Sharks

Sharks win 3rd straight, defeat Columbus 2-1

634202.jpg

Sharks win 3rd straight, defeat Columbus 2-1

Box Score

SAN JOSE It had all of the makings for a letdown.

The Sharks entered Thursdays home game against lowly Columbus coming off of two emotional wins; were playing their third game in four nights and second of a back-to-back against a well rested opponent; while a red-hot Washington Capitals club invades HP Pavilion on Saturday.

Goals by Ryane Clowe and Joe Thornton, coupled with 23 saves from Thomas Greiss in his first start in over a month, though, gave the suddenly surging Sharks a 2-1 victory. It was San Jose's third straight win, and the Sharks have points in 10 of their last 11 overall (7-1-3).

I thought it was a gutsy effort on our behalf. To come back and play three-in-four with a team thats sitting in your city waiting for you and theyre very fresh, I thought it was real good, McLellan said, referring to the Blue Jackets not having played since New Years Eve.

Thorntons second period marker gave the Sharks their first lead and was the difference. The play began when Patrick Marleau sent a snap shot towards the net where it made contact with Thorntons stick, which was in front of the pad of goalie Curtis Sanford. The puck popped into the air and Thornton batted it in at 4:44 for his eighth of the season.

After Columbus took an early advantage on a Vinnie Prospal marker at 2:13 of the first period, the Sharks tied it on a power play with Ryan Johansen off on a double minor for high sticking Dan Boyle in the face at 9:48.

San Jose went to work on the extended man advantage and was generally ineffective for the first three minutes, before Clowe knocked in a loose puck at 13:03.

It was bouncing around. I think Michal Handzus either tipped it or redirected it somehow. Even when I shot, it I didnt think it was in, Clowe said.

The goal was Clowes first in eight games and just his second in the last 12.

The hitting and, consequently, the nastiness picked up in the third period after a generally docile first two. It began when Douglas Murray leveled an off balance Mark Letestu along the boards with about 14 and a half minutes remaining.

A couple minutes later, a scrum ensued behind the Columbus net as Brent Burns and Jared Boll grappled with one another, as did Handzus and Marc Methot. The Blue Jackets Derek Mackenzie picked up the extra minor, though, but San Jose couldnt capitalize on the power play.

With 6:14 left, Derek Dorsett leveled Tommy Wingels with a blindside hit behind the Sharks net, and again San Jose went on the power play. Logan Couture and Marleau misfired on open one-timers, though, and Sanford stopped Thorntons rebound attempt of a wrist shot by Boyle.

It almost cost them. Columbus Jeff Carter had a great chance to tie the game with Sanford pulled for an extra attacker, staring at an open net in the faceoff circle. Boyle alertly dove in front of Carter's dangerous wrister, though, preserving the win.

Im just glad it hit me, Boyle said. It was one of those bang-bang plays, and I didnt see the replay, but everybody say it was probably on the way in. Just in the right place at the right time, I guess.

Boyle and the Blue Jackets Rick Nash had an awkward exchange earlier in the third. In the San Jose zone, the two were seen jawing at each other and appeared ready to drop the gloves. Boyle was puzzled even after the game.

Im confused, because at the end of the night he kind of apologized. So, I still dont know what happened, he said. He thought I wanted to go, he wanted to go, and obviously neither of us fights very often. Im not sure. Just got a little heated there for a second.

I was trying to think, am I going to do this? Its been awhile. With my luck this year I probably would have pulled something.

Columbus did not have a single power play all night, while the Sharks finished 1-for-5.

I dont know if they were trying to draw us in, since they had no power plays, Clowe said of the chippy third period. We did a good job of staying disciplined.

The Sharks didnt start the game well, surrendering seven of the first eight shots along with the goal to Prospal. Columbus nearly made it 2-0, but Greiss stopped Derek Brassard on a two-on-one rush six minutes into the game.

Greiss was playing for the first time since Dec. 3 vs. Florida.

He found a way to make some real good saves. We had four outnumbered rushes against in the first period alone, and then we cleaned that up after, McLellan said.

It was a conscious effort by San Jose to get better defensively after the poor start, according to Thornton.

I think early on with that goal from Prospal, the guys realized weve got to tighten up a little bit, and we did that, he said. Greisser did a good job swallowing pucks up and deflecting pucks away from him. After that first one, we just clamped down and played well defensively after that.

Greiss had a little trouble with his rebound control at times, but improved his record to 5-4-0.

It was a long time and it took me a little bit at the start to get my timing down and everything, but I got a lot of shots at the start and that made me feel better, he said.

Greiss was also thankful for the effort in front of him.

It was great, a couple of blocked shots, and some huge ones at the end. We were working hard all over the ice, so that was pretty good.

Odds and ends: Curtis Sanford finished with 37 saves, as the Sharks outshot Columbus, 39-24. Each team had 12 blocked shots. San Jose won the faceoff battle, 28-26. Joe Pavelski was 9-3 in the circle. Jason Demers assisted on both Sharks goals. Tommy Wingels, recalled from Worcester earlier in the day, played on a line with Michal Handzus and Andrew Murray. Torrey Mitchell was a healthy scratch, as were Frazer McLaren and Antero Niittymaki. Jim Vandermeer and Colin White remain on injured reserve. Brent Burns had a game-high six shots. Joe Thornton played in his 500th game as a Shark. The Sharks are 18-1-3 against the Blue Jackets all-time at HP Pavilion. After the game on Saturday, 17 of the next 23 games for the Sharks are on the road. This was the first of four games between the Sharks and Blue Jackets, with the next on Saturday, Jan. 14.

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

sharkspostgame.jpg
USATSI

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

BOX SCORE

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.

UP NEXT:

Sharks: visit Las Vegas on Friday

Coyotes: host Los Angeles on Friday.

Don't blame Joakim Ryan for Brent Burns' struggles

ryan-ap.jpg
AP

Don't blame Joakim Ryan for Brent Burns' struggles

Over the last three years, Brent Burns played with only one defensive partner more in a single season than he has with Joakim Ryan in 2017-18.

That partner, of course, is Paul Martin, who’s missed all but two games this season due to complications from offseason ankle surgery. Martin is set to miss yet more time after experiencing a setback in his recovery, although the injury is not related to his ailing ankle, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

Martin’s absence, combined with the fact that Burns has gone 20 games without a goal this season, has naturally led to questions about whether their separation is causing Burns to struggle.

That’s not the case.

Burns is actually playing a bit better alongside Ryan than he was with Martin. In just over 257 minutes together at even strength, the Sharks have controlled 55.74 percent of the shot attempts with Burns and Ryan on the ice, according to Corsica Hockey, up from Burns and Martin’s 52.13 percent mark together.

The Sharks are attempting more shots than their opponents when Burns and Ryan play, they’re doing so at a higher rate. With Burns and Ryan on the ice, the Sharks are attempting nearly nine more shots per 60 minutes than when Burns and Martin together, and just over two more shots per 60 minutes are hitting the net.

As we’ve written about previously, Burns’ scoring struggles date back to the stretch run last season, when he was playing alongside Martin. It wasn’t Martin’s fault then, just as it’s not Ryan’s fault now.

The puck simply isn’t going in. Through 20 games this season, Burns has 82 shots on goal and zero goals. Through 20 games in his Norris Trophy-winning campaign, Burns had 83 shots on goal and seven goals.

It’s not like Burns was super lucky then, either, as his 8.3 percent shooting percentage through 20 games last season was only one percent higher than his career average. Shooting at a zero percent clip after 20 games is, clearly, the outlier.

Together, Burns and Ryan have been more unlucky than anything else. When the two skate during five-on-five play, the Sharks are scoring on only 3.45 percent of their shots, much lower than the 8.26 percent San Jose scored on when Martin and Burns played together.

At 32 years old, it would be a stretch to expect Burns to match or exceed his heights from a season ago, but it would be an even bigger one to expect him to struggle much longer alongside Ryan. 

They've done everything right, they just haven't scored.