Sharks

Barracuda power play comes to life in crucial Game 2 win over San Diego

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SAN JOSE BARRACUDA

Barracuda power play comes to life in crucial Game 2 win over San Diego

SAN JOSE – During their impressive regular season in which they claimed the top seed in the Western Conference, the Barracuda relied heavily on their power play. More often than not, it got the job done.

That part of their game hit a snag in the playoffs, though, going just 2-for-26 through the first six games after posting a 23.8 percent success rate in the regular season – second in the AHL.

It’s coming back to life. 

San Jose struck for two power play goals in three chances on Saturday night against San Diego, tying its second round series with the Gulls at one game apiece in a 5-1 win. Five different players scored for San Jose, including power play markers by Ryan Carpenter and Adam Helewka.

“We’re just getting good chances, and I feel like the pucks are going in for us,” Carpenter said.

San Jose jumped out to a 3-0 lead and was never really in danger after dropping the series opener at home on Friday in overtime.

Timo Meier’s end-to-end rush helped generate the first score, when the former first round pick took the puck from behind his own net and weaved into the offensive zone. His backhand attempt was blocked, but DeSimone gathered it in before unleashing a slap shot that beat Jhonas Enroth to the far side at 4:31 of the first period.

DeSimone, a free agent signed out of Union College by the Sharks on March 30, has five points (1g, 4a) in seven playoff games. He looked comfortable – and especially mobile – in Game 2.

“He really gets around the ice nice,” coach Roy Sommer said. “He can really skate.”

The 22-year-old, who posted 19 points in 38 games with Union this season, seems to be adjusting well to the pro game.

“It’s definitely, I wouldn’t say easy, but it’s been a nice transition so far,” DeSimone said.

Carpenter increased the Barracuda to 2-0 at 7:13 on the power play, when his wrister got through Enroth on a shot that should have been stopped by the veteran goalie.

Carpenter, who added a third period assist, continues to lead the Barracuda in playoff scoring with 10 points (6g, 4a) in seven games.

Buddy Robinson’s second period goal at 1:10 bumped the lead to three, when he battled for a loose puck in the slot and managed to put it through. San Diego got on the board at 3:53 on a Sam Carrick goal, but Helewka answered that on the power play at 16:15 to give the Barracuda a 4-1 cushion at the second intermission.

Barclay Goodrow’s marker on a two-on-one with Carpenter just 40 seconds into the third period essentially put the game out of reach.

The series now shifts to San Diego for games three-through-five. The Gulls have won seven straight home games against the Barracuda, including all five meetings this season.

“They got home ice from us,” Sommer said. “We’ve got to go down there and win a couple games. It’s a tough building to play in. They play different down there than they play here. … Guys are ready. We’ll meet the challenge down there.”

Carpenter said: “Wherever we play, we’ve just got to stick to our game plan.”

Games six and seven, if necessary, would be back at SAP Center.

 

Banged up Sharks making full use of two-day break ahead of Game 6 in Vegas

Banged up Sharks making full use of two-day break ahead of Game 6 in Vegas

SAN JOSE – Up until this point in the first round, the Sharks and Golden Knights have squared off every other night. Now, after staving off elimination with a crucial Game 5 victory, Team Teal has a whopping two days to prepare for Game 6 back in Las Vegas.

“We have two days now,” Tomas Hertl said after San Jose’s 5-2 victory. “Have to take a little breath and rest and be ready for that.”

This isn’t to say that San Jose is playing at any more of a grueling pace than other teams in the playoffs. But bumps and bruises are quite common this time of year. Marc-Edouard Vlasic missed two straight playoff games after being hit by a puck during Game 2, Erik Karlsson is still bouncing back from a regular- season injury -- heck, Logan Couture is the second player who has had to make a trip to the dentist after losing teeth during a game.

Between the ailments being common and the current series being incredibly physical, getting an extra 24 hours in between games is a big help, Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer told the media on Friday morning following.

“We’ve got to use it to get rest, to get guys healthy,” DeBoer said, before adding: “But also to prepare. I think we’re going to have to find another level in our game obviously to win Game 6 in there. That’s what the two days have to be used for, too.”

DeBoer isn’t wrong. The Sharks haven’t faired well in many of their visits to the Knights’ home barn, particularly during the current best-of-seven series. San Jose was outscored 11-3 in Games 3 and 4 at T-Mobile Arena and went 1-for-7 on the power play, which is not good when you’re trying to defeat a team that is stealthy at capitalizing on their opponents mistakes. While their Game 5 performance was a vast improvement – they finally kept that Pacioretty-Stastny-Stone line off the scoreboard, for starters – they still need to use the two days prep for Game 6 wisely.

Plus, Vegas gets that time to prepare as well.

“They get the same luxury,” Karlsson pointed out, before adding that San Jose isn’t putting too much thought into what the other team is doing. “I think our biggest focus is on ourselves and what we have to do to be successful.”

[RELATED: Five observations from Game 5 win]

After finding that success on their home ice, the Sharks are even more motivated to put on a good showing in Sin CIty on Easter Sunday, forcing a Game 7 back in San Jose. It's no easy feat, but two days worth of prep can help.

"We know it will be really hard, but we are ready for this challenge," Hertl said on Friday morning. "We want to show them we can beat them there too."

Where does series stand after Sharks' season-saving win in Game 5?

Where does series stand after Sharks' season-saving win in Game 5?

Twenty-five years to the day since their very first playoff game, the Sharks evaded elimination Thursday night at SAP Center, and reinvigorated the fanbase with a convincing performance in their 5-2 win over the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 5 of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series.

This series has shown two sides of San Jose — Games 1 and 5, where they were decidedly the better team through 60 minutes and controlled much of the play. That's a sharp contrast to Games 2, 3, and 4 — where it looked like summer could have an unfortunate early start after three convincing wins from Vegas.

Here are five observations from the Sharks' 5-2 win that sent the series back to Vegas with the San Jose trailing 3-2:

Jones steps up

Martin Jones was the headliner of Game 5, and he deserves to be. This was a critical decision for Peter DeBoer to give Jones the starting assignment -- some would even say against the grain -- after Jones had been pulled in each of the previous two losses.

It was a solid performance by the Sharks’ primary netminder through the first 40-plus minutes, but it turned into an exceptional one when he stoned Reilly Smith in the third period.

That “wow” moment later led to a Sharks power play which saw Tomas Hertl give San Jose some insurance by lighting the lamp to extend the lead to two.

Puck possession that didn’t feed transition

The Sharks' prior two losses saw them struggle in the face-off circle, winning just 45 percent and 46 percent in Games 3 and 4, respectively. All San Jose did in Game 5 was win a whopping 63 percent of its draws, which led to the domino effect of having the puck, and not turning it over. This limited the quantity and quality of opportunities for Vegas, and therefore helped the cause in the crease.

The Sharks in front of Jones didn’t have to ask for a ton of (extra) key saves because they didn’t allow a ton of (extra) key chances.

Complete (early) role reversal

When the Sharks scored 76 seconds into the game, they gained the early lead that Vegas had rallied around in each of the last three contests. Making the Golden Knights play from behind for the first time in a week set the tone for the entire game. And just on body language alone, it seemed to give the Sharks a noticeable confidence boost.

Good for Goodrow

In the Sharks' second 5-2 win of the series, the winning marker may have got lost in the shuffle.

But it shouldn’t.

Barclay Goodrow notched his first ever Stanley Cup playoff goal, and the redirect was assisted by another guy who isn’t a primary scorer in Justin Braun. Depth scoring was a strong point for San Jose in the regular season, but it had yet to really make its mark in the second season.

[RELATED: Sharks keeps emotions in check, season alive in Game 5]

So, what now?

If the teams had alternated wins and losses to arrive at this juncture, nobody would be surprised. It would have seemed like a back-and-forth slugfest that the Golden Knights slightly held the edge in. But those three decisive Vegas wins really soured the San Jose perspective on the remainder of the series.

Regardless, here we are now with the rare two days off in between games. Where San Jose gets a little healthier, and Vegas has to dwell on their missed opportunity of closing the door in Game 5.

The pressure shifts to Vegas to close out the series in Game 6, otherwise, they'll be forced to come back to The Tank for a do-or-die Game 7 they likely want no part of.