Sharks

No panic from Sharks in win over Bruins

711442.jpg

No panic from Sharks in win over Bruins

SAN JOSE It was just about a perfect night until there were less than five minutes left in the third period.

Thats when Bruins captain Zdeno Chara managed to secure a loose puck in the high slot, skate deep into the Sharks zone, and bank in Bostons first goal of the night from underneath the goal line while Antti Niemi looked like a fish out of water during the mad scramble.

Just like that, it was a 2-1 Sharks lead - and anyones game again. But San Jose stuck with its gameplan and made it a quiet final 4:15 to send the sellout crowd home happy.

There were a number of encouraging signs in the Sharks hard-fought win over the defending Stanley Cup champs, including Daniel Winnik finally getting on the scoreboard. But the fact that the team didnt allow panic to set in and really didnt surrender any more prime scoring chances after the Bruins scored is noteworthy, and a positive sign with just eight games left.

A little breakdown when they scored, but we got right back on the horse and got right back after them, Joe Thornton said.

Todd McLellan said: I think panic sets in when youre cheating the game a little bit and maybe doing things wrong, but we were doing a lot of things right. They scored one, we settled back in, and did what we were supposed to do. The question now, can we repeat it and play a good game against Phoenix? I know we can, weve just got to get out and do it.

The 10th place Sharks host the Coyotes on Saturday, looking to draw even in points with seventh place Phoenix.

RELATED: NHL standings

Bs notice Sharks energy: The Bruins fell for the second time in two tries against the Sharks this season, including a 4-2 loss at TD Garden to San Jose way back on Oct. 22.

Boston had won two in a row before last night, including an 8-0 thrashing of the Maple Leafs on Monday. They had some complimentary things to say about the Sharks after the game.

They came out playing like they wanted to turn things around, goaltender Tim Thomas said. They have been on a losing streak kind of like we had been.

Head coach Claude Julien said: I thought they set the pace early in the game and it took us a long, long time to catch up to it. Near the end it was better, but we had a lot of players that looked a little sluggish tonight and we didnt seem to have the same energy that we have had the last few of games.

The Sharks now hope the Bruins do them a favor, as they play the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night. The Kings have won six in a row, including Thursdays 1-0 shootout win over St. Louis.

More from Winnik: Daniel Winnik said after the game that he wasnt letting his scoring drought get to him. He said something similar last week, and essentially repeated it after the Bruins game.

Im not a guy that racks up the points, but I thought since I came here I made some nice plays and had been setting guys up, he said. I know it was just a matter of timing.

He recognized the importance of the total team effort.

Its huge. Theyre obviously a Stanley Cup contender and one of the best teams in the East. The way they play, they play that playoff style big bodies, very skilled up front. I thought we handled them well.

We cant rely on our top two lines to score every night, our third and fourth have to start chipping in. Thats what the better teams in the league do. Weve got guys on our third and fourth that can do that, so I think it was just a matter of bearing down.

Checking the race: While the Kings took over the Pacific Division lead by virtue of their win, the Sharks got a little bit of help in the standings last night. Calgary fell in a shootout to Minnesota, 3-2, Phoenix knocked off Colorado in regulation, 3-2, and Vancouver beat Dallas in regulation, 2-1.

Checking the ever-popular sportsclubstats.com, the Sharks increased their playoff probably by more than 13 percent last night, and are now have a 50.8 percent chance of making it.

There are no games of interest regarding the Western Conference playoff race tonight, but there are several tomorrow, including the Sharks-Coyotes game. Calgary visits Dallas in the afternoon; Vancouver is in Colorado, and the Bruins visit the Kings.

Sharks should be thankful for these two players on Thanksgiving

jones-logan-us.jpg
USATSI

Sharks should be thankful for these two players on Thanksgiving

The San Jose Sharks woke up this Thanksgiving and found themselves in a playoff spot, albeit barely. 

They hold the second and final wild card spot by the thinnest of margins, edging out the Colorado Avalanche not on points, games played, regulation and overtime wins, but a single goal in the goal differential column. 

As early as it is, it’s a critical time to be in playoff position. Since the NHL expanded to 30 teams in 2000, 79 percent of teams holding playoff spots on Thanksgiving made the postseason. 

If the Sharks avoid becoming a member of the dreaded 21 percent, they’ll have two players to thank, more than anyone else, for their good fortune: Logan Couture and Martin Jones. 

Couture, along with Joonas Donskoi, seems to be the only Shark unaffected by a team-wide scoring bug. Even as he’s cooled off slightly, his 11 goals are still tied for 10th-most in the league. 

He’s held a positive share of puck possession on the ice, despite starting the fourth-lowest percentage of his shifts in the offensive zone among Sharks forwards that have played at least 50 minutes this season, according to Corsica Hockey

Couture also leads the team in power play scoring with three goals, and is one of only three San Jose players that’s scored multiple times on the man advantage. It’s hard to imagine the league’s fourth-worst power play (15.1 percent) getting worse, but it undoubtedly would be without the 28-year-old.

While Couture has stood out among a hapless offense, Jones has led one of the league’s best defensive units. The Sharks are among the best teams at limiting shots and scoring chances across all situations, but Jones has not let them down. 

Although his .922 even-strength save percentage is 27th among 51 goalies that have played at least 200 minutes, San Jose’s given him a razor thin margin of error. He had the fifth-lowest goal support of any goalie entering last night, as statistician Darin Stephens noted, and his play has been good enough to keep the Sharks in games in spite of that. 

Jones has also led the way for the league’s best penalty kill, posting a .940 save percentage in shorthanded situations. That’s the best mark among goalies that have faced at least 80 shots on the penalty kill, according to Stephens.

The sustainability of Jones’ penalty kill dominance and Couture’s 20.8 shooting percentage is an open question, but their importance to the team early in the season cannot be overstated. They’ve helped keep the Sharks afloat, and in a playoff spot with history on their side at the critical Thanksgiving mark. 

The Sharks need to not only let them have extra helpings during their holiday feast, but find a way to give them more help on the ice too.

 

Jones strong in goal, contains Coyotes to snap Sharks' three-game skid

sharkspostgame.jpg
USATSI

Jones strong in goal, contains Coyotes to snap Sharks' three-game skid

BOX SCORE

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Logan Couture scored another goal for San Jose but was happier to see the Sharks' top line get untracked.

"We've got to get those guys going to help us offensively," Couture said of teammates Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski and Timo Meier after the Sharks' 3-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes on Wednesday night. "We need them to produce."

Thornton opened the scoring for the Sharks, with Pavelski adding an assist, the pair's first points since November 8, a span of five games.

"I think with Timo with us last game it brought us a lot of energy and a lot of chances," said Thornton, who scored his first goal since October 26. "Me and Pavs really like playing with him."

Joel Ward added an empty-net goal with 47.8 to play for the Sharks, who snapped a three-game losing streak.

"We got enough offense to win," said Sharks coach Peter DeBoer. "That's all that matters. I thought we played a good road game. I don't care how it looks."

Brendan Perlini scored with 7:37 to go, ruining Sharks goalie Martin Jones' bid for his second shutout of the season. The Coyotes saw their season-high three-game winning streak snapped and lost for the eighth time in nine home games (1-7-1).

Jones finished with 26 saves.

"We defended really well," said Jones, who was tested seriously only twice in the first two periods. "The first 10 minutes they had a lot of jump and were buzzing around our zone, but after that not as much."

Coyotes goalie Antti Raanta left at 14:37 of the first period with an upper-body injury. Couture had collided with Raanta more than four minutes earlier, earning an interference penalty. Raanta skated to the bench during a stoppage in play and retreated to the locker room.

Scott Wedgewood took Raanta's place and was in net for only five seconds before the Sharks broke through. Wedgewood stopped Brent Burns' long shot from the top of the right circle even after it deflected off San Jose right wing Timo Meier. But the rebound kicked to the bottom of the right circle, where Thornton swept in and beat the goalie with a quick wrist shot.

"He (coach Rick Tocchet) looked at me and said go," Wedgewood. "I was like, alright. That's the tough part. Then shot, top, goal. That was tough."

San Jose made it 2-0 at 4:56 of the second, taking advantage of Arizona's inability to clear the zone while the Sharks were on a line change.

Justin Braun fought three Coyotes for the puck along the right boards before Joonas Donskoi swooped in, skated to the goal line then sent a pass across to Couture. Couture deked Wedgewood to the ice with a forehand fake, then scored on the backhand.

Perlini cut the lead to 2-1 when he redirected Derek Stepan's shot from the top of the right circle past Jones.

"We had some costly mistakes," Perlini said. "We got back within a goal but there were too many mistakes."

NOTES: Thornton has 22 goals and 83 points in 82 career games against Arizona. ... The Coyotes, who had played seven of their past eight on the road, opened a three-game homestand. ... Raanta made eight saves before leaving and has stopped 98 of the past 105 shots he's faced. ... Couture's goal was his first in five games.

UP NEXT:

Sharks: visit Las Vegas on Friday

Coyotes: host Los Angeles on Friday.