NHL Gameday: Sharks, Wild both reeling ahead of final meeting

NHL Gameday: Sharks, Wild both reeling ahead of final meeting

Programming note – Sharks-Wild coverage starts today at 5:30 p.m. on NBCSN


Sharks: 42-23-7, 91 points, 1st Pacific Division
Wild: 43-22-6, 92 points, 2nd Central Division


***The standings say it’s a potential Western Conference Final preview, but lately the Sharks and Wild look anything but dangerous. They have lost a combined eight straight games in regulation, as the Wild have dropped five in a row and the Sharks their last three.

***San Jose has scored just two goals in its last three games in losses to St. Louis, Anaheim and Dallas. The Sharks were shut out by the Stars on Monday night, 1-0.

“We’ve just got to stick with it, keep going, and keep working,” Joe Pavelski told reporters after the game. “These points are important, there’s no time to hang our head. This team never does, we’ve just got to find a way to be a little bit better.”

The Sharks are playing in the second of a four-game road trip. They are 9-3-1 this season in the second of back-to-backs, and have lost four games in a row just once this season (Feb. 4-11, 0-1-3).

***The Wild are struggling on both ends of the ice during its losing streak, averaging 2.20 goals-per game and allowing an average of 3.80 goals in its last five. On Sunday in Winnipeg, the Wild rallied from a 4-0 deficit to tie it only to lose, 5-4.

Minnesota has won both of its games over San Jose in the season series, on Jan. 5 in San Jose (5-4) and March 5 at Xcel Energy Center (3-1). They are 23-10-1 at home, and are still on pace for their best regular season in franchise history.


Sharks: Timo Meier. Playing in his first NHL game since Feb. 15 on Monday, the rookie started on the fourth line against Dallas before he was moved up to the third line with Tomas Hertl and Joonas Donskoi. He finished with one shot on goal (and seven shot attempts) in nine minutes and seven seconds of ice time.

Wild: Eric Staal. In his first season with the Wild, the 32-year-old center has posted four goals and one assist against the Sharks this season, including two goals in each of the last two games. He has seven goals and eight points in his last nine games overall, and will be skating in his 1,001st career game tonight.


Patrick Marleau – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Mikkel Boedker – Logan Couture – Joel Ward
Joonas Donskoi – Tomas Hertl – Marcus Sorensen
Micheal Haley – Chris Tierney – Timo Meier

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

Martin Jones (likely starter)
Aaron Dell

Jason Zucker – Mikko Koivu – Mikael Granlund
Zach Parise – Eric Staal – Charlie Coyle
Nino Niederreiter – Martin Hanzal – Jason Pominville
Chris Stewart – Erik Haula – Jordan Schroeder

Ryan Suter – Jared Spurgeon
Marco Scandella – Matt Dumba
Jonas Brodin – Nate Prosser

Devan Dubnyk (starter)
Darcy Kuemper


Sharks: Chris Tierney (flu) is probable. Jannik Hansen (upper body) aand Melker Karlsson (lower body) are out.

Wild: Christian Folin (upper body) and Victor Bartley (torn triceps) are out.


“The chances are there, we’ve got to bear down. We’ve got to get one dirty or ugly around the net, we’ve got to get one on the power play. Some way, somehow, take a little pressure off of the group because it’s hard to win when you’re only getting one or no goals like we’ve gotten in the last couple of games.” – Pete DeBoer

Sharks blow out Devils for season-high fifth straight win

Sharks blow out Devils for season-high fifth straight win


SAN JOSE -- Jannik Hansen scored his first goal of the season and fellow fourth-liners Eric Fehr and Barclay Goodrow also scored to help the San Jose Sharks win their season-high fifth straight game, 6-2 over the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night.

Logan Couture added his 30th goal of the season, and Joe Pavelski and Mikkel Boedker also scored to give the Sharks a four-point lead over third-place Los Angeles in the Pacific Division with one game in hand.

Brent Burns added three assists and Martin Jones made 26 saves.

The scoring barrage by San Jose spoiled Cory Schneider's return to net for the Devils. Schneider allowed four goals on 14 shots before getting pulled midway through the second period of his first start since March 8. Schneider has lost 11 starts in a row since his last win for the Devils on Dec. 27.

Taylor Hall scored his 32nd goal of the season and Blake Coleman also scored for the Devils, who lead Florida by just one point in the race for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Panthers have two games in hand.

After Hansen and Fehr scored in the first period, Goodrow chipped one in midway through the second period on a surprising night of scoring from the fourth line when he beat Schneider on a 2-on-1.

Couture then scored 40 seconds later on San Jose's first shot against Keith Kinkaid for his third career 30-goal season. Boedker added San Jose's second power-play goal of the night late in the second and the rout was on.

The Sharks got off to a fast start in their first game back from a 3-0 Canadian road trip, scoring three goals in the first period and killing 1:20 of a two-man advantage for New Jersey.

The teams traded goals to start with Fehr beating Schneider over the shoulder from a bad angle and Hall answering when he stole a bouncing puck from Justin Braunand beat Jones with a quick shot.

San Jose then scored twice in a span of less than three minutes to take the lead. Pavelski tipped in a shot from Kevin Labanc on the power play to give the Sharks the lead.

Then after Jones denied Damon Severson from in close at one end, Dylan DeMelo sent a long pass that Hansen chased down and then beat Schneider on a breakaway for his first goal since March 30, 2017.

NOTES: DeMelo has 10 assists this month. ... San Jose D Brenden Dillon has a five-game point streak. ... Devils F Miles Wood (upper body) was scratched and Jesper Bratt played in his place.


Devils: Visit Pittsburgh on Friday.

Sharks: Host Vegas on Thursday.

With Devils in town, Sharks will get firsthand look at top contender for MVP


With Devils in town, Sharks will get firsthand look at top contender for MVP

As the season winds down, whispers surrounding players’ awards candidacies are turning into full-blown conversations. None are more interesting than those surrounding the Hart Trophy, awarded to “the player judged to be the most valuable to his team,” according to the NHL’s criteria.

The Sharks have already seen their fair share of MVP candidates since the trade deadline, and will encounter yet another one on Tuesday when Taylor Hall and the New Jersey Devils stop by SAP Center. They’ll see a couple more beyond Hall over the next three weeks, too.

Who do we think has the best case? With no disrespect meant to Nikita Kucherov or Anze Kopitar, Hart Trophy candidates that the Sharks won’t play before the playoffs, we’ll look at the ones the Sharks have played since the deadline or will play before the end of the regular season.

The Dark Horses
Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Capitals: The demise of the ‘Great Eight’ was greatly exaggerated. In his 13th NHL season, the 32-year-old is tied for the league lead in goals (43), 11th in points (78), and has led a depleted Capitals roster to the precipice of a third-straight division title. That probably won’t be enough to earn his fourth Hart Trophy, but this is undoubtedly one of Ovi’s best seasons.

Eric Staal, Minnesota Wild: Staal was a pleasant surprise when he scored 65 points last year, but has been even better this season. He’s tied for fourth in the in goals (39), tied for fifth in even strength goals (26), tied for 19th in points (71), and leading his team in each category as a 33-year-old. The Wild are a near-lock for the postseason at this point, and a resurgent Staal deserves much of the credit.

The Frontrunners
Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers: McDavid’s candidacy comes down to where you fall on the “non-playoff players winning MVP” debate, but his value to the lottery-bound Oilers cannot be denied. Edmonton is 28-19-3 when he’s scored a point, and 3-17-2 when he hasn’t.

The former is about a 97-point pace in the standings over an 82-game season, while the latter is about a 30-point pace. In other words, the Oilers are basically a playoff team when McDavid scores, and historically bad when he doesn’t.

We’re sympathetic to questions about how valuable a player can be when his team will finish so far out of the postseason. However, imagining how much worse the poorly-constructed Oilers would be without him makes him a worthy candidate alone.

Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche: The Colorado Avalanche were 31 points worse than the league’s second-worst team last season, and finished 46 points out of the postseason. A full offseason with second-year coach Jared Bednar, as well as some under-the-radar acquisitions have helped the Avalanche’s remarkable turnaround into a Wild Card team, but Nathan MacKinnon is undoubtedly the catalyst.

The former No. 1 pick has put it all together this season, and is tied-for-second in points (89) with McDavid, despite playing eight fewer games. His 1.39 points per game are the most in the league, as are his 3.49 points per 60 minutes of five-on-five play, according to Natural Stat Trick (minimum 500 minutes played).

The Avalanche is the league’s fifth-worst five-on-five puck possession team overall (47.42 percent corsi-for), but are right around league-average with MacKinnon on the ice (50.96 percent). He’d be a very worthy Hart Trophy winner, and likely would be the clear-cut frontrunner if not for the man leading the Devils into SAP Center on Tuesday.

The Favorite
Taylor Hall, New Jersey Devils: McDavid is not the only No. 1 pick the Oilers drafted that’s in the MVP conversation, but he’s the only one still on their roster. The other is Taylor Hall, who has the best Hart Trophy case in our eyes.

Hall strikes the sweet spot between McDavid’s case, as a superstar with little support around him, and MacKinnon’s, as an emergent force leading a resurgence, and he has a 26-game point streak to his name. He sits outside the top 10 in points (77), goals (31), and assists (46), but has scored points at a higher rate per game (1.15) than all but six qualifying players.

He also doesn’t have Mikko Rantanen or Leon Draisaitl skating alongside him as MacKinnon and McDavid do, nor does he have a supporting cast like Kucherov and Kopitar. Of all the players the Sharks have and will face down the stretch, Hall’s been the player most valuable to his team this season.