Sharks in position for another memorable road trip

Sharks in position for another memorable road trip

Joel Ward said before the Sharks road trip that it was “probably not” possible for the club to win all six games, like it did last November in impressive and somewhat historic fashion.

Perhaps Ward is rethinking that notion now. San Jose has put together impressive back-to-back wins in Washington and Florida, a pair of Eastern Conference clubs that are expected to contend this season. On Thursday night, they erased an early 2-0 hole to beat the Panthers in South Florida, 4-2.

The first period wasn’t a good one for San Jose, as former defenseman Jason Demers struck twice. The first came after a Martin Jones turnover behind the net, and seconds later Tommy Wingels redirected Demers’ shot through his goaltender. On the second, it was Ward’s turnover at the opposing blue line that resulted in a rush the other way, and Demers eventually deposited a Jaromir Jagr rebound after the future Hall of Famer was given too much room to operate in the offensive zone.

Jones made a key save on Keith Yandle late in the period, though, leading to a Brent Burns goal that will go immediately on the Wookiee’s highlight reel. The sequence completely changed the tide of the game.

“That was a heck of an individual effort by Brent on that one, and it gave us momentum going into the second,” Tommy Wingels told CSN after the game.

Speaking to reporters, Pete DeBoer said: “Our first period was not good. Jones made some big saves and Burns got a big goal to keep us in it, and gave us a chance to get through it. We came in and regrouped, and I liked our game from there forward.”

Ward and Wingels both played a role in the comeback, too, after the earlier misplays. 

On Joe Pavelski’s game-tying goal early in the second, it was Ward who hustled across the ice to grab a loose puck on the wall and feed the captain. Ward has points in consecutive games, and is looking like he could be a long-term fit on the top line.

Wingels is also resurrecting his Sharks career after he was anything but a lock to make the opening night roster. The fourth line, with Chris Tierney and Melker Karlsson, was arguably the team’s best from start to finish. It was rewarded with Wingels’ decisive score with about 11 minutes to go in regulation.

“I think we compliment each other well,” Wingels said. “We’re tenacious on the puck, we want to play quick, take the shot when its there and get greasy goals. … We were happy that Pete scored some confidence in us throughout the game.”

One player on the other side wasn’t the least bit surprised in the Sharks picking up their game after the first period. After joining the team for the second half of last season, James Reimer was playing against San Jose for the first time since signing a five-year contract with Florida in the summer.

“They’re a good team, and we were probably talking in the first [intermission] about how they didn’t have their best,” Reimer told reporters. “You expect that they’re going to up their game. I thought, for the most part, we matched it. It was a good hockey game for 60 minutes. Unfortunately, we fell short this time.”

Demers, another fan favorite in San Jose during his five-plus seasons with the Sharks, scored his first two goals in a Panthers sweater. But he wasn’t in a mood to celebrate after the game.

“I don’t care if I get four goals. If we don’t win, it doesn’t mean anything,” Demers said. “It’s a tough one to swallow.”

Of the Sharks’ four remaining games on their trip, two in particular stand out as challenging. First, it’s the Lightning on Saturday, a club that is among the fastest in the league. The Sharks have had a rough time with those types of teams so far, losing decisively to the Penguins, Rangers and Red Wings.

After visiting Carolina, they’ll have a Western Conference Final rematch with St. Louis, which should be plenty motivated, and close it out against a weak Arizona team.

They are in a position to make it another memorable road trip.

“We just have to stay with what we’ve got, and believe in ourselves and the process,” Ward told reporters.

Sharks vs. Oilers live stream: How to watch NHL game online on MyTeams

NBC Sports California

Sharks vs. Oilers live stream: How to watch NHL game online on MyTeams

The Sharks will see a lot of the Pacific Division this week. 

That stretch begins Tuesday when superstar center Connor McDavid, new coach Ken Hitchcock, and the Edmonton Oilers head to SAP Center. San Jose will wrap up a back-to-back Friday and Saturday against the Vancouver Canucks and Vegas Golden Knights, respectively.

In the meantime, they'll have to get used to seeing a new coach behind the opposing bench. Hitchcock is a familiar face, as he coached the Dallas Stars last season and the St. Louis Blues in 2016 when they faced the Sharks in the Western Conference Final. 

Here's how you can watch Sharks-Oilers, as well as NBC Sports California's pregame and postgame coverage, live online on the MyTeams by NBC Sports app. 

When: 7:30 p.m. PT on Tuesday, Nov. 20 (pregame show starts at 7:00 p.m.)
Live Stream: MyTeams by NBC Sports app

Sharks vs. Oilers watch guide: Projected lines and defensive pairs


Sharks vs. Oilers watch guide: Projected lines and defensive pairs

SAN JOSE – The Sharks enter the final stretch of their six-game homestand looking for a win against the division rival Edmonton Oilers, a team embattled with drama heading into Tuesday’s contest.

Edmonton fired coach Todd McLellan just 11 hours before the Sharks were set to host their former coach and the Oilers. Ken Hitchcock, formerly behind the bench with the Dallas Stars and the St. Louis Blues, came out of retirement to coach Connor McDavid and company. The Oilers were previously one of the top teams in the Pacific Division, before winning only three of their last 10 games.

The Sharks, on the other hand, went 7-3-0 in their last 10, and are coming off a 4-0 shutout of the Blues on Saturday. Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said after the victory that the Sharks’ “attention to detail all over the ice was the best it’s been in probably a week or so.”

Although Aaron Dell pitched the shutout for San Jose on Saturday, starter Martin Jones is expected to be back between the pipes against the Oilers.

DeBoer said forward Tomas Hertl will return to the lineup after missing the last two games with a lower-body injury. The Sharks recalled winger Lukas Radil from the Barracuda, although he’s expected to be an extra skater versus Edmonton. Dylan Gambrell was reassigned to the AHL club, which has a game against the Colorado Eagles on Friday.

[WHITE: Meier, McDavid helping 2015 NHL Draft live up to the hype]

Sharks projected lines and pairs

Evander Kane – Joe Pavelski – Joonas Donskoi
Tomas Hertl – Logan Couture – Timo Meier
Marcus Sorensen – Joe Thornton – Kevin Labanc
Barclay Goodrow – Antti Suomela – Melker Karlsson

Joakim Ryan – Brent Burns
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Brenden Dillon – Erik Karlsson

Martin Jones – projected starter
Aaron Dell

Oilers projected lines and pairs

Drake Caggiula – Connor McDavid – Leon Draisaitl
Ryan Spooner – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Alex Chiasson
Milan Lucic – Cooper Marody – Patrick Russell
Jujhar Khaira – Kyle Brodziak – Zach Kassian

Oscar Klefbom – Adam Larsson
Darnell Nurse – Matt Benning
Jason Garrison – Kris Russell

Cam Talbot – projected starter
Mikko Koskinen