Sharks

Barracuda advance to second round in thrilling fashion

Barracuda advance to second round in thrilling fashion

SAN JOSE – Ryan Carpenter’s shorthanded goal in overtime gave the AHL Barracuda a thrilling 2-1 win on Tuesday night at SAP Center, as the Sharks’ top minor league affiliate advanced to the second round of the Calder Cup Playoffs.

The Barracuda downed Stockton, the primary affiliate of the Calgary Flames, three-games-to-two by capturing the decisive Game 5. San Jose will now face the San Diego Gulls, the Ducks’ top affiliate, beginning on Friday at SAP Center.

Carpenter’s goal, his team-leading fourth of the series, came with Joakim Ryan in the penalty box on a delay of game minor. Barclay Goodrow hustled to a loose puck that was gliding towards the offensive corner, and dished it to a trailing Carpenter who was alone between the circles. Carpenter’s wrist shot cleanly beat goalie Jon Gillies at 8:52 of the extra session, and the home bench erupted.

“[Goodrow] made a heck of a play,” Carpenter said. “It looked like a 50-50 puck and he just beat the guy to it and made a heck of a backhand pass. I was all alone, just tried getting it off quick. Didn’t want to do too much with it. It was just nice it went in.”

The Barracuda registered a whopping 54 shots on goal to just 27 for the Heat, but it took until the third period for them to dent the scoreboard. Timo Meier tied the game at 1-1, taking advantage of an Oliver Kylington turnover and buzzing a wrist shot from the faceoff dot into the top far corner at 9:47.

“Slipped off the Stockton guy’s stick and I was right there,” Meier said. “I was able to put it behind him and go for a two-on-one, and just picked a corner and put it in.”

In four games in the series, Meier finished with two goals and an assist for three points. In Game 5 he registered eight shots on goal, while his linemate, Carpenter, had a game-high nine shots as San Jose enjoyed the territorial advantage for much of the night.

Still, the Barracuda needed goalie Troy Grosenick, especially late. The AHL’s top netminder in the regular season made a pair of late stops to force overtime, denying Hunter Shinkaruk breaking in alone with 5:40 to go, and then robbing Michael Angelidis a few minutes later with a dazzling glove save.

“They didn’t get a ton of shots, but they had some grade A [chances],” Grosenick said.

In overtime, Shinkaruk had a breakaway in the second minute but his attempt caught iron.

How did that sound?

“Some sound good and some sound bad,” Grosenick said. “That one sounded pretty good.”

Coach Roy Sommer said: “The plays [Grosenick] made late in the third – the one on Angelidis – woof. Then, Shankiruk – I thought it was over.”

Instead of it being over, though, Sommer and his club assured that the ice at SAP Center would remain in place at least a little while longer with the Sharks’ already on summer vacation.

“I thought we deserved to win,” Sommer said. “I thought we were the better team tonight.”

Grosenick said: “We had a big series here with probably our biggest rival, and we knew it wasn’t going to be easy. We battled through, so it feels good.”

 

Sharks to open second round Thursday

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AP

Sharks to open second round Thursday

The Sharks know when they'll open the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. T

San Jose will face off against the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of the second round at 7 p.m. PT on Thursday, April 26 in Sin City, the NHL announced Tuesday. The league also announced start dates for the three other second-round series, but did not announce any games beyond that.

Game 2 will "likely" occur Saturday at 5 p.m, according to Golden Knights owner Bill Foley. 

Game 1 will be televised on NBCSN. Sharks Playoff Central will air on NBC Sports California at 6:30 p.m. leading up to puck drop, with a postgame edition to follow after the final horn on the same channel. 

Red-hot Sharks power play, Golden Knights penalty kill on collision course

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AP

Red-hot Sharks power play, Golden Knights penalty kill on collision course

The Sharks and Vegas Golden Knights were the first two teams to advance to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The former's power play, and the latter's penalty kill were among the chief reasons why. 

This postseason, San Jose's power play (30 percent) and Vegas' penalty kill (92.3 percent) are third-best and best in the respective categories. The Sharks haven't played in nearly a week, but have still scored the second-most power play goals (six) in the first round as of Tuesday. The Golden Knights haven't played in exactly a week, and have still given up the fewer power play goals (one)  than every team, save for the Los Angeles Kings, who they swept in the first round. 

On the season, the San Jose power play and the Vegas penalty kill were among the better units in the league in terms of underlying numbers, but really improved down the stretch. Over their last 25 regular season games and the first round, the Sharks attempted shots (117.15 corsi-for per hour) and generated expected goals (9.13 expected goals-for per hour)) at rates that would have ranked second in each area on the whole season, according to Corsica Hockey.

During the Golden Knights' final 25 regular season games and first four playoff games, their penalty kill suppressed shot attempts (92.8 corsi-against per hour), shots (49.97 shots-against per hour), and expected goals (5.9 expected goals-against per hour) at rates that would have ranked second, fourth, and first, respectively, this past season.

In the first round, the results finally caught up to the underlying numbers for both teams. San Jose converted on only 13 percent of its power plays in the final 25 games of the regular season, while Vegas killed off 80.8 percent of its opponents' power plays. As is so often the case, the improvements were owed at least in part to better finishing and goaltending. 

The Sharks scored on 9.71 percent of their five-on-four shots down the stretch, compared to 14.71 percent in the first round. Marc-Andre Fleury posted a .952 four-on-five save percentage in the first round, compared to the .859 that he and backup Malcolm Subban combined for in the final 25 games. 

San Jose's power play and Vegas' penalty kill are red-hot, but those results are largely deserved based on each group's play down the stretch. Which unit has the edge just may swing the series, considering how tight the Sharks and Golden Knights played each other during the regular season. 

Three of four games were decided by a goal, and two went to overtime. The fourth was decided by two, only because of an empty-netter. 

The margins are so thin, including in the crease, that the outcome of this special teams battle could determine which team advances to the Conference Finals.