Sharks

Barracuda power play comes to life in crucial Game 2 win over San Diego

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SAN JOSE BARRACUDA

Barracuda power play comes to life in crucial Game 2 win over San Diego

SAN JOSE – During their impressive regular season in which they claimed the top seed in the Western Conference, the Barracuda relied heavily on their power play. More often than not, it got the job done.

That part of their game hit a snag in the playoffs, though, going just 2-for-26 through the first six games after posting a 23.8 percent success rate in the regular season – second in the AHL.

It’s coming back to life. 

San Jose struck for two power play goals in three chances on Saturday night against San Diego, tying its second round series with the Gulls at one game apiece in a 5-1 win. Five different players scored for San Jose, including power play markers by Ryan Carpenter and Adam Helewka.

“We’re just getting good chances, and I feel like the pucks are going in for us,” Carpenter said.

San Jose jumped out to a 3-0 lead and was never really in danger after dropping the series opener at home on Friday in overtime.

Timo Meier’s end-to-end rush helped generate the first score, when the former first round pick took the puck from behind his own net and weaved into the offensive zone. His backhand attempt was blocked, but DeSimone gathered it in before unleashing a slap shot that beat Jhonas Enroth to the far side at 4:31 of the first period.

DeSimone, a free agent signed out of Union College by the Sharks on March 30, has five points (1g, 4a) in seven playoff games. He looked comfortable – and especially mobile – in Game 2.

“He really gets around the ice nice,” coach Roy Sommer said. “He can really skate.”

The 22-year-old, who posted 19 points in 38 games with Union this season, seems to be adjusting well to the pro game.

“It’s definitely, I wouldn’t say easy, but it’s been a nice transition so far,” DeSimone said.

Carpenter increased the Barracuda to 2-0 at 7:13 on the power play, when his wrister got through Enroth on a shot that should have been stopped by the veteran goalie.

Carpenter, who added a third period assist, continues to lead the Barracuda in playoff scoring with 10 points (6g, 4a) in seven games.

Buddy Robinson’s second period goal at 1:10 bumped the lead to three, when he battled for a loose puck in the slot and managed to put it through. San Diego got on the board at 3:53 on a Sam Carrick goal, but Helewka answered that on the power play at 16:15 to give the Barracuda a 4-1 cushion at the second intermission.

Barclay Goodrow’s marker on a two-on-one with Carpenter just 40 seconds into the third period essentially put the game out of reach.

The series now shifts to San Diego for games three-through-five. The Gulls have won seven straight home games against the Barracuda, including all five meetings this season.

“They got home ice from us,” Sommer said. “We’ve got to go down there and win a couple games. It’s a tough building to play in. They play different down there than they play here. … Guys are ready. We’ll meet the challenge down there.”

Carpenter said: “Wherever we play, we’ve just got to stick to our game plan.”

Games six and seven, if necessary, would be back at SAP Center.

 

Sharks comeback falls short in wild loss to Minnesota

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USATSI

Sharks comeback falls short in wild loss to Minnesota

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE -- Nino Niederreiter scored 3:26 into overtime and the Minnesota Wild beat the San Jose Sharks 4-3 on Sunday night after squandering a three-goal lead.

Eric Staal scored twice and Ryan Murphy added a goal as the Wild extended their winning streak over the Sharks to four games.

Tomas Hertl tapped in a loose puck for San Jose with five minutes left in regulation to tie it at 3.

Hertl's goal followed a furious Sharks attack that Wild goalie Alex Stalock was able to fend off until a shot from Dylan DeMelo bounced off his shoulder pads and into no man's land just above the crease.

Brent Burns scored twice for the Sharks, who had won five of seven.

Stalock made 31 saves in his first appearance against his former team. Martin Jones stopped 20 shots for the Sharks.

The Wild, winners in four of their last five games, scored twice in the first 10 minutes. A series of sharp passes set up Murphy for a power-play goal just more than four minutes in. Staal sent a pass to Jason Zucker behind the net and he found Murphy for a 1-on-1 score.

Staal's first goal came after Ryan Suter recognized an advantage when Burns ran into Jones, knocking him off his feet. Suter delivered a pass to Staal, who easily fired it over Jones.

Early in the second period, Staal was able to push the puck through Jones' skates for a 3-0 Wild lead.

Burns got the Sharks on the scoreboard with a power-play goal during a two-man advantage late in the second period. Burns scored again on a power play with a slap shot from just inside the blue line midway through the third, his 12th multi-goal game.

NOTES: Sharks forward Jannik Hansen appeared in his 600th NHL game. ... Burns has six points in his last three games, including three goals. ... Murphy scored his first goal in 69 games. ... Staal had his second multi-goal effort in five games. ... Wild forward Jason Zucker has points in eight of his last nine games.

UP NEXT

Wild: Open a three-game homestand against the Calgary Flames on Tuesday.

Sharks: Begin a three-game road trip in Calgary on Thursday.

Logan Couture is an under-the-radar MVP candidate

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USATSI

Logan Couture is an under-the-radar MVP candidate

After failing to score a point in the first three games of December, Sharks center Logan Couture has caught fire over the last two games. He’s scored four points since Thursday, three of which came in Saturday night’s blowout win over the Ottawa Senators.

There’s reason to believe his streak will reach a third game in Sunday night’s tilt with the Minnesota Wild: Couture’s scored 66 points in 84 career games on the second night of a back-to-back. That includes six in four such games this season, according to STATS.

San Jose has certainly needed that kind of form from Couture, who leads the team in goals (15) points (25), and game-winning goals (3). The 28-year-old has scored or assisted a third of the Sharks’ goals, putting a fifth of them in the back of the net himself.

It’s fairly easy to imagine where the Sharks would be without Couture. An already-anemic offense, the league’s third-worst, would still be sinking amidst the rising tide lifting all boats that is the NHL’s scoring boom.

San Jose, currently holding the third and final divisional playoff spot in the Pacific by a measly games-played tiebreaker, would not be anywhere close to postseason contention. Whether or not the Sharks, boasting one of the league’s thinnest farm systems, should welcome such a development is a discussion for another time.

Regardless, the Sharks’ season would be far uglier without him.

Couture likely doesn’t have the gaudy scoring totals to truly warrant a place in the Hart Trophy conversation. So far this season, however, few players have been more integral in their team’s success than him.

In addition to leading the the team in scoring, head coach Peter DeBoer’s relied upon Couture in every situation. He’s second among Sharks forwards in average total ice time, third among San Jose skaters in total power play ice time, and the third-most used forward on the penalty kill.

It’s unclear whether or not Couture can, or will, continue to shoulder this same offensive burden. His shooting percentage this season (21.7 percent) is likely unsustainable, nearly 10 points higher than his career average.

Yet, even as the Sharks appear to be rounding into form offensively, Couture’s largely driven the bus. San Jose’s scored 29 goals in their last nine games after scoring 46 in their first 19.

Couture’s still been responsible for 31 percent of the team’s goals over the last nine games, compared to about 35 percent in the first 19. That's a subtle decline, but an important one if the rest of the team can improve.

His scoring totals aren’t eye-popping compared to the league leaders, but Couture’s been as valuable for the Sharks as any player has for their team this season. If San Jose ultimately does make the postseason, it’ll be in no small part because of Couture’s early season efforts.