Sharks

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

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

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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.

NHL rumors: Sharks have made Erik Karlsson massive contract offer

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AP

NHL rumors: Sharks have made Erik Karlsson massive contract offer

The Sharks fell short in their Stanley Cup bid this season, and they now have some serious business to take care of this offseason.

It all starts with the team's pursuit in keeping star defenseman Erik Karlsson. 

The Sharks have been working toward a contract extension for Karlsson, and they reportedly now have made an offer. SportsNet's Elliotte Friedman reported Saturday that "it is believed they’ve [the Sharks] made him an offer that will challenge, if not surpass, Drew Doughty’s extension from last summer."

The L.A. Kings made Doughty the NHL's highest-paid defenseman last summer when they signed him to an eight-year, $88 million contract.

Not only did Friedman report the Sharks already have offered Karlsson, but he believes the team has a serious chance at bringing him back to San Jose for the long term.

"Conversations have intensified, and I think they’ve got a shot," Friedman wrote.

Karlsson had dinner with Sharks general manager Doug Wilson on Wednesday night in Santa Clara, The Athletic's Kevin Kurz reported. A Facebook user in a Sharks fan group posted a picture with Karlsson and Wilson from the restaurant, and it later surfaced on the Sharks' fan-run subreddit.

The Sharks acquired Karlsson in a blockbuster trade with the Senators on the eve of training camp. He played 53 games in his first year as a Shark and scored 45 points -- three goals and 42 assists.

Karlsson battled injuries all season long, and he clearly was hobbled in the playoffs before missing the Sharks' season-ending loss in Game 6 of the Western Conference final to the eventual Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues. He aggravated his injured groin in Game 4, and played just 10:32 in Game 5.

[RELATED: Inconsistent defense faces uncertain future for Sharks]

While Karlsson’s first go in San Jose didn't go as planned, the Sharks clearly want him to stay in the Bay.

Sharks organizational review: Goalie situation depends on Martin Jones

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USATSI

Sharks organizational review: Goalie situation depends on Martin Jones

SAN JOSE -- There may not have been a Sharks' player who caught more flak from fans this past season than Martin Jones, as the starting goalie battled with consistency this season. Criticism of San Jose's goaltending continued as Jones' backup, Aaron Dell, didn't fare much better overall throughout the regular season. 

Then came the Sharks' 20-game playoff run, where Jones did a complete 180-degree turn after the Sharks went into a 3-1 hole against the Vegas Golden Knights in the first round. As if a switch had been flipped, Jones went from being a liability to being a key to getting Team Teal to the Western Conference Final. 

The question now is which version of Martin Jones will be in net for the Sharks next season -- or how San Jose's goaltending contingent, in general, is going to look and match up to the competition in the future.

Sure, wins are what counts at the end of the day and Jones was tied for third in the league with 36 regular season victories in this last campaign. But while his record improved to 36-19-5 over the previous season's 30-22-6, his save percentage dipped from .915 to .896. He also developed a habit of giving up the first goal of the game within the first few minutes of the first period, putting the rest of the team on their heels early into games.  

Nevertheless, it's pretty unlikely Jones is going anywhere. He's entering the second season of a six-year contract extension he signed in 2017, and even before his turnaround performance in the playoffs the team around him never stopped sticking up for him. When Jones struggled, his teammates continued to put their unwavering faith in him and insisted their defensive effort in front of him was to blame. For that faith to continue, however, Jones is going to have to bring some of his strong play from the playoffs into next season.

As for Jones' backup, Dell's future seems a bit more open. Even with two shutouts on the season, No. 30's numbers also took a dip during the 2018-19 campaign and he ended the regular season with a 3.17 goals-against average and .886 save percentage. With just one year left on his current contract, San Jose could potentially use Dell as a trade piece.

[RELATED: What Sharks can learn from Stanley Cup champs]

Neither of San Jose's Barracuda goalies, Antoine Bibeau and Josef Korenar, saw any NHL time this past season. Although there's a possibility both get a look during camp ahead of next season after both posted better than .900 save percentages. Bibeau also already has two NHL games under his belt from when he was part of the Toronto Maple Leafs' organization, going 1-1-0 with a 1.99 goals-against average. 

The Sharks further added to their goaltending contingent this spring when they signed Zachary Emond to an entry-level contract. Emond, 18, won't be making any appearances at the NHL level this season, although the Sharks have expressed satisfaction with how the sixth-round pick from the 2018 draft is developing. Look for Emond to be a goalie to come up the pipeline for the Sharks, especially if he has another strong season with his junior club.