Ducks squeak past Sharks in another low scoring, tight affair

Ducks squeak past Sharks in another low scoring, tight affair

SAN JOSE – Some recent trends have emerged in games between the Sharks and Ducks, and they were again on display on Saturday night at SAP Center.

They’re close, and they’re low scoring, to be specific.

Anaheim’s 2-1 triumph was the eighth straight head-to-head matchup that has been decided by just one goal. Furthermore, the teams have combined for just 28 total goals in those eight meetings, or 3.5 per game.

Of course, in those types of games, one mistake can be deadly. In this case, it came when Paul Martin’s attempted pass to Joe Pavelski was blocked by Jakob Silfverberg, who raced in on a breakaway to beat Martin Jones at 13:29 of the second period. It was the final goal of the game.

Martin described the play.

“[The puck] kind of rolled on me or jammed me a little bit. I was going to shoot, and then I saw Pavs kind of slide up in the slot and I just tried to slide it to him. Hit a shin pad, or hit something, so…yeah,” Martin said.

Logan Couture said: “Obviously it’s a tough break to give up that one, to that guy, with that shot. He picks his corners pretty good. We rebounded and had a good third period.”

Couture is correct in that the Sharks did press Anaheim in the final frame, outshooting the Ducks 14-4 but failing to get the equalizer.  The Sharks had a 34-27 advantage in shots in the game, and a 76-53 advantage in shot attempts.

His line with Patrick Marleau and Joel Ward was the Sharks’ most effective of the evening, and all of them had chances. Ward was stopped in front of the net about four minutes into the third period, though, and Marleau was denied on a breakaway with nine minutes left. Couture finished with a game-high six shots, including a first period power play goal on a two-man advantage.

In one sequence in the second period, Couture’s wraparound try ended up on Ward’s tape on the other side of the net, and with goalie Jonathan Bernier sprawled out in the crease, Ward tried getting it over the goaltender to Marleau in front of an empty net. He didn’t get it high enough, though, and Bernier froze it.

The Sharks were much more pleased with their effort on Saturday than in Thursday’s 4-1 loss to the Blues in which they were thoroughly outplayed. 

“I didn’t like our first 10 minutes, but after that I thought we played a real good game,” Pete DeBoer said. “It was a playoff-type atmosphere. We had enough opportunities to get three or four tonight. We didn’t. That’s a credit to their goalie. But, we did a lot of good things.”

Joe Pavelski said: “They had their chances, we had ours. It was a game, it was physical, it was a fun one. Crowd was into it right from the start, and guys showed up to play.”

There are no points for effort, though, so the Sharks still have some work to do if they want to close out the Pacific Division. They were well aware that they had a chance to essentially bury the Ducks by potentially opening their lead up to seven points with a game in hand.

Instead, they’re now just four points ahead with a pair of back-to-backs on the road on the immediate horizon. The Sharks visit Dallas on Monday and Minnesota on Tuesday, and will have to keep an eye in the rear view mirror on surging Anaheim, which has won five of its last seven (5-1-1).

“I think as the games get closer to the end, you kind of know who’s up and down,” Ward said of the contracting standings.

The primary takeaway from Saturday’s game, though, was that if the Sharks put forth the same kind of effort and performance over their final 11, they’ll be fine.

Martin said: “As long as we’re playing the way that we want to play, I think it will take care of itself.”

“If we play like we did tonight, most nights we’re going to win,” DeBoer said.

* * *

DeBoer didn't offer any sort of update on Jannik Hansen, who left the game in the third period after taking a stick up high from defenseman Brandon Montour as the two came together in the corner. "I don’t have anything for you on that yet," DeBoer said.

Pavelski talked to his linemate after the game.

“I think [Hansen] said he got a stick in the head, or something like that. I don’t really know for sure," Pavelski said.


Kane leads Sharks to critical win on four-goal night

Kane leads Sharks to critical win on four-goal night


CALGARY, Alberta -- Evander Kane scored four goals to lead the San Jose Sharks past the Calgary Flames 7-4 on Friday night.

Tomas Hertl had a goal and an assist for the Sharks, who have won three straight and four of five. Kevin Lebanc and Eric Fehr also scored, and Martin Jones made 30 saves.

It was the first NHL hat trick for Kane, acquired from Buffalo just before the Feb. 26 trade deadline.

Micheal Ferland had a goal and an assist for the Flames, who are four points out of a playoff spot. Troy BrouwerMark Jankowski and Johnny Gaudreau also scored for Calgary.

Three nights after stopping all 28 shots he faced against the Oilers, Calgary goalie Mike Smith had a rough outing as he made just 14 saves before being replaced by David Rittich early in the third period. Rittich went on to stop all seven shots he faced in a relief appearance.

The Sharks opened the scoring six minutes into the first period when Kane's wrist shot beat Smith to the glove side.

The Flames pulled even at 16:42 when Brouwer chipped a pass from Curtis Lazar into the top corner behind Jones. Matt Stajan stole the puck from Sharks defenseman Brenden Dillon behind the San Jose net to get the play started.

Jankowski took a pass from linemate Garnet Hathaway and wired a shot to the top corner, glove side behind Jones to put Calgary up 2-1 at 2:10 of the second period.

Kane then redirected Dillon's point shot past Smith at 6:29 before Gaudreau cut into the slot and snapped a shot past Jones at 10:16 to put Calgary back up by a goal.

That lead lasted just 1:26 as Lebanc fired a shot from a sharp angle into the top corner past Smith to pull the Sharks into a 3-all tie.

Kane completed his hat trick at 16:32 when he swatted in his own rebound before Hertl poked the puck through Smith's legs with 1:58 remaining before the second intermission.

The Sharks added an insurance goal 62 seconds into the third when Kane redirected a pass from Joe Pavelski past Smith.

Ferland backhanded a shot past Jones to pull Calgary within two goals with 5:35 left in regulation and Rittich on the bench for an extra attacker. Fehr rounded out the scoring with an empty-net goal 1:37 later.

NOTES: Jankowski suited up for the Flames after sitting out Tuesday's 1-0 win over Edmonton. Fellow forward Kris Versteeg returned to Calgary's lineup after missing the past 49 games with a hip injury. ... Gaudreau extended his point streak to six games (three goals, five assists).


Sharks: At the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday night.

Flames: At the Vegas Golden Knights on Sunday.

Jones set for big workload down the stretch


Jones set for big workload down the stretch

Sharks goaltender Martin Jones is on pace for the lightest overall workload of his career as a starter. After starting 65 games in his first two seasons in San Jose, Jones can only play a maximum of 62 if he appears in each of the team's 12 remaining games. 

Yet simultaneously, he is also on pace for the largest stretch-run workload of his career. Jones will make his 10th straight start, and 51st overall, Friday night in Calgary. 

Friday will also mark his eighth consecutive start since the trade deadline. Over the last two seasons, Jones made 13 and 14 starts, respectively, from the deadline onwards. 

It's easy to envision Jones far surpassing that workload. Entering Mar. 16 each of the last two years, the Sharks held, respectively, 10-point and 18-point leads over the West's ninth-place team, the closest among the squads on the outside looking in at the postseason. As a result, James Reimer and Aaron Dell spelled Jones for eight and seven starts, respectively, to keep him rested ahead of the postseason. 

This year, San Jose's only three points clear of the ninth-place Anaheim Ducks. There's also only one back-to-back remaining on the post-deadline schedule, compared to five in 2016-17 and two in 2015-16, and 10 of the next 12 games are against teams within four points of a playoff spot. 

Taking all of that into consideration, Jones should pretty easily exceed the mark of 14 post-trade deadline starts he set last season and ultimately start more than 60 games for the third consecutive season, barring injury. 

Should the Sharks clinch a playoff spot, it will be fair to wonder what kind of effect Jones' stretch-run starts will have on his postseason performance. Jones posted a .923 save percentage in San Jose's run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2016, and a .935 save percentage in the first round last year after receiving a good amount of time off. 

But the Sharks have to get there first, and it's understandable they will rely on Jones in order to do so. The recently-extended Aaron Dell remains one of the league's better backups, but has come a bit back down to earth this season (.914 save percentage) after earning the role last year (.931). 

Jones, for his part, has handled the increased workload well so far, winning five of nine games and posting a .922 save percentage. How well handles his 10th consecutive start, and any that follow, will have a profound impact on the Sharks' hopes of making the playoffs.