NHL Gameday: Sharks host talented Toronto teens

NHL Gameday: Sharks host talented Toronto teens

Programming note – Sharks-Maple Leafs coverage starts today at 7:00 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live on CSN California


Sharks: 36-18-7, 79 points, 1st Pacific Division
Maple Leafs: 28-20-13, 69 points, 4th Atlantic Division


***The Sharks will play their first home game after the bye week enjoying a five-point lead on the division, with two games in hand on Anaheim and Edmonton. They have a real opportunity to open up a sizable advantage in the hopes of claiming their first division title since 2011.

“We see [the standings], everybody’s watching,” Tomas Hertl said. “Edmonton, Anaheim lost a couple games. That’s good for us. … We know during the playoffs how important it is starting at home. We for sure want to be on top in [the] division.”

***Toronto features one of the NHL’s more dangerous offenses, averaging 3.10 goals-per game. Teenagers Auston Matthews (30 goals, 54 points) and Mitch Marner (48 points), both 19 years old, are its top two scorers.

“Dynamic young players. I can’t remember in my time in the league, which is getting close to the last decade, young guys coming in making this type of impact,” Pete DeBoer said.

Mikkel Boedker is familiar with Matthews, a Scottsdale, AZ native, as he skated with the Coyotes from time to time before he was draft eligible.

“You could just see it then that he was something special and had a drive for the game and a love for the game,” Boedker said. “We’ve got to watch out for him.”

***As for Boedker, he’ll try and build off of his strong performance in Vancouver on Saturday, when he scored in the third period ending a 19-game goal drought.

“The points haven’t been there and that’s obviously something that I’m personally disappointed with, but there’s nothing you can do other than work hard at it,” he said. “That’s the way you’ve got to look at it. I feel like I’m doing that out there, and I feel like I’m getting better every game still."

***The Sharks’ third line of Hertl, Joel Ward and Chris Tierney will apparently remain intact, with Tierney skating in the middle. That group helped generate two of San Jose’s four goals in a 4-1 win Saturday.

Rookie Marcus Sorensen will draw into the lineup for his third NHL game, while Micheal Haley was back after needing Monday off for personal reasons.

Sharks: Mikkel Boedker. After he was benched yet again in the third period of the Sharks’ final game before the bye week on Feb. 19 against Boston, Boedker responded with a strong game in Vancouver on Saturday, scoring his first goal in 20 games and registering five shots, tying his season-high. The winger has 20 points (7g, 13a) in 60 games.

Maple Leafs: Mitch Marner. Out for the last five games with what was thought to be a shoulder injury, Marner is expected to return to the Toronto lineup tonight. The 19-year-old rookie is second on the team in scoring behind only fellow first-year player Auston Matthews, and had nine points (4g, 5a) in his last nine games before getting hurt.


Kevin Labanc – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Patrick Marleau – Logan Couture – Mikkel Boedker
Tomas Hertl – Chris Tierney – Joel Ward
Marcus Sorensen – Micheal Haley – Melker Karlsson

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

Martin Jones (starter)
Aaron Dell

Maple Leafs
Zach Hyman – Auston Matthews – William Nylander
James van Riemsdyk – Tyler Bozak – Mitch Marner
Leo Lomarov – Nazem Kadri – Connor Brown
Matt Martin – Brian Boyle – Nikita Soshnikov

Morgan Rielly – Alexey Marchenko
Jake Gardiner – Nikita Zaitsev
Matt Hunwick – Roman Polak

Frederik Andersen (starter)
Curtis McElhinney


Sharks: Joonas Donskoi (upper body) and Dylan DeMelo (broken wrist) are out.

Maple Leafs: Tyler Bozak (infected finger) and Mitch Marner (upper body) are day-to-day. Joffrey Lupul (sports hernia), Stephane Robidas (knee) and Connor Carrick (upper body) are out.


“You just have got to keep taking a step in the right direction every game, and lately I feel I’ve been playing well and been doing some good things out there. Our line I think has been finding some good chemistry. We’ve got to continue that.” – Mikkel Boedker

After a perfect week, Sharks have playoff breathing room with three weeks to go


After a perfect week, Sharks have playoff breathing room with three weeks to go

The Sharks’ playoff outlook is a lot rosier after winning all four of their games last week. They are now four points clear of the Los Angeles Kings in the second Wild Card spot, and three points up the Anaheim Ducks, who are third place in the Pacific Division.

Those are four-point and three-point improvements, respectively, over those same spots last week. The Sharks even picked up ground on the first-place Vegas Golden Knights, and are eight points back of the Pacific’s leaders, with two head-to-head matchups remaining.

That’s not quite close enough to warrant inclusion in a look at the playoff picture headed into the week, but could be next week if San Jose continues to make up ground. Otherwise, it’s still worth examining where the Sharks stand in regards to the Pacific and the Wild Card.

San Jose Sharks (Second in the Pacific, 89 points)

Games Remaining: 10

On the Docket:  3/20 vs New Jersey, 3/22 vs Vegas, 3/24 vs Calgary

Outlook: Over the next two weeks, the schedule really starts to become difficult. San Jose has only two games remaining against teams on the outside looking in, and is just 2-6-2 in its last 10 against teams currently in a playoff spot. If that trend continues, the newfound breathing room could start to disappear rather quickly.

Anaheim Ducks (Third in the Pacific, 86 points)

Games Remaining: Nine

On the Docket: 3/21 at Calgary, 3/23 at Winnipeg, 3/25 at Edmonton

Outlook: The Ducks have now won three in a row, including next Sunday against the red-hot New Jersey Devils. They’ll play four of their final five road games in the next nine days, and all but one of their opponents is not in playoff position. Anaheim’s just 15-14-7 away from the Honda Center, though. With the fewest games remaining of any playoff team, the Ducks will help to move up any further.

Colorado Avalanche (First Wild Card, 86 points)

Games Remaining: 10

On the Docket: 3/20 at Chicago, 3/22 vs Los Angeles, 3/24 vs Vegas

Outlook: Give it up for surefire Hart Trophy finalist Nathan MacKinnon and the Avalanche, winners of three of four last week. Other than a slip-up on the second night of a back-to-back in Nashville, Colorado was outright dominant, outscoring opponents 16-7. A midweek matchup against Los Angeles could create some Wild Card separation.

Los Angeles Kings (Second Wild Card, 84 points)

Games Remaining: 10

On the Docket: 3/19 at Minnesota, 3/20 at Winnipeg, 3/22 at Colorado, 3/24 at Edmonton

Outlook: The Kings picked up points in three of four, including on both nights of a back-to-back. Their schedule really picks up this week, as they’ll face three playoff-bound teams from the Central on the road. The struggling Stars remain on their heels, although the Kings have a game in hand.

Dallas Stars (Ninth in the West, 84 points)

Games Remaining: Nine

On the Docket: 3/20 at Washington, 3/23 vs Boston. 3/25 vs Vancouver

Outlook: Is Dallas in the middle of a Lone Star letdown? We wrote last week that a difficult schedule could create openings for the teams chasing them and boy, did it ever. The Stars went 0-2-2 on the week, and picked up just one point against the lottery-bound Montreal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators. They’ll surely relish a matchup against the Canucks in six days, as it’s their only remaining game against a non-playoff team.

St. Louis Blues (10th in the West, 83 points)

Games Remaining: 10

On the Docket: 3/21 vs Boston, 3/23 vs Vancouver, 3/24 at Columbus

Outlook: For the second straight season, it’s not quite time to stick a fork in the St. Louis Blues. Yes, they are once again in the playoff hunt after trading one of their best players at the trade deadline, and won three out of four to move with in a point of the final Wild Card spot. The Blues have now won four of five, and still have an uphill climb ahead. After last season, is it ever safe to rule them out?

The Departed: Calgary Flames (11th in the West, 80 points)

This section is reserved for teams that have fallen out of the playoff picture since our last look at the playoff picture, and the Calgary Flames have earned(?) the inaugural (dis)honor. The Flames failed to keep the door to the playoffs ajar thanks to a 7-4 loss to the Sharks on Friday, and it slammed shut after a 4-0 loss in Sin City on Sunday. They have to jump three teams and cover four points of ground to earn a Wild Card spot. The latest stretch stings, but the Flames will likely look on a four-game, post-trade deadline losing streak as when their playoff hopes burned out.

Sharks overcome early deficit, injuries to finish road trip with third straight win


Sharks overcome early deficit, injuries to finish road trip with third straight win

VANCOUVER --Timo Meier's second goal of the game snapped a third-period tie and the San Jose Sharks beat the Vancouver Canucks 5-3 on Saturday night for their fourth consecutive victory.

Logan Couture and Kevin Labanc each had a goal and an assist, and Tomas Hertl scored into an empty net with 25 seconds remaining for the Sharks, who are 7-2-0 in their last nine games.

Nikolay Goldobin, Alex Edler and Bo Horvat scored power-play goals and Sam Gagner had two assists for the Canucks, who lost their sixth consecutive game - their longest losing streak of the season.

Goldobin's goal at 10:48 of the first period snapped a scoreless streak of 222 minutes, 57 minutes for the Canucks, who had been shut out in three consecutive losses.

The Sharks had allowed just two power-play goals in their previous 17 games, but gave up three against Vancouver. The only other time San Jose allowed three power-play goals in a game was in an opening-night loss to Philadelphia.

Aaron Dell, making his first start since Feb. 22, made 28 saves for the Sharks. Vancouver's Jacob Markstrom stopped 25 shots.

Meier put the Sharks ahead at 6:07 of the third with a shot from the faceoff circle that went under Markstrom's blocker. The Canucks came close with just over six minutes left, but Hertl scooped a loose puck off the goal line.

Vancouver scored twice with the man-advantage in the second period to tie the game at 3.

The Sharks took a 3-1 lead just 1:47 into the period when Meier tipped in Brenden Dillion's shot from the point.

Horvat started Vancouver's comeback, scoring just 6 seconds into a power play. Dell stopped Gagner's slap shot but Horvat jammed home the rebound. Edler tied it with a blast from the point at 11:48. It was his first power-play goal in 88 games dating to Feb. 17, 2017.

The Sharks scored 1:10 apart in the first period to erase a 1-0 deficit.

Goldobin opened the scoring when he took a pass from defenseman Derrick Pouilot and snapped a shot from the face-off circle that sailed over Dell's shoulder. The San Jose goalie was screened by Jake Virtanen.

Labanc tied it on a power play at 14:48. Joe Pavelski's shot was stopped by Markstrom, but he managed to get his own rebound and passed it to Labanc at the side of the net.

The Sharks went ahead on Couture's 29th of the season at 16:08. He took a feed from Hertl, fought off a check by Virtanen and chipped the puck past Markstrom.

NOTES: Defenseman Chris Tanev returned to Vancouver lineup for his first game since breaking his leg Feb. 8 against Tampa Bay ... San Jose center Melker Karlsson went to the dressing favoring his right leg early in the first period after blocking a shot. ... San Jose's Marc-Edouard Vlasic left in the second period after being hit in the chest by a puck. ... The Canucks' franchise record for a scoring drought is 234 minutes, 52 seconds, set March 16-24, 2016. ... The longest goal drought by a team in the expansion era is 262 minutes, 3 seconds, set by the Minnesota North Stars from Jan. 28-Feb. 6, 1988.


Sharks: vs. New Jersey on Tuesday night.

Canucks: at Vegas on Tuesday night.