Sharks

Sharks' Jones, Tierney find more success in Vancouver in 4-1 win

Sharks' Jones, Tierney find more success in Vancouver in 4-1 win

VANCOUVER – One of the more appealing NHL road cities, Vancouver dazzles with its beautiful mountain scenery and walkable downtown avenues.

The Sharks undoubtedly relish those aspects of their trips to British Columbia, but more importantly they’ve enjoyed them on a professional basis, too. San Jose won its 10th straight game at Rogers Arena on Saturday, 4-1, kicking off the final push to the playoffs with a victory coming out of the bye week.

“I think we definitely got better as the game went on, and that’s what you’re looking for,” said Mikkel Boedker, who was one of four Sharks’ goal scorers. “We came out with the win.”

Two Sharks in particular have enjoyed their recent excursions into Vancouver. 

Martin Jones was the best player on the ice, making 35 saves in his hometown. He was relied upon early as the Sharks predictably struggled to get their legs underneath them in what was their first game since last Sunday.

Jones made an impressive stop on Loui Eriksson in the first period, and in the second he stopped Jannik Hansen from point blank range with the Sharks holding a 1-0 lead. Later in the second, it was saves on Alex Edler and Hansen again that preserved San Jose’s 2-1 lead at the intermission. Vancouver was outshooting the Sharks 30-16 after 40 minutes, but trailed.

The Sharks rewarded their goalie with scores by Boedker and Logan Couture on the power play to make the final few minutes of the third period relatively easy.

“When [Jones] plays like that it gives us confidence, and we’ve just got to stick with it and keep creating chances, and we did that tonight,” said Boedker, who snapped a 19-game goal drought.

“[Jones] was our best player tonight,” coach Pete DeBoer said.

Jones improved to a perfect 4-0 in Vancouver, all in a San Jose sweater, with a 1.25 goals-against average and .959 save percentage. He spent the bye week in the area, and had several supporters in the stands.

“It’s always fun playing in front of friends and family,” Jones said. “Happy to get the win here.”

Chris Tierney is another player who seems to thrive in Vancouver. He notched a pair of assists and centered the team's most effective line, after getting his first career two-goal game here earlier this month.

His new line, featuring wingers Tomas Hertl and Joel Ward, opened the scoring in the second period, with Hertl finishing off a pass from Tierney after Ward’s breakaway attempt crept just wide of the net. Later, Tierney got a secondary assist on Patrick Marleau’s second period goal, restoring the Sharks' lead at 2-1.

“They did a good job. I thought some of those guys had our better legs early,” DeBoer said of his third line. “It took some of our veteran guys a little longer to get into it.”

Tierney, who was scoreless in eight straight games since his last time at Rogers Arena on Feb. 2, said: “I thought we generated some good chances. I think we can get better, too. We kind of talked on the bench throughout the game of what we can kind of do to improve and where each other is going to be on the ice, but it felt good playing with those guys. It’s easy to create offense with them.”

In seven career games in Vancouver, Tierney has four goals and three assists for seven points.

“Something about the Vancouver air, or Canadian air,” he said. “I always feel good when I play here.”

After dropping a 2-1 overtime decision to Boston in their final game before the break, the Sharks had a five-point lead over the rest of the division headed into a week off. Saturday’s win pushes the lead back up to five points again on Anaheim and Edmonton, and they now have games in hand on both of those teams, too.

It all adds up to a good start in what is the final stretch before the postseason, and a quest for a division title. Overall, the Sharks are 3-0-3 in their last six games, and have just one regulation loss in their last 11 (5-1-5).

“It’s huge, that’s what you play the regular season for,” said Boedker, when asked about the Sharks padding their lead. “You keep trying to gain as many points as you can, and lately we’ve had some overtime losses, but we keep gaining points.”

Sharks overcome late game struggles with 'best period of the season'

Sharks overcome late game struggles with 'best period of the season'

SAN JOSE -- The Sharks were well aware of the score when they went into the dressing room at the second intermission. They had a 2-1 lead, just like they had in the previous two tilts on the road against the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils. In both of those games, San Jose gave away the lead in the third frame on their way to losing both games.

On Thursday night, however, Team Teal came out buzzing against the Buffalo Sabres. They lit the lamp three times during that frame, easily having their best third period of the early 2018-19 campaign. And while converting on the power play and scoring more than two goals on the evening weres keys to the victory, having a strong third frame really solidified it.

"I thought it was probably our best period of the season so far," Sharks' head coach Peter DeBoer said after the 5-1 victory. "Playing with the lead in a 2-1 game and handling it that way."

The response certainly paid dividends. The Sharks' offense managed to hem the speedy Sabres in their own zone, and just shy of five minutes into the frame Logan Couture found the back of the net to give San Jose a much-needed 3-1 lead.

When asked after the game about getting the two-goal cushion, Couture called it the turning point of the game. Evander Kane agreed. "We wanted to make sure we're not going to be a team that lets third period leads slip away," Kane said. "I thought that third goal was really big."

DeBoer mentioned that a couple players did extra work to pump the team up during the second intermission, including Joe Pavelski. When asked what the conversation was like, the Sharks' captain said it came down to knowing the Sharks have to be a dominant third-period team.

"We've been in that position a time or two. We've given up leads, we haven't been as good," Pavelski said after the game. "These are periods that we have to be good. We've got to lock these down."

The strong finish no doubt gives the Sharks the confidence they need headed into Saturday night's tilt against the Islanders. The Isles blanked the Sharks in New York on October 8. Having a third period like San Jose surely gives them confidence headed into that game.

"It's been uncharacteristic of us to have poor third periods with the lead," DeBoer said. "We wanted to nip that in the bud, and I thought the guys did tonight. I thought the third was excellent."

Sharks takeaways: Three things we learned from 5-1 win over Sabres

Sharks takeaways: Three things we learned from 5-1 win over Sabres

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE -- For the third time in just as many games, the San Jose Sharks entered the third frame of Thursday night's tilt with a 2-1 lead. But this time, they weren't going to let the game slip away from them in the waining minutes of regulation.

Logan Couture scored a hat trick and the power play looked the best it has all season as Team Teal's 5-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres.

Here are three takeaways from tonight's game:

We finally got a glimpse of how good the power play can be

After going 2-for-21 through their first six bouts, San Jose notched three power play goals in Thursday's game -- scoring two of those goals in the first five minutes of Thursday night's game. 

With Sabres' big man Kyle Okposo in the box for a four-minute double minor, Joonas Donksoi was posted up in the perfect spot in front of Buffalo's net to deflect Erik Karlsson shot past netminder Carter Hutton. Just 27 seconds later, Logan Couture eluded Hutton to give San Jose the early 2-0 lead. 

The powerplay lit up again in the third with the Sharks buzzing out of the second intermission. Just seven seconds into Marco Scandella's penalty, Joe Pavelski lit the lamp to give San Jose a nice 4-1 cushion.

With that being said ...

San Jose is still taking too many penalties

One thing that hurt the Sharks in their Sunday matinee against the New Jersey Devils was that they took too many penalties. And a similar pattern began to arise in Thursday's tilt as San Jose and Buffalo took turns dancing in and out of the sin bin. 

While the Sabres took their fair share of penalties as well, the Sharks still weren't able to capitalize on the chances they were getting in the latter half of the second frame. While they were able to gain much-needed momentum in the third period, they would likely like to stay out of the box more in upcoming games.

Martin Jones came up big when the team needed him the most

San Jose's starting netminder had his best game of the season speedy Sabres' squad, particularly with how many times the Sharks were on the kill Thursday evening. 

He almost ran into trouble in the third frame when Jeff Skinner's shot skimmed his jersey and almost went into the net. But Jones readjusted in time to sprawl out and keep the rebound out. 

His performance will no doubt earn him the chance at a redemption start against the Islanders on Saturday night.