Sharks finally play with a lead, make it count in rout of Oilers

Sharks finally play with a lead, make it count in rout of Oilers

SAN JOSE – Even after the Sharks were shut out in back-to-back games of their first round series with the Oilers, Brent Burns spoke about how enjoyable it is to compete in the Stanley Cup Playoffs even after some rough results.

“That’s the fun part, is earning it and going through that,” Burns said on Monday.

Game 4 was presumably a whole lot more fun for Burns and his brethren.

The Sharks smoked the Oilers, 7-0 on Tuesday at SAP Center, outplaying Edmonton from the opening faceoff to the final horn in tying the series at two games apiece.

It took just 15 seconds for the Sharks to break their 120-minute scoring drought, and the rout was on from there. Not surprisingly, it was captain Joe Pavelski who set the early tone, redirecting a Justin Braun shot past Cam Talbot.

That permitted the Sharks to play with the lead for the first time all series. In their Game 1 win they had to erase a 2-0 lead before Melker Karlsson’s overtime marker, and they hadn’t found the net since.

"It was critical,” Pete DeBoer said of scoring first. “That's an important piece, getting that momentum. We weren't able to do it last game. To get it early tonight and get that feeling was critical."

Pavelski said: “It allowed us to really stay with our game. … It was good to see the guys get that lead and not really sit back. We wanted more.”

They got more, alright. Pavelski added another, while Logan Couture scored twice and Patrick Marleau, Marcus Sorensen and David Schlemko also found the net in the Sharks’ most convincing playoff win in franchise history. Previously, the Sharks had never won a playoff game by more than five goals.

The power play, which prior to Game 4 had been about as potent as a North Korean missile test, also came alive. Four of San Jose’s seven goals happened with a man advantage, including the most important score of the night.

Just after Zack Kassian stepped out of the box early in the second period, turning a five-on-three into a five-on-four, Marleau whipped in a pass from Burns past Talbot’s far side at 2:02 of the middle frame.

Had the Oilers killed it off, they could have seized the momentum. Instead, Sharks continued to dictate.

San Jose’s power play was just 1-for-14 in the series through the first three games, after finishing 25th in the league in the regular season.

“We’ve been saying we have confidence in it,” Joe Thornton said. “It’s just a matter of time before we strike. Just keep to our fundamentals and we’d be fine, and you saw that tonight.”

DeBoer said: “They've tried to play physical and they've taken some liberties, and we haven't made them pay a price for that until tonight. I don't think it's a secret that as our key guys are getting healthier and feeling better we're starting to look better in that area."

Couture, who has shown nerves of steel in coming back from a severe mouth injury but hadn’t done much through the first three games, played his best game so far. Despite getting whacked by a high stick and requiring a between-periods visit to the dentist to get his teeth numbed, he was a force.

“I think he’s getting more confident as this series goes on,” Thornton said. “It was nice to see him have a game like he did tonight.”

Couture said: “I felt better tonight. I felt this was my best game of the series.”

His teammates, of course, can say the same as a collective group. But just like a disappointing loss, they’ll have to quickly move on for the all-important Game 5 back at Rogers Place on Thursday.

“It’s nice, but you win 1-0 [or] you win 7-0, it’s just one win,” Couture said. “It was nice to score some goals.”

Pavelski said: “We got a split there, they got one here. We have to go back and get one there.”

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.