Sharks

Instant Replay: Battered Sharks lose first of year to Isles

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Instant Replay: Battered Sharks lose first of year to Isles

BOX SCORE

BROOKLYN -– No Martin Jones. No Paul Martin. No more perfect season.

The Islanders erased three separate Sharks leads and stormed to a 6-3 win over San Jose on Saturday night at Barclays Center. The loss was the Sharks’ first after four wins to open the season.

New York broke a 3-3 tie a little more than four minutes into the final period to take its first lead. Brent Burns misfired on a pass in the neutral zone, allowing Kyle Okposo to gain control and charge ahead into the Isles’ offensive zone. The winger followed up on his own shot and beat Alex Stalock, who gave starter Jones his first night off.

Brock Nelson increased it to 5-3 midway through the third, buzzing a wrist shot past Stalock at 11:10. Frans Neilsen’s empty-net goal with three minutes to go capped the scoring.

A four-game Sharks road trip concludes at Madison Square Garden against the Rangers on Monday.

For the second straight game a key piece was removed from the Sharks’ lineup, as defenseman Martin was scratched from the blue line with a lower body injury. No immediate details were available, although Martin was in the building. Logan Couture remains out for the next 4-to-6 weeks with a fractured right fibula.

Martin’s absence meant 22-year-old Dylan DeMelo made his NHL debut, paired with Matt Tennyson. Brenden Dillon took Martin’s vacated place alongside Burns, who struggled to a -3 rating without his regular partner that he had been together with since the first day of training camp.

The teams combined for five goals in a seesaw second period, and the result was a 3-3 tie headed into the third.

Johnny Boychuk tied it at 1-1 just 21 seconds into the period, when his slap shot from a tough angle along the wall got through Stalock.

San Jose responded 20 seconds later on Nikolay Goldobin’s first goal in the NHL. On a three-on-two rush, Joe Thornton’s cross ice pass went right to Goldobin’s tape, and the 2014 first round draft pick easily angled it home.

A strange series of events involving Stalock allowed the Islanders to tie it at 2-2. After taking a shot to the mask from Ryan Strome on a New York power play, Stalock swiped his helmet off of his head. Rather than whistling the play dead, the referees allowed it to continue and Anders Lee put it across the line at 2:27. The refs conferred afterwards, but it was allowed to stand.

The Sharks claimed their third lead of the night when Matt Nieto fed a pass around Nick Leddy to Joel Ward on a two-on-one for Ward’s first goal with the Sharks at 9:20, but a Burns turnover behind the net resulted in Josh Bailey scoring at 13:58.

Joe Pavelski scored the only goal of the first period, redirecting a Justin Braun shot at 13:04. Isles coach Jack Capuano challenged the call, but it was ruled that the Sharks captain didn’t interfere with Halak.

The Sharks fell to 7-2-2 in their last 11 road games against the Islanders, although the previous 10 had been at their former home, Nassau Coliseum.

Special teams

Lee’s goal was the only one that came on a power play. The Sharks were 0-for-2, while New York was 1-for-3.

In the first period, Stalock stopped Mikhail Grabovski on a penalty shot with 2:13 to go in the frame and the Islanders trailing, 1-0.

In goal

Stalock allowed five goals on 33 shots to lose his season debut.

Jones sat for the first time as the Sharks were playing their first back-to-back of the season. Jones started the night as the league leader in goals-against average (0.49), and was tied in wins (4) and shutouts (2).

Like Stalock, Halak was also making his season debut after missing the first four games with an upper body injury. He had 22 saves.

Lineup

Fourth line center Ben Smith was forced from the game in the second period, when he took a slap shot from Marc-Edouard Vlasic to the head. He did not return.

Joonas Donskoi missed his second straight game with a lower body injury, so Goldobin, who made his NHL debut on Friday, remained on the Joe Thornton line where Donskoi had been for the first three games.

Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey made his season debut after missing the first four games with an upper body injury. 

Up next

After Monday, the Sharks open up a three-game homestand on Thursday with the Los Angeles Kings. The Hurricanes and Predators follow. 

Sharks' Erik Karlsson ranked No. 24 player in league by NHL Network

Sharks' Erik Karlsson ranked No. 24 player in league by NHL Network

Erik Karlsson is arguably the best player on the Sharks. According to NHL Network, San Jose's defenseman is the 24th-best player in the league.

In counting down the best players in the current NHL, the league's network placed Karlsson in between 25th-ranked David Pastrnak of the Boston Bruins, and 23rd-rank Mark Giordano, the Flames' reigning Norris Trophy winner.

"We know that he can put the puck just about anywhere, he can skate himself out of trouble, he can pass himself out of trouble, he can do just about anything," NHL Network's Brian Lawton said of Karlsson. "For a defenseman in today's game that played on one leg basically last year … he did have 16 points in 19 playoff games and it wasn't quite enough, but it was pretty darn heroic if you ask me."

Karlsson totaled 45 points in 53 regular-season games with the Sharks after arriving in San Jose at the start of training camp last year. The Sharks had their best stretch of the season once he found his groove in early December, and if not for a troublesome groin injury, there's no telling how far San Jose could have gone.

The two-time Norris Trophy winner still managed to appear in the All-Star Game, and signed a lucrative eight-year extension with San Jose at the start of free agency. He tallied at least 62 points in each of the previous five seasons, and his 563 points since making his NHL debut are the most among all NHL defenseman, ahead of fellow Sharks defenseman Brent Burns (532).

[RELATED: Listen to Jumbo Joe mic'd up at a recent Sharks practice]

Karlsson will be an alternate captain in his second season with the franchise, and one would naturally expect him to benefit from having played a year in the system. He ranked sixth among NHL defensemen in points per game (0.85) last year, and with the departures San Jose suffered in free agency, it wouldn't be surprising to see that rate increase in the season ahead, particularly considering Karlsson says he feels "back to normal" after offseason surgery to address the injury that hampered him a year ago.

Assuming Karlsson stays healthy this coming season, you can expect him to be ranked even higher a year from now.

Mic'd-up Joe Thornton's youthful energy on display at Sharks practice

Mic'd-up Joe Thornton's youthful energy on display at Sharks practice

Whether or not Joe Thornton is a national treasure is debatable, but he's certainly a regional one.

The future Hall of Famer was mic'd up at a recent Sharks' practice, and he put that quality on display. The 40-year-old didn't appear as if his age has caught up to him, as he was quite talkative and involved throughout.

Just watch for yourself:

Whether it was chasing on the forecheck or missing an empty net, the eldest member of the Sharks looked anything but. Enjoying his first healthy offseason in recent memory, Thornton's energy is certainly palpable, and that bodes well for the Sharks as they attempt to get back to the playoffs for the 20th time in the last 22 seasons.

Thornton signed a one-year contract at the beginning of the month to return to the Sharks for his 15th season in San Jose. He'll be one of four alternate captains on the team, after Logan Couture was named the 10th full-time captain in franchise history, taking over for the departed Joe Pavelski.

With Pavelski, Joonas Donskoi and Gustav Nyquist leaving in free agency during the offseason, the Sharks are counting on several prospects to take a step forward this coming season -- and on Thornton to help them succeed at the NHL level. While line pairings are still in flux, it wouldn't be shocking whatsoever to see Thornton paired with one of those prospects on his wing.

[RELATED: Sharks' roster hopefuls still 'auditioning' as season nears]

Based on Thornton's mic'd up session, he'll be talking that prospects' ear off all game long.