Sharks

After trading Mueller, Sharks re-sign three prospects

After trading Mueller, Sharks re-sign three prospects

Shortly after trading Mirco Mueller to the Devils, the Sharks announced the signing of three of their remaining prospects to two-year contracts.

Center Ryan Carpenter and defensemen Tim Heed and Joakim Ryan, all of whom were vital to the AHL Barracuda’s success this season, will all remain in the organization. Carpenter was a pending unrestricted free agent, while Heed and Ryan were both restricted.

Per a source, the contracts are identical at the NHL level for all three, as they would earn $650,000 per year for both years.

Carpenter, 26, posted two goals and two assists for four points in 11 games with the Sharks in 2016-17. He added 39 points (14g, 25a) in 54 games with the Barracuda, and led the team in playoff scoring with 17 points (9g, 8a) in 15 games. The Florida native was originally signed by the Sharks as a free agent on March 25, 2014.

Heed, 26, played one game with the Sharks on Jan. 11, his NHL debut. In 55 games with the Barracuda, he posted 14 goals and 42 assists for 56 points. A Sweden native, he signed with the Sharks as a free agent on May 24, 2016. Heed was originally drafted by the Ducks in the fifth round of the 2010 draft.

Ryan, 23, tallied 49 points (10g, 39a) and a plus-27 rating in 65 games with the Barracuda. He was drafted by the Sharks in the seventh round of the 2012 draft, and has yet to make his NHL debut. The New Jersey native played four seasons at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY.

NHL playoffs: How Sharks can, can't beat Vegas in Game 7, advance

NHL playoffs: How Sharks can, can't beat Vegas in Game 7, advance

The Sharks improbably kept their season alive Sunday with a 2-1 double-overtime win in Game 6, forcing a decisive Game 7 in their Stanley Cup playoff first-round series with the Vegas Golden Knights. 

San Jose trailed three to one after four games and looked dead in the water but now has won the last two. Martin Jones kept the Game 7 door ajar with a franchise-record 58 saves through four periods and change Sunday. With the Sharks facing a penalty kill in the second overtime, Tomas Hertl did his best Mark Messier impression to bust it wide open.

Now, the Sharks have their first-ever chance to eliminate the Golden Knights on Tuesday at SAP Center. So, here’s how San Jose can advance to the second round -- and how the 2018-19 season could end on home ice.

The Sharks can win if …

Kevin Labanc, Marcus Sorensen and Joe Thornton get on the scoresheet

Since Thornton returned from his one-game suspension in Game 6, the Sharks’ third line arguably has been their best. Although the trio has been out-shot against the Golden Knights in the last two games, they have generated more quality chances than their opposition.

Per Natural Stat Trick, San Jose controlled 59.95 percent of the expected goals and 66.67 percent of the high-danger chances with that line on the ice in Games 5 and 6. That hasn’t turned into a goal yet, but could lead to a critical one in Game 7 if they keep it up.

Just two of the Golden Knights’ bottom-six forwards (Alex Tuch and Cody Eakin) have scored a goal in this series, and 17 of 21 have come from players on Vegas’ first and second lines. Thornton, Labanc and Barclay Goodrow are the Sharks’ only bottom-six forwards to score so far, and San Jose could use a goal (or two) from someone in that group to create separation in Game 7.

Both teams have relied on their stars offensively so far, and depth contributions ultimately could push one of them through to the second round. If the Sharks’ third line continues to develop quality chances, they just might be the ones to do it.

[RELATED: Hertl's game-winner highlights breakout season]

The Sharks can’t win if …

Martin Jones relents under the Golden Knights’ pressure

Jones was at his best Sunday when the team in front of him was not. Through just over 82-and-a-half minutes of 5-on-5 play, the Sharks ceded the vast majority of puck possession.

According to Natural Stat Trick, the Golden Knights:

  • Out-attempted the Sharks, 111-63
  • Out-shot the Sharks, 56-26
  • Out-chanced the Sharks, 33-29
  • Won the high-danger chance battle, 16-11

Sunday was an extreme example of the disparities that Jones has faced during this series as a whole, with the Golden Knights edging the Sharks in every major 5-on-5 puck-possession category through six games. He stood tall in the face of said pressure in each of the last two, allowing only one full-strength goal as San Jose tried to protect narrow leads at various stages in both games.

That’s a stark turnaround, considering Jones posted an .836 5-on-5 save percentage through the series' first four games. Jones has faced a lower rate of high-danger shots and expected goals in the last two games than he did prior, but he still has seen more rubber at full strength than Marc-Andre Fleury has in the opposite crease.

The Sharks and Golden Knights have each averaged two-and-a-half power play opportunities in the last two games, compared to five and five-and-a-half, respectively, in the previous four contests. The whistles probably won’t come out much more in a decisive Game 7, and the Golden Knights have been the better 5-on-5 team.

If that continues in Game 7 and Jones falters, the Sharks’ in-series comeback will be for naught.

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in 2-1 double-OT Game 6 win in Vegas

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in 2-1 double-OT Game 6 win in Vegas

BOX SCORE

You don't get much more Stanley Cup playoff drama than this. And the Sharks made sure they'll have one more game of it.

After five games of relatively emotional hockey, the Sharks and the Golden Knights played a tight-checking Game 6 at a ferocious pace in what was a pivotal moment for both teams. Vegas had an opportunity to clinch the first-round series on home ice, and San Jose had a chance to force a winner-take-all Game 7.

In the end, Tomas Hertl -- who told the SAP Center crowd after Game 5 that the Sharks would be back Tuesday for a Game 7 -- scored while the Sharks were short-handed 11:17 into the second overtime to give them a 2-1 win.

Here are three takeaways from Game 6 at T-Mobile Arena:

Two words: Martin. Jones.

Any of the Sharks goalie's teammates will tell you he's one cool customer. According to defenseman Brenden Dillon, Jones isn't one to pore over what's said about him on social media. That makes you wonder what was going through his head before Game 6.

Jones was coming off a strong Game 5, but he also was returning to Vegas, where he struggled mightily in Games 3 and 4. There's no denying that a bulk of the focus was on which Jones would show up between the pipes in Game 6.

Needless to say, he was the Sharks' star of the game, after making an all-time franchise-record 58 saves.

San Jose was pinned in its own zone for a good portion of the second period, when Vegas scored its lone goal. But Jones' best save came at the start of the third period, when he absolutely robbed Reilly Smith after the Sharks turned over the puck in the neutral zone. San Jose was completely hemmed in its own zone in the final frame of regulation, not getting a shot on goal for over four minutes.

Without Jones' outstanding performance, the game wouldn't have gone into two OTs.

The celly will be short-lived

No time for the Sharks to celebrate too hard after that win, as it's on to preparations for Game 7 on home ice.

While San Jose did some good things Sunday -- or, in Jones' case, some great things -- it must be better Tuesday. The Sharks were abysmal in the face-off circle, losing 57 of 101 draws, and they had difficulty clearing the puck out of their own zone in the final 40 minutes, giving the Knights far too many chances.

No stopping now

The Sharks need to stop giving the opposition the opportunity to hang around and make things interesting. San Jose looked so worn down by the end of the regulation that it's a wonder the team had anything left in the tank in overtime, let alone double OT.

They have one shot at advancing and facing the Colorado Avalanche in the second round. With momentum gained from this Game 6 win, the Sharks can't miss it.