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 headed in right direction, road trip to reveal who they really are

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USATSI

Sharks headed in right direction, road trip to reveal who they really are

The difference between a 2-3-0 start and a 1-4-0 start is bigger than two standings points.

The former is far from ideal, but if you squint hard enough, there's enough wiggle room to improve. There's still time with the latter, too, but the margin for error is much thinner moving forward.

The Sharks experienced that difference firsthand after Tuesday’s 5-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens. It's not an ideal record, but they’ve managed to salvage a poor start. 

There are still some flaws, to be sure. The power play isn't just the Kevin Labanc show after the top unit scored all three power play goals Tuesday, but is still carrying a disproportionate offensive load. The penalty kill’s scoreless streak came to an end, but they were called into action six times.

Despite all that, Tuesday's win was San Jose’s best effort this season. Brent Burns, Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski, and Joe Thornton all had multi-point games for the first time this year. Martin Jones had another strong game, and appears to have shaken off his slow start.

In short, San Jose’s game is headed in the right direction. It needs to be, with a five-game road trip beginning on Friday. 

Now comes the hard part.

It's on the road where we’ll get our best sense of who this team really is. Peter DeBoer won’t have the benefit of last change, and won't be able to dictate matchups. 

Under these circumstances, we’ll begin to really see if Joakim Ryan is ready for a top-four role, whether Kevin Labanc is a viable first-line winger, and how the rest of the young reinforcements stack up. They will have less time off, too, as all but one game occurs after one day (or less) of rest and travel. That missed practice time isn't ideal for any team, let alone one still trying to work out the kinks.

Fortunately, the competition is forgiving, at least on paper. Other than the Devils, none of the Sharks’ four other road trip opponents have winning records as of this writing. The topsy turvy nature of the standings, though, show how little “on paper” means this early in the season.

We’ll know a lot more about who these San Jose Sharks are by the time their road trip ends. Their record still won't tell the whole story, but by then, they'll have played about an eighth of the season. 

And by then, we’ll have a much better idea of how good this team really is.

Sharks' offense comes alive, leads charge in win over Canadiens

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AP

Sharks' offense comes alive, leads charge in win over Canadiens

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE — Logan Couture credited a teammate for scoring his second goal. He took credit for the first one.

Couture scored a pair of goals and the San Jose Sharks extended their dominance of the Montreal Canadiens with a 5-2 victory on Tuesday night.

Joe Pavelski and Tomas Hertl also scored for the Sharks, who have won the past 11 home games against the Canadiens, a streak that dates to Nov. 23, 1999.

On a power play late in the third period, rookie Tim Heed took a shot off a face-off that bounced free in front of the net. Pavelski couldn't get his stick on it but managed to kick it across the net for Couture, who found a huge opening.

"That was pretty special," Couture said. "I don't know if he knew I was there but he kept his balance and kicked it over."

Couture opened the scoring 3:30 into the first period, grabbing a rebound off the back board, skating across the front of the net to get Price to commit and then firing into an open net.

Jonathan Drouin and Shea Weber scored for the Canadiens, who are winless since an opening night victory at the Buffalo Sabres.

"It's a very poor start from our team, from myself, from a lot of individuals," Canadiens' Max Pacioretty said. "It's a good time to look in the mirror and see what we're made of because a lot of people are probably doubting this team right now."

Martin Jones stopped 28 of 30 shots for the Sharks, who finish their season-opening homestand with a 2-3 record.

"The biggest thing is finding that energy for the whole game," Jones said. "We started OK and then we got better as the night went on."

Carey Price, who stopped 31 of 35 shots, fell to 2-7-1 in 10 games against the Sharks.

The Canadiens responded 36 seconds later when Drouin picked up a pass from Artturi Lehkonen close in and fired it over Jones' left shoulder and into the net.

Pavelski gave the Sharks the lead for good when he redirected Kevin Labanc's shot just under a minute into the second period. The shot hit Weber's left shin pad and bounced into the net.

"There were a lot of good things out there," Pavelski said. "We didn't have the homestand we wanted but we can leave on a positive note to take on the road."

Hertl padded the lead midway through the second on a power play. Standing on the right side of the net, he was trying to control a pass from Joe Thornton but the puck fluttered off his stick and got behind Price.

"I'll take it any way I can get it," Hertl said. "There are times I've had great shots that just bounced off the post."

Weber's power-play goal two minutes later kicked off Jones' skates for the score.

The Sharks needed five seconds to score on a power play late in the second period. Tim Heed shot on goal and it bounced off Pavelski's skate. Couture picked it up and found a huge opening.

NOTES: After allowing three power play goals over their first five penalty kills, the Sharks killed off 14 straight until Weber scored in the second period. ... Couture recorded his 24th career multi-goal game. ... Sharks D Tim Heed recorded his first NHL point with an assist on Couture's power-play goal. ... Brendan Gallagher needs one assist for 100 with the Canadiens.

UP NEXT:

Canadiens: plays at the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday in their second back-to-back of the season.

Sharks: open a five-game road trip on the east coast with a game at the New Jersey Devils on Friday.