Marleau's third-period score lifts Sharks, 3-2


Marleau's third-period score lifts Sharks, 3-2

SAN JOSE -- The Sharks game presentation staff plays the theme from the movie Jaws just before a home power play. Lately, the theme from Benny Hill would have been more appropriate.

Patrick Marleau scored with the Sharks on a man advantage in the third period on Saturday night against Edmonton, though, and that proved to be the difference in a 3-2 victory at HP Pavilion. Prior to the goal, the Sharks had scored just twice in 35 chances over the last 10-plus games, including three failed attempts earlier against the Oilers.

We were trying to simplify things and get shots through and people to the net. It was nice to finally get one on the power play, said Marleau.

The goal came after Dan Boyle tossed the puck behind the net towards Jamie McGinn. McGinn tipped it to Joe Pavelski, who wheeled around from behind the net and spotted a charging Marleau on the other side.

Marleau made no mistake in finishing it off at 6:11 for the game-winner, giving the Sharks consecutive victories for the first time since Nov. 20-23.

Pav made a great play over to me and I found the back of the net, said Marleau.

The victory may have come at a cost, though. Marty Havlat, who scored his first even strength goal earlier in the game and just his second of the season, stepped awkwardly onto the ice from the bench in the third period and left through the tunnel without putting any weight on his left leg.
NEWS: Havlat injures leg, leaves arena with cane

Havlat was seen later leaving HP Pavilion with a pronounced limp and with the help of a walking stick.

He got hooked up on the boards, and other than that I cant give you an update right now, said Todd McLellan.

Although he has just two goals and has been maddeningly inconsistent this season, Havlat was playing his second consecutive strong game after a two-assist effort in Thursday nights 5-4 win against Colorado.

I thought he played great, said linemate Michal Handzus. Hopefully, its just minor.

Havlats goal opened the scoring at 8:36 of the first period, as the Oilers were caught in a line change and Havlat and Handzus broke in on a two-on-none. Havlat passed to Handzus, who hesitated a split second before sending it back towards Havlat, who tallied his first goal since Nov. 5 a span of 17 games.

Edmonton tied it up on Jordan Eberles 12th goal. The speedy winger skated the puck from the point and around White towards the goal and slipped it past Antti Niemi at 17:16. Edmonton took the lead with a shorthanded score in the second period, after Havlat failed to corral a pass from Demers at the defensive blue line. Ryan Jones raced in and fired it past Niemi at 5:28.

The Sharks tied it on Joe Thorntons marker at 14:33 during a four-on-four situation. San Jose had the Oilers scrambling in their own zone before Thornton got behind the defense and rookie Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and slid in a pass from Marc-Edouard Vlasic for his first goal since Nov. 17 against Detroit.

That goal helped to erase a nightmarish first period for Thornton, in which the Sharks captain had four giveaways. It was the Sharks first four-on-four goal of the year.

The power play looked disorganized at best on its first two attempts in the second period, including Jones goal when Demers and Havlat got their signals crossed and turned it over. Late in the second, though, Havlat helped to generate some good chances with Ladislav Smid off on an interference call at 17:56.

A couple near misses later, the game was still tied at 2-2 after 40 minutes. But, the Sharks had some confidence back, setting them up for success in the third.

I think thats where we started to get some momentum and started feeling good about the power play, said Marleau. We were able to get another chance, and find the back of the net.

Meanwhile, coach Todd McLellan was doing everything in his power to get the power play off of the ground floor. Of the Sharks 18 forwards and defensemen, 14 of them skated at least one shift with the man advantage, including McGinn and Brad Winchester.

The power play is a privilege, in my opinion, said the coach. It starts with talented players, and they should be on the ice. Theyre the best players and rewarded to do that. You have to maintain your status there. Unless we clean it up, were going to see a lot more of those other guys on the ice, as well.

The other Achilles heel has been the penalty kill, which, despite entering the game ranked 29th in the league at 73.0 percent, managed to preserve the lead with Demers off on a borderline holding call at 9:07 of the third period.

It was the second straight night that unit succeeded when it needed to most, including the third period of Thursdays game against Colorado when the score was knotted at 4-4.

Two nights in a row it came up big in the third period and allowed us to win the third period, said McLellan. As we continue to repair that, weve got to continue to work on the power play. When its all said and done, those two areas have to get better for us to be a successful team.

The Sharks improved to 2-0 on their six-game homestand, which continues on Wednesday with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Weve got to take care of the home games. We know that, said Thornton.

Saturdays game also caps a stretch in which the Sharks played seven games in just 11 days. Theyll have Sunday off, and resume practice on Monday valuable time to work, according to Thornton.

We really havent practiced in two or three weeks, probably. It will be nice to practice some things and settle down and relax for a couple days before we play Wednesday, he said.

Odds and ends: Antti Niemi finished with 23 saves, while Nikolai Khabibulin stopped 34 of 37 Sharks shots. Colin White left the bench in the third period, and team trainers appeared to be working on his right wrist at one point. The Sharks reassigned defenseman Matt Irwin to Worcester following the game. San Jose won 34 of 58 faceoffs (59 percent). Joe Pavelski had a game-high three takeaways. Joe Thornton had six of his teams 18 giveaways. The Oilers lost their third in a row.

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


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


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.


Sharks: visit Las Vegas on Friday

Coyotes: host Los Angeles on Friday.

Don't blame Joakim Ryan for Brent Burns' struggles


Don't blame Joakim Ryan for Brent Burns' struggles

Over the last three years, Brent Burns played with only one defensive partner more in a single season than he has with Joakim Ryan in 2017-18.

That partner, of course, is Paul Martin, who’s missed all but two games this season due to complications from offseason ankle surgery. Martin is set to miss yet more time after experiencing a setback in his recovery, although the injury is not related to his ailing ankle, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

Martin’s absence, combined with the fact that Burns has gone 20 games without a goal this season, has naturally led to questions about whether their separation is causing Burns to struggle.

That’s not the case.

Burns is actually playing a bit better alongside Ryan than he was with Martin. In just over 257 minutes together at even strength, the Sharks have controlled 55.74 percent of the shot attempts with Burns and Ryan on the ice, according to Corsica Hockey, up from Burns and Martin’s 52.13 percent mark together.

The Sharks are attempting more shots than their opponents when Burns and Ryan play, they’re doing so at a higher rate. With Burns and Ryan on the ice, the Sharks are attempting nearly nine more shots per 60 minutes than when Burns and Martin together, and just over two more shots per 60 minutes are hitting the net.

As we’ve written about previously, Burns’ scoring struggles date back to the stretch run last season, when he was playing alongside Martin. It wasn’t Martin’s fault then, just as it’s not Ryan’s fault now.

The puck simply isn’t going in. Through 20 games this season, Burns has 82 shots on goal and zero goals. Through 20 games in his Norris Trophy-winning campaign, Burns had 83 shots on goal and seven goals.

It’s not like Burns was super lucky then, either, as his 8.3 percent shooting percentage through 20 games last season was only one percent higher than his career average. Shooting at a zero percent clip after 20 games is, clearly, the outlier.

Together, Burns and Ryan have been more unlucky than anything else. When the two skate during five-on-five play, the Sharks are scoring on only 3.45 percent of their shots, much lower than the 8.26 percent San Jose scored on when Martin and Burns played together.

At 32 years old, it would be a stretch to expect Burns to match or exceed his heights from a season ago, but it would be an even bigger one to expect him to struggle much longer alongside Ryan. 

They've done everything right, they just haven't scored.