 2008, where he remained for five seasons. During that time, his team went to the playoffs four times and twice to the Western Conference Final.

Spott played 121  games as a forward for Colgate University and 20 AHL games before finishing his playing career with the Netherlands’ Heerenveen.

As reported by Curtis Pashelka and others last May, the Sharks obtained permission from the Toronto Maple Leafs to talk to Spott about an assistant coaching position early this summer.

The Sharks also signed forward Frazer McLaren to a one year contract. McLaren was drafted by the Sharks in the 7th round of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. He spent almost six seasons with the organization before being claimed off of waivers by the Maple Leafs in 2013. He spent three seasons with Toronto, playing 62 games with the Maple Leafs and 28 games with their AHL affiliate, the Toronto Marlies. His NHL career totals include four goals, seven assists and 261 penalty minutes.  As a Worcester Shark, he was the team’s all time leader in penalty minutes, and has 678 penalty minutes to his credit.

Changes Coming for Sharks, NHL in 2015-16

By Mary Walsh

The Sharks will have a captain next season, head coach Peter DeBoer told 95.7 the Game on Wednesday. He did not say who it would be, but the floating leadership experiment appears to be over in San Jose.

DeBoer also voiced his support for the changes in the NHL overtime format, approved on June 24. Instead of playing four-on-four, the teams will play three-on-three for five minutes. Last season, the AHL changed its overtime format to three-on-three, but it followed three minutes of four-on-four. Input from players encouraged the NHL to skip the four-on-four and go directly to three-on-three. The plan should reduce the number of shootouts for the upcoming season.

Approved at the same time was the coach’s challenge. For the upcoming season, challenges will be limited to goals scored after potential offside or goalie interference calls. The challenge will result in expanded video review of the play in question. To make a challenge, the team must not have used their timeout yet.

Elsewhere in the NHL, the Arizona Coyotes have reached an agreement with the City of Glendale, yet again. The resolution allows the parties to avoid a more drawn-out legal dispute. Full details of the changes to the agreement will be available on the Glendale City website.

In Toronto, Lou Lamoriello was named general manager of the Maple Leafs. The move surprised many as Lamoriello’s stepping aside in New Jersey appeared to be a sign that he was looking to trim his schedule instead of take on a new GM role.

Sharks rise to the top continues with a victory over Maple Leafs

By Ivan Makarov

Having won seven out of the last eight games, San Jose Sharks continued to win on Tuesday day when they hosted the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs. The game was never close, with home team winning 6-2 and earning seven out of the possible eight points during the four game home stand.

Sharks outshot the Leafs 48-21, have played in the Leafs zone for most of the game (after going 49-28 in face-offs circle), and put one of the more complete games they have played all season.

“We’ve been good during different times throughout the season,” said Joe Pavelski after the game when asked where this victory ranked among others. “We’ve been playing good at home. This was definitely one of them. We got on them early, and had the puck a lot. It was a solid win.”

Before Sharks got the big lead in the game, they had to endure one of the strangest first periods of the season.

Sharks played the way they usually play this season at home in the first period – dominating the play all over the ice. The shot total ended up being 14-6 in the first period in their favor, but they only went up 2-1 on the scoreboard. It could have been more, but Sharks’ good goal scored by Tommy Wingels was disallowed. The replay showed the puck nowhere near being frozen on the play, and going inside behind Toronto’s goaltender James Reimer, but the referees blew the whistle and after discussing it over, disallowed the goal.

However, Marc Eduard Vlasic and Brent Burns scored more goals that counted. Vlasic blasted a slap shot from near the face off circle after a great pass from Matt Nieto who spotted him open on the play. Brent Burns scored in front of the net assisted by Joe Thornton, and there was a wait between the time he scored and when the goal counted, as refereed discussed it between themselves. With loud boos from the crowd, and having disallowed Wingels’ goal just minutes before, they at last awarded the Sharks with the second goal.

The second period continued much like the first. Sharks had the puck more, they were playing with more desperation and they were creating all the chances. All this advantage resulted in two more goals. Tommy Wingels at last got the goal allowed, scoring his 15th on the season on a deflection from the shot by Justin Braun 6:54 into the period. Joe Pavelski got the Sharks lead to three goals when he scored just over a minute later, assisted by Joe Thornton, making it 4-1. Sharks had the chance to make the score even more in their favor, when they went on 5-on-3 power play towards the end of the second period for more than 90 seconds. But the players failed to produce a single shot during that stretch with 2-men advantage as Toronto killed off those penalties.

“We made adjustment or two between [first and second periods], and talked about using our energy, few more pucks to the net,” said Todd McLellan reflecting on what was the key turning point in the game. “Fortunately, [Toronto] played on their end a little bit longer. We had the short change. A lot of the times in the second period the long change is what’s talked about. When you’re on the offense, you have the short change, and can pin teams in. We were able to that.”

The third period seemed more like a formality at that point for the Sharks, having a three goal lead going into the third period. But they continued to play hard while rolling all four lines, and scoring goals – with Joe Pavelski and Marty Havlat getting on the scoreboard.

Besides the goals, the game also saw four fights, with Andrew Desjardins dropping the gloves twice – once against David Clarkson and the second time against Tim Gleason, while Mike Brown fought Troy Bodie early on in the game. Tommy Wingels earned his first “Gordy Howe” hat trick of the night (goal + assist + fight) in the third period when he fought Joffrey Lupul with three minutes left in the game.

Sharks will next play three games on the road, visiting Columbus, New York and Rhode Island before they return back to San Jose.

Sharks win Sixth in a row

Sharks win Sixth in a row

by Jerry Feitelberg

The San Jose Sharks started a four game road trip on a successful note as they beat the Toronto Maple Leafs by a score of 4-2. The Sharks entered the game with 41 points and are in first place in the Pacific Division. With the win they now have 43 points and a record of 19-3-5 for the year. Toronto was looking to snap a four game losing streak but the Sharks were just too much for them as the lost their fifth straight.

The Sharks had Antti Niemi in goal and James Reimer was in the nets for the Leafs The Sharks took a 2-0 lead in the first period. The Sharks’ Mike Brown opened the scoring by lighting the lamp when he deflected a shot into the net off the stick of Jason Demers. Time of goal was at 10:00. The Sharks took a 2-0 lead when they had a two man advantage on the power play. The Leafs’ Jay McClement and Mason Raymond were sent to the penalty box and the Sharks had a great opportunity and the capitalized when Joe Pavelski made a great pass to Joe Thornton and Joe put in past Reimer for the score. For Thornton, it was his fifth goal of the year.

The Leafs came back to tie the game at two apiece in the second period. The Sharks did not play well and the Leafs scored the goals on power plays. The Leafs have the best record scoring power plays on home ice. The Sharks pushed back took a 3-2 lead when Brad Stuart’s shot made it into the net and Dan Boyle assisted on the play.

There was no scoring until late in the third period Logan Couture scored his tenth goal of the season into an empty net with just 1:24 left to play in the game. Final score Sharks win 4-2.

Antti Niemi stopped 28 shots and the Leafs’ Reimer made 37. The Sharks travel to Pittsburgh to play the Penguins Thursday night. They then play Carolina and Minnesota before returning home.