NHL Gameday: Sharks open Stanley Cup Playoffs in Edmonton

NHL Gameday: Sharks open Stanley Cup Playoffs in Edmonton

Programming note – Sharks-Oilers coverage starts today at 6:30 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live on NBC Sports California


Game 1: Wednesday, April 12, Sharks @ Oilers (7 p.m.)
Game 2: Friday, April 14, Sharks @ Oilers (7:30 p.m.)
Game 3: Sunday, April 16, Oilers @ Sharks (7 p.m.)
Game 4: Tuesday, April 18, Oilers @ Sharks (7 p.m.)
*Game 5: Thursday, April 20, Sharks @ Oilers (TBD)
*Game 6: Saturday, April 22, Oilers @ Sharks (TBD)
*Game 7: Monday, April 24, Sharks @ Oilers (TBD)

* - if necessary


***This is the first matchup between the Sharks and Oilers since 2006, when Edmonton beat San Jose in six games in the second round. The Oilers’ 10-season drought was the longest in the league.

***The Sharks will attempt to become the first team to reach the Stanley Cup Final in consecutive seasons since the Red Wings and Penguins met in consecutive seasons in 2008 and 2009.

***Edmonton won the season series, beating the Sharks in the final three meetings after San Jose claimed the first two. The Oilers won their final nine home games of the regular season, and 12 of 14 overall. The Sharks lost eight of nine in regulation from March 16 – 31, but won three of their final four.


Sharks: Joonas Donskoi. The Sharks’ forward didn’t have a great regular season, with just 17 points (6g, 11a) in 61 games while battling through some injuries. In his first career playoff run last year, Donskoi was a part of some huge goals, posting 12 points (6g, 6a) in 24 games. He’ll look to recapture that magic starting tonight.

Oilers: Oscar Klefbom. The big defenseman posted a career-high four assists against the Sharks on April 4, and showed the potential to be a future number one blueliner after a breakout season in which he posted 38 points (12g, 26a) in 82 games. 


Melker Karlsson – Logan Couture – Joe Pavelski
Jannik Hansen – Tomas Hertl – Mikkel Boedker
Joonas Donskoi – Patrick Marleau – Joel Ward
Marcus Sorensen – Chris Tierney – Timo Meier

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

Martin Jones (starter)
Aaron Dell

Patrick Maroon – Connor McDavid – Leon Draisaitl
Milan Lucic – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Jordan Eberle
Drake Caggiula – Mark Letestu – Zack Kassian
Benoit Pouliot – David Desharnais – Iiro Pakarinen

Oscar Klefbom – Adam Larsson
Andrej Sekera – Kris Russell
Darnell Nurse – Matt Benning

Cam Talbot (starter)
Laurent Brossoit


Sharks: Logan Couture (mouth) and Joe Thornton (left knee) are questionable.

Oilers: Tyler Pitlick (torn ACL) is out.


The Sharks are 17-15 all-time in Game 1 of a playoff series, and 9-8 on the road.

The Sharks are 11-6 all-time in a playoff series when leading one-game-to-none, and 4-11 all-time when losing Game 1.


“I don’t think you can predict what kind of series it’s going to be. Some series you go out and three games it’s all just beating up on each other, [then] it turns into a skilled game for a game, then it goes back to hitting. You don’t know what you’re going to get night in and night out. You’ve got to be ready for anything.” – Justin Braun

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.