NHL podcast with Matt Harrington: Caps Ovechkin back in line up after missing practice; Leafs Marner and Engvall back after Covid protocols; plus more

The Washington Capitals Alexander Ovechkin who hasn’t missed a game this season was out from Friday’s practice due to an upper body injury and who started for the Caps today against the New York Islanders (NHL.com file photo)

On the NHL podcast with Matt:

#1 The Washington Capitals Alexander Ovechkin is back he returned after missing practice Friday after suffering from an upper body injury. Ovechkin made it to Saturday morning’s skate and played against the New York Islanders in the afternoon. Ovechkin has not missed a game this season.

#2 The Toronto Maple Leafs Mitchell Marner and Pierre Engvall are both expected to return tonight against the St Louis Blues both missed three games due to Covid 19 protocols. The Leafs are glad to have them back in the line up Marner has 21 points and Engvall with ten points in 32 games.

#3 The Anaheim Ducks Troy Terry is a question mark for today’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks. Terry was out on Covid 19 protocols. The Ducks 19-14-7 second in the NHL Pacific.

#4 Aisha Visram made NHL history becoming the first woman to serve behind the bench in an NHL game as head trainer for the Los Angeles Kings. Visram got the call to serve after members of Kings staff were placed on Covid 19 protocols.

#5 Matt, the Minnesota Wild’s Kirill Kaprizov, the New York Rangers Adam Fox, and Colorado Avalanche’s Cale Makar were three of 18 first time All Star selections for Sat Feb 5th’s All Star game in Las Vegas. The trio has had themselves quite a first half.

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

Sharks Beat Ducks 5-4 in Shoot-Out

The Anaheim Ducks center Rickard Rakell (right) with outstretched stick can’t stop the San Jose Sharks right winger Matt Nieto (left) who takes the puck down ice on Fri Feb 5, 2021 in the Honda Center in Anaheim (AP News photo)

By Mary Walsh

The San Jose Sharks defeated the Anaheim Ducks 5-4 in a shoot-out at the Honda Center Friday. Sharks goals came from Matt Nieto, Logan Couture, Evander Kane, and Brent Burns. The shoot-out winner came from Kevin Labanc. Martin Jones made 33 saves for the win. The Ducks got goals from Adam Henrique, Troy Terry and Max Comtois (2). John Gibson made 26 saves in the loss. An eight-goal performance was unexpected from two of the lowest-scoring teams in the league. Stranger still, each team had a three-goal period.

After the game, Sharks Head Coach Bob Boughner talked about the stunning shift in momentum from the first period to the second, when the game lurched from 1-0 Sharks to 3-1 Ducks:

“Your character’s in question there, when you have such a good first period and you come back and all of a sudden, you know. Hey, our power play didn’t go as well as we thought and that we wanted, and we lost momentum I think that way. But, you know, at the end of the day it’s a five-on-five game and we’ve got to get our five-on-five game established again. I just didn’t like a couple of the goals. I thought we looked basically uninspired in parts of the second period.”

Coming into the game, the Ducks were 4-5-2 on the season. In their previous game, they defeated the Los Angeles Kings 3-1. Ryan Getzlaf was out with a lower body injury Friday. The Sharks were 3-5-0. Due to COVID protocol schedule changes, they had a week off after a shut-out loss to Colorado. Alexander Chmelevski made his NHL debut.

Matt Nieto started the scoring with his third goal of the year. Matt Nieto and Marcus Sorensen jumped into the zone two one one. Sorensen had the puck on the outside and waited until he was almost at the goal line before making a pass to Nieto in front of the net at 12:50 of the first period. Assists went to Sorensen and Alexander Chmelevski, Chmelevski’s first NHL point.

At the end of the first period, the Sharks had a 17-8 lead in shots. They had one shot on one power play, gave up a short-handed shot, and trailed in the face-off circle at 44%.

The second period was all Ducks. At 10:03, Adam Henrique tapped a rebound under Martin Jones to tie the game. Assists went to Derek Grant and Troy Terry.

A few minutes later, Terry scored to give Anaheim the lead. Cam Fowler brought the puck into the zone and then passed it to Terry on the outside. Fowler kept going and acted as a screen for Terry’s shot. The assists went to Fowler and Grant.

In the final minutes of the period, Max Comtois made it 3-1. The Sharks had just finished their second scoreless powerplay. An offside call led to a neutral zone face-off that Anaheim won. It took the a couple of tries to get through the neutral zone but finally they made it into the Sharks’zone. Rickard Rakell took advantage of a give-away and skated behind the Sharks net. He found Comtois with a short pass and Comtois’ shot squeezed between Jones and the post.

In the second period, the Ducks out-shot the Sharks 13-3 and won 60% of the face-offs. On the Sharks’ power play, they had one shot and gave one up.

After the game, Boughner acknowledged that a lot was said during the second intermission: “It was time to look ourselves in the mirror a little bit and it was a gut check. And they responded.”

The Sharks’ big guns did indeed respond in the third period. Logan Couture scored in the first minute. Couture dumped the puck in and Evander Kane chased it down in time to sling it in front of the net. Couture was at the net by then and tapped it in while goalie John Gibson was trying to come across. Assists went to Kane and Brent Burns.

Evander Kane tied the game with a short-handed goal at 2:06 of the third. He stole a pass meant for Hampus Lindholm. Chipping it to himself and took a shot from above the face-off dot. The puck sailed by Gibson on the far side.

Brent Burns gave the Sharks their second lead of the game at 8:04. John Gibson had just gotten back into his net after a stroll behind it. Burns took a pass from Ryan Donato and buried it.

The Ducks tied it back up with another goal from Max Comtois. The Ducks won a defensive zone draw, and followed that up with a gruelling long shift in the Sharks zone. Comtois received a cross-ice pass from Carter Rowney and shot the puck past Jones on the glove side. Assists went to Rowney and Lindholm.

The Sharks improved a little in the face-off circle in the third, winning 46% of them. The shot clock favored the Ducks 11-8.

The teams traded good chances for the first couple of minutes until a high stick penalty put the Ducks on the power play. The Sharks got a nice short-handed chance when Marc-Edouard Vlasic got control of the puck and carried it out of the zone. The Sharks killed off a good chunk of the power play moving the puck around the Ducks’ zone and taking one shot.

Ryan Donato shot first for the Sharks and scored. Rickard Rakell shot first for the Ducks and Jones made a great save.

Couture shot second for the Sharks but Gibson shut down the five-hole attempt. Comtois shot second for Anaheim but Jones stopped him with an outstretched toe.

Kevin Labanc shot third and, though he tripped over Gibson’s skate, he still got the puck in the net.

The Sharks next play on Saturday, in Anaheim again, against the Ducks at 7:00 PM PT.