Sharks

Sharks stick with it, rewarded with late score to beat Leafs

Sharks stick with it, rewarded with late score to beat Leafs

SAN JOSE – Not only did the Sharks add to their roster on Tuesday night, they added another two points, too.

After it was revealed late in the second period that the club acquired gritty forward Jannik Hansen from the Canucks for Nikolay Goldobin and a conditional fourth round draft pick, Tomas Hertl broke a 1-1 tie with a perfectly placed wrist shot late in the third period in pushing the Sharks to a 3-1 win over the Maple Leafs. Brenden Dillon and Joe Pavelski (empty net) also scored for San Jose, which got 20 saves from goalie Martin Jones, too.

The Sharks improved to 4-0-3 in their last seven games, winning their first two games coming out of the bye week, and have won nine in a row over the Maple Leafs.

"I thought we played a pretty good 60 minutes,” Logan Couture said. “One of our better games in a while.”

The winning goal from Hertl came at 18:36. Patrick Marleau fought off a couple defenders in the offensive zone before pushing the puck to Hertl charging in after a change, and Hertl flicked a quick shot over Frederik Andersen’s nearside shoulder for his eighth of the season.

"I wasn't sure if it was in, but Patty made a great play to hold the puck,” Hertl said. “He gives the pass, and I just shoot and score."

The ending was fitting from San Jose’s perspective, as the Sharks believed they outplayed Toronto for most of the night. They outshot the Maple Leafs, 37-21, and out-attempted them 71-55.

“We outlasted them, for sure,” Pavelski said. “We found a player that makes a big shot there at the end. Patty’s play through the neutral zone into the o-zone, and dishes off to Hertl, and he makes a big time shot. It was pretty rewarding, I think, with how the game was played tonight.”

The Sharks had the better chances in the first period, outshooting the Leafs 13-5, but failing to get on the board due to some skillful saves by Andersen. He made a pad stop on Hertl midway through the frame, and later denied Joel Ward on a two-on-one rush with Kevin Labanc with four minutes to go.

That allowed Toronto to get on the board in the second period on the power play. After Auston Matthews' hard work resulted in a hook on Justin Braun, the rookie buzzed in a shot after some sloppy Sharks defense at 6:41 of the middle frame for his 31st of the season.

Brenden Dillon responded for the Sharks, though, powering a slap shot through Andersen after Labanc set him up nicely less than six minutes after Matthews' score.

“We were kind of buzzing down low,” Dillon said. “I think we got them a little tired, and [Labanc] made a great play through the middle. I kind of got my head up, and a little bit of time, so I thought I'd try the slapper instead of the wrist shot and I was fortunate to find a hole."

San Jose came out for the third period with renewed energy, and outshot the Maple Leafs 14-4 over the final frame, including Hertl’s game-winner.

DeBoer said: “We were unfortunate to be out of that [first] period without being up. .... Second period I thought they pushed back a little, and I thought the third we put our foot right back on the gas again and finally got rewarded. 

“That’s playoff hockey, you’re going to hit a hot goalie once in awhile. … It took 58-59 minutes, but we found a way.”

 

Joe Thornton scores 400th career goal, joins Hall of Fame company

Joe Thornton scores 400th career goal, joins Hall of Fame company

SAN JOSE -- There was a plethora of storylines coming out of the Sharks’ crazy 5-4 victory over the Nashville Predators Tuesday night. Almost all of them were eclipsed by Joe Thornton scoring his 400th career goal.

With the score tied up 4-4 in the waning minutes of regulation, the towering forward receiving a magnificent cross-ice pass from linemate Marcus Sorensen before sending the puck past Nashville goalie Juuse Saros into the back of the net

The energy at the Tank after the goal was electric. As his teammates swarmed him in celebration, Thornton was full of emotion as his 400th marker put the Sharks on top 5-4.

“I was on the ice, it was awesome,” Joe Pavelski said with a smile after the game. “It’s hard to put in perspective at times just what he’s been able to accomplish.”

The only thing making the goal even more impressive was that it put him on an exclusive list of seven players in NHL history who have scored 400 goals, tallied 1,000 assists, and played in over 1,500 games. Not surprisingly, though, Thornton told the media he was more focused on helping the team win than notching the milestone goal.

“Just trying to improve my game right now,” he said, a reminder to everyone he’s still battling back from those knee issues that sidelined him at the start of the season.

Wait, so he doesn’t know what highly-touted company he’s joined after scoring his 400th goal?

“No idea,” he admitted. “I haven’t checked to be honest with you.”

His teammates have been paying closer attention.

“It’s like every other night, there’s some kind of stat getting thrown out there,” Pavelski said of following his teammates' accomplishments. “They’re fun to look at, they really are.”

Defenseman Erik Karlsson has only been Thornton’s teammate for a little over a month. But since he has experience playing against No.19, he offered some perspective on what it was like for the Predators’ defense when Thornton came barreling down the ice.

“He’s one of those guys that you always have to be aware of,” Karlsson explained. “You always have to be aware of where he is because he’s such a good hockey player and if he gets the opportunities, you know he’s going to make you pay.”

Of course, the goal couldn’t have been made possible without the beautiful set-up from Sorensen, who Thornton has had a lot of success playing with as of late. 

“Marcus made a great play,” Thornton complimented. “I love playing with him. It seems like we’ve got some chemistry together now.”

When asked what it was like contributing to the milestone goal, Sorensen kept his answer straight-forward.

“It was pretty cool,” he said. “I’m happy for him.”

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in wild 5-4 win over Predators

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USATSI

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in wild 5-4 win over Predators

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE -– There was no denying that Tuesday night’s rematch between the Sharks and the Nashville Predators would be a good game. But it’s likely that nobody expected just how lopsided this eventual nail-biter could get.

The Sharks jumped out to a convincing three-goal lead in the first period while the Predators looked tired and unable to create any offense. Then, the visitors rallied in the second stanza to notch three unanswered goals of their own, tying the score heading into the second intermission.

It looked as though Nashville would skate away to a one-goal victory halfway through the third, but Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton put two big goals on the board to give the home team the 5-4 victory.

To top everything off, the game-winner was Thornton’s 400th career goal.

Here are three takeaways from Tuesday’s topsy-turvy game.

The Sharks' first period was amazing

The Sharks opened the game with the most dominant period of hockey they’ve played all season. It embodied everything the team has been saying it wants: Great puck possession, a strong defensive presence and contributions from all four lines.

The strong start was important, given the Predators were playing on the tail end of a back-to-back on the road and had just lost to the Anaheim Ducks in a shootout the previous night. Nashville was visibly tired in the first frame, and San Jose took advantage.

That being said …

The second period was the opposite of amazing

It was like a completely different Sharks team took the ice in the second period. They played a looser game and gave the Predators an opportunity to get back into the contest – not something a team wants to do against a squad with an 8-0-1 road record.

San Jose’s biggest problem in those 20 minutes was not being able to capitalize on any power-play opportunities. The Sharks even had a five-on-three opportunity after the Predators were called for having too many men on the ice. But through 3:40 on the man advantage, San Jose didn’t register a single shot on goal.

The third-period push is alive and well

If there’s one thing the Sharks are good at, it’s making that big third-period push when they’re on their heels. Sometimes it’s too little too late. It came at just the right time Tuesday. 

Goaltender Martin Jones made his best saves at the end of the game. He was particularly impressive when Nashville pulled its goalie with less than two minutes left in the game, and the Predators' forwards swarmed into San Jose’s zone.

Of course, the highlight of the game came on the final goal, when Thornton seemed to skate up to Nashville’s net in slow motion after getting a spectacular feed from Marcus Sorensen. Predators netminder Juuse Saros appeared to not even see Thornton’s milestone marker float past him stick side.