NHL Gameday: Sharks have struggled to score at MSG vs Rangers

NHL Gameday: Sharks have struggled to score at MSG vs Rangers


Sharks-Rangers coverage starts today at 3:30 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live on CSN California


Sharks: 2-0-0, 4 points
Rangers: 1-1-0, 2 points


*The Sharks have been shut out in each of their last two visits to Madison Square Garden, 4-0 on Oct. 19, 2014, and 4-0 exactly one year later on Oct. 19, 2015. New York has won five of its last seven overall against the Sharks in the Big Apple, allowing just 12 goals total over that span.

Backup Antti Raanta will start in net for New York. He made 22 saves in his Rangers debut in the most recent game between these two teams here last season. Martin Jones goes for San Jose, but coach Pete DeBoer said that backup Aaron Dell would “probably” make his NHL debut on Tuesday night against the Islanders.

*DeBoer has indicated after each of the first two games that the Sharks are getting plenty of scoring chances, but aren't capitalzing on enough of them. The Sharks took a 2-0 first period lead on Columbus and failed to increase it in the second period, and it nearly cost them in a 3-2 win.

“Offensively, I think we’ve created enough chances through the first two games to get three or four a night. Those will eventually go in,” DeBoer said. “You’re not going to keep some of the guys off the scoresheet that have been off so far for us.”

Couture said: “We had a bunch of two-on-ones and three-on-twos last game we didn’t finish. Just got to bear down. The puck gets to you, try to find the back of the net.”

*The Rangers enter the night with some injury issues, including key defensemen Kevin Klein and Dan Girardi.

The Sharks’ lineup remains unchanged from their first two games. Brent Burns is sporting a significant shiner around his left eye after he was high-sticked by Oliver Bjorkstrand in the first period of Saturday’s game in Columbus, but is apparently good to go.


Sharks: Mikkel Boedker. The newcomer scored his first goal with the Sharks on Saturday in Columbus, opening the scoring in the first period. Boedker’s line with Logan Couture and Joonas Donskoi has been San Jose’s best so far, and Boedker seems to be adjusting nicely to life with his new club in a key role.

Rangers: Jimmy Vesey. The 23-year-old left wing chose to sign with the Rangers in August after he had a number of suitors as a free agent out of Harvard. The Hobey Baker Award winner in 2015-16 as the top player in college hockey, he has yet to find the scoresheet in two games.


Tomas Hertl – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Mikkel Boedker – Logan Couture – Joonas Donskoi
Patrick Marleau – Chris Tierney – Joel Ward
Matt Nieto – Tommy Wingels – Melker Karlsson

Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Paul Martin – Brent Burns
Brenden Dillon – David Schlemko

Martin Jones (confirmed starter)
Aaron Dell

Jimmy Vesey – Derek Stepan – Mats Zuccarello
Chris Krieder – Mika Zibanejad – Rick Nash
J.T. Miller – Kevin Hayes – Jesper Fast
Brandon Pirri – Josh Jooris – Michael Grabner

Ryan McDonagh – Nick Holden
Marc Staal – Adam Clendening
Brady Skjei – Dylan McIlrath

Antti Raanta (confirmed starter)
Henrik Lundqvist


Sharks: None.

Rangers: Kevin Klein (back), Dan Girardi (groin), Oscar Lindberg (hip surgery) and Pavel Buchnevich (back spasms) are out. 


“I feel great. I feel young. I feel like 200 games, just smarter.” – Brent Burns, who is set to play in his 800th career NHL game on Monday night

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.


How the Sharks can catch the Golden Knights and win the Pacific


How the Sharks can catch the Golden Knights and win the Pacific

About a month ago, the Sharks appeared locked into the Pacific Division's second, third, fourth, or fifth spot. At the end of trade deadline day, they were 12 points back of the division-leading Vegas Golden Knights, and only two points up on the fifth place Calgary Flames.

24 days later, thanks to an 8-2-0 record over the last 10 games (second-best in the NHL), San Jose's still in second place. Now though, those margins are eight points and 11 points, respectively. 

The latter's pretty much locked the Sharks into a playoff spot, while the former's created a path for a late run at the Pacific Division crown. Beginning Thursday night, they will play the Golden Knights twice over both team's final nine games. 

What does the path look like to the Sharks' first division title since 2011? To start, they'll have to beat the Golden Knights twice in regulation to even have a shot. 

That is the foundation of any run at the Pacific's top spot. If the Sharks win both remaining games in regulation, they'll trail the Golden Knights by four points, leaving aside results against other teams for now.

They have to win in regulation, however. A win in overtime or the shootout on Thursday would only cut the gap to seven, and a subsequent win in regulation would leave it at five. Two losses, in any situation, would create a gap of 10-12 points, which would be nearly impossible to overcome this late in the season. 

One point doesn't seem like a lot, but this late in the season, it makes a world of difference. A five-point gap means they'll need to earn six more than the Golden Knights in those other seven games, while a four-point gap means they'll need to earn five in order to pass them. 

The simplest way to five extra points, is for the Sharks to have a record that's two wins and an overtime loss better (2-0-1) than the Golden Knights in the seven games where they don't play each other. That's impossible if Vegas earns at least 10 points in those seven games, so a 5-2-0 or 4-1-2 record would ensure a division banner raising in Sin City.

Taken all together, then, the Golden Knights' 'magic number' is 10 points. Even if the Sharks win on Thursday, their path to a Pacific title remains difficult, if not improbable. 

If a season with an expansion team leading their division has taught us anything, though -- it's that improbable is not impossible.