NHL Gameday: Sharks resume schedule against three-time champs

NHL Gameday: Sharks resume schedule against three-time champs

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


Sharks: 31-17-2, 64 points, 1st Pacific Division
Blackhawks: 30-16-5, 65 points, 2nd Central Division


***The Sharks begin their post All-Star weekend schedule tonight, after they had their six-game winning streak snapped by the Oilers last Thursday. This is the rubber match of the three-game season series with the Blackhawks. Each team has defended its home ice.

Playing the club that has captured three of the past six Stanley Cups and remains a contender is a good way to jump back into the season, according to Joe Pavelski.

“Obviously you’ve got to be ready for them,” said the captain. “They’re one of the better teams in the conference, and they’ve got a lot of dynamic players on their team, so it’s a game you’ve got to take care of the puck.” 

Pete DeBoer said: “You never wish to play Chicago I don’t think, but the nice thing about playing them is it immediately grabs the guys’ attention that we’ve got to be dialed in and our attention to detail has to be right, or they make you pay.”

The Sharks are 17-7-1 at SAP Center. They can equal their win total at home from all of last season with a victory.

***Chicago, which had a league-high four players at the All-Star Game, is beginning a six-game road swing tonight. The Blackhawks lost their last two games in regulation before the break, blowing third period leads in both.

"The two losses the way we had [them], we should have those games. A couple of minutes left, it definitely hurts," Marian Hossa told CSN Chicago. "We’ve been very busy. Having a nice three days off, it definitely helps to step back from hockey for a second and recharge and get some energy back and continue again." 

The Blackhawks are 12-9-1 on the road.

***The Sharks’ February schedule is not overly taxing, with the bye week coming from Feb. 20-24 and many non-playoff opponents on the horizon after tonight.

For now, they’ll focus on the 10 games in 20 days before their week off.

“We’ve talked like we’ve kind of got two little seasons here within the season in the next two months,” DeBoer said. “We’ve got a nice schedule, the way it lays out here from now until our five-day break, and then really a sprint to the finish line with a real busy March and April.”

After the bye week, the Sharks will have 22 games over the final 43 days.


Sharks: Tomas Hertl. The forward returned after a 32-game absence on Thursday against Edmonton, and despite him not registering a shot on goal, the top line looked more effective than it had been. Although the Sharks coaching staff would eventually like Hertl to return to the center position, he’ll remain with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski for at least another night while he gets his game legs back underneath him. 

Blackhawks: Duncan Keith. Fresh off of being named one of the NHL’s top 100 players of all-time, Keith will bring a two-game goal streak into tonight’s game. The former Norris and Conn Smythe Trophy winner has just four goals on the season, but is tied for fifth among blueliners with 33 points. He scored his first goal against San Jose on Dec. 18 in Chicago.


Tomas Hertl – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Patrick Marleau – Logan Couture – Mikkel Boedker
Kevin Labanc – Chris Tierney – Joel Ward
Timo Meier – Ryan Carpenter – Melker Karlsson

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

Martin Jones (starter)
Aaron Dell

Nick Schmaltz – Jonathan Toews – Marian Hossa
Artemi Panarin – Artem Anisimov – Patrick Kane
Ryan Hartman – Tanner Kero – Vinnie Hinostroza
Andrew Desjardins – Dennis Rasmussen – Richard Panik

Duncan Keith – Niklas Hjalmarsson
Brian Campbell – Brent Seabrook
Gustav Forsling – Trevor van Riemsdyk

Corey Crawford (starter)
Scott Darling


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

Blackhawks: Marcus Kruger (illness) and Michal Rozsival (lower body) are out.


“I think the pace will be good. It’s the execution after three or four days off that is always off a little bit off. But, you’ve got two skilled groups, I don’t think it will take long.” – Pete DeBoer

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.