Rewind: Sharks can't complete comeback in the desert

Rewind: Sharks can't complete comeback in the desert

GLENDALE, Az. – The result wasn’t what they were looking for, but the Sharks took some solace in erasing a two-goal third period deficit against Arizona in a 3-2 overtime defeat to the Coyotes on Saturday night at Gila River Arena.

They never got discouraged, trailing 2-0 after two frames despite throwing a ton of rubber on goalie Mike Smith and controlling play for lengthy stretches. Goals by Joe Pavelski and Tommy Wingels in the third forced overtime before Martin Hanzal’s redirection won it for the home team in extra time.

“I thought we played well. I thought we carried the play for most of the night,” Joe Thornton said. “It’s nice to get one, but I feel like we probably deserved two tonight.”

Pete DeBoer said: “We wanted two points tonight, and thought we played hard and maybe deserved them, but we didn’t get them.”

The Sharks deserve some credit for the way they played and the energy they showed, despite being on the road for the past 13 days. On the other hand, the Coyotes entered with the worst record in the NHL, while San Jose is supposed to be a Stanley Cup contender. Two of Arizona's six wins have come against the Sharks.

In the first period, San Jose had a 17-4 shot advantage yet trailed 1-0 on Tobias Rieder’s goal. Paul Martin snuck in a little too far in the offensive zone, resulting in a two-on-one the other way that Rieder finished off on a pass through the seam by Jordan Martinook.

“We played really well [in the first period],” Martin said.

Smith made some of his best stops in the second, but the Sharks stayed with it and came out flying again in the third, registering another 18 shots on goal. They finished with a season-high 45.

Finally, they were rewarded for their work in the third. A Joe Pavelski redirection was, not surprisingly, one of the two, while the tying goal was another deflection, when Tommy Wingels apparently got a piece of a Matt Nieto shot from the high slot.

“We brought a lot of energy, I thought,” said Wingels, who has three goals in his last five games. “We dictated the pace of play for the majority of the game, yet you find yourself down 2-0. It was a good battle back in the third there to tie up the game.”

Goals remain hard to come by for the Sharks, who have just 18 in their past nine games (3-5-1). Whether they are playing fairly well, like they did against Arizona, or laying an egg like last Tuesday in Carolina in a 1-0 defeat, they just aren’t getting consistent results. 

They remain the only team that hasn’t scored more than four goals in a single game, and have reached four goals just twice in their last 15 – both of which included an empty-netter.

“We’re still looking for another goal,” Pavelski said. “We just [need to] stay with it right now. You don’t shy away, you keep trying to get on the inside, and it’s going to come. It’s going to break.”

Three players that have struggled to get results all season comprised the Sharks’ second line on Saturday. Logan Couture, Joel Ward and Joonas Donskoi combined for 15 shots, yet none of them beat Smith. Ward, in particular, had several good looks. That was the only line DeBoer didn’t tinker with in the third period, as the coach was again forced to shuffle the deck in search of offense.

Perhaps a return home will spark something. San Jose has played 12 of 18 on the road to start the season, the most in the NHL to this point, but will now enjoy five straight at SAP Center and eight of their next 10.

“It’s always nice when you get off a road trip and they’re behind you and you can look forward to a little bit of time at home,” Pavelski said.

Martin said: “It’s [been] a long trip. We’ll get back at it.”

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


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


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.