Instant Replay: Sharks end strong road trip with loss to Blackhawks

Instant Replay: Sharks end strong road trip with loss to Blackhawks


CHICAGO – In a battle between the Western Conference’s two first place teams, Chicago got past the Sharks at United Center on Sunday, 4-1.
Playing their fourth road game in six nights, the Sharks concluded their trip with a 3-1-0 mark. Their four-game winning streak was snapped, while NHL-leading Chicago captured its fifth in a row.
Ryan Hartman scored the third period game winner.
After Vinnie Hinostroza and Mikkel Boedker battled in the circle on a draw in Chicago’s offensive zone, the puck squirted to Hartman. In one motion, the young winger grabbed the loose puck and swung a wrist shot through Martin Jones at 6:59 to put Chicago ahead to stay, 2-1.
Hinostroza added insurance with 2:20 left, when he slipped a wrist shot from the circle through Jones’ pads on a two-on-one. Patrick Kane whipped in an empty netter in the final minute.
The Sharks lost in Chicago for the ninth time in their last 11 games. The teams meet once more at SAP Center on Jan. 31.
After a scoreless first in which the Sharks didn’t get a shot on goal for the final 12:39, Joe Pavelski put San Jose ahead, 1-0, at 1:13 of the second period. The captain redirected a shot-pass from the point by Brent Burns for his 11th of the year.
The Sharks had a number of chances to increase their lead throughout the second, including a pair of prime chances for Pavelski on a power play with Duncan Keith off for interference. Patrick Marleau’s redirection was denied by Scott Darling with about 5:30 to go in the second, and Timo Meier hit the goal post about a minute later on a tip try off of Joonas Donskoi’s stick.
Chicago weathered the storm, though, and tied it on Keith’s slapper from high in the zone at 16:49. It was the former Norris Trophy winner’s first goal of the season.
Joel Ward returned to the Sharks’ lineup after he was a healthy scratch on Friday in Montreal. He skated on the fourth line with Tommy Wingels and Melker Karlsson, while Micheal Haley came out.
Karlsson was forced from the game three minutes into the third period, when trying to get up from the ice he was inadvertently clipped in the head by Chicago’s Tyler Motte. He remained down for several moments and was visibly woozy as he was helped to the dressing room.
Special teams 

The Sharks went 0-for-2 on the power play against the NHL’s worst penalty killing team. Chicago was also 0-for-2.
In goal
Jones started all four games on the road trip, allowing three goals on 25 shots.
Darling, who continues to get all of the work with Corey Crawford recovering from an emergency appendectomy, made 33 saves. It was the backup’s ninth straight start, and second in as many nights.
Burns’ point streak is now eight games. The defenseman has four goals and five assists for nine points over that span.
Chicago’s Artemi Panarin found the scoresheet for the fifth straight game with two assists. The Calder Trophy winner from a season ago is Chicago’s leading scorer with 34 points.
The Blackhawks were without second line center Artem Anisimov, who was hurt on Saturday in St. Louis.
Up next
The Sharks have two more games before breaking for Christmas, both at home against division opponents. They host the Calgary Flames on Tuesday, and Todd McLellan’s Edmonton Oilers on Friday before shutting down for three days.

Paul Martin rewarding Peter DeBoer's faith in NHL return


Paul Martin rewarding Peter DeBoer's faith in NHL return

When Sharks defenseman Paul Martin confirmed reports in January that he was willing to go elsewhere for more playing time, his head coach was insistent that the team would need the veteran blueliner. 

"I really believe we need eight NHL defenseman here," DeBoer told reporters in January (via The Mercury News). "If it happens that he isn't here, then that'll be disappointing for us. I'm not hoping that's where this goes. I'm hoping this goes to a place where he can maybe go down, play some games and keep himself ready, because I know we're going to need eight defensemen."

That's pretty much exactly what's happened.

After clearing waivers in January and playing with the AHL's San Jose Barracuda, Martin was called up ahead of the Sharks' four-game road trip at the end of February. He did not play until last Saturday in Vancouver, when an upper-body injury to rookie defenseman Joakim Ryan, whose play pushed Martin down the depth chart in the first place, created an opening alongside Brent Burns. 

Martin's now played three straight games with Burns, his defensive partner for the vast majority of the previous two seasons. It's the first time Martin's played in three consecutive NHL games all season, and although he hasn't played much (11:53 in average time-on-ice), he's acquitted himself nicely in a sheltered role.

His five-on-five possession numbers (52.78 percent corsi-for; 53.33 percent fenwick-for) are the second-best marks among Sharks defensemen over the last three games. Burns, too, has posted better possession numbers with Martin (47.62 percent corsi-for; 50 percent fenwick-for) during the last three contests than without his longtime partner (43.40 percent corsi-for; 41.67 percent fenwick-for). 

The Sharks have also outscored (3-0) and outchanced (17-16) opponents with Martin on the ice, neither of which was the case in Martin's first three appearances earlier this season. The former is owed to a decent amount of puck luck, as the Sharks have converted on 17.65 percent of their shots with him on the ice, but the latter is an extension of his solid underlying numbers. 

Martin's played the least amount of total minutes among Sharks defensemen since coming back, even as Marc-Edouard Vlasic missed time in two of the last three games, and has barely been used in special teams. His days of averaging 20-or-more minutes a night are likely behind him, but the 37-year-old has played well in a limited role. 

Considering Martin's NHL days appeared to be behind him as recently as last month, his play has been a pleasant surprise. With the exception of his head coach, that is. 

Couture scores in OT, helps Sharks make up ground on Golden Knights

Couture scores in OT, helps Sharks make up ground on Golden Knights


SAN JOSE -- Seconds after almost costing the San Jose Sharks a game with a turnover, Logan Couture ended it with his backhand.

Couture scored 39 seconds into overtime after getting bailed out by goalie Martin Jones and the San Jose Sharks won their season-high sixth straight game, 2-1 over the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday night.

"I was able to make a move on their guy," Couture said. "(Marc-Edouard Vlasic) did a good job of driving their backchecker back and I was able to go far side."

Couture's goal came at the end of an opening shift of the overtime that started with him losing the puck in his own zone, giving Jonathan Marchessault a chance alone in front. Jones got enough of the shot to stop it, and then Vlasic sent the puck ahead to Couture for the winning goal that moved San Jose within seven points of first-place Vegas with eight games remaining in the regular season.

Brent Burns also scored and Jones made 24 saves to help the Sharks open a four-point lead over third-place Los Angeles in the Pacific Division with a game in hand as the Sharks close in on home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

"For us to get a win tonight was important," captain Joe Pavelski said. "Plus, just plant that seed. If we stay hot, you never know, we might be able to catch them and get home ice. We took care of business tonight and we'll try to keep playing well."

Tomas Tatar scored the lone goal for the Golden Knights, who were kept in the game by a sterling performance by goalie Malcolm Subban. He stopped 42 shots but it wasn't enough for Vegas to come up with the win, although he helped earn a point that gave the expansion team 100 this season.

"It's impressive," forward James Neal said. "It's a great season for our guys. Guys came together real quick. A great job so far but we're not done yet."

The Golden Knights struck first on a pretty passing play early in the first period that ended when Marchessault found Tatar cutting through the slot ahead of Justin Braun. Tatar skated past Jones and backhanded the puck into the open net.

Vegas has been dominant when getting off to a lead, posting an NHL-best 31-5-1 record when scoring first heading into this game. But the Sharks carried the play in the second period, outshooting the Golden Knights 18-4 and getting the equalizer on a blast by Burns from the point after another strong shift by San Jose's fourth line.

"We want to be playing really good hockey this time of year and heading into the playoffs. I think that's the goal," coach Peter DeBoer said. "Whether we would have won tonight or lost, I like how we played for most of the game, so that's what I'm concentrating on."

Vegas managed to keep it tied despite the lopsided shot totals, killing off a four-minute penalty to Colin Miller and another late power play that started late in the second.

That penalty carried over until the third period and the Sharks got 25 seconds of a two-man advantage after Brayden McNabb was called for throwing his stick but still couldn't get anything past Subban.

The Golden Knights squandered a power-play chance later in the period when Miller was called for cross checking with the man advantage. That nearly led to a power-play goal for San Jose but Subban appeared to get a piece of a shot from in close to Joe Pavelski to keep the game tied at 1.

"He's the main reason we got the point," coach Gerard Gallant said. "He looked comfortable."

NOTES: Vegas G Marc-Andre Fleury didn't make the trip to San Jose with an undisclosed injury but is expected to join the team for Saturday's game in Colorado. ... Burns became the 15th player to play 500 career games with the Sharks.

Golden Knights: Visit Colorado on Saturday.

Sharks: Host Calgary on Saturday.