Sharks

Sharks on wrong side of offside review in OT loss to Rangers

Sharks on wrong side of offside review in OT loss to Rangers

There was some controversy at the start of the Sharks’ 3-2 overtime loss to the New York Rangers on Thursday. After New York tied the game up in the first frame on a mind-boggling between-the-legs goal by Brett Howden, San Jose head coach Peter DeBoer challenged the goal, claiming Chris Kreider was offside. Kreider had the secondary assist on Howden's tally.

After a long – and I mean long – review process, the officials finally determined that the call on the ice stood, and Kreider was not offside. DeBoer was noticeably upset with the ruling, and the NHL’s situation room didn’t offer much of an explanation for the call.

It’s yet another example of how tricky and subjective offside calls can be.

“They said they couldn’t see [Kreider’s] foot in the air from their vantage point,” DeBoer told the media in New York after the game. “I don’t know. We don’t challenge that unless we’re sure. It’s a difference of opinion, I guess.”

With how long the officials took to examine the play, they should be getting it right most of the time. 

Players and coaches alike have shown their disdain for the way the offsides ruling stemming from the coaches challenge. Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid went so far as to say the league should do away with review altogether after an offside calll kept his team from tying up a game against the Nashville Predators last season. The Oilers ended up losing the game, 2-1. 

The offside call has already played a part in a couple NHL games just a week into the season, too. On Wednesday, Vegas Golden Knights winger Max Pacioretty's goal was disallowed with just over six minutes remaining in the third period. Vegas would have trailed the Washington Capitals 4-3, but instead ended up losing 5-2.

Sure, the Sharks had the potential to score more goals in Thursday’s tilt so that Howden's tally didn't carry so much importance. But given how close these calls can be, it’s a little difficult to say that for sure. Joe Pavelski was asked after the 3-2 overtime loss to the Rangers if the call changed the momentum of the game.

“Well, if we get the call, it probably does,” the San Jose captain said, stifling a chuckle.

Sharks show their toughness in Saturday night bout with Islanders

Sharks show their toughness in Saturday night bout with Islanders

SAN JOSE -- On the occassion the Sharks have an exceptionally chippy game, you would expect it to be against a regular rival like the Los Angeles Kings or Anaheim Ducks.

Against a team like the New York Islanders, who San Jose only plays twice a season and really has no bad blood with? That sounds a bit out of left field.

But on Saturday night, the Isles really got heated after the Sharks put them in a 3-1 hole. And they decided to try changing the tide of the game by using their fists.

"[The Islanders] obviously were losing the game and that was a tactic to try and, I don't know, get a spark or something," Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer said after his team's 4-1 win on Saturday. 

There was a spark alright. But it came from Team Teal's bench.

Evander Kane led the charge as multiple players tussled with an aggravated visiting team. But it went beyond No. 9, known for his gritty playing style, pumping up the crowd while still serving out a major penalty. Saturday showed this is a tougher Sharks team that has no problem fighting back.

"I was proud of the way we stood up for ourselves," DeBoer continued.

The Sharks had been doing their best all evening to hem the Islanders in their own zone, and after San Jose jumped out to a 3-1 lead, the Isles let their tempers get the best of them. Defenseman Scott Mayfield started beef with Barclay Goodrow, and the two exchanged punches before being sent to the box for fighting majors to end the second period. 

"I never understand when guys go out, down 3-1 with five minutes left and try and act tough, start fights," Logan Couture said, before adding: "It's good to see us stick up for ourselves."

Things really got out of hand in the third period, though, starting with Anders Lee going after Kane. The officials only let the two players swing at each other for a second before sending them to their respective penalty boxes -- where they continued to yell at each other over the glass, mind you.

There were multiple tussles after that, leading up to Kane squaring off with Lee in the final minutes of the game and upending him onto the ice. The crowd gave Kane a big ovation as he went down the tunnel and exitted the game.

He's not going to back down from anyone," Pavelski said of his linemate after the game. "He definitely adds an element of toughness, and speed, and grit to our team."

In the end, that toughness and grit came out of the whole team when the Islanders tried to play tough in the latter half of Saturday's game.

"You have two choices there," DeBoer said. "You walk away or you stick up for yourself."

Saturday evening, the Sharks chose the latter.

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in San Jose's 4-1 win over the Islanders

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in San Jose's 4-1 win over the Islanders

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE --  The term "I went to a fight and a hockey game broke out" may be worn out and cliche, but that's exactly what happened between the Sharks and Islanders in their rematch Saturday night at SAP Center. And it was the home team that came out on top, getting revenge on New York with a 4-1 victory.

Timo Meier got everything started by knocking in his own rebound about half-way through the first period to give the Sharks a 1-0 lead. But before San Jose could go into the intermission with the lead, Islanders Brock Nelson split the defense to notch the equalizer. 

New York had a little more zip at the start of the second stanza, but the Sharks took back the lead as Antti Suomela fed his own rebound to Joonas Donskoi, who chipped the puck in behind Robin Lehner for a 2-1 lead. Brent Burns added some cushion by finding the back of the net on four-on-four play to make it a 3-1 lead heading into the second intermission. Logan Couture then continued his hot streak by depositing the insurance goal in the third period before multiple fights broke out.

Here are three takeaways from the Saturday night battle.

The offense is really finding its rhythm

Maybe it was a carry-over of the offensive surge the Sharks had in the latter part of Thursday night's 5-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres. Or maybe they just wanted to stick it to New York for blanking them a couple weeks back. Whatever the reason, the Sharks put pressure on the Islanders right from the drop of the puck.

There was no let up after they scored their first goal, as the Sharks pinned the Isles in their own zone. 

Their overall dominance in the first 20 minutes made it surprising when New York tied the game up with a little less than two minutes to go in the period. But instead of settling back on their heels, the Sharks continued to push into the second period and notch two more goals.

The Sharks were already running up the shot clock. But now they are getting the goals to show for it.

The blue line is finding chemistry

And I'm not just saying this because Brent Burns became the first Sharks' defenseman to score a goal.

There was so much hype around San Jose's blue line before the season started because of the Erik Karlsson acquisition, to the point there was a major letdown among fans when the defense didn't have instant chemistry on the ice.

Over the last two games that chemistry has started to show. The Karlsson-Marc-Edouard Vlasic pairing was extra impressive, helping to keep the puck in New York's zone while the Sharks' offense stayed hot.

This team isn't afraid to throw a few haymakers

With the exception of a player or two, the Sharks teams in very recent history haven't been big fighters. But when things got chippy with the Islanders on Saturday, they had no trouble fighting back.

It started with Barclay Goodrow dropping his gloves in the second frame. Then there was Evander Kane standing up in the box to yell over at Scott Mayfield while the two were in their respective sin bins serving fighting majors. It all came together after a series of scrums by the Sharks net, with Kane pumping up the crowd while still serving his penalty.

As much as the crowd enjoyed it, the Sharks still have to be careful not to get into too much trouble. While standing up for teammates certainly works, racking up too many penalties can hurt them in future games.