NHL Gameday: Sharks-Kings has the potential to be nasty

NHL Gameday: Sharks-Kings has the potential to be nasty

Programming note – Sharks-Kings coverage starts tonight at 7:00 p.m. on NBCSN


Sharks: 23-13-1, 47 points, 1st Pacific Division
Kings: 18-15-4, 40 points, 5th Pacific Division


***The Sharks will host the Kings in the second of a home-and-home, after Los Angeles won 3-2 at Staples Center on New Year’s Eve. 

In that game, the Kings had the Sharks on their heels early, and San Jose never recovered from a 2-0 hole. Coach Pete DeBoer said on Tuesday morning that his club got “pushed out of that game for stretches, which is a little uncharacteristic for us. We’ve got to get that fixed.”

“When we’ve had success against this team it’s when we’ve put our work boots on and been prepared, and gone nose-to-nose with them in the trenches,” said the coach. “There’s nowhere to hide when you’re playing the L.A. Kings. You’ve got to be willing to do that. I think we will be tonight.”

Joe Thornton said: “I expect us to push at the start tonight. They pushed pretty hard in their building, so I expect us to push hard in ours.”
The Sharks won the first two games of the season series, which concludes on Jan. 18 in L.A. – the third time they will meet in a 19-day span. San Jose has won four straight on home ice, and is 13-4-0 at SAP Center. The Kings will be playing their 10th road game in the last 11, where they are 7-11-3.

***As is typical in games between the Pacific Division rivals, who have met in the playoffs three of the last four seasons, it got a bit chippy in the third period of Saturday’s tilt. Thornton and Dustin Brown got into it in the faceoff circle, and moments later Thornton steamrolled the former Kings captain from behind. A slash by Thornton to Los Angeles defenseman Derek Forbort’s arm followed, and earned him a two-minute minor.

Could we see more unpleasantness tonight?

“Every game against the Kings, it’s usually a big game for both teams,” Thornton said. “Tonight will probably go the same way. High-intensity game.”

DeBoer didn’t mind Thornton’s extra-cirricular activity on Saturday.

“He’s as competitive a guy as we have in the room,” DeBoer said. “I think in a game where you’re getting pushed out a little bit, I like a little pushback from our guys, and he’s usually the first guy in line for that.”

As for Brown’s perspective, he didn’t seem to be dwelling on it. On Monday, he told LA Kings Insider: “I just wasn’t expecting the hit. He was [coming] from the backside, so it is what it is. I’m alright with it.”

***Marc-Edouard Vlasic will miss his second straight game with a facial injury, and David Schlemko is also out tonight with an upper body injury, perhaps from a hit by the Kings' Jordan Nolan on Saturday. That means Mirco Mueller will play his first game with the Sharks since April 9, which was also his only NHL appearance of the calendar year 2016.

“He’s earned the right to get up here,” DeBoer said of the 21-year-old former first round pick. “Just do what all the other young guys that have stepped in the lineup have done. Play your game, help contribute, and we’re confident he can do that.”


Sharks: Justin Braun. Missing his partner Marc-Edouard Vlasic for at least the next two games, Braun will look to rebound from his tough outing on Saturday when he was paired with David Schlemko, and was on the ice for both of the Kings’ even strength goals. Braun will likely be paired with Brenden Dillon on Tuesday, so they'll likely get plenty of ice time with the inexperienced third pairing consisting of Mirco Mueller and Dylan DeMelo.

Kings: Drew Doughty. The defenseman snapped a 10-game goal drought with a power play goal against the Sharks on Saturday, while skating a game-high 28:47. The 27-year-old defending Norris Trophy winner, who’s third in the NHL in ice time, helped keep the Sharks’ top line from having any sort of impact on the game during five-on-five play.


Patrick Marleau – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Kevin Labanc – Logan Couture – Mikkel Boedker
Timo Meier – Chris Tierney – Joonas Donskoi
Melker Karlsson – Micheal Haley – Joel Ward

Paul Martin – Brent Burns
Brenden Dillon – Justin Braun
Mirco Mueller – Dylan DeMelo

Martin Jones (starter)
Aaron Dell

Marian Gaborik – Anze Kopitar – Dustin Brown
Tanner Pearson – Jeff Carter – Devin Setoguchi
Kyle Clifford – Nic Dowd – Trevor Lewis
Dwight King – Nick Shore – Jordan Nolan

Derek Forbort – Drew Doughty
Jake Muzzin – Alec Martinez
Brayden McNabb – Kevin Gravel

Peter Budaj (starter)
Jeff Zatkoff


Sharks: David Schlemko (upper body), Marc-Edouard Vlasic (face) and Tomas Hertl (right knee sprain) are out.

Kings: Jonathan Quick (groin) and Tyler Toffoli (lower body) are out.


“Just got to stay above him, know when he’s on the ice. He’s playing good hockey right now. He’s one of those guys when he’s got the puck on his stick, he can make stuff happen.” – Justin Braun, on facing Jeff Carter, who is tied for second in the NHL with 20 goals

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.