Sharks

Instant Replay: Sharks eliminated from Stanley Cup playoffs, Oilers take series

Instant Replay: Sharks eliminated from Stanley Cup playoffs, Oilers take series

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE – One year after making their first-ever trip to the Stanley Cup Final, the Sharks’ season has come to an end in the first round of the playoffs.

Leon Draisaitl and Anton Slepyshev scored early second period goals, and the Oilers held on for a 3-1 win that included a late Connor McDavid empty net goal to eliminate the Sharks in six games at SAP Center on Saturday.

Edmonton, in its first playoff since 2006, will advance to face Anaheim in the second round.

The Oilers were the aggressors early, controlling much of the opening frame yet not denting the scoreboard.

That changed early in the second, though.

Oscar Klefbom blocked Justin Braun’s point shot in the high slot, resulting in a Draisaitl breakaway. The winger held Braun off on a backcheck and slipped the puck through Martin Jones’ five-hole at the 54-second mark.

Less than a minute later, Chris Tierney and Paul Martin couldn’t connect on a pass in the offensive zone, and the puck trickled out to the neutral zone. That’s where Slepyshev took control, speeding in on a breakaway of his own and converting at 1:50.

The Sharks finally showed some life at that point, and had a pair of great chances to get one back on the next few shifts. Marcus Sorensen couldn’t quite reach a Logan Couture pass on a two-on-one, though, and Cam Talbot kicked aside a Patrick Marleau partial breakaway.

San Jose went on its first power play of the game with 3:13 left in the second, but the Oilers killed it off. Talbot made another pad save on Joonas Donskoi’s turnaround wrist shot from between the circles with 20 seconds before the intermission to preserve the two-goal cushion.

Marleau brought Sharks back to within one in the third period. Logan Couture pushed the puck through the slot to the team’s all-time leading scorer, who tapped in his team-leading third goal of the series.

The Sharks had a chance to tie it on a power play when Edmonton was called for too many men, but Joe Pavekski’s backhand from just outside the blue paint rang off the crossbar and post with 3:45 to go.

McDavid’s empty net goal, his first even strength point in the series, came at 19:59.

The Sharks have now lost 12 of 13 series in which they’ve trailed three games to two. They are just 6-18 all-time in Game 6 of a playoff series, including 2-9 when facing elimination.

Special teams

The Sharks failed on all three of their power plays. They finished 5-for-26 in the series, although four of them game in their Game 4 blowout.

Edmonton had just one power play and did not score, going 2-for-16 in the series.

In goal

Jones played in all six games for the duration, allowing two goals on 20 shots in Game 6. He’s now 16-14 in his playoff career.

Talbot stopped 27 of 28 shots, and in his first season as a number one starter on a playoff team recorded all four wins. The only game in which he didn’t play the entirety was Game 4, when he was pulled after allowing five goals.

Lineup

Donskoi drew back into the lineup after he was a healthy scratch in Game 5. Timo Meier came out for the first time in the series.

Klefbom did not play in the third period, presumably due to injury.

Up next

An offseason a month-and-a-half longer than last year awaits the Sharks, bringing with it more uncertainties than in recent memory. The Sharks have a number of players not yet signed for next season, none bigger than pending unrestricted free agents Joe Thornton and Marleau.

Sharks should be thankful for these two players on Thanksgiving

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USATSI

Sharks should be thankful for these two players on Thanksgiving

The San Jose Sharks woke up this Thanksgiving and found themselves in a playoff spot, albeit barely. 

They hold the second and final wild card spot by the thinnest of margins, edging out the Colorado Avalanche not on points, games played, regulation and overtime wins, but a single goal in the goal differential column. 

As early as it is, it’s a critical time to be in playoff position. Since the NHL expanded to 30 teams in 2000, 79 percent of teams holding playoff spots on Thanksgiving made the postseason. 

If the Sharks avoid becoming a member of the dreaded 21 percent, they’ll have two players to thank, more than anyone else, for their good fortune: Logan Couture and Martin Jones. 

Couture, along with Joonas Donskoi, seems to be the only Shark unaffected by a team-wide scoring bug. Even as he’s cooled off slightly, his 11 goals are still tied for 10th-most in the league. 

He’s held a positive share of puck possession on the ice, despite starting the fourth-lowest percentage of his shifts in the offensive zone among Sharks forwards that have played at least 50 minutes this season, according to Corsica Hockey

Couture also leads the team in power play scoring with three goals, and is one of only three San Jose players that’s scored multiple times on the man advantage. It’s hard to imagine the league’s fourth-worst power play (15.1 percent) getting worse, but it undoubtedly would be without the 28-year-old.

While Couture has stood out among a hapless offense, Jones has led one of the league’s best defensive units. The Sharks are among the best teams at limiting shots and scoring chances across all situations, but Jones has not let them down. 

Although his .922 even-strength save percentage is 27th among 51 goalies that have played at least 200 minutes, San Jose’s given him a razor thin margin of error. He had the fifth-lowest goal support of any goalie entering last night, as statistician Darin Stephens noted, and his play has been good enough to keep the Sharks in games in spite of that. 

Jones has also led the way for the league’s best penalty kill, posting a .940 save percentage in shorthanded situations. That’s the best mark among goalies that have faced at least 80 shots on the penalty kill, according to Stephens.

The sustainability of Jones’ penalty kill dominance and Couture’s 20.8 shooting percentage is an open question, but their importance to the team early in the season cannot be overstated. They’ve helped keep the Sharks afloat, and in a playoff spot with history on their side at the critical Thanksgiving mark. 

The Sharks need to not only let them have extra helpings during their holiday feast, but find a way to give them more help on the ice too.

 

Jones strong in goal, contains Coyotes to snap Sharks' three-game skid

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Jones strong in goal, contains Coyotes to snap Sharks' three-game skid

BOX SCORE

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Logan Couture scored another goal for San Jose but was happier to see the Sharks' top line get untracked.

"We've got to get those guys going to help us offensively," Couture said of teammates Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski and Timo Meier after the Sharks' 3-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes on Wednesday night. "We need them to produce."

Thornton opened the scoring for the Sharks, with Pavelski adding an assist, the pair's first points since November 8, a span of five games.

"I think with Timo with us last game it brought us a lot of energy and a lot of chances," said Thornton, who scored his first goal since October 26. "Me and Pavs really like playing with him."

Joel Ward added an empty-net goal with 47.8 to play for the Sharks, who snapped a three-game losing streak.

"We got enough offense to win," said Sharks coach Peter DeBoer. "That's all that matters. I thought we played a good road game. I don't care how it looks."

Brendan Perlini scored with 7:37 to go, ruining Sharks goalie Martin Jones' bid for his second shutout of the season. The Coyotes saw their season-high three-game winning streak snapped and lost for the eighth time in nine home games (1-7-1).

Jones finished with 26 saves.

"We defended really well," said Jones, who was tested seriously only twice in the first two periods. "The first 10 minutes they had a lot of jump and were buzzing around our zone, but after that not as much."

Coyotes goalie Antti Raanta left at 14:37 of the first period with an upper-body injury. Couture had collided with Raanta more than four minutes earlier, earning an interference penalty. Raanta skated to the bench during a stoppage in play and retreated to the locker room.

Scott Wedgewood took Raanta's place and was in net for only five seconds before the Sharks broke through. Wedgewood stopped Brent Burns' long shot from the top of the right circle even after it deflected off San Jose right wing Timo Meier. But the rebound kicked to the bottom of the right circle, where Thornton swept in and beat the goalie with a quick wrist shot.

"He (coach Rick Tocchet) looked at me and said go," Wedgewood. "I was like, alright. That's the tough part. Then shot, top, goal. That was tough."

San Jose made it 2-0 at 4:56 of the second, taking advantage of Arizona's inability to clear the zone while the Sharks were on a line change.

Justin Braun fought three Coyotes for the puck along the right boards before Joonas Donskoi swooped in, skated to the goal line then sent a pass across to Couture. Couture deked Wedgewood to the ice with a forehand fake, then scored on the backhand.

Perlini cut the lead to 2-1 when he redirected Derek Stepan's shot from the top of the right circle past Jones.

"We had some costly mistakes," Perlini said. "We got back within a goal but there were too many mistakes."

NOTES: Thornton has 22 goals and 83 points in 82 career games against Arizona. ... The Coyotes, who had played seven of their past eight on the road, opened a three-game homestand. ... Raanta made eight saves before leaving and has stopped 98 of the past 105 shots he's faced. ... Couture's goal was his first in five games.

UP NEXT:

Sharks: visit Las Vegas on Friday

Coyotes: host Los Angeles on Friday.