Rewind: Breakdowns, bad night for Jones doom Sharks in stunning loss

Rewind: Breakdowns, bad night for Jones doom Sharks in stunning loss

SAN JOSE – Missing two of their better defensemen is a difficult enough task for the Sharks to overcome. Missing two of their better defensemen combined with a rare rough outing by their goaltender, though, is a recipe for disaster.

And disaster it was on Thursday at SAP Center against Minnesota. San Jose coughed up a pair of two-goal leads while Martin Jones had perhaps his worst full game of the season in a 5-4 loss, the Sharks’ third straight (0-2-1).

The frustrating part of it from San Jose’s perspective is that through two periods, they were playing a nearly perfect game. The Wild had just 11 shots on goal at the second intermission, trailing 2-1, and even though they tied it early in the third, the Sharks got a couple more to reclaim their second two-goal cushion of the night.

But even that wasn’t enough. Justin Braun failed to clear a puck from the defensive zone and that led to Eric Stall’s rebound score, and a pair of goals by Mikko Koivu – one of which came on a terrible rebound by Jones, and the second on a shot from the top of the circle that was also stoppable – capped the scoring in a 5-4 Wild win.

“We were really good for two periods,” Jones said. “Just one of those things, they get a couple bounces, get some momentum, and they really started buzzing there in the third.”

Pete DeBoer said: “We did a lot of really good things up until that point [leading 4-2], then the roof collapsed. We’ve got to find a way to stop the bleeding – either a save, or an [offensive] zone shift. We didn’t tonight. That’s what happens.”

The Wild have been one of the hottest teams in the league since the start of December, and had a 12-game winning streak recently snapped on New Year’s Eve. Goalie Devan Dubnyk has been their rock, and entered the night as the NHL’s leader in both save percentage and goals-against average.

Getting four past him was an accomplishment. It should have been enough.

“We’ve been winning a lot of nights with two [goals],” DeBoer said. “The fact we got four is a bonus. That should result in a win, and [it] didn’t tonight.”

While Jones was off his game, the Sharks continue to have utter moments of chaos in their own zone without Marc-Edouard Vlasic, and to a lesser extent, David Schlemko.

Vlasic missed his third straight game since blocking a shot with his face against the Flyers on Dec. 30, and the absence of the team’s best defenseman in his own zone is evident. The Wild spent all kinds of time in San Jose’s zone after getting that third goal, including a long shift that eventually was capped off by Koivu’s game-winner.

“When they were in the zone, I don’t think we were closing as fast as we should. [We were] giving them too much time, and they’re good players,” Braun said. “With time, they’re going to make plays, and they did.”

Braun also pointed out that it wasn’t the inexperienced third defense pair of Dylan DeMelo and Mirco Mueller on the ice for the Wild’s four third period goals. He and partner Brenden Dillon were on for the first two, while Brent Burns and Paul Martin were the pair trying to defend on Koivu’s two.

“It was guys that play regularly, and we’ve got to take more pride in that,” Braun said.

DeBoer said: “We’ve got guys getting an opportunity to play, and the veterans that are in the lineup need to do a little bit more. … Giving up five goals is inexcusable, and you’re not going to win in this league giving up five. That’s on our goalie, our team defense, everybody.”

The coach didn’t let himself off the hook, either, indicating he should have used a timeout at some point in the third period to settle the troops. It was easy to see the Wild were coming hard, but DeBoer opted to save the timeout in case he needed it for a challenge.

“Hindsight, I probably should have [used a timeout],” he said.

Still, he wasn’t going to toss the game tape in the fireplace, despite the late collapse.

“We controlled most of that game,” he said. “The momentum swung, and we didn’t stop it.”

Joel Ward said: “It was a game we had slip out of our hands, but you couldn’t ask for a better position, up by two late in the game.”

Sharks on longest winning streak since 2013 after extinguishing Flames


Sharks on longest winning streak since 2013 after extinguishing Flames


SAN JOSE -- Evander Kane scored twice to give him six goals in his past two games against Calgary and the San Jose Sharks won their seventh straight game, beating the Flames 5-1 on Saturday.

Kane followed up his four-goal performance in Calgary a week ago with another impactful performance, scoring a short-handed goal in the second period to give the Sharks a 3-1 lead and an insurance goal in the third. He also used his physical play to get into a scrum with Mikael Backlund and a fight with Travis Hamonic.

The Sharks improved to 10-2 since acquiring Kane just before the trade deadline last month, including this current streak that is the longest for San Jose since a seven-gamer from March 25 to April 5, 2013.

Brenden DillonJannik Hansen and Justin Braun also scored for the Sharks, who moved six points ahead of Los Angeles in the race for home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. The Kings played later Saturday in Edmonton. Martin Jones made 37 saves.

Michael Stone scored the lone for the Flames, who have lost five straight to fall out of the playoff race. Calgary trails Anaheim by nine points for the final playoff spot with just six games remaining. David Rittich made 28 saves.

The Flames were controlling the play in the second period before Kane's goal turned the momentum back in San Jose's favor. Calgary held San Jose without a shot on goal for more than six minutes to start the period and had just started a power play when Kane struck for his goal.

Chris Tierney skated into the offensive zone and held the puck near the net as Johnny Gaudreau skated past Kane, who was set up in front of the crease. Tierney then slid a pass to Kane, who knocked it into the open net for his sixth goal with the Sharks and 26th on the season.

Kane then had his run-ins with the Flames late in the second and early in the third before the Sharks broke it open with goals from Braun and Kane midway through the third period.

Dillon, who assisted on Kane's second goal, then got into a fight late in the game with Garnet Hathaway to complete the Gordie Howe hat trick.

The Sharks started fast and scored twice in a span of 74 seconds midway through the first period. San Jose took advantage of a turnover by Calgary in the offensive zone to go on a rush. Timo Meier fed Chris Tierney, who gave a behind-the-back pass to Dillon, who beat Rittich from the high slot.

The Sharks kept the pressure up and quickly added to the lead when Hansen redirected Brent Burns' point shot off defenseman Mark Jankowski's skate and into the Calgary net.

The Flames got one back with a blast from the point through traffic by Stone.

NOTES: The Sharks honored Jonathan Cheechoo, who recently announced his retirement. ... Burns' assist on Hansen's goal was his 49th of the season, breaking the record he set two years ago for Sharks defensemen. ... Flames F Matthew Tkachuk (upper body) and D TJ Brodie did not make the trip for the two games in California.


Flames: Visit Los Angeles on Monday

Sharks: Visit Chicago on Monday.

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.