Sharks

Instant Replay: Sharks light up Flames for four goals in second period

Instant Replay: Sharks light up Flames for four goals in second period

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SAN JOSE – Joonas Donskoi entered Tuesday night without a goal since the end of October.
 
In the second period, though, he scored a pair in less than two minutes, helping the Sharks break their game with the Flames at SAP Center wide open. San Jose won, 4-1, its fifth victory in its last six.
 
All four of San Jose’s goals came at even strength in the middle frame, staking the Sharks a four-goal lead and essentially putting the game out of reach by the second intermission.
 
Patrick Marleau opened the scoring, when a point shot by Marc-Edouard Vlasic hit traffic in front and bounded to Marleau’s tape in the slot. The franchise’s all-time leading scorer easily slipped the puck over the line on his backhand at 5:35.
 
Paul Martin upped the lead to 2-0, when his point shot took a few odd bounces on its way inside the far post at 9:18.
 
That’s when Donskoi, who had just two goals, doubled his season output in just one minute and 56 seconds. On the first, Donskoi was set up by Tommy Wingels, who chipped the puck ahead and chased it down behind the net. Donskoi had all kinds of room to fire it home after receiving Wingels’ pass, as Chad Johnson left the cage wide open at 14:23.
 
Shortly after that, Mikael Backlund pushed a loose puck right to Donskoi’s stick in the high slot, and the 24-year-old Finnish winger swiped it in with a backhand at 16:19.
 
Donskoi, who was a healthy scratch on Dec. 14 in Ottawa, hadn’t scored since Oct. 29 against Nashville. He has four points (2g, 2a) in three games since coming out of the lineup.
 
Sam Bennett scored Calgary’s only goal at 1:19 of the third period.
 
After a seven-game winning streak earlier this month, the Flames lost for the third time in four games (1-3-0).
 
The Sharks beat the Flames for just the second time in San Jose in the last seven meetings (2-3-2). The teams have spilt the first two games of the season series, both in San Jose.
 
Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton each had two assists. Thornton became just the 37th player in league history to appear in 1400 games.
 
Special teams 
 
The Flames’ streak of eight straight games with at least one power play goal came to an end, as they went 0-for-1. Calgary had been 13-for-33 with a man advantage entering the game.
 
The Sharks went 0-for-5, including a third period power play after Lance Bouma drove hard into Martin Jones, drawing a goalie interference minor and Wingels, who promptly pounced on the Flames forward.
 
In goal
 
Starting his fifth straight game and 11th in the last 12, Jones made 20 saves. Early in the second period he made a pair of pretty saves on Michael Ferland, keeping it scoreless.
 
Johnson, who seems to have supplanted Brian Elliott as the Calgary starter, took the loss with four goals allowed on 34 shots.
 
Lineup
 
David Schlemko was a healthy scratch, paving the way for Dylan DeMelo to get back in the lineup. Joel Ward also sat for the second time in three games in favor of Micheal Haley.
 
Melker Karlsson played despite leaving Sunday’s game in Chicago with an apparent head injury.
 
Brent Burns’ eight-game point streak (4g, 5a) came to an end.
 
Up next
 
The Sharks will get a two-day break before welcoming Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers on Friday. Following a three-day break for Christmas, the schedule resumes on Dec. 27 in Anaheim.

Sharks' Lukas Radil shows he's not typical NHL rookie in win vs. Coyotes

Sharks' Lukas Radil shows he's not typical NHL rookie in win vs. Coyotes

The Sharks' lines changed a lot in the first 30 or so games of the season. The fourth line took plenty of different forms, as various rookies were called up from the AHL's San Jose Barracuda to try out their hand at the top professional level.

Rookie winger Lukas Radil played in a handful of games, and has stood out. 

He made an impression again Saturday night in Arizona, and got to play the hero as he notched his first NHL goal late in the contest to help give the Sharks a much-needed win.

“It’s everybody’s dream to play in the NHL, and for him to get his first goal and the way he got his first goal too,” Sharks winger Evander Kane said of Radil after the game. “Every time he’s in the lineup, he always brings something positive to the group. He’s a big, strong kid. Wins a lot of battles, and has some underrated skill too.”

Indeed, the Czech forward isn’t your run-of-the-mill NHL rookie. For one, he's 28 years old. He also spent the last three seasons with Moscow Spartak in the KHL.

The result is a rookie who brings a different level of physicality to the Sharks' bottom six, as he’s a big skater who knows how to use his size to his advantage.

“He’s not your typical first-year player,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said after a practice on Dec. 5. “He’s got the experience of playing in the KHL. He’s a man. Plays a heavy game, he moves around well for a big guy. He’s smart, he’s conscientious. You can put him on the ice and there’s a comfort level, which isn’t common with first-year players.”

That much was clear Saturday. Even before Radil netted a sweet back-handed goal in the third frame, he was working to get on the scoresheet. He did a great job eluding defenders throughout the contest, and getting in front of the net. It added a different look to the line including Barclay Goodrow and Melker Karlsson.

“He’s great to play with,” Goodrow said after Saturday’s win. “He holds onto pucks. He’s really good down low and fending off their guys once he gets the puck.”

All that work paid off late in the third period when Radil wrapped the puck around Arizona’s net, and then back-handed it top shelf. The cameras caught the rookie’s expression of sheer elation as he gave the Sharks a late-game lead.

“[He’s] worked hard to get here to this level,” DeBoer said after the win. “For that to be your first NHL goal, that’s pretty rewarding.”

Of course, even with that first goal under his belt, Radil isn’t just a player who can score goals. He’s also giving the fourth line a new identity.

“Our identity should be: Getting pucks in deep, getting momentum for our team, chipping in offense here and there,” Goodrow summarized.

Clearly, the atypical rookie is able to do all those things.

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in nail-biting 4-3 win over Coyotes

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in nail-biting 4-3 win over Coyotes

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There was no time to worry about the loss to the Dallas Stars the previous night. Sharks coach Peter DeBoer through the lines in the blender, and sent out his back-up goaltender as Sharks visited Arizona for their first meeting of the season with the Coyotes.

After San Jose jumped out to an early lead, the Desert Dogs came roaring back to tie the game up in the third period and make things interesting. In the end, though, it was Sharks rookie winger Lukas Radil who pulled his team out of danger and scored the game-winning goal in San Jose's 5-3 win. 

Here are three takeaways from the Saturday night contest:

The fourth line is starting to click

Something happened to the fourth line after Kevin Labanc was placed there last week against the Carolina Hurricanes. For the better part of the season, the line couldn’t find good chemistry – perhaps, in part, because the lines have been shuffled so much.

But over the last couple of games, the bottom line really started to come alive, with both Barclay Goodrow and Melker Karlsson creating more offense.

Although setup extraordinaire Labanc was moved up to the third line on Joe Thornton’s wing, the line continued to thrive with Lukas Radil back in the lineup. Even before the big Czech forward  the back of the net until the third period of, he made two quality attempts in the first and second periods. Radil’s level of physicality was a perfect addition to the Sharks’ bottom six, who continued to grind and create chances.

Building on that first goal is key

Getting the first goal in a game should be a good sign a team is on the path to a victory. But as the Sharks demonstrated against the Stars on Friday night, getting that first goal isn’t quite enough. Building on that opening tally is what helps push the team the extra mile.

San Jose did just that on Saturday night against Arizona. After Joe Pavelski’s redirect at 14:36 in the first period, the team continued to push. The reunited line of Logan Couture, Timo Meier, and Tomas Hertl converted on their next shift when Couture found a way around six-foot-six netminder Adin Hill to give the Sharks a 2-0 lead. 

That being said ….

Second-period response is still an issue

As everyone knows at this point, the Sharks have a problem with following up a strong first period with an equally strong second. It looked at first as though San Jose would break that pattern when Evander Kane found the back of the net in the second stanza to give the Sharks a three-goal advantage.

Then, Arizona came roaring back to notch two quick goals to cut the deficit down to one.

San Jose got hyped after that second goal though, fueled by a heated exchange between Joe Pavelski and Coyotes winger Richard Panik. They really began to grind and gain momentum as the frame expired.

Unfortunately, Panik was also the player who notched the tying goal in the third period when the Sharks broke down. But, Radil was there to bail them out with his first NHL goal.