Sharks, Blues both have reasons to be angry with Game 3 officiating


Sharks, Blues both have reasons to be angry with Game 3 officiating

San Jose’s 10th win of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs was among their most exciting and unexpected. They required a tying goal with less than a minute left in regulation, and a winning goal in overtime on what will undoubtedly become one of the most controversial squences of the playoffs.  

Regardless, here are some thoughts about the Sharks’ 2-1 series lead.

Erik Karlsson's big game

Erik Karlsson scored first and last for San Jose on Wednesday night. The two goals were his first of 2019 -- not just the playoffs of this year, but of the entire calendar year. Most of the regular season Karlsson had been hampered with injury.  

Although the offensive minded defenseman had contributed his hand in plenty of assists of this postseason, he had yet to find the back of the net since December 29th. 

Jumbo Joe

Joe Thornton (4) now has more goals in these playoffs than any other in his career. That’s hard to believe. Even a traditional pass-first superstar would have found a way to score more than a couple goals in some of his previous extended postseasons, right? But apparently not.  

Also hard to believe: Wednesday night was Thornton’s first multi-goal playoff game in his 21 NHL seasons. It was such a rebound, and such a statement for Jumbo in contrast to Game 2 where his line was unproductive and criticized for a couple defensive miscues.  

No comments necessary, he let his play do the talking, including assisting on Couture’s tying goal with 56 seconds left.

Logan Couture can't be stopped

Speaking of Logan Couture: two goals in the “Pavelski Payback”, a hat trick in Round 2, and now this huge spark in the Western Conference final.

Sure, Couture is running away in the quantity of playoff tallies (14 and counting). But the timeliness of his scoring is even more valuable than the league-leading amount.  

Second-period slippage

What about that second period, allowing four goals on 13 shots? San Jose reverted to some more defensive mistakes in the middle frame - losing a 3-1 lead and all the momentum that came with it. Those are areas to clean up for the Sharks, and would have been the main reason they lost.

Bu those miscues were constrained to just one period, and overall Martin Jones put up another winning effort.

Officiating controversy

Both sides have legitimate gripes with officiating in Game 3. In terms of questionable calls: the lack of an overtime “hand pass” by Timo Meier can be countered by lacks of whistles on David Perron and Sammy Blais. Perron had flung an earlier puck over the glass, which (somehow) did not result in penalty, and Blais shouldered Justin Braun in the head on what should have been an infraction (and still might end up being a suspension).  

[RELATED: Sharks, Blues react to Erik Karlsson's controversial OT goal]

What we’re seeing in these playoffs are almost every team impacted by unpopular officiating, it’s just that in the case of Game 3, the Sharks took their hits first, and caught their breaks late.

Before Sharks return, Patrick Marleau left lasting mark on Maple Leafs

Before Sharks return, Patrick Marleau left lasting mark on Maple Leafs

Patrick Marleau has played for two NHL teams.

He has left quite a mark on both of them.

Marleau instantly became the best story in the league so far this season when he scored two goals against the Blackhawks in his first game back with the Sharks last Friday. The franchise's all-time leader in games played and goals scored re-signed with San Jose after the Sharks incurred some injuries on their way to an 0-3 start.

Marleau clearly is happy to be back with the team he began his career with, and as if the two-goal performance wasn't an indication, the feeling is mutual. It was his first game since last April when Marleau was still with Toronto, and although he was only with the Maple Leafs for two seasons, he left a lasting impression on them.

"He means a lot to a lot of guys on this team and he’s a close friend of mine,” Toronto's Auston Matthews said of Marleau to SportsNet's Chris Johnston. “Just the way he is as a player and as a person, I think it’s just something that we can all kind of take bits and pieces of and apply it to ourselves. Not just on the ice, but off the ice as well. Just how he treats people and just the way he is and just his presence."

"He’s been in this league for [22 years] and every time someone walked in -- no matter if it was their first game or not -- he was always there to introduce himself and talk to them and try and help out if anything could be done,” Mitch Marner said of his former teammate. "His legacy here, I think, is just how respected he was around our room and around the league and just how much he meant to our team."

Upon his arrival in Toronto, Marleau took the younger Matthews and Marner under his wing. They became travel buddies, and the young phenoms even grew close with Marleau's family.

They were both pleased to hear that Marleau wound back up in San Jose.

"He deserved to play somewhere in this league," Marner commented.

"It was great to see that," Matthews said.

[RELATED: Agent reiterates Marleau only wanted to play for Sharks]

Marleau won't have to wait long to make a return to the arena he once called home, as the Sharks travel to Toronto to face the Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena on Oct. 25.

Of course, Marleau has another homecoming to get through first. That would be San Jose's game against Calgary on Sunday, Marleau's second first home game with the team that drafted him.

Patrick Marleau's agent says his client only wanted to play for Sharks

Patrick Marleau's agent says his client only wanted to play for Sharks

When the Toronto Maple Leafs traded Patrick Marleau to the Carolina Hurricanes in a salary dump this summer, the NHL veteran had one thing on his mind.

Marleau was singularly focused on reuniting with the Sharks, his agent Pat Brisson wrote to The Mercury News' Curtis Pashelka.

"Carolina had interest in Patrick for him to be part of the team this season, however Patrick wanted to be a Shark at all [costs]," Brisson e-mailed Pashelka on Friday. "He will retire as a Shark. At that point I started communicating with (Sharks general manager) Doug Wilson on a regular basis in order to try making it work."

Marleau signed a three-year, $18.75 million contract with the Maple Leafs in 2017, and the longest tenured player in Sharks history suited up in a different uniform for the first time in two decades. Needing to re-sign a host of restricted free agents, including star winger Mitch Marner, the Leafs traded Marleau to the Hurricanes just before June's NHL draft. 

Although the 'Canes wanted to keep him, Marleau wanted to return to his first NHL home. That appeared unlikely when Wilson told The Athletic in September that the Sharks were focused on giving their young forwards opportunities to earn roster spots in training camp.

But the Sharks struggled out of the gate, starting 0-3-0 to begin the season while dealing with Evander Kane's suspension, some injuries and those young players adjusting to the NHL. San Jose wanted to bring in a veteran presence, and that opened the door for a reunion.

"The Sharks have made promises and commitments to their young players as part of their development," Brisson wrote in the e-mail. "If they were to look at bringing a veteran player obviously Patrick was going to be Doug's choice all along."

[RELATED: How Dell's win can help Sharks, fellow goalie Jones rebound]

Marleau officially signed with the Sharks on Wednesday, and he scored two goals in his first game back two days later. He kept skating on his own and with former teammates, but didn't participate in a training camp as a free agent. Marleau told reporters Saturday he experienced "a lot of ups and downs" when asked if he had a chance to sign with another team, but wouldn't elaborate. 

Now, Marleau is set to play his first home game for the Sharks in two-and-a-half years Sunday when San Jose hosts the Calgary Flames. Marleau is sure to receive a raucous ovation, further reminding him that this reunion was worth the wait.