Sharks-Blues Game 2 notebook


Sharks-Blues Game 2 notebook

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Coverage of Game 3 between the Sharks and Blues begins Monday at 6:30 on Comcast SportsNet California, followed by Sharks-Blues at 7:00, and Sharks Postgame Live after the final buzzer sounds.

ST. LOUIS Lost a bit in the shuffle of the game-concluding brawl that put an exclamation point on the Sharks 3-0 loss to St. Louis in Game 2, was a double-minor on Dan Boyle, after he jumped Andy McDonald with 48 seconds to go in regulation.

Boyle felt McDonald hit him high, and responded by wailing away on the Blues skilled forward.

I thought he hit me pretty high in the head. My head snapped back. Whether it was clean or not, Id have to see the replay. I didnt really particularly like what he did, but its already forgotten about, I guess. But, I didnt appreciate it.

That may or may not have been what Todd McLellan was referring to as the blow to the head in his post game presser, when he went through a laundry list of what he seemed to imply were dirty hits dished out by the Blues. That includes what he called a sucker punch by Vladimir Sobotka on Dominic Moore.
RATTO: Boys won't stand a chance in Sharks-Blues series

Boyles 25:19 led all skaters, save St. Louis Alex Pietrangelo (25:54).
Pavelski fights, too: Joe Pavelski was having an effective Game 2, and although it may have been entertaining to watch his featherweight bout with Blues defenseman Kris Russell, it might not have been the wisest decision for him to drop the gloves at 7:52 of the second period.

Thats a trade off that the Blues will agree to any time.

I probably shouldnt take that one, Pavelski said.

There was part of me that felt that was something I could spark myself with. Its just a scrum in front and it just builds up, with emotions. But, yeah, hes not a guy I want to be trading off with. Theres other guys out there. But, its a game. Its a moment in the game, and five minutes to catch your breath and regroup, I guess. It didnt decide the outcome of the game.

Pavelski finished with three shots in 16:21 of ice time, and hit the post in the first period.
Hitchcock proud: Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock was obviously thrilled with the result of the game, but more specifically, he was pleased the way his young team handled the Sharks strong first period push after they fell behind.

We grew up to the level of what it takes to win against a team that knows how to do it. That part feels good. We have some more knowledge that we need to compete at this level at this time of year, Hitchcock said.

Theres a level out there. Theres a tenacity. Teams like San Jose, Chicago Detroit they play right through you. And if you dont respond, you get pushed out the back door quick.

Hitchcock also gave himself a bit of a pat on the back for his three lineup changes, as B.J. Crombeen, Carlo Colaiacovo and Matt DAgostini were inserted after sitting out Game 1.

This is a time of year for players where the ones that want to win and have the experience on how to do it, know when to really push. We knew this was coming, and thats why we changed the lineup, he said.

They got the win they needed last time, and they wanted to test our response. And they tested it, big time, in the first period. I was proud of our team that we fought back, because if we didnt, this was going to be a short series.

Blues harder, says McLellan: Conversely, Sharks head coach Todd McLellan thought St. Louis battle level was harder than was San Joses, particularly as the game progressed.

I thought they were harder the whole night. I just thought when the puck was along the boards, they battled and had body position. They were strong on sticks. They played a very intense game along there. Early in the game we matched it, as the game wore on we didnt, McLellan said.

Pavelski said: We knew it was going to be a battle.

Sharks should be thankful for these two players on Thanksgiving


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


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


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.


Sharks: visit Las Vegas on Friday

Coyotes: host Los Angeles on Friday.