Sharks fall to Canucks 3-2 in overtime


Sharks fall to Canucks 3-2 in overtime


SAN JOSE Browsing the stats before Wednesday nights Sharks-Canucks game at HP Pavilion, a couple in particular stood out. Vancouver entered with the leagues best overall power play, while the Sharks owned the worst penalty killing percentage at home.In what ended up as a 3-2 Sharks loss to the Canucks in overtime on an Andrew Ebbett deflection, San Jose ended up even in the special teams battle with one power play goal for and one against - a minor victory in itself. But it was a pair of late man advantages in the third period in which San Jose had a golden opportunity to beat its nemesis, that had the players and coach shaking their collective heads afterwards.You get two power plays down the stretch in the third period in a tie game, you need to win, Logan Couture said.With the game tied 2-2, Daniel Sedin was whistled for high-sticking Marc-Edouard Vlasic at 15:29 of the third period. Joe Thornton, standing in front of the net, nearly put in a pass from Joe Pavelski early in the advantage, but just missed a tip-in. Shortly after that, Roberto Luongo stopped Ryane Clowes rebound attempt.

Once Sedin's penalty expired expired, Kevin Bieksa was sent off for high-sticking Jamie McGinn after a strong move to the net by the Sharks winger at 18:23. San Jose was unable to get any prime scoring chances during that two-minute advantage, though, and Ebbett redirected a low wrist shot from the high slot by Bieksa at 3:23 of overtime to win it for Vancouver.You just have to find a way to get the puck on the net and I dont think we did that, Dan Boyle said of the late power plays. Pucks were just bouncing all over the place, and we spent half the time breaking it in or fighting it. I think late in the period like that, in that game, the ice is pretty bad. You have to shoot the puck and get an ugly goal, and we didnt get the shot we needed.Todd McLellan said: The power play probably got us a point tonight, and left one on the table, as well.Despite the loss, the Sharks have to be given credit for erasing a two-goal deficit and controlling play for much of the second half. San Jose ended its six-game homestand with points in five (4-1-1).The fans got their moneys worth, too. Not only was the game competitive and fast-paced, but emotions were evident in the third period when McGinn and Ryan Kesler tussled in the corner which led to a full on five-on-five scrum. Kesler and McGinn were given coincidental minors at 14:35.I thought it was a heck of a game. It had a lot of emotion in it, more emotion than any other of the games weve played lately, McLellan said. Between both teams, on our bench, officiating, the whole nine yards. Playoff style, playoff atmosphere, and you dont expect anything different from the two teams.Vancouver jumped out to a 2-0 lead before a pair of second period Sharks goals tied it at the intermission.Patrick Marleau played a big role in both. First, on a two-on-two rush with Couture, Marleau hesitated just long enough to draw Bieksa towards him before passing to Couture to his right. Couture unleashed a laser at 11:01 that cleanly beat Roberto Luongo for his team leading 16th goal of the season.Patty made a great play. It started in our d-zone, Couture said. Sedin fed one to me, and I beat him up ice. Patty made a great play to find me and I was able to beat Luongo high.Later in the period with the Sharks on a power play, Marleau pushed defender Alex Edler off of the puck after a defensive zone faceoff win by Henrik Sedin. That allowed Thornton to pick it up in the corner and circle around before beating Luongo high to the glove side at 16:12.The Sharks outshot the Canucks 16-4 in the third period, but couldnt find a way to take a lead. Overall, San Jose has lost five of the last six regular season meetings to Vancouver, including four in a row at home. That doesnt count the five-game defeat in last years Western Conference Final.Theyre a good team. They have a bunch of lines who can play, their d-men can move the puck, two great goalies, Couture said. We've just struggled against a good team. We need to get out of it, though.Theyll have another chance on Jan. 2 at Vancouver. The Canucks will play two games prior to that date, in Los Angeles and Anaheim, while the Sharks have the next four days off.Even though our record is real bad against them the last 10 games or so, I think for the most part we play them pretty tight, Boyle said. It could have gone either way tonight. I dont think either team stole it one way or another.Vancouver opened the scoring at 11:12 of the first period, when Daniel Sedins quick wraparound beat Antti Niemi.My pad should be on the post there, every time. I thought he might do a different play from there and maybe get it in front of the net, said Niemi, making his 15th start in the last 16 games.The Canucks power play made it 2-0 after a Brent Burns was called for an unnecessary hold behind the Sharks net. Kesler deposited the rebound of a shot by Edler less than three minutes into the second period.Douglas Murray returned to the Sharks lineup from a right wrist injury that kept him sidelined for 10 games. He was paired with Justin Braun, rather than his regular partner Boyle, who remained with Vlasic.Vancouver improved to 14-3-1 in its last 18 games. The Sharks have gained points in seven of their last eight (4-1-3).Odds and ends: Thomas Greiss was the backup goaltender while Antero Niittymaki has yet to dress. Patrick Marleau played in his 200th consecutive game, becoming the fifth Shark to do so. Colin White missed the game with a lower body injury. The Sharks won a whopping 66 percent of faceoffs (37-19). Joe Pavelski was 13-4 in the circle. Both teams were 1-for-4 on the power play.

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.