Sharks battle for extra point in shootout win


Sharks battle for extra point in shootout win


SAN JOSE Daniel Winnik tied the game in the third period and the Sharks won in a shootout over the Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday night at HP Pavilion, 4-3.

After a scoreless overtime, Michal Handzus and Ryane Clowe beat goaltender Mike Smith to the stick side on their shootout attempts, while Antti Niemi stopped Mikkel Boedker and Ray Whitney to give San Jose the important extra point.

The Sharks held a 2-1 lead in the first period before falling asleep as the clock wound down. Marc-Edouard Vlasic had control of the puck in the defensive zone, and instead of trying to clear it, fired it into the corner. It bounced around and ended up on the stick of Derek Morris, and the Coyotes defenseman beat Niemi from the high slot with less than a second to go.

Phoenix carried that momentum into the third in taking a 3-2 lead. On a two-on-two rush, Whitney found a charging Lauri Korpikoskis stick for a redirection at 49 seconds after Douglas Murray allowed Whitney to skate freely towards the net.

Niemi had been struggling up to that point, but made a sprawling pad save on Boyd Gordon to keep it a 3-2 game when Gordon skated in alone.

That allowed the Sharks to tie it at 5:01, when Winniks blast from the top of the circle cleanly beat Smith for his seventh of the year. After going 43 straight without a goal, Winnik has one marker in each of his last two games.

The Sharks got the better of the scoring chances in the third period and overtime. With 6:44 to go, Joe Thornton had the puck at the side of the Coyotes net. He tried feeding Patrick Marleau in front, but it was a charging Joe Pavelski who nearly jammed it home.

Later, on a power play, Marty Havlat stared at an open net before Smith somehow managed to get the end of his pad on the attempt with 2:50 to go in regulation.

In overtime, Smith denied Thornton's redirection attempt on a nice feed from Dan Boyle with 1:50 to go.

Niemis biggest save came with a minute left in regulation, when he stopped Whitney on the doorstep to force overtime.

The Sharks suffered a scary moment in the second, when a Brent Burns slap shot on the power play hit Clowe cleanly in the helmet with about 11 minutes to go. Clowe skated towards the bench in disgust, throwing his glove and smashing his stick before heading to the locker room. Television replays showed Clowe with a bloody mark on his forehead.

He returned at the start of the third, though.

The Coyotes opened the scoring at 6:31 of the first, when a turnover behind the Sharks net led to Daymond Langkow goal. The Sharks responded when Marleau forced Korpikoski into a turnover along the boards. Thornton picked it up and passed to Marleau, who scored just his second goal in the last 15 games at 8:09.

The Coyotes were without some key pieces. Captain Shane Doan was serving the second of a three-game suspension for elbowing Dallas Jamie Benn, while leading goal-scorer Radim Vrbata was out with a lower body injury. Defenseman Adrian Aucoin remained out with a lower-body injury.

Odds and ends: Joe Thornton moved into a tie for 40th all-time in the NHL in assists with Larry Robinson. ... The Sharks host the Colorado Avalanche on Monday.

Sharks headed in right direction, road trip to reveal who they really are


Sharks headed in right direction, road trip to reveal who they really are

The difference between a 2-3-0 start and a 1-4-0 start is bigger than two standings points.

The former is far from ideal, but if you squint hard enough, there's enough wiggle room to improve. There's still time with the latter, too, but the margin for error is much thinner moving forward.

The Sharks experienced that difference firsthand after Tuesday’s 5-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens. It's not an ideal record, but they’ve managed to salvage a poor start. 

There are still some flaws, to be sure. The power play isn't just the Kevin Labanc show after the top unit scored all three power play goals Tuesday, but is still carrying a disproportionate offensive load. The penalty kill’s scoreless streak came to an end, but they were called into action six times.

Despite all that, Tuesday's win was San Jose’s best effort this season. Brent Burns, Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski, and Joe Thornton all had multi-point games for the first time this year. Martin Jones had another strong game, and appears to have shaken off his slow start.

In short, San Jose’s game is headed in the right direction. It needs to be, with a five-game road trip beginning on Friday. 

Now comes the hard part.

It's on the road where we’ll get our best sense of who this team really is. Peter DeBoer won’t have the benefit of last change, and won't be able to dictate matchups. 

Under these circumstances, we’ll begin to really see if Joakim Ryan is ready for a top-four role, whether Kevin Labanc is a viable first-line winger, and how the rest of the young reinforcements stack up. They will have less time off, too, as all but one game occurs after one day (or less) of rest and travel. That missed practice time isn't ideal for any team, let alone one still trying to work out the kinks.

Fortunately, the competition is forgiving, at least on paper. Other than the Devils, none of the Sharks’ four other road trip opponents have winning records as of this writing. The topsy turvy nature of the standings, though, show how little “on paper” means this early in the season.

We’ll know a lot more about who these San Jose Sharks are by the time their road trip ends. Their record still won't tell the whole story, but by then, they'll have played about an eighth of the season. 

And by then, we’ll have a much better idea of how good this team really is.

Sharks' offense comes alive, leads charge in win over Canadiens


Sharks' offense comes alive, leads charge in win over Canadiens


SAN JOSE — Logan Couture credited a teammate for scoring his second goal. He took credit for the first one.

Couture scored a pair of goals and the San Jose Sharks extended their dominance of the Montreal Canadiens with a 5-2 victory on Tuesday night.

Joe Pavelski and Tomas Hertl also scored for the Sharks, who have won the past 11 home games against the Canadiens, a streak that dates to Nov. 23, 1999.

On a power play late in the third period, rookie Tim Heed took a shot off a face-off that bounced free in front of the net. Pavelski couldn't get his stick on it but managed to kick it across the net for Couture, who found a huge opening.

"That was pretty special," Couture said. "I don't know if he knew I was there but he kept his balance and kicked it over."

Couture opened the scoring 3:30 into the first period, grabbing a rebound off the back board, skating across the front of the net to get Price to commit and then firing into an open net.

Jonathan Drouin and Shea Weber scored for the Canadiens, who are winless since an opening night victory at the Buffalo Sabres.

"It's a very poor start from our team, from myself, from a lot of individuals," Canadiens' Max Pacioretty said. "It's a good time to look in the mirror and see what we're made of because a lot of people are probably doubting this team right now."

Martin Jones stopped 28 of 30 shots for the Sharks, who finish their season-opening homestand with a 2-3 record.

"The biggest thing is finding that energy for the whole game," Jones said. "We started OK and then we got better as the night went on."

Carey Price, who stopped 31 of 35 shots, fell to 2-7-1 in 10 games against the Sharks.

The Canadiens responded 36 seconds later when Drouin picked up a pass from Artturi Lehkonen close in and fired it over Jones' left shoulder and into the net.

Pavelski gave the Sharks the lead for good when he redirected Kevin Labanc's shot just under a minute into the second period. The shot hit Weber's left shin pad and bounced into the net.

"There were a lot of good things out there," Pavelski said. "We didn't have the homestand we wanted but we can leave on a positive note to take on the road."

Hertl padded the lead midway through the second on a power play. Standing on the right side of the net, he was trying to control a pass from Joe Thornton but the puck fluttered off his stick and got behind Price.

"I'll take it any way I can get it," Hertl said. "There are times I've had great shots that just bounced off the post."

Weber's power-play goal two minutes later kicked off Jones' skates for the score.

The Sharks needed five seconds to score on a power play late in the second period. Tim Heed shot on goal and it bounced off Pavelski's skate. Couture picked it up and found a huge opening.

NOTES: After allowing three power play goals over their first five penalty kills, the Sharks killed off 14 straight until Weber scored in the second period. ... Couture recorded his 24th career multi-goal game. ... Sharks D Tim Heed recorded his first NHL point with an assist on Couture's power-play goal. ... Brendan Gallagher needs one assist for 100 with the Canadiens.


Canadiens: plays at the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday in their second back-to-back of the season.

Sharks: open a five-game road trip on the east coast with a game at the New Jersey Devils on Friday.