Instant Replay: Sharks begin road trip with win over Lightning


Instant Replay: Sharks begin road trip with win over Lightning


Matt Nieto scored the deciding goal and the Sharks started a difficult five-game road trip with a 4-2 win over the Lightning at Amalie Arena on Tuesday night.

On the winning goal, Nieto received a pass from Patrick Marleau on a two-on-one before dekeing Tampa Bay goalie Ben Bishop and slipping it inside the post at 1:17 of the third period, breaking a 2-2 tie.

Melker Karlsson added the dagger for San Jose, taking advantage of a slick backhanded pass from Joe Thornton before humming it through Ben Bishop with 1:43 to go in regulation.

Nieto (1g, 1a), Thornton (2a) and Joel Ward (1g, 1a) all had multiple-point nights for the Sharks, who improved to 12-2-3 in their last 16.

San Jose won its 30th game (30-20-5, 65 points) and drew to within four points of the first place Kings with a game in hand, as Los Angeles dropped a 3-1 decision to Washington earlier on Tuesday.

The Sharks withstood some early pressure by the Lightning, but eventually fell behind at 17:51 on a breakaway goal by Ryan Callahan, aided by Paul Martin going to the bench on an early change.

San Jose tied it in the second. Ward waited for a screen to develop in front of Bishop before unleashing a slap shot that squeaked through at 1:43.

Joe Pavelski snapped a six-game goal-scoring drought in giving the Sharks their first lead, when he got open in the slot and whacked home a setup from behind the net by Thornton at 6:34 of the middle frame.

The Lightning replied, though, when Cedric Paquette whipped in a loose puck at 8:46 to knot it at 2-2 after 40 minutes.

Tampa Bay won the first and only other meeting of the season series at SAP Center on Dec. 5, 4-3.

Special teams:
The Sharks finished 0-for-3 on the power play. Tampa Bay was 0-for-2, including a brief power play with just 13 seconds left in regulation.

In goal:
Martin Jones made his 10th start in the last 11 games for San Jose, finishing with 28 saves. He’s 11-2-1 in his last 14 starts overall, and was playing against the Lightning for the first time in his career.

Bishop took the loss, allowing four goals on 31 shots.

Thornton has at least one point in 24 of the last 26 games, with eight goals and 26 assists over that span.

Marc-Edouard Vlasic assisted on Ward’s goal, extending his point/assist streak to eight games.

Brenden Dillon missed his third straight game with an upper body injury. He is expected to play at some point on the Sharks’ road trip.

Former Sharks draft pick Matt Carle played in his 700th career NHL game.

Up next:
San Jose will remain in Florida for its next game on Thursday against the Panthers, who lost at SAP Center on Nov. 5, 5-2.

Sharks avoid arbitration, re-sign Chris Tierney to two-year deal


Sharks avoid arbitration, re-sign Chris Tierney to two-year deal

Just two days before one was scheduled, the Sharks avoided an arbitration hearing with center Chris Tierney, and re-signed the restricted free agent to a two-year deal on Wednesday, the team announced. The deal is reportedly worth just shy of $2.94 million annually, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman

"Chris had his best season as a professional last year and stepped up his level of play in multiple areas," San Jose general manager Doug Wilson said in a statement. "We've always known he was a responsible, defensive-minded player, but he took his offensive game to the next tier and showed that he can be a productive player in all three zones. We look forward to watching him continue his evolution in 2018-19." 

Last season, the 24-year-old Tierney set career-highs in goals (17), assists (23), points (40), shots on goal (118), and ice time (16:00). Tierney also generated expected goals at the highest rate of his career (0.62 per hour), according to Corsica Hockey. 

A 2012 second-round pick, Tierney entered last season in an uncertain place. He signed his one-year, $735,000 qualifying offer last summer, and head coach Peter DeBoer challenged him to improve. 

“I came into the year wanting to prove a point. I believe in myself. I think I’m a good hockey player,” Tierney told the San Jose Mercury News in December. “I wanted to come in and show people that I could play an offensive role on the team.”  

DeBoer used Tierney slightly differently this season, as the forward started a career-high percentage of five-on-five shifts in the offensive zone (31.12 percent) and a career-low percentage of defensive zone starts (29.68 percent), per Corsica Hockey. Tierney responded in kind with his aforementioned career-best offensive numbers, and seized the third-line center role after versatile forward Tomas Hertl stayed on the wing.  

With Tierney back in the fold, the Sharks now have just under $4.4 million in salary cap space, according to CapFriendly. That’s for a roster carrying 14 forwards, seven defenseman, and two goaltenders, and San Jose’s actual cap space may change depending on the outcome of various positional battles in training camp. 

This summer, Tierney became the fourth Sharks player since 2008 to file for arbitration. In every case, including with Tierney on Wednesday, a settlement was reached prior to a hearing. 

The Sharks also signed a pair of prospects to entry-level contracts on Wednesday. Defenseman Ryan Merkley, San Jose’s first-round pick this June, and 21-year-old forward Alexander True, who scored 28 points in 68 games with the AHL’s San Jose Barracuda last season, both inked deals with the organization.

Martin Jones' new goalie mask will have Sharks fans seeing double


Martin Jones' new goalie mask will have Sharks fans seeing double

Sharks goaltender Martin Jones won't just enter the season with a different paycheck, the result of entering the first year of a five-year, $34.5 million contract extension that he signed last July. He'll also have a new mask.

Toronto-based artist Steve Nash unveiled a look at Jones' mask design for the upcoming season Monday morning on Twitter. The design again features San Jose's secondary logo but with some subtle differences.

Eagle-eyed mask afficionados will notice a couple of tweaks. First, there now are two sharks on the side, compared to only one last season. Those sharks boast orange eyes seen on the back of his mask last season

For comparison, here's a look at Jones' mask from last year.

The 28-year-old netminder is entering his fourth season in San Jose's crease. Jones posted a .915 save percentage in 60 regular-season starts and followed that with a .928 in 10 postseason starts as the Sharks advanced to the second round. 

We'll get our best look at Jones' new mask in action when training camp opens in mid-September, and, assuming he plays, in a game as soon as the Sept. 18 preseason opener against the Ducks.