Sharks

McLellan reacts to All-Star selection

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McLellan reacts to All-Star selection

ST. PAUL - Sharks head coach Todd McLellan on Tuesday gave his first comments on being chosen as one of the coaches for the 2012 NHL All-Star game in Ottawa on Jan. 29.

San Jose has the best winning percentage in the Western Conference, meaning McLellan will join the New York Rangers John Tortorella and Boston Bruins Claude Julien as a coach for the game. McLellan and Tortorella will be behind one bench, while Julien and his staff will man the other as the defending Stanley Cup champion.

Its definitely an honor, but its an organizational honor. The coach is recognized and sent there, but its a team thing, McLellan said.

The Sharks, 23-11-4, have a .658 winning percentage, edging out Detroit and Vancouver, which lost to Florida on Monday night. Had the Canucks won, Alain Vigneault would have made the trip to Ottawa.

Now that its settled, Im excited about going, McLellan said. Had it not worked out that way I would have personally taken advantage of those days, but it is an honor, I accept that honor and Im excited about going.

The way the season has gone, youd be forgiven if you were surprised to see the Sharks own the top percentage in the conference. Even Dan Boyle hinted that the season hasnt gone as smoothly as the team would have liked.

When expectations are really high, people forget sometimes that youre not going to win 82 games in a row, said Boyle. You go through tough times. It seems like this year has been a frustrating, down year, and here we are were the best winning percentage team in the West. Its a long season, man.

McLellan is looking forward to working with Tortorella, who has guided the Rangers to the best record in the NHL.

I think hes a really unique individual and has some great ideas. It will be fun to spend time with him, he said.

No word on if theyll discuss Joe Thornton labeling the Rangers as soft earlier this season, after New York beat San Jose on Oct. 31 at Madison Square Garden.

The remaining NHL All-Stars will be named on Thursday. The teams will be chosen via a "fantasy draft" on Jan. 26.

Recovered from injuries, Joonas Donskoi returning to form just in time for Sharks

Recovered from injuries, Joonas Donskoi returning to form just in time for Sharks

Joonas Donskoi’s first goal of the season all but sealed the Sharks’ 3-0 win over the New Jersey Devils on Friday night.

It was also a long time coming, too. The Finnish forward finished a chance for the first time in 28 regular season games, 33 if you include his goal-less postseason. He last scored on January 7, when Patrick Marleau was a Shark and San Jose still held a share of the Pacific Division lead.

He struggled mightily after that, largely due to injury. Donskoi separated his shoulder not once, but twice last season, and revealed to The Athletic this week that he also dealt with “foot issues.” He spent over a month on injured reserve and managed just three assists in his final 22 games as a result.

With health on his side, Donskoi’s returned to his rookie year form. Through six games, he's registered three points, all at even strength. That’s tied with Joe Pavelski for the team lead, despite the fact he’s played nearly four minutes less per game at even strength than the captain.

He’s done a lot in less ice time, scoring five-on-five points at a higher rate per 60 minutes than any player on the team, according to Natural Stat Trick. He’s done a lot against lesser competition, too, taking advantage of his assignments in Peter DeBoer’s bottom six forward group.

That’s an important development, given the disappearance of San Jose’s depth scoring last season. Only four Sharks forwards cracked 40 points last season, and one of them is in Toronto. Most damning, though, is that the same number managed to score 30 or more points last year. The Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins, by contrast, had eight forwards score 30 points in the regular season.

It’s still early in the season, but Donskoi’s underlying numbers indicate this level of play is built to last. His personal shooting percentage is below his career-high, and the Sharks are scoring on a reasonable 6.52% of their shots with Donskoi on the ice in five-on-five situations. That’s only half-a-percentage point higher than San Jose’s rate during Donskoi’s injury-riddled 2016-17.

Donskoi will undoubtedly hit some bumps in the road, but after struggling so much last season, it appears the 25-year-old is back on track. If the Sharks are to improve on last season, they desperately need depth scorers.

Thanks to Donskoi’s resurgence, they just might have found one.

Sharks win second straight, beat Devils to start road trip

Sharks win second straight, beat Devils to start road trip

BOX SCORE

NEWARK, N.J. — Martin Jones made 28 saves for his first shutout of the season and 16th overall in the San Jose Sharks' 3-0 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Friday night.

Melker Karlsson, Joe Pavelski and Joonas Donskoi scored and Justin Braun had two assists to help the Sharks open a five-game East Coast trip.

Keith Kinkaid, the top goalie for New Jersey with Cory Schneider on injured reserve, stopped 30 shots as the Devils' three-game winning streak came to an end.

The Devils couldn't muster a strong push in the later stages against the rested Sharks. It was New Jersey's second game two nights following a 5-4 overtime victory in Ottawa. And it showed against the Sharks, who played a solid road game, pressed their advantage and solidly supported Jones.

Karlsson scored the lone goal of the opening period at 14:11 on a close-in shot following a slick behind-the-net setup pass from Tomas Hertl.

The shots were 13 for each team in the evenly played period. The Devils came close on several occasions as former Shark Mirco Mueller and Blake Coleman both hit the crossbar and Jones robbed Drew Stafford on a dead-on drive from the slot.

Pavelski and Donskoi got second-period goals as the Sharks steadily tightened their grip on the game.

Pavelski tipped in Braun's point shot at 5:49. Joe Thornton got the second assist, his 1,395th point, to pass Luc Robitaille for 21st on the career list.

Donskoi backhanded a rebound shot with 1:10 left in the period in which the Sharks outshot the Devils 11-6.

The remaining drama centered on Jones' shutout bid.

NOTES: The Devils placed Schneider on injured reserve Friday with a lower-body injury and recalled Scott Wedgewood from Binghamton of the American Hockey League to serve as Kinkaid's backup. ... Mueller, a healthy scratch in three of the previous four games, returned for the Devils to face the Sharks, the team that drafted him in the first round, for the first time. He was dealt to New Jersey over the summer.

UP NEXT

Sharks: At the New York Islanders on Saturday night.

Devils: Host Ottawa on Friday night.