Sharks

Instant Replay: Sharks feel the blues in loss to St. Louis

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USATSI

Instant Replay: Sharks feel the blues in loss to St. Louis

BOX SCORE

ST. LOUIS – Jaden Schwartz scored twice in leading the St. Louis Blues to a 3-2 win over the Sharks on Thursday night at Scottrade Center, in the first matchup between the clubs since last season’s Western Conference Final.

The Sharks have lost two straight, dropping to 3-2 on their longest road trip of the season, which concludes on Saturday in Arizona.

Special teams was the difference, as David Perron’s marker on the power play put the Blues ahead to stay in the second period. The Sharks were a season-worst 0-for-6, including the final 55 seconds of regulation after a delay of game penalty to Kyle Brodziak.

St. Louis scored twice in the second period to seize a 3-2 lead, which is where the score would remain.

Schwartz broke a 1-1 tie. After the Sharks’ fourth line was caught in its own zone and failed on a couple chances to clear, Schwartz’s wrist shot made its way through traffic at 8:45, giving St. Louis its first lead.

The Sharks responded just 19 seconds later. Justin Braun softly pushed the puck ahead where it found Kevin Labanc in the slot, the rookie turned around and flicked it through Jake Allen for his first career NHL goal.

San Jose had a pair of power plays after tying it at 2-2, but couldn’t find a way to re-take the lead. Instead, after Mikkel Boedker’s interference nullified the end of a Sharks advantage, Perron’s wrist shot on a Blues power play made it 3-2. Martin Jones, who didn’t play on Tuesday in Carolina, should have stopped it.

The goal ended the Sharks’ penalty kill streak at 11-plus games, and 26 kills overall.

Forward Tomas Hertl did not play after Perron’s goal, and was seen limping to the dressing room.

The teams traded first period scores. Logan Couture’s first even strength goal of the season on a rush by his line line at 6:16 opened the scoring, but St. Louis responded with the first of Schwartz’s tallies on a shot from the high slot at 10:38.

Special teams

The Sharks fell shy of setting a new franchise record on the penalty kill, going 11 straight games before Perron ended the impressive run. St. Louis was 1-for-4.

On the power play, San Jose is 1-for-17 in its last six games, and 2-for-24 in the last eight road games.

Joel Ward replaced Patrick Marleau on the top unit in the third period.

In goal

Jones saw his personal three-game winning streak halted, allowing three goals on 25 shots.

Allen allowed two goals on 29 shots, and has gone 13 straight home games allowing two or fewer goals.

Lineup

The Sharks rearranged all of their forward lines for the game, as Labanc played on the top line with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski, and the scuffling Boedker was bumped to the fourth line.

Melker Karlsson missed his second straight game with a lower body injury.

St. Louis was without Alex Steen due to an undisclosed injury. Leading scorer Vladimir Tarasenko, who was questionable for the game, did play. His six-game point streak came to an end.

Up next

The Sharks will practice on Friday before Saturday’s game in Arizona. They lost to the Coyotes in the first meeting there on Nov. 1, 3-2.

San Jose hosts the Devils on Monday.

Sharks-Vegas Game 7: Why Kerry Fraser thinks game-changing penalty wrong call

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AP

Sharks-Vegas Game 7: Why Kerry Fraser thinks game-changing penalty wrong call

Game 7 of the Sharks' Stanley Cup playoff first-round series with the Vegas Golden Knights will be remembered for a call and a comeback, and Kerry Fraser can empathize.

In the third period Tuesday, Vegas Golden Knights forward Cody Eakin was given a five-minute major for cross-checking and a game misconduct. On a face-off in the Vegas end, Eakin shoved Sharks captain Joe Pavelski in the path of Eakin's teammate Paul Stastny, and Pavelski's collision with Stastny caused the San Jose forward to hit his head on the ice. Pavelski bled from his head, and needed assistance off of the ice. The Sharks scored four goals on the ensuing non-releasable penalty, and ultimately extended their postseason while ending the Golden Knights' with a 5-4 win.

The longtime NHL referee tweeted Wednesday he thought the penalty was too harsh.

Vegas coach Gerard Gallant and forward Jonathan Marchessault told reporters they felt badly Pavelski was hurt, but laid into referees Eric Furlatt and Dan O'Halloran after the Sharks' win. Gallant said the referees told him Eakin hit Pavelski in the face, but replay indicated his cross-check caught his San Jose counterpart closer to the chest.

Fraser faced similar criticism after failing to call Wayne Gretzky -- then with the Los Angeles Kings -- for a high-sticking penalty against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 1993 Stanley Cup playoffs.

“I’m sure they’re gonna feel like I am, sick in the pit of my stomach. We’ve all been there,” Fraser told The Athletic. “I have the same feeling I had that night on the ice.”

Fraser's call, much like Tuesday's, marked a turning point. Gretzky's stick hit Maple Leafs forward Doug Gilmour in the face, drawing blood while the Kings had a power play in overtime. The Leafs led the series 3-2 at the time, and could have clinched a trip to the Stanley Cup Final with a win. But the Kings tied it 3-3 thanks to a Game 6-winning goal from -- you guessed it -- Gretzky.

Toronto ultimately lost Game 7, and the Leafs haven't gotten as close to a Stanley Cup in the interceding 26 years. Vegas doesn't have the Original-Six pedigree, but Golden Knights fans got a great taste of Leafs fans' gripes over the last quarter-century in their second season following the team.

Vegas' complaints are warranted, just as Toronto's were at the time. However, both teams still had chances to make up for it.

[RELATED: Check out Sharks-Avalanche second-round game schedule]

The Golden Knights failed to score on a power play of their own following the five-minute major, and could not score in overtime after Marchessault tied the game with 47 minutes remaining in regulation. Vegas also lost two previous close-out games -- one in San Jose, and one in the friendly confines of T-Mobile Arena.

Similarly, Toronto still had a home game of its own and a chance to advance in Game 7. The Leafs and Kings were tied with fewer than five minutes remaining, before Los Angeles scored two goals in a 37-second span.

Both calls will live in playoff infamy, but they didn't have to.

Kevin Labanc makes history in Sharks' crazy Game 7 comeback vs. Vegas

Kevin Labanc makes history in Sharks' crazy Game 7 comeback vs. Vegas

SAN JOSE -- Kevin Labanc made Stanley Cup playoffs history Tuesday night at SAP Center.

Labanc powered the Sharks' wild third-period comeback during their 5-4 overtime win over the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 7 of the first-round series. The winger assisted or scored on all four of San Jose's goals after Cody Eakin's controversial cross-checking major, becoming the first player in the history of the NHL's postseason to score four points in a single period of a Game 7.

With four points in 4:01, Labanc's playoff heroics will be remembered as a driving force behind the most memorable game in Sharks history and as the answer to a trivia question.

"I don't even know," Labanc said when a reporter brought the record to his attention after the Sharks' win Tuesday. "I'm still kind of awe-struck right now. But yeah, that power play was on point and really came in clutch for us."

Labanc is not a household name, but he has grown into a proven power-play contributor over the last two seasons. Brent Burns, Erik Karlsson, Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture were the only Sharks to play more minutes per game on the power play than Labanc. In the last two regular seasons, Labanc's 37 points ranked fourth among Sharks skaters and his 31 assists are second only to Brent Burns. 

He also has been among the most productive players on the power play across the league. Since the start of the 2017-18 season, skaters have played 150 minutes in 5-on-4 situations. Of that group, Labanc ranks in 10th in assist rate (5.06 per hour), 14th in primary-assist rate (2.87 per hour) and 22nd in points per hour (5.91), according to Natural Stat Trick.

"He help us a lot," Sharks forward Tomas Hertl said Tuesday of Labanc's power-play contributions this season " ... A lot of plays he can make. He's really smart, he's patient and he for sure help us [in Game 7] because we were a little bit struggling early -- and kind of all playoff with power play. But, he come back in big moments and you need a guy like this."

Before Eakin's penalty, the Sharks were 0-for-4 on the man advantage in Game 7, and just 4-for-29 through the entirety of the season. But in the absence of injured captain Joe Pavelski, who drew the penalty after his head hit the ice following a collision with Vegas forward Paul Stastny from Eakin's shove off the face-off, Labanc and the Sharks' power play got to work quickly.

Labanc set up Logan Couture's first power-play goal with a Sharks staple, dishing a cross-ice pass through the seam of the Vegas penalty kill that got goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury moving laterally. Labanc's second and third points -- both secondary assists -- played out in similar fashion to one another, with the forward quickly working loose pucks up to defenseman Erik Karlsson and Brent Burns, respectively. Hertl deflected Karlsson's shot past Fleury, and Burns one-touched a pass that Couture stepped into with a slap shot.

For his record-setting fourth point, Labanc handled the goal-scoring duties. Gathering the puck just in front of the Vegas blue line, Labanc saw he had time, skated straight to the right face-off dot and fired the Sharks' go-ahead goal past Fleury.

"I just kind of saw a little opening," Labanc said. "They kind of just gave me [the] shot, and they've been giving me shot all series. So, I just kind of saw the far side and went for it, and it was also a good screen by Timo [Meier] kind of getting in Fleury's eyes. He's been great all series, so we got in his eyes and went in."

[RELATED: Errey forseaw how Sharks could rally to win epic Game 7]

The Sharks held onto the lead given by Labanc's goal until Golden Knights forward Jonathan Marchessault scored his fourth goal in as many games to tie Game 7 with 47 seconds remaining.  Barclay Goodrow's goal with 1:41 remaining in overtime eventually completed San Jose's comeback, and the Sharks advanced to the second round. The Colorado Avalanche await, fresh off dispatching the top-seeded Calgary Flames in a five-game, first-round series.

But the win that got them there? One that Labanc played an instrumental role in? That will be hard to top.

"Game 7, down 3-0 in the third period with 10 minutes to go?" Labanc rhetorically asked. "I'd say that's a cherry on top for sure, but it's still not over yet. We've still got three more rounds to go. It's a good win. It's a great feeling, and we've just gotta take care of our body and get ready for the next series."