Goalies have been good but Sharks, Oilers both lacking chances

Goalies have been good but Sharks, Oilers both lacking chances

SAN JOSE – If you’re just joining the Sharks-Oilers first round series ahead of Game 4 and you take a quick glance at the league stats, you might think that both goaltenders have been playing some lights-out hockey. Edmonton’s Cam Talbot has a 0.98 goals-against average and .964 save percentage through three games, while Martin Jones’ 1.66 GAA and .935 SP are also impressive.

But despite those numbers, goaltending hasn’t played a huge role in the series so far. Sure, Talbot and Jones have been excellent, but neither team has generated an abundance of outstanding chances. 

“I don’t think a goaltender has been asked to steal a game,” Pete DeBoer said. “Probably the closest was Talbot in Game 1. But, you’ve got two of the top goalies in the league. I think they’ve both been solid. It’s pretty much been a non-factor because they’ve both just been really solid.”

Todd McLellan said: “They’re both quality goaltenders. They’re at the top of their games right now. I think that’s a big part of it, but both defensive mindsets of the teams have been detailed. There haven’t been many chances.”

Both teams will try to break out in Game 4 on Tuesday at SAP Center, with the Oilers holding a two-games-to-one lead. 

The Sharks, of course, haven’t scored in either of the past two playoff games for just the second time in franchise history. They need to make life harder on Talbot, but they also have to stop missing the net. Their two best chances in the first period of Game 3 – arguably the only period in which they’ve outplayed Edmonton since Game 1 – came when Joe Pavelski missed an open net with a backhand from the slot, and Chris Tierney fired high and wide on a partial breakaway.

Getting enough bodies in front of and around Talbot, too, has been missing. The Sharks have just 39 combined shots in the last two games, and not many second chances. 

“[Talbot is] in a groove right now so that's on us to get traffic,” Logan Couture said. “There's definitely rebounds sitting around. I think [in Game 3] he was having trouble catching the puck in the first, and we just didn't get there for the rebounds. Their D did a good job boxing guys out. It's on us to get to the net, get to those tough places and score on those rebounds."

Pavelski said: “We haven't tested him enough.”

Jones has allowed five goals to Talbot’s three, but the Sharks’ netminder has seen the better of the Grade A chances. While Zack Kassian’s game-winning goal in Game 3 was probably a stoppable shot, Jones denied Connor McDavid on a wraparound with 3:38 to go in the second period when the game was still scoreless, and 30 second later quickly went from his right to his left to deny McDavid on a one-timer from the top of the circle.

After he was a rock for the Sharks in the 2016 playoffs, Jones has picked up right where he’s left off.

“He’s been solid,” Pavelski said. “There haven’t been any questions there about him for us. That’s what he’s always shown us.”

They just need to find him some goals, and they need to do it quickly.

“We’ve just got to give him some run support here going forward,” Justin Braun said. “Just got to get in Talbot’s eyes and whack home some rebounds here. I think the forwards are up to the challenge.”

Joe Thornton said: “It’s going to be those 1-0, 2-1 games. That’s just how our mindset is right now. … Just cash in what you get the chance.”

Sharks exorcise MSG demons, take down Rangers


Sharks exorcise MSG demons, take down Rangers


NEW YORK — Logan Couture had a goal and an assist, Martin Jones stopped xx shots and the San Jose Sharks beat the struggling New York Rangers 4-1 on Monday night.

Tim Heed, Joonas Donskoi and Melker Karlsson also scored to help the Sharks win for the third time in four games. Jones got his fourth straight win after losing his first two starts.

Mika Zibanejad scored and Henrik Lundqvist finished with 20 saves for the Rangers, who fell to 2-6-2 on the season. New York finished 0 for 6 on the power play and is 3 for 25 over the last six games.

With the Sharks leading 3-0 after two periods, Couture took the puck away from Lundqvist behind the goal and sent it to Karlsson, who put it in for his second of the season at 2:51 of the third. Couture got his 200th career assist on the play.

San Jose turned the puck over in its defensive zone and Zibanejad snapped a shot into the top right corner to spoil Jones' shutout bid at 4:23 of the final period.

Donskoi increased the Sharks' lead to 3-0 with 38 seconds left in the second as he skated into the right circle and beat Lundqvist glove-side inside the right post.

The Rangers controlled the play for most of the first period while outshooting the Sharks 16-8, but trailed 2-0 after 20 minutes.

Couture, who had his second career hat trick in a loss at the New York Islanders on Saturday night, got San Jose on the scoreboard 1:56 into the game. With Jones pulled for an extra skater on a delayed penalty, Brent Burns sent pass from the right circle up top to Couture, who fired a slap shot from straightaway past Lundqvist.

Jones had two nice saves on back-to-back attempts in close by Pavel Buchnevich with a little more than nine minutes left in the first.

Heed doubled the Sharks' lead with 7:15 left as he brought the puck up the right side and sent a bad-angle shot from near the goal line along the boards. The puck trickled through Lundqvist's pads for the 26-year-old's first career goal in his seventh NHL game.

The Rangers had a two-man advantage for 25 seconds late in the opening period, but Jones stoppedZibanejad's shot from top of the left circle, and Rick Nash missed with an attempt in close.

NOTES: Couture has six goals and three assists in his last four games. ... The Sharks are 30 for 31 on the penalty kill in seven games since giving up three power-play goals in the season- opener against Philadelphia. ... The teams conclude the season series Jan. 25 at San Jose. ... Rangers D Kevin Shattenkirk played in his 500th career regular season game. ... New York F Rick Nash played in his 999th game. ... D Marc Staal played in his 699th game — all with the Rangers — and passed Mark Messier and Steve Vickers for sole possession of 12th place on the franchise list. ... New York has given up 15 goals in the first period this season.


Sharks: At Boston on Thursday night in the fifth of a six-game trip that concludes at Buffalo on Saturday.

Rangers: Host Arizona on Thursday night in the finale of a season-high six-game homestand.

The world’s most famous arena is a house of horrors for Sharks


The world’s most famous arena is a house of horrors for Sharks

Whenever the NHL's schedule comes out, a trip to Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers is usually a highlight. A matchup against one of the league's biggest teams, in the country's biggest city, in a historic venue? That's a date worth circling.

If the San Jose Sharks circle it, it’s for entirely different reasons.

Throughout the entirety of the franchise’s 26-season existence, the Garden has been anything but welcoming. The Sharks have traveled to the world’s most famous arena 17 times, and have only skated off with a win four times. They didn’t even win a game there until October 19, 1999, in San Jose’s eighth appearance in the building.

Madison Square Garden has been “King” Henrik Lundqvist’s castle against the Sharks. The king in the castle is also the moat surrounding it: In four career appearances against San Jose at home, Lundqvist has only allowed four goals.

The Sharks haven’t been able to solve his squires, either, losing games to two of his most recent back-ups: Martin Biron, now on television, and Antti Raanta, now in Arizona. Lundqvist will likely start on Monday night, but if he doesn’t, this is probably the one instance where San Jose wouldn’t want to face Ondrej Pavelec, even though he’s never managed to eclipse a .920 save percentage in a season.

That’s because the team’s most recent appearances at the Garden have been among their worst. The Sharks have been shut out twice in their last four visits to Manhattan, and have only scored five goals over that span. They did manage to win one game, thanks to a Lundqvist-like shutout from then-goaltender Antti Niemi in 2014.  

Martin Jones, on the other hand, has been decidedly unlike Lundqvist. He’s allowed nine goals on 55 shots in two road starts against the original six franchise, good for an .837 save percentage. The skaters in front of him exactly helped Jones, either. The Sharks have played from behind in their last two trips to Madison Square Garden, failing to score first and trailing after the first two periods both times.

Those recent struggles are especially strange, given Peter DeBoer’s relative success in the building. He won big road games against the Rangers before assuming his role behind the Sharks’ bench, most notably two in the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals, when DeBoer’s Devils upset the top-seeded Rangers. Once you coach this team in that arena, though, all bets are off.

Somehow, in a month known for horror, there may be nothing scarier than the thought of the Sharks playing in Madison Square Garden.