Sharks force overtime, top Canadiens in shootout


Sharks force overtime, top Canadiens in shootout


SAN JOSE Reunited and it feels so good.

Logan Couture and Ryane Clowe both scored, with Clowes game-tying goal coming late in regulation, and the Sharks won in a shootout over the Montreal Canadiens at HP Pavilion on Thursday night, 4-3.

Couture and Clowe, who had success together for most of last year and the beginning of this season, began the night on the same line for the first time since Nov. 5 in Nashville. Clowes first marker since Nov. 3 tied the game with 1:26 left in the third period.

Trailing 3-2 and with Antti Niemi racing towards the bench for an extra attacker, Marty Havlat fired a wrist shot on Carey Price from the wing. Couture charged the net, and the rebound bounced out to the slot where Clowe was able to lift it over Prices shoulder for his fifth of the season.

Havlat, Michal Handzus and Joe Pavelski beat Price in the six-round shootout, which finally ended when Niemi made a low stick save on Montreals P.K. Subban. The Sharks improved to 3-0 in shootouts in ending their modest two-game losing streak.

Along with Havlat, the Sharks second line combined for five points and was easily the teams best of the night.

Whatever the outcome was tonight, I was happy with the effort of our line to create some offense and get back on track, said Clowe.

Sometimes you need to take a break and get back together. You kind of regroup and get a feel for each other again. Give a lot of credit to Marty, he played well on the wing tonight, too.

So well, in fact, that McLellan labeled it as Havlats best game as a Shark. I dont even think its close, said the head coach.

The Sharks never led in regulation, battling back from three separate one-goal deficits to force overtime.

Montreal took the 3-2 lead with 11:14 left in the third period. David Desharnais battled Joe Thornton behind the Sharks net, coming away with the puck. He managed to squeeze a pass through the crease to Cole, who got position in front of Marc-Edouard Vlasic to direct it past Niemi.

Usually I play that better, said Vlasic, who has undoubtedly been the teams best defenseman this season.

All of Montreals goals, in fact, came from the same line, as Desharnais, Erik Cole and Mike Cammalleri combined for eight points. They victimized the Sharks top line of Thornton, Pavelski and Patrick Marleau, who were a combined -8.

We thought their size was something that we could take advantage of tonight, but it didnt work out for us for whatever reason, said McLellan of his top line. I know that threesome will be better next time out.

The Sharks responded quickly to goals from Montreal in the first and second periods, and the game was tied at 2-2 after 40 minutes.

The Canadiens opened it at 13:21 of the first period. Niemi stopped Coles attempt from the side of the net, but was slow to recover as the puck ended up at the point on the stick of Subban. Subban ripped a low slap shot that Cammalleri redirected into the net.

Just 41 seconds later, though, Jamie McGinn tied it. Handzus, returning after missing Mondays game with a high fever, skated around the net and backhanded one towards the net. The puck glanced off of Prices pad right to a charging McGinn, who slammed it in.

Montreal re-took the lead at 4:41 of the second. Pavelski turned the puck over in the Sharks offensive zone to Cole, who quickly got it ahead the speedy Desharnais. The Sharks were unable to get back in time and watched Desharnais fire a wrister from the circle past Niemi's stick side.

Once again, though, the Sharks countered. This time it was Couture, who got open in the circle and took a nice backhanded feed from Clowe along the boards. Couture showed his quick wrists and immediately fired it past Price for just his second goal in the last nine games at 6:18.

It was one of many scoring chances that line generated throughout the night.

There are nights where you feel good and it feels like the puck is following you around, said Couture. Youre getting in the forecheck a little quicker, and causing turnovers from the other teams D. Tonight was one of those nights.

Despite trailing for much of the game, the Sharks were happier with their overall effort. The Canadiens were an opportunistic bunch, taking advantage of the few mistakes the Sharks made, in scoring their three goals.

It wasn't any real huge mistakes. Theyre good at countering, said Clowe. We talked about that before the game. I liked how we at least stuck with it.

The coach did, too.

We tried to lose it in the third there when we gave up the goal, but Im happy that they stuck with it. There was a group of them that was really determined, said McLellan, clearly referring to that second line.

It was perhaps their best game in a long time. It was nice to see. They did a lot of scoring for us tonight and were real happy about that, he said.

Odds and ends: Niemi made 29 saves for his 10th win of the season. Price stopped 38. The Sharks host the Florida Panthers on Saturday night. There was a total of just four penalty minutes in the game, and each team had just 1:29 of power play time. Neither scored. The Sharks won 39 of 61 faceoffs. The Canadiens, the league leaders in blocked shots, blocked 23 to San Joses 18. The Canadiens were without leading goal-scorer Max Pacioretty, who was serving the second of a three-game suspension.

Play of Jones, Khudobin this season proof of how fickle goaltending can be


Play of Jones, Khudobin this season proof of how fickle goaltending can be

Martin Jones was a Boston Bruin for less than a week.

The “Original Six” franchise acquired Jones from the Los Angeles Kings on June 26, 2015. Four days later, Jones was traded back into the Pacific Division, this time to Northern California.

The Sharks gave up a first round pick and prospect Sean Kuraly for Jones. It seemed like a fairly high price at the time, but it’s one San Jose was happy to pay: No goalie started more games than Jones over the last two seasons, and the team signed him to a five-year extension this summer.

The first Jones trade in 2015 set off a flood of goalie transactions, as five netminders were traded during Jones’ extremely brief Boston tenure. One of those was Anton Khudobin, who will start for the Bruins as Jones backs up Aaron Dell against  his “former team” on Saturday night.

Khudobin was traded from Carolina to Anaheim, where he started seven games before getting sent down to the AHL. He then signed with Boston in 2016, returning to his former club as the Bruins tried to fill the hole that trading Jones left behind entrenched starter Tuukka Rask.

Jones and Khudobin will have taken vastly different paths to their respective creases on Saturday night. The former enters the game as his club’s undisputed franchise goalie, and the latter the unheralded backup.

Naturally then, Khudobin’s been the better goaltender this season.

Among the 46 goalies that have played 200 five-on-five minutes this season, Khudobin’s .962 five-on-five save percentage was the best entering Saturday, according to Corsica.  So, too, is his .954 save percentage off of high-danger shots.

Jones, meanwhile, ranks 27th (.920) and 14th (.833) in those respective categories.

What does it all mean? For one, it’s early in the season, and the fact that Khudobin’s made seven fewer starts undoubtedly plays a role in his superior performance to Jones.

Mainly, it speaks to just how fickle goaltending can be.

The Bruins backup is arguably getting the nod Saturday night because of how bad the man ahead of him has been. Rask, once one of the league’s best goaltenders, has steadily declined over the last three years and reached a new low this season: This year, he’s 40th out of 46 qualifying goalies in five-on-five save percentage.

Jones has demonstrated this, too. He’s stopped a lower percentage of low-and-medium danger shots at even strength than the last two seasons, but has stopped a higher percentage of high-danger shots.

Plus, he’s played behind one of the league’s best penalty-killing teams after playing behind one of its worst last season, and has benefitted from a corresponding bump in his shorthanded save percentage.

So much of what a goalie does is out of their control. Yet who’s playing in front of them, what kind of shots they see, and how often they see those shots all can affect their performance.

Khudobin and Jones are living proof of that this season.

Sharks fall to Bruins for second straight loss


Sharks fall to Bruins for second straight loss


SAN JOSE -- Anton Khudobin stopped 36 shots to lead the Boston Bruins to a 3-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night.

Peter CehlarikJake DeBrusk and Danton Heinen scored to help the Bruins get their second straight win after a four-game skid (0-3-1). Boston had totaled nine goals in its previous five games, scoring more than two for just the second time in nine November games.

Khudobin remained unbeaten in regulation (5-0-2) and improved to 4-1 with a 0.99 goals-against average in five games against the Sharks.

Timo Meier scored and Aaron Dell finished with 18 saves for the Sharks, one of the lowest scoring teams in the league. San Jose has been held to two of fewer goals in five of their seven games this month.

Meier gave the Sharks, losers of two straight following wins in six of seven, a short-lived 1-0 lead after tapping in a rebound 4:50 into the game. Daniel O'Regan, making his season debut, won the puck behind the net and skated around to take the shot that bounced to Meier. It was O'Regan's first career assist and second career point.

Cehlarik, in his 14th game, scored his first career goal about 1 1/2 minutes later to tie it for the Bruins.

Boston took the lead on DeBrusk's goal with 9:14 left in the first. Charlie McAvoy cleared a puck in his zone that DeBrusk chased down and easily beat Dell 1-on-1.

Heinen made it 3-1 with 5:51 left in the third. Kevan Miller skated down the ice, drawing all the attention on the right side. He passed across the crease, from where Heinen tapped it in.

The Sharks had a goal negated for the second straight game, this one two minutes in.

NOTES: Sharks F Danny O'Regan was recalled before the game. He's the leading scorer for the Barracuda of the AHL. ... The Sharks have had three consecutive goals reversed after challenges dating to Thursday's game against the Florida Panthers. ... Sharks F Joel Ward has recorded points in six of his last eight games. ... DeBrusk, who assisted on Cehlarik's goal, recorded his first multi-point game since Oct. 14, a span of 14 games.


Bruins: At the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday night.

Sharks: Host the Anaheim Ducks on Monday night.