Justin Braun thankful controversial call went in Sharks' favor vs. Coyotes


Justin Braun thankful controversial call went in Sharks' favor vs. Coyotes

SAN JOSE -- It’s fair to say the Sharks’ 3-2 overtime win over the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday didn’t really pick up speed until both teams started scoring in the second period. But then play came screeching to a halt, as a potential tying goal could have changed the momentum of the entire game.

After San Jose scored two goals in less than a minute to take a 2-1 lead, the Desert Dogs mounted a counter attack and looked to have scored the tying goal. Arizona forward Richard Panik gained speed as he carried the puck up through the neutral zone, with Justin Braun on his heels trying to slow him down. Panik tried circling around the blue paint and appeared to collide with Sharks goaltender Martin Jones as the skipping puck trickled into the net. 

“I don’t know how it kept trickling in there,” Braun told the press after the game. “I thought it was going backwards and must have hit the foot or something.”

The goal was initially waived off, with the official saying the puck crossed the crease in an illegal fashion. Then, after a video review, the call was overturned and the tying goal counted. Then, the Sharks challenged the call and were successful in getting the goal overturned for good on account of goaltender interference.

[RELATED: Sharks power through adversity to kick off stretch run]

“Thankfully it was goaltender interference, (because) that was kind of a different play,” Braun admitted.

In addition to it appearing Panik had stopped Jones from being able to do his job and stop the puck, he also looked to have whacked Jones in the head in the process. As the goal was initially being waived off, the camera caught Jones grabbing his head. 

“Yeah, he hit (Jones) pretty good right in the head,” Braun said afterward, expressing concern for his teammate’s health. “He took a big hit. But he bounced back pretty good.”

The final determination had an immense effect on the outcome of the game. Arizona scored the tying goal in the third period as both squads -- who were playing their first game after their bye weeks -- began to look gassed.

But with the score still only tied, San Jose had the opportunity to win the contest in overtime. Had the second-period marker counted, Arizona might have gained momentum and won the final game of the Sharks-Coyotes season series.

Particularly with the Sharks looking rusty, the positive impact that second-period call had on San Jose cannot be overstated.

Watch Sharks' Joe Thornton, Capitals' Tom Wilson talk trash on benches


Watch Sharks' Joe Thornton, Capitals' Tom Wilson talk trash on benches

The ice got a little hot Tuesday night in San Jose. Towards the end of the Sharks' 5-2 blowout loss against the Capitals, tempers began to flare. 

Sharks winger Evander Kane was ejected for elbowing Washington defenseman Radko Gudas in the head with slightly over five minutes left in the third period. Gudas' teammates Tom Wilson and Alex Ovechkin each took exception, with Wilson hitting Kane. 

Kane and Wilson were seen chirping all the way to their respective benches, with Kane exiting the game.

It didn't stop there, too. Sharks center Joe Thornton chimed in before Wilson hit him with a "kiss the ring" comeback. 

[RELATED: Kane fined $5K for elbowing Gudas in Sharks' blowout loss]

Kane avoided suspension, but received the maximum fine of $5,000 for his hit on Gudas. 

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Sharks must handle challenging road trip better than last time around


Sharks must handle challenging road trip better than last time around

Just four days into December, the Sharks are facing a new level of adversity. They suffered a disappointing loss to the Washington Capitals on Tuesday night and are dealing with some injuries at forward that are keeping the position in flux.

To top it all off, San Jose is about to begin a four-game road trip, three games of which are against Eastern Conference teams. And the last time the Sharks went on a roadie out east, things didn't exactly go well.

In order for the Sharks to keep their good fortunes going, they must pass this test.

"Good teams, tough buildings, a big test," head coach Peter DeBoer said after Tuesday's loss when asked about the upcoming trip. "Our last time on an extended trip we didn't handle it well. So, hopefully, we're in a different place this time."

When you look at the big picture, the Sharks are in a better place than they were at the end of October, when they went 1-3-1 on their east-coast swing. San Jose staged a big rebound in November, showing it could win games in different ways and stand toe-to-toe with just about anyone. After going 4-8-1 in October, the Sharks went 11-4-0 in November and reinserted themselves back into the pack with the other competitive Pacific Division teams.

Nevertheless, the Sharks' upcoming trip -- which kicks off Thursday in Carolina against the Hurricanes and includes a back-to-back against the Lightning and Panthers -- isn't going to be a cakewalk. After the rough outing San Jose's defense had Tuesday against the Capitals, the trip looks even more daunting.

"It's not getting any easier," Brenden Dillon admitted Tuesday. "We're going into some tough buildings. A couple of back-to-backs here with Tampa and Florida. I think we're seeing if we don't play to our identity, if we don't play the right way, what happens."

The Sharks' defense isn't the only area of concern following the loss to Washington. San Jose was starting to see some production from its bottom six at the end of November, but injuries to Tomas Hertl and Antti Suomela are forcing the Sharks to shuffle up their lines yet again. Even with fourth-liners Dylan Gambrell and Noah Gregor finding their stride and contributing more, San Jose's mission to have a four-line team on the ice every night remains an ongoing project.

[RELATED: Kane fined $5K for elbowing Gudas in Sharks' blowout loss]

This isn't to say that the Sharks can't rebound from their loss to the Capitals and have a successful road trip. Their resilience was on display just last week when they bounced back from a tough loss to the Jets to win back-to-back games against the Kings and Coyotes. Plus, Carolina is the only team on the trip that currently has more points than San Jose, and the Hurricanes have lost three of their last four games, including a 2-0 shutout at the hands of the Boston Bruins on Tuesday night. 

Still, though, the Sharks can't afford to play as they did against the Caps on their upcoming road trip. San Jose is about to encounter a major test, and class is in session starting Thursday.