Sharks

Odd praise for Pavelski after win

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Odd praise for Pavelski after win

SAN JOSE The praise was plentiful if not a bit unconventional for Sharks winger Joe Pavelski after the winger scored his 30th and 31st goals of the season in San Joses important 3-0 win over the Dallas Stars on Saturday night.

Hes just a dirty player. He gets in dirty areas and wills himself in front of the net, said Joe Thornton, who assisted on both of Pavelskis goals. A lot of guys dont want to necessarily go there, but hes made a living going to the front of the net like tonight with that tip from Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Hes just a dirty player.

Todd McLellan said: Hes a little bit like Gumby. He slithers into spots, and his sense of timing is really good. We talk about going to the net, but arriving at the net at the right time is probably a little more important than always going to the net. Pav has that knack and great hockey sense.

Pavelski became just the ninth player in Sharks franchise history to record at least 30 goals in a season, and the first American, for what thats worth.
RELATED: NHL Standings

His first period goal ended up being the game-winner, thanks to Antti Niemis sixth shutout of the season (and 19th of his career). Pavelski is making a habit of getting on the board early, too. He has five goals in the first two minutes of a game, the most of any NHL player this season according to Elias.

Its important to score early, regardless. Get the lead, Pavelski said. The last few games weve had so many good looks not just decent scoring chances, but it feels like open nets.

They were able to get one to drop this time, something that didnt happen in disheartening losses in Anaheim and Phoenix, putting the tired Stars behind the eight ball early.

Weve been stressing our starts, Thornton said. I dont know if theres a secret or not, but we have to be prepared to start every night, and we have been.

Pavelski, incidentally, has 18 career two-goal games but no NHL hat tricks. Thats the fourth-longest active streak of its kind. Pavel Datsyuk, believe it or not, has the most (26).

Niemi feeling good: Hes made 18 starts in a row, and it will almost certainly be 21 by the time the regular season comes to a close next Saturday, but Antti Niemi is feeling just fine, thank you very much.

I feel great. I think its all about balancing the practice time and playing time, he said after Saturday nights game. We play on Tuesday next, so thats good, too.

The Sharks will resume practice at 10:00 a.m. on Monday after a complete day off on Sunday. Their 17 games in March was tied for the most in the league last month with three other teams.

Stars unhappy with effort: It wasnt exactly surprising that the Dallas Stars didn't have their A-game last night, regardless of how tight the playoff race is. The Stars arrived in San Jose in the early morning hours on Saturday after a flight from Vancouver where they lost 5-2 the night before.

That wasnt a valid excuse, according captain Brenden Morrow, who saw his club fall to an abysmal 1-11-2 in the second half of back-to-backs.

It was a big game, and I dont think fatigue can be an excuse when you have whats on the line what we had tonight, Morrow said.

Morrow hopes the animosity these two teams clearly have for one another can benefit his club at home on Tuesday at American Airlines Center.

Its nice to be able to get them again while the bloods hot a little bit, get a little redemption, Morrow said. But, if we do the same thing we did tonight, were not going to have the success that we want.

Head coach Glen Gulutzan said: Weve got to move on. Weve got a big game against this team on Tuesday. Our fates in our own hands still. At this junction of the season, thats what you have to focus on.

Checking the race: The Los Angeles Kings and Phoenix Coyotes both got points in the standings last night; LA in a 4-3 overtime loss to Minnesota and Phoenix with a 4-0 win over Anaheim.

The Sharks improved their playoff chances by 16.6 percent according to the math, and now have a 62.4 percent probability to make the postseason, according to sportsclubstats.com.

None of the teams in the playoff race is in action on Sunday. On Monday, Edmonton visits the Kings.

Sharks win second straight, beat Devils to start road trip

Sharks win second straight, beat Devils to start road trip

BOX SCORE

NEWARK, N.J. — Martin Jones made 28 saves for his first shutout of the season and 16th overall in the San Jose Sharks' 3-0 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Friday night.

Melker Karlsson, Joe Pavelski and Joonas Donskoi scored and Justin Braun had two assists to help the Sharks open a five-game East Coast trip.

Keith Kinkaid, the top goalie for New Jersey with Cory Schneider on injured reserve, stopped 30 shots as the Devils' three-game winning streak came to an end.

The Devils couldn't muster a strong push in the later stages against the rested Sharks. It was New Jersey's second game two nights following a 5-4 overtime victory in Ottawa. And it showed against the Sharks, who played a solid road game, pressed their advantage and solidly supported Jones.

Karlsson scored the lone goal of the opening period at 14:11 on a close-in shot following a slick behind-the-net setup pass from Tomas Hertl.

The shots were 13 for each team in the evenly played period. The Devils came close on several occasions as former Shark Mirco Mueller and Blake Coleman both hit the crossbar and Jones robbed Drew Stafford on a dead-on drive from the slot.

Pavelski and Donskoi got second-period goals as the Sharks steadily tightened their grip on the game.

Pavelski tipped in Braun's point shot at 5:49. Joe Thornton got the second assist, his 1,395th point, to pass Luc Robitaille for 21st on the career list.

Donskoi backhanded a rebound shot with 1:10 left in the period in which the Sharks outshot the Devils 11-6.

The remaining drama centered on Jones' shutout bid.

NOTES: The Devils placed Schneider on injured reserve Friday with a lower-body injury and recalled Scott Wedgewood from Binghamton of the American Hockey League to serve as Kinkaid's backup. ... Mueller, a healthy scratch in three of the previous four games, returned for the Devils to face the Sharks, the team that drafted him in the first round, for the first time. He was dealt to New Jersey over the summer.

UP NEXT

Sharks: At the New York Islanders on Saturday night.

Devils: Host Ottawa on Friday night.

As Joakim Ryan returns home, Sharks reunite with a former top prospect

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AP

As Joakim Ryan returns home, Sharks reunite with a former top prospect

When Joakim Ryan suits up in his first NHL road game against the New Jersey Devils Friday night, he’ll do so in a familiar place.

Ryan, a New Jersey-born Swede, played for the Devils’ youth program and nearby Christian Brothers Academy (CBA) in high school. In fact, he’s already played at the Prudential Center, skating in the state championship game with CBA in 2009.

He’s not the only one due for something of a homecoming, as the Sharks may see a familiar face line up on the opposing blueline.

This is the Sharks’ first matchup against New Jersey since trading 2013 first round pick Mirco Mueller ahead of June’s Expansion Draft. Mueller was once considered the future on the San Jose blueline, a smooth-skating defenseman with size to boot.

The Swiss defender never fulfilled his potential, in part because his development was rushed from the start. He made the NHL roster as a rookie in 2014-15, almost by default. Other than Marc-Edouard Vlasic, the only defensemen ahead of him on left side of the depth chart were a far past-his-prime Scott Hannan and regular scratch Matt Irwin. Such was the nature of the Sharks’ “step back” that year.

Mueller finally got regular playing time, albeit in the minors, during his second professional season. By then, he was pushed down the organizational depth chart by the team’s acquisitions of Brenden Dillon and Roman Polak, and the development of Dylan DeMelo. David Schlemko’s signing last summer kept Mueller there for most of 2016-17, but it was Ryan and Tim Heed that ensured Mueller’s NHL future would lie elsewhere. The Swedes surpassed him, and emerged as perhaps the AHL’s best defensive pair in the process.

It’s fitting, then, that Ryan and Heed will be in the lineup tonight, and Mueller may not, as the fresh start he needed hasn’t quite panned out. He’s averaging a career-high 18:44 in ice time, but has been scratched in three of New Jersey’s seven games, including Thursday night’s overtime win in Ottawa.

So Ryan comes home to New Jersey under much happier circumstances than Mueller will reunite with the Sharks. One prodigal son returns, and the other is simply trying to save face.

It’s still early in his Devils tenure, of course, and Mueller may yet emerge as a regular on the New Jersey blueline. His Sharks reunion, though, will serve as a reminder of what once was, what could have been, and what is now San Jose’s future on defense.