Sharks down 'Hawks in 'playoff-type' game

Sharks down 'Hawks in 'playoff-type' game

SAN JOSE – Glancing at the Sharks’ upcoming schedule for the next few weeks, there aren’t a whole lot of games against legitimate contenders on the horizon. Sandwiched around the late-February bye week are meetings with plenty of non-playoff opponents and others that may be in position, but are nothing more than pretenders or first round fodder.

Facing the Blackhawks in the first game coming out of the All-Star break, though, kicking off the unofficial beginning of the push to the playoffs, had a big game feel to it. Finding a way to win the rubber match of the three-game season series against the three-time recent champs would be the perfect way for the Sharks to remind the league, and perhaps themselves, that they’re still primed to challenge for a Stanley Cup.

A goal from their hottest player, Patrick Marleau, along with a late score by Tomas Hertl and a characteristic solid performance from goalie Martin Jones helped the Sharks to a 3-1 win in an entertaining and energetic Tuesday night tilt at SAP Center.

“Winning is always a good thing, especially against that team,” said Jones, who made 24 saves. “It’s always fun playing those guys. They get your attention [because] they’re so good. It’s always a tough game against them. It’s always a lot of fun.”

It’s only fun if you win, of course, and Hertl’s goal with just 2:03 to go in regulation was the key moment. In what was just his second game back since he missed 32 straight with a right knee injury that required surgery, Hertl got to the front of the net and slipped in a loose puck off of Corey Crawford to break a 1-1 tie.

The plan is for the 23-year-old to return to the center position at some point, but for now, he’s still getting his legs under him on the left wing of the top line. It was his first goal since Oct. 27, and it was huge.

“I’m happy I score because it was a long time, like three months,” Hertl said. “It was a big [celebration] for me.”

Joe Pavelski, who had three points including a late empty net goal, said: “It’s going to take a few games, but he’s jumped right in [and] he’s made an impact. It’s definitely big for our team.”

Marleau’s goal opened the scoring with less than six minutes to go in the second period. He seemingly gave the Sharks a 1-0 lead earlier in the frame, but Mikkel Boedker was offside just before the puck was brought into the offensive zone. 

He had an idea it was coming back.

“When I looked over at the bench they were all whispering there. … When I saw that, I went over there and had an idea,” Marleau said.

No matter. Marleau got to the front of the net on a Sharks power play, and corralled a rebound off of Crawford’s chest before flipping it through. It was career goal number 499, but more importantly, it was Marleau’s sixth goal in the last four games.

Logan Couture said: “The puck finds him when he’s in a groove like this. He’s so streaky, and he’s going to find the back of the net. We just have to keep giving him the puck.”

"Patty's been excellent,” Pete DeBoer said. “Best hockey I've seen him play since I've been here. He's just got to keep going."

The Sharks jumped back into first place in the Pacific all alone, and considering their weak schedule, they have a real chance to put some distance between themselves and their division opponents before the start of the bye week on Feb. 20. 

While they won’t face any other truly elite teams until March, the win over Chicago at this stage of the season with both teams fully rested is an encouraging sign for a club that expects to be there at the end.

“That's a playoff-type atmosphere, that's a playoff-type game,” DeBoer said. “There wasn't a lot of room. Both teams were playing hard. Both teams were fresh and skating. That's as close to a playoff game in the regular season as you can get."

Sharks overcome early deficit, injuries to finish road trip with third straight win


Sharks overcome early deficit, injuries to finish road trip with third straight win

VANCOUVER --Timo Meier's second goal of the game snapped a third-period tie and the San Jose Sharks beat the Vancouver Canucks 5-3 on Saturday night for their fourth consecutive victory.

Logan Couture and Kevin Labanc each had a goal and an assist, and Tomas Hertl scored into an empty net with 25 seconds remaining for the Sharks, who are 7-2-0 in their last nine games.

Nikolay Goldobin, Alex Edler and Bo Horvat scored power-play goals and Sam Gagner had two assists for the Canucks, who lost their sixth consecutive game - their longest losing streak of the season.

Goldobin's goal at 10:48 of the first period snapped a scoreless streak of 222 minutes, 57 minutes for the Canucks, who had been shut out in three consecutive losses.

The Sharks had allowed just two power-play goals in their previous 17 games, but gave up three against Vancouver. The only other time San Jose allowed three power-play goals in a game was in an opening-night loss to Philadelphia.

Aaron Dell, making his first start since Feb. 22, made 28 saves for the Sharks. Vancouver's Jacob Markstrom stopped 25 shots.

Meier put the Sharks ahead at 6:07 of the third with a shot from the faceoff circle that went under Markstrom's blocker. The Canucks came close with just over six minutes left, but Hertl scooped a loose puck off the goal line.

Vancouver scored twice with the man-advantage in the second period to tie the game at 3.

The Sharks took a 3-1 lead just 1:47 into the period when Meier tipped in Brenden Dillion's shot from the point.

Horvat started Vancouver's comeback, scoring just 6 seconds into a power play. Dell stopped Gagner's slap shot but Horvat jammed home the rebound. Edler tied it with a blast from the point at 11:48. It was his first power-play goal in 88 games dating to Feb. 17, 2017.

The Sharks scored 1:10 apart in the first period to erase a 1-0 deficit.

Goldobin opened the scoring when he took a pass from defenseman Derrick Pouilot and snapped a shot from the face-off circle that sailed over Dell's shoulder. The San Jose goalie was screened by Jake Virtanen.

Labanc tied it on a power play at 14:48. Joe Pavelski's shot was stopped by Markstrom, but he managed to get his own rebound and passed it to Labanc at the side of the net.

The Sharks went ahead on Couture's 29th of the season at 16:08. He took a feed from Hertl, fought off a check by Virtanen and chipped the puck past Markstrom.

NOTES: Defenseman Chris Tanev returned to Vancouver lineup for his first game since breaking his leg Feb. 8 against Tampa Bay ... San Jose center Melker Karlsson went to the dressing favoring his right leg early in the first period after blocking a shot. ... San Jose's Marc-Edouard Vlasic left in the second period after being hit in the chest by a puck. ... The Canucks' franchise record for a scoring drought is 234 minutes, 52 seconds, set March 16-24, 2016. ... The longest goal drought by a team in the expansion era is 262 minutes, 3 seconds, set by the Minnesota North Stars from Jan. 28-Feb. 6, 1988.


Sharks: vs. New Jersey on Tuesday night.

Canucks: at Vegas on Tuesday night.

Where does Evander Kane's four-goal game rank in Sharks history?

Where does Evander Kane's four-goal game rank in Sharks history?

Sharks winger Evander Kane returns to his hometown of Vancouver on Saturday, fresh off of doing something a Vancouver-born player had not done in nearly 30 years. 

On Friday, Kane became the first such player to score four goals in an NHL game since Hockey Hall of Famer Glenn Anderson, who scored four goals with the Edmonton Oilers against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Nov. 19, 1988. It was also the first hat-trick of Kane's career, and just the fourth four-goal game in Sharks history. 

The latter point got us thinking, where does Kane's four-goal effort rank among those games? Using a rigorous, highly scientific process (read: the thoughts of this writer), we've come up with the definitive ranking. 

Without further adieu, we start with another power forward acquired in a midseason trade. 

4. Owen Nolan (Dec. 19, 1995 at Anaheim)

The Final Line: Four goals (Three power play goals), One assist, Six shots on goal

You never forget your first, so we begin with Owen Nolan, the first player to accomplish the feat in franchise history. If not for Kane and another entrant on this list (no spoilers), Nolan would still be the fastest to do it, scoring four goals in just his 27th game and just under two months after the Sharks acquired him from the Colorado Avalanche.

Nolan struck quickly throughout. He opened the scoring just 1:22 into the game against the then-Mighty Ducks, then scored his second only 57 seconds into the second period. His third and fourth, both on the power play, came 34 seconds apart in that same period. 

Just as Kane did on Friday, Nolan scored as many goals as the opposing team in a 7-4 win. It didn't quite have the same impact on the playoff race, however, as San Jose picked up its seventh win....of the entire season (in its 34th game) thanks to Nolan.

3. Patrick Marleau (Jan. 23, 2017 at Colorado)

The Final Line: Four goals (including the game-winner), Six shots on goal

The 1,459th time was the charm for the longest-tenured player in Sharks history, and the then-37-year-old Marleau became the second-oldest since 1987 to score four in a game. The oldest, Martin St. Louis, actually reached the feat against the Sharks as a 38-year-old in 2014. 

Marleau scored all four goals in a span of 13-and-a-half minutes in the third period, which began with the game tied at one. Three of those goals constituted a natural hat trick, in just a 7:42 stretch.

This game also jumpstarted Marleau's pursuit of a major milestone, as the goals were No. 494, 495, 496, and 497 of his career. He scored No. 500 a week-and-a-half later, but the four-goal game gave Marleau yet another signature moment in teal. 

2. Evander Kane (Mar. 16, 2018 at Calgary)

The Final Line: Four goals, Seven shots on goal 

Of all the players to score four goals in Sharks history, Kane certainly had the best timing. With San Jose in the thick of a playoff race and in need of a win, the newly-acquired forward delivered. 

He only needed eight games to score four goals for the first time in teal, but needed 565 for the first hat-trick of his career. The exuberance (and relief) was palpable after Kane scored his third, and that goal put the Sharks up by two. 

The desperate Flames, now four points out of the playoffs, would never get closer than that again, and Kane essentially put the game out of reach with his fourth goal 62 seconds into the third period. No Sharks player has scored four goals in a playoff game, but this one comes the closest. 

1. Tomas Hertl (Oct. 9, 2013 vs New York Rangers)

The Final Line: Four goals (One power play goal), Seven shots on goal

In just his third NHL game, and in front of his griflriend and mother visiting from the native Czech Republic, Tomas Hertl became then the fourth-youngest player in NHL history (now the sixth-youngest) to score a hat-trick-plus-one. If not for Auston Matthews scoring four in his debutHertl has arguably the most memorable four-goal game by a young player to his name. 

Of all the Sharks to score four in a game, Hertl did it the most efficiently. He only played 11:12 in that game against the Rangers, and still scored four goals on seven shots. 

Yes, it was in an October blowout, but no other four-goal game has had the same impact on the rest of the hockey world. From a fourth goal tailor-made to go viral, to the ensuing Hot Takes ("Hertl's disrespecting the game!") and subsequent jokes (Joe Thornton's still looking for four goals) it spawned, Hertl captivated the hockey world in a way no other Shark that's scored four has, and all by living his "dream, no reality."