Sharks

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in 5-4 OT Game 3 win over Blues

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AP

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in 5-4 OT Game 3 win over Blues

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At this point in the playoffs, it's pretty safe to say the Sharks know how to keep things interesting. After coughing up a lead with a mid-game meltdown, Logan Couture added to his impressive postseason campaign with a game-tying goal with 61 seconds left in regulation. In overtime, Erik Karlsson buried a controversial goal in overtime to give Team Teal a 5-4 victory and a 2-1 series lead.

Here are three takeaways from Game 3:

Second-stanza meltdown

In the first period of Game 3, the Sharks had the perfect response to their Game 2 loss. They got depth scoring from Joe Thornton and Erik Karlsson and remained unfazed by St. Louis' big hits.The second period was a whole other story though -- sloppy play in the neutral zone and a lack of forecheck resulted in three unanswered goals and a 4-3 lead for the Blues.

Why the Sharks came so undone isn't entirely clear. But that meltdown is something San Jose absolutely has to stop doing if they're going to win this series. The defensive breakdown made Martin Jones' job harder than it had to be and put all the momentum in St. Louis favor. (More on that coming up.) San Jose is going to have a hard time winning games if they keep letting up like that every night.

How'd the line shakeup go?

The big talk for the Sharks heading into Game 3 was that head coach Peter DeBoer was shaking up his forward lines in an effort to get more participants into the game. For the first 25 or so minutes of the game, the changes worked -- adding Melker Karlsson to Joe Thornton's wing got the third line going and Thornton found the back of the net twice.

For the rest of the second period, as we already discussed, the wheels flew off pretty quickly and no line looked particularly good.

It was no big surprise DeBoer threw the lines into the blender for the third period.

But the Sharks don't just need their bottom six to start producing, they need all lines contributing at this point in the postseason. San Jose's top line, before Couture's late-game goal, didn't have an impact in Game 3 when the team needed them. The Tomas Hertl-led second line with Evander Kane and Joe Pavelski had a few looks in the game, but had trouble generating much against Ryan O'Reilly's line. San Jose isn't going to have much success going forward if they can't get multiple lines going every night.

Stick taps for Martin Jones

Admittedly, the three unanswered goals Jones gave up on the blocker side in the second frame weren't good. But Jones went into the third frame fully rejuvenated and made a couple big stops to keep San Jose in the game. Stopping David Perron from notching a hat trick in the third frame visibly helped inject some confidence into his teammates.

Nevertheless, the Sharks should have given Jones more help throughout Wednesday's game to keep the Blues from making that big push in the second 20 minutes. St. Louis has shown they're a team that doesn't go away and knows how to take full advantage of their opponents' mistakes.

In Game 4, San Jose's defensive effort will have to be better.

Sharks' Logan Couture speaks up on racism, in support of Evander Kane

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USATSI

Sharks' Logan Couture speaks up on racism, in support of Evander Kane

Sharks captain Logan Couture thanked Evander Kane and former NHL player Akim Aliu for speaking out against racism in hockey, tweeting a note Saturday that said the sport and society "are only scraping the surface in what desperately needs fixing."

"Racism exists in society, it also exists in hockey," Couture wrote. "That's a fact. Growing up in this game is a privilege. [At times,] I think most of us have been at fault for turning a blind eye when it comes to racism. It cannot continue."

Kane later tweeted his appreciation of Couture's message.

Kane, who is black, has become increasingly vocal speaking out against racism within -- and beyond -- the sport in the past year. In September, Kane told TSN 1040 in Vancouver that hockey lagged behind other professional sports in diversity and addressing racism after fan told him to "stick to basketball" in an Instagram comment. Kane called a story in "The Players Tribune" earlier this month authored by Aliu, whose revelation that Bill Peters directed racial slurs towards him in the AHL led to the Calgary Flames firing their now-former coach late last year, a must-read for everyone involved in hockey.

George Floyd's death in Minneapolis police custody Monday outraged Kane, tweeting that video of the incident made his "[f---ing] blood boil." Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man, could be heard on video saying "I can't breathe" as former officer Derek Chauvin, who is white, pressed his knee into Floyd's neck while three other officers at the scene looked on. Chauvin and the three officers were fired Tuesday, and Chauvin was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.

[RELATED: Kerr says he, white people have to do more to fight racism]

Kane said Friday in an interview on ESPN's "First Take" that white athletes couldn't leave speaking up against systematic racism to their black peers. While Kane felt supported by his teammates, he told "Writers Bloc" on CJCL in Toronto later that day that hockey's team-first culture often encourages silence on a wide range of issues in the sport and outside of it.

“Is it going to change? I hope," Kane said (H/T Sportsnet's Sonny Sachdeva). "I’m going to try to be a part of the solution and process in creating that change. But … when it comes to social injustices and racism in hockey, it requires change at the top. Because, you know, that’s the only way true change is going to take place. At the top. Because it’s going to have a trickle-down effect.

“And until things change at the top ... until they make the necessary change to condemn these sort of acts and mindsets … and really weed out that type of thought process, we’re going to be stuck in the same position we are today, and that’s unfortunate.”

Sharks owner Hasso Plattner, who doesn't often publicly comment, said in a rare statement Friday that the Sharks applauded Kane's "rational and thoughtful response to the terrible tragedy" of Floyd's death. Defenseman Mario Ferraro retweeted the statement, and Couture's note is the first tweeted by one of Kane's San Jose teammates in support.

Evander Kane says white athletes must speak against police brutality

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USATSI

Evander Kane says white athletes must speak against police brutality

Sharks winger Evander Kane called on prominent white professional athletes to speak out against police brutality against African Americans.

Kane, who is black, joined ESPN's "First Take" on Friday morning to discuss George Floyd's death in police custody in Minneapolis earlier this week. The 28-year-old Kane said it can't just fall on black athletes to lend their voices to causes of racial justice, and white players joining their black peers is "the only way" for professional athletes to truly affect change.

"We've been outraged for hundreds of years and nothing has changed," Kane said of black people speaking out against racism (H/T Fear the Fin's Sheng Peng). "It's time for guys like (Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback) Tom Brady and (Pittsburgh Penguins center) Sidney Crosby and those types of figures to speak up about what is right, and clearly in this case, what is unbelievably wrong. Because that's the only way we're gonna actually create that unified anger to create that necessary change, especially when you talk about systematic racism."

Bystanders in Minneapolis recorded video Monday of Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man, having a white police officer's knee pressed into his neck for nearly eight minutes as three other officers looked on. Floyd pleaded that he couldn't breathe, but state charging documents alleged that the officer, Derek Chauvin, continued to have his knee on Floyd's neck for almost three minutes after he became non-responsive. Chauvin and the three other officers were fired Tuesday, and he was arrested on charges of third-degree murder and manslaughter Friday.

Kane tweeted Tuesday night that the video of Floyd's death made his "[f--king] blood boil." He shared a petition Wednesday night calling for the four former officers to face charges.

The forward has been increasingly outspoken against racism in the last year, particularly in hockey. Kane is one of just 43 NHL players of color, according to WDET, and they account for fewer than 5 percent of the league. He said he hasn't seen "too many" hockey players discuss Floyd's death, but Kane feels supported by his teammates in speaking out.

"In terms of my teammates, they're incredibly supportive of me and what I stand for," Kane said. "I think hockey, unfortunately, has a different culture than some of the other sports in terms of speaking out and using your voice and speaking your mind. I think for me, I'm one of the anomalies when it comes to NHL players doing that. That's another part of the problem, guys being scared to really speak their mind and stand up for what is right."

Sharks owner Hasso Plattner, who doesn't often address the media, shared his support of Kane in a rare statement Friday hours after Kane's appearance on "First Take."

"There is no room for racism in society," the statement read. "We applaud Evander for his thoughtful and rational response to the recent terrible tragedy. Events like this occur way too often. We all must find a way to do better."

Kane tweeted he was "proud to be part of" the Sharks in response.

[RELATED: Kap starts fund to pay lawyers for Minneapolis protesters]

Kane said sports have the inclusive potential to bring people together from a variety of backgrounds. In order to live up to it, Kane thinks athletes -- white and black -- need to pull in the same direction off the rink, field and court.

"[When] we talk about our own personal battles outside of sports, there's a lot of people that are silent on issues," he said. "They're important issues. They're issues that have been going on for hundreds of years, and we need that same type of team mentality to be brought to issues outside of our sport."