Sharks

NHL Gameday: Karlsson returns, Sharks go for first win vs Coyotes

NHL Gameday: Karlsson returns, Sharks go for first win vs Coyotes

Programming note – Sharks-Arizona coverage starts today at 6:30 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live on CSN California

WHERE THEY STAND

Sharks: 12-9-1, 25 points, 2nd Pacific Division
Arizona: 8-10-2, 18 points, 7th Pacific Division

PREGAME NEWS AND NOTES

***The Sharks are 0-1-1 against Arizona this season, losing 3-2 on Nov. 1 and by the same score on Nov. 19 in overtime, both on the road. San Jose has outshot the Coyotes 86-56 through two meetings. Goalie Mike Smith made 43 saves in the most recent game, and will go again tonight.

“We’ve outshot them the last two games by quite a wide margin but haven’t gotten results,” Pete DeBoer said. “We have to find a way to turn the effort and the shots into a win. Smith is good, he’s got a great record against us. We’ve got to find a way to get to him, get traffic, get some tough goals.”

Martin Jones will start for the Sharks, who also have a game on Wednesday in Los Angeles.

***Melker Karlsson will return after a seven-game absence from blocking a shot on Nov. 12. He’ll play on the fourth line with Micheal Haley and center Ryan Carpenter. DeBoer mentioned on Monday that Carpenter looks “more confident” than last season, when he managed to get in one NHL game.

The 25-year-od Carpenter agreed. “I’ve been a pro for a little longer so maybe a little more confident. I feel like I had a better training camp this year, too, so maybe that’s where you build confidence there, just by playing well. When you play well at the next level that’s how you build your confidence, naturally.”

The Sharks’ fourth line generated a goal against Anaheim on Saturday when a Dylan DeMelo score capped off a lengthy shift in the offensive zone.

“It was a good feeling,” Carpenter said. “I feel like we got some momentum and some energy there. … It was nice to be able to do that.”

***The Sharks will conclude a five-game homestand tonight, winning three of the first four. They are in the middle of a stretch of 11 games in 18 days, and would like to finish this week off strong before enjoying a rare weekend off.

“This has been a really tough stretch both opponent and number of games and short turnover,” DeBoer said. “We wanted to come back [home] and have a good week last week. We did, we went 3-1. We want to have a good week this week with the three games we’ve got.”

Arizona is in last place in the Western Conference, but is coming off of a home-and-home sweep of the first place Edmonton Oilers. 

KEEP AN EYE ON...

Sharks: Mikkel Boedker. The Sharks forward was benched for the third period of Saturday’s 3-2 loss to the Ducks, and DeBoer indicated that Boedker’s effort has been lagging. The 26-year-old has just two goals, his only points, in 22 games this season. His most recent goal came against Arizona on Nov. 1, 12 games ago.

Arizona: Mike Smith. The Coyotes goalie will face what could be his favorite team to play against, as Smith has always seemed to give the Sharks fits. In his last 16 against San Jose, he’s 10-4-2 with a 1.66 GAA and .954 SP and four shutouts – two of which have come at SAP Center.

PROBABLE LINES

Sharks
Patrick Marleau – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Joonas Donskoi – Logan Couture – Joel Ward
Mikkel Boedker – Chris Tierney – Kevin Labanc
Micheal Haley – Ryan Carpenter – Melker Karlsson

Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Paul Martin – Brent Burns
Brenden Dillon – David Schlemko

Martin Jones (starter)
Aaron Dell

Arizona
Max Domi – Martin Hanzal – Radim Vrbata
Jamie McGinn – Christian Dvorak – Anthony Duclair
Tobias Rieder – Jordan Martinook – Shane Doan
Lawson Crouse – Laurent Dauphin – Ryan White

Oliver Ekman-Larsson – Connor Murphy
Alex Goligoski – Anthony DeAngelo
Mike Stone – Luke Schenn

Mike Smith (starter)
Justin Peters

INJURIES

Sharks: Tommy Wingels (lower body) and Tomas Hertl (right knee sprain) are out.

Arizona: Brad Richardson (broken leg) and Louie Domingue (lower body) are out.

QUOTEABLE

“Everybody has expectations, obviously. It’s always hard to keep confidence up when you don’t score [or] don’t do that well. You’ve got to continue to grind at it and continue to try and make good plays, and just play your game.” – Mikkel Boedker

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."