Three takeaways: Sharks shut down a dangerous Flyers offense

Three takeaways: Sharks shut down a dangerous Flyers offense

SAN JOSE – The Sharks’ penultimate game of 2016 was also their fourth straight win, 2-0 over the Flyers. Three takeaways from the game…

1 – Defense first

Aaron Dell was the game’s first star, and it was well deserved, but really he wasn’t tested all that much. The Flyers – suddenly scuffling for offense after a 10-game winning streak – managed only 21 shots and just a handful of scoring chances. Their top line, featuring Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek, was invisible other than Giroux hitting the post with a slap shot in the third period. They just couldn’t solve the Sharks’ shutdown pair of Marc-Edourad Vlasic and Justin Braun, which was out there against them on almost every shift.

"I thought we were doing a pretty good job of putting pucks in the right place to break them out, and it was a good effort all around,” Braun said.

Dell, like most goalies, admitted that not seeing a whole lot of rubber can be difficult.

“I think you really have to concentrate more when you're not getting a lot of work. I think it makes it a little tougher,” he said. “I think I had one chance every once in a while there."

The Sharks are second in the NHL in shots allowed per game (26.3).

2 – Power play gets one

Although the rejiggered top unit featuring Joel Ward in place of Patrick Marleau didn’t score a goal, the Sharks’ power play looked better than it has on most nights in recent weeks. Nick Schultz took a tripping minor five minutes into the first period, and the top unit did everything but score.

“It was definitely more dangerous,” Joe Pavelski said. “Right from that first time it felt like we were going to score.”

Marleau did, of course, pouncing on a loose puck in the crease on the team’s second power play later on in the opening frame.

“It was a good shot by Pickles and then [Kevin Labanc] I guess chipped it, and it was just kind of laying there,” Marleau said. “Guys were trying to crash the net, and I was able to get a good stick on it."

DeBoer indicated he would keep the two new units together for Saturday’s game in Los Angeles.

3 – Vlasic’s status

The evening would have been nearly perfect had Vlasic not taken a slap shot to the face in a scary moment with just 30 seconds left on the clock. It looks like he’ll miss at least Saturday’s game at Staples Center, and perhaps longer.

The Sharks are at least fortunate that Dylan DeMelo, who would get back in the lineup in place of Vlasic, shouldn’t be rusty. The 23-year-old played the three previous games before Friday, filling in for a healthy David Schlemko.

In the only game Vlasic missed so far this season, Dec. 13 in Toronto, the Sharks won, 3-2 in a shootout.

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.