Sharks

Instant Replay: Sharks win battle between Pacific's best teams, beat Oilers in OT

Instant Replay: Sharks win battle between Pacific's best teams, beat Oilers in OT

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE – In what could be a fierce rivalry for the next several years to come, Kevin Labanc scored two goals in a 3-2 Sharks overtime win over Edmonton on Friday at SAP Center.

On the winning goal, Labanc got free in the circle, received a pass from Logan Couture, cut to the net and feathered a shot high over Cam Talbot’s nearside shoulder at 3:22 of extra time.

The Sharks won for the sixth time in their last seven games, and are in sole possession of first place in the Pacific Division (21-12-1, 43 points). Edmonton is in second (18-12-6, 42 points).

Joe Pavelski’s power play goal was the only score through two periods. On a Sharks power play that carried over from late in the first, Pavelski rocketed a one-timer from the circle past Cam Talbot for his 12th of the season just half-a-minute into the middle frame.

The Sharks controlled play for much of the second, not allowing Edmonton a shot on goal for more than nine minutes during one stretch. They couldn’t increase the lead, though, despite a four-minute power play after Zack Kassian’s antics at 12:22, when he was issued roughing and cross-checking minors drawn by Brenden Dillon.

That allowed the Oilers to tie it in the third period, courtesy of the league’s leading scorer. Connor McDavid bopped around Joonas Donskoi in the neutral zone, brought the puck over the line, and directed a shot that deflected off of both Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun before slipping in at 6:17.

The Sharks took a 2-1 lead at 8:21, when Labanc finished off a two-on-one with Couture after Pavelski sprung them with a nifty play in the neutral zone.

Edmonton replied again, though. McDavid slipped a pass over to Patrick Maroon, who buzzed in a wrist shot past Martin Jones’ far side after the Sharks goalie overcommitted moving from his right to his left.

There was some feistiness to the game, as perhaps each team was looking to set the tone against a division rival in the first meeting of the season. Dillon and Matt Hendricks engaged in a spirited bout in the first period, and later it was Micheal Haley going to Kassian, who lost control of his emotions on a few different occasions, including when he put the Sharks on that lengthy power play.

San Jose visits gleaming new Rogers Arena for the first time on Jan. 10 in the next match between the clubs.

The Sharks are 12-2-2 against the Oilers in the last 16 meetings in San Jose.

Special teams

The Sharks were a perfect 6-for-6 on the penalty kill, and are now 12-for-12 over their last four games. They killed off a Justin Braun tripping minor at 13:28 of the third period to keep it a 2-2 score, as well as a Timo Meier delay of game minor with 3:40 left in the third.

Melker Karlsson nearly scored a shorthanded goal in the first period, but Talbot stretched out to rob him with 12:22 to go.

San Jose went 1-for-4 on the power play.

In goal

Talbot and Jones entered the game as the league leaders in ice time, respectively, so it was no surprise they were in net in the battle for first place.

Talbot stopped 28 shots, while Jones made 16 saves on 18 shots.

Lineup

Tommy Wingels was the latest forward to come out of the lineup as a healthy scratch, making way for Joel Ward’s return. David Schlemko was also scratched for the second straight game.

Brent Burns recorded his 300th career assist on Pavelski’s goal, while Joe Thornton got his 700th assist with the Sharks on the same play.

Up next

The Sharks will resume their schedule on Tuesday, Dec. 27 in Anaheim on a quick one-game trip, and return home to host the Flyers next Friday, Dec. 30.

 

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

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USATSI

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

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USATSI

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.