Three power play goals lift Sharks over Blackhawks


Three power play goals lift Sharks over Blackhawks


SAN JOSE Jamie McGinn provided a necessary energy boost and Benn Ferriero the game-winning goal in the third period, as the Sharks beat the Blackhawks at HP Pavilion on Friday night, 5-3.The Sharks saw leads of 2-0 and 3-2 evaporate before McGinn took exception to a hit by Bryan Bickell on Marc-Edouard Vlasic at 5:18 of the third period, shortly after the Blackhawks had tied it at 3-3. He immediately engaged Bickell for a spirited bout that ended in a draw.San Jose was a different team from that point forward. Ferriero scored just 22 seconds later when Brad Winchester stayed with his own rebound and found Ferriero in front of the net at 5:40.

McGinn called the fight with Bickell weird, as the two are good friends and former teammates on the Ottawa 67s from their junior days, but something was needed at that moment in the game to change the momentum.Its in the back of my mind, he said. I didnt think we had a lot of jump there, and we needed something to spark us, and we responded well with Ferrieros goal.It sparked the bench and he goes out and scores a goal, too. Great game by him, Joe Thornton said.McGinn got a goal of his own on the power play with less than six minutes left for insurance, the Sharks third goal with a man advantage. He made a nice move at the side of the net after a pass down low from Ryane Clowe and lifted it high over the shoulder of Corey Crawford. The goal was just as important as the fight, and gave the Sharks some much needed insurance against a Chicago team that wouldnt go away.Big time. They are a dangerous team and have a lot of offensive weapons and can score at any time. Just to be up by two is a little bit better cushion and you can kind of take the game to them after that, McGinn said.For Ferriero, it just his seventh goal of the season, but fourth game-winner.You just have to go to the blue paint, get your nose dirty and bang away, he said.The Sharks finished 3-for-6 with a man advantage, and are 10 for their last 22 over the last eight games (45.4 percent). It was their first game with three power play goals since opening night against Phoenix.The Sharks' modest two-game winning streak came to an end, while they extended Chicagos losing streak to seven games (0-6-1) in what was their final home game before a nine-game road trip begins on Sunday in St. Louis.Well feel good going into St. Louis, well get a good flight, and it was big winning tonight just to grab some confidence before we go on that nine-gamer, Thornton said.The fourth and final meeting of the regular season between the Sharks and Blackhawks had a decided edge to it, beginning in the first period, when Thornton drilled Jonathan Toews near the benches and a scrum ensued that also involved Clowe and Duncan Keith. Vlasic also delivered a hard hit on Chicagos captain later in the game, and San Jose managed to keep him off of the scoresheet when all was said and done.That was the exact opposite of the last time these teams met on Jan. 15 at the United Center, when Toews, Patrick Kane and Viktor Stalberg combined for five points and 17 shots on goal in a 4-3 Blackhawks win that was not as close as the score would indicate.The proverbial head of the snake when it comes to the Blackhawks, McLellan was asked if there was extra emphasis to nullify Toews this time around.Some of our earlier games we made it a little too comfortable for him, and tonight I thought we played him hard, tried to slow him down as much as we could, and lucky enough it worked for us, said the Sharks coach.The Sharks finished 2-1-1 against Chicago this season, while the Blackhawks were 2-2-0 against San Jose.After controlling the first period, the Sharks were badly outplayed in the second, getting outshot 17-3. Still, a fortunate bounce after an odd-man rush gave them the lead back after 40 minutes.After Joe Pavelski just missed Patrick Marleau for a slam-dunk goal on a two-on-one, Marleau alertly prevented Keith from clearing the zone by lifting Keiths stick. Thornton ended up with the puck behind the net, tried to feed Pavelski, and defenseman Dylan Olsen inadvertently knocked the puck through Corey Crawford at 15:43.The Sharks power play staked them to an early 2-0 lead.With Michael Frolik in the box on a double-minor for high sticking, Logan Couture found Justin Braun for a one-timer at 1:58 of the first period to open the scoring. Couture appeared to make it 2-0 on the back-end of that double minor, but Marleau was ruled for goalie interference in what was a marginal call, at best.The Sharks killed that penalty off, though, and Dan Boyle deposited a rebound from Crawfords pad right to his tape after Coutures point shot for a goal at 11:36. Boyle was returning from a one-game absence due to the flu.The Blackhawks had all the energy to start the second period, and Marcus Krugers two rebound goals tied the game at 2-2.Nick Leddy unleashed a slap shot from just inside the blue line, and Kruger was able to deposit his first goal of the night at 6:55.Chicago kept coming in waves, but McLellan decided against using his timeout to slow that momentum. It cost his club when Kruger backhanded in the rebound of a blast by Brent Seabrook exactly three minutes after his first goal.For the 21-year-old Kruger, who entered with just three goals this season, it was the first multiple goal game of his career.Got the start we wanted, played them real hard in the first period, then decided to quit skating and watched them, basically, for the period, McLellan said.Bickell had given the Blackhawks the lead shortly before his fight with McGinn turned the tide in the Sharks favor. San Jose led 3-2 entering the third period, but a pass from the side of the net by Dave Bolland somehow got through Colin White and Andrew Desjardins for an easy conversion at 2:15.Antti Niemi made 33 saves to record his 23rd win and fifth of his career against his former team. Crawford stopped 22 of 27.Odds and ends: San Jose has at least one power play goal in seven of its last eight games. The Sharks killed off all three Blackhawks power plays. ... With a goal and an assist, defenseman Justin Braun tied a career-high with two points in a single game on his 25th birthday. Braun also picked up two points on Nov. 27, 2010 at Edmonton. Logan Couture extended his point streak to eight games with two power play assists, which ties a career-high for power play assists in a game (set Feb. 19, 2011 vs. Colorado). With his goal, Joe Thornton ties Jeff Friesen for fourth on the Sharks all-time goals list. Thornton now has 149 goals with San Jose and is on a five-game point streak with nine overall (4g, 5a). Per Elias Sports Bureau: Brent Burns is the second defenseman is Sharks history to have eight assists over a four-game span. The only other San Jose defenseman with eight assists over four games is Rob Blake (eight from Nov 13-22, 2008). It is not a record for a Sharks defenseman; Jeff Norton had one of nine points (two goals, seven assists) from March 24-29, 1994.

Time is now for Sharks to experiment with new lines


Time is now for Sharks to experiment with new lines

The San Jose Sharks were shut out for the first time this season on Thursday night, but it sure didn't feel like it.

You’d be forgiven, albeit mistaken, if you didn't think the loss was their first goose egg of the season. San Jose’s been one of the lowest-scoring teams in the league this year, and has scored two or fewer goals in all but two of their six games in November.

The Sharks controlled play, but their raw possession numbers were misleading: Through the first two periods, San Jose was outshot 23-18, and poured it on in the third looking for the game-tying goal.

In order to break out of his team’s extended slump, head coach Peter DeBoer appeared to throw his lines in the proverbial blender. The changes weren't very significant, though, as DeBoer worked mostly around the edges.

Joe Thornton remained with Joe Pavelski, while Melker Karlsson and Timo Meier rotated in on their wing. Joonas Donskoi swapped in with Logan Couture and Tomas Hertl, and on and on.

The core pair of each line remained intact, while DeBoer swapped complimentary wingers. Subtle changes, unsurprisingly, didn't lead to drastically different results.

He’s been amenable to bigger changes at times, briefly breaking up longtime linemates Thornton and Pavelski last Sunday against Los Angeles. The bottom six, especially the fourth line, has mostly been a revolving door.

That's a start, but far from enough. 

As long as the Sharks struggle to score, similarly significant changes are in order.

DeBoer shouldn't want to sacrifice the team’s defensive dominance, or its strong possession game. But, the Sharks haven't scored enough through 17 games to justify using the same forward combinations. 

In Thornton and Pavelski’s case, those struggles date back to last season. For just about everyone else, the sample size is getting increasingly more significant as the season approaches the quarter pole.

The Sharks bench boss expressed a willingness to mix up his power play units earlier this week, and needs to do the same at even strength. It's time to try Pavelski on Couture's wing, Meier on Thornton's, or any number of permutations.

Tweaking around the edges hasn't made much of a difference, so far more comprehensive adjustments are not only welcome, but necessary. Of course, DeBoer may not find the perfect lineup solutions.

At this point, though, it's worth a shot. It's hard to imagine the Sharks scoring any less than they have so far this season, and the Sharks need to explore if any line changes can provide a remedy.

Luongo picks up a career first in Panthers win over Sharks


Luongo picks up a career first in Panthers win over Sharks


SAN JOSE — Roberto Luongo made 35 saves for his 74th career shutout and the Florida Panthers blanked the San Jose Sharks 2-0 Thursday night on goals by Colton Sceviour and Nick Bjugstad.

Florida coach Bob Boughner won in his return to San Jose. He served as an assistant coach for the Sharks the last two years.

Luongo earned his first shutout of the season and first in 32 games against San Jose.

Martin Jones was nearly as good for the Sharks. He stopped 26 shots, but that wasn't enough to keep the Panthers from winning for the seventh time in their last eight trips to San Jose.

Sharks defenseman Tim Heed had a goal disallowed on a coach's challenge a little less than five minutes into the second period. Replays showed he came into contact with the puck just behind the blue line, making the play offside.

San Jose had another goal overturned after a replay review. Brent Burns took a hard shot that Luongo nearly caught but couldn't handle and it bounced along his pads. Marc-Edouard Vlasic was one of three Sharks trying to poke at the puck and he used his stick to push both the puck and Luongo's pad into the net.

Sceviour scored a minute into the second after digging out the puck along the boards behind the net. He skated around the cage and poked a shot that hit Jones' pads. He took a second shot that got over the goalie's pads and went in.

Sceviour has four points in six games since returning from injury. He had two points in his first six games this season.

The Panthers, who have won three of four, added an insurance goal with less than eight minutes remaining. Radim Vrbata intercepted a pass in the Sharks zone and played it to Jamie McGinn, who got Jones to commit before dishing to Bjugstad for the score.

NOTES: Panthers C Michael Haley received a warm ovation from Sharks fans. He played in San Jose the last couple of years. ... Sharks D Paul Martin missed his 15th game with a lower-body injury, though he has been skating pain-free for the past two weeks. ... Florida center Vincent Trocheck has 12 points in his last 10 games. ... The Sharks have not scored on their past 15 power plays.


Panthers: At the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday.

Sharks: Host the Boston Bruins on Saturday.