Sharks

Instant Replay: Sharks' white-hot start enough to hold off Canucks

Instant Replay: Sharks' white-hot start enough to hold off Canucks

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE – Without top two centers Joe Thornton and Logan Couture, both injured, the Sharks will need some of their depth players to start finding the score sheet more often.

Against the lowly Canucks on Tuesday night, that’s precisely what happened in a 3-1 Sharks win. Kevin Labanc, Joel Ward and Chris Tierney all found the net as San Jose remained in the running for home ice advantage in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, which begin next week.

The Sharks drew even with the Oilers for second place in the Pacific Division with 97 points, although Edmonton has a game in hand. The Sharks moved five points ahead of Calgary and cannot be caught by the Flames, who lost in Anaheim on Tuesday night.

The Sharks set a new franchise record for fastest two goals to start a game, as Labanc and Ward both scored in the first half-minute of regulation.

Labanc’s eighth goal, and first in 29 games, opened the scoring. He settled a loose puck in the offensive zone after a faceoff, spun around and whipped it past Richard Bachman just 18 seconds into the game.

Ward’s goal came just 12 seconds later, as he slapped home a bouncing puck from the top of the circle.

The Sharks’ two goals in 30 seconds to start a game bested their previous franchise record of 47 seconds, set on Oct. 22, 1998.

Instead of putting their foot on the Canucks’ throats, though, the Sharks allowed Vancouver to get back into the game. San Jose, which at one point held a 10-1 advantage on the shot clock, didn’t register a single shot on goal over the final 11:18 minutes of the first period.

In the second period former Sharks prospect Nikolay Goldobin had two glorious chances to score, but missed what looked to be a gaping net on both.

Defenseman Chris Tanev finally got one back for the Canucks in the third period. His wrist shot through traffic beat Martin Jones at 3:30 cut the Sharks’ lead in half at 2-1, and Vancouver continued to press immediately afterwards.

But Tierney managed to redirect a Brent Burns wrist shot at 9:18, and the Sharks were never in much danger after that.

San Jose swept the home-and-home with Vancouver, as well as the five-game season series, all in regulation. The Canucks dropped their fifth straight.

Special teams

The Sharks had just one power play, and did not register a shot. The new top unit featured Burns, Labanc, Joe Pavelski, Patrick Marleau and Mikkel Boedker. San Jose is 0-for-8 power play over its last four games.

Vancouver was 0-for-3, and just 1-for-11 in the five games of the season series.

In goal

Making his sixth straight start, Jones finished with 33 saves. He’s 6-1-0 in his career against the Canucks.

Bachman was playing in just his fourth game of the season, and allowed three goals on 25 shots in falling to 2-2-0.

Lineup

Timo Meier returned to the Sharks lineup after he sat out Sunday.

Tierney was playing in his 200th career NHL game. He had five points (3g, 2a) in five games against Vancouver this season.

Up next

The Sharks close out their season series with Edmonton on Thursday. The teams have split the first four games, with San Jose capturing the first two and the Oilers the two most recent, including 3-2 on March 30 at Rogers Place.

Calgary visits SAP Center on Saturday in the regular season finale.

'Concerned' Sharks can't look too far into future after loss to Vegas

'Concerned' Sharks can't look too far into future after loss to Vegas

SAN JOSE – Monday night’s contest between the Sharks and Golden Knights was billed as a potential playoff preview. So naturally, when San Jose lost 7-3, there were questions as to how concerned the team was about possibly having to play Vegas in the first round.

But the team was adamant they shouldn’t be looking too far into the future. They believe they need to stay focused on the games at hand, and fix the things that led them to drop three contests in a row – not on who they may play in the postseason.

“You can’t think about that,” Justin Braun said. “You can’t be worried about what you’re doing three weeks from now. You need to get points now.”

Bench boss Peter DeBoer agreed, telling the media afterward that no matchup is necessarily more ideal than another. 

“I don’t think there’s going to be an easy match,” DeBoer admitted. “I don’t think anyone wants to play (Arizona) the way they’re playing now or Dallas or whoever ends up in there. It doesn’t matter once you get in. Everybody you play is going to be a very good and a very good test. So we’re just going to try and win as many games as we can and whoever we get we’ll show up and be ready to play.”

Winning games now means cleaning a few things up on San Jose’s end. They haven’t been happy with how they’ve played in their last three contests, from not having enough energy on one night to making too many mistakes the next.

“I’m concerned, we haven’t played well,” Logan Couture said. “We’re giving up too many chances, too many goals. We’re giving up odd-man rushes. Every time we give them an opportunity like that they’re going to put it in the back of our net.”

Which was primarily the story of Monday’s game against the Golden Knights. The Sharks made too many small mistakes, from turning pucks over in the neutral zone to making too many trips to the penalty box. Couture went so far as to say the Sharks “handed them goals tonight.”

“Some lessons learned tonight that you can’t chase the game, or if you do get behind in a game against that team you’ve got to handle it with a little more composure," DeBoer said. "We knew that, but we shot ourselves in the foot.”

The only thing left to do now is take what went wrong against Vegas and turn it around – particularly on San Jose’s upcoming two-game road trip against the Kings and Ducks down in Southern California.

“It doesn’t matter what happened in the past, you’ve got to keep rolling forward,” Braun said.
 

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in 7-3 home loss to Golden Knights

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in 7-3 home loss to Golden Knights

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE -- Monday’s Sharks-Golden Knights showdown was billed as a hard-hitting matchup and boy, it didn’t disappoint. Unfortunately, things did not swing in the home team’s favor and San Jose dropped their third game of the season against Vegas, 7-3.

Here are three takeaways from Monday’s game:

The Sharks struggled without Joe Pavelski

San Jose was without their captain for the first time this season, as was sidelined with an undisclosed injury. With their top goal-scorer out, the Sharks needed all their skaters to step up to the challenge and make up for his absence. While they scored three good-looking goals -- two of those markers coming from Logan Couture -- and made a really nice push late in the game, not enough of their grade-A chances found the back of the net.

The Sharks also got into a lot of penalty trouble. Vegas is the type of team that is really good at making their opponents pay for making little mistakes, and they were able to wear San Jose down by sending them to the penalty box six times in the first two periods alone.

The Knights survived without Marc-Andre Fleury

San Jose had an opportunity to jump on Vegas with their star netminder out of the lineup. Fleury has unmistakably been the Knights’ best player all season, and a big reason why the Sharks got shut out in their first trip to T-Mobile Arena earlier this season. But backup goaltender Malcolm Subban stood his ground and was able to minimize the damage San Jose tried to create.

Subban also had a lot of help in front of him. Vegas was very good creating barriers around him and clogging up the lanes, making even the Sharks’ best efforts moot. 

Was this an accurate playoff preview?

Not exactly. Remember, both teams are missing key players because of injury. So Monday’s game probably wasn’t the best example of how these teams could matchup up if they end up playing each other in Round 1.

That being said, we got a pretty darn good look at how contentious a playoff series between these two teams would be. The Golden Knights have quickly become one of the Sharks’ biggest rivals, and all games between the two teams have gotten vicious. (Heck, Micheal Haley tried to pull Ryan Reaves off the bench to fight, for pete’s sake.) If these two teams meet up in the postseason -- a time when the refs typically let more hits slide -- it could end up being a blood bath.