Three takeaways: Carpenter making case to stay with Sharks

Three takeaways: Carpenter making case to stay with Sharks

SAN JOSE – Logan Couture got all the attention postgame, and rightfully so, but there were some other notable developments from the Sharks’ 2-1 win over Tampa Bay on Thursday night. Here are three takeaways from San Jose’s third straight win…

1 – Finding a way

It was easy to tell on Wednesday night in the visitor’s dressing room at Staples Center that the Sharks’ win over the Kings was maybe their most rewarding of the season, being down some key players yet taking the rubber match of the five-game season series.

The flip side of that is the game with the Lightning, on the second of a back-to-back against a non-rival, was tougher to get up for. The Sharks found a way, though, despite getting a bit overwhelmed over the first half of the first period.

“We expected the first 10 minutes to be tough coming back from L.A., an emotional win, and they're sitting here waiting for us,” Pete DeBoer said. “I thought we kept them to the perimeter, even though the shot clock wasn't in our favor. As the game went on, I thought we got better."

Aaron Dell said: "We were a little bit tired to start, I think. I think they knew that, so they made an early push. I think we fended it off pretty well."

DeBoer pointed out after the game that the other teams around the Sharks in the Pacific Division are winning lately, too. Anaheim is 5-0-1 in its last six, while the Oilers have won four straight since losing to the Sharks last week.

“We have to find a way, and tonight was one of those find-a-way games,” he said. “They're not easy to play. The deck's stacked against you coming in. We found a way."

2 – Carpenter contributing

Rookie Ryan Carpenter admitted he was a bit surprised to see his name in the lineup when he got to the rink on Thursday. Even with Couture and Joonas Donskoi healthy again, Carpenter remained as the fourth line center, while injured forwards Timo Meier and Micheal Haley were not able to play.

His goal in the second period staked the Sharks a 1-0 lead, marking the second straight game that a fourth liner got on the board in what was another one-goal victory.

The Sharks were pressing the Lightning in their own end before Carpenter hopped over the boards, and he was the beneficiary of some tired defenders.

“[Joel Ward] does a good job in front of the net to create traffic, and even the shift before that, they got a lot of zone time and I just kind of jumped out there,” Carpenter said. “Kind of benefited from that, so that was nice.”

The way he’s played, it’s fair to wonder if Carpenter could be the latest Barracuda player to push one of the regulars out of the lineup. He’s been effective.

“He's been hard, he's been physical, he's a big body and defensively responsible, and he's chipped in some offense,” DeBoer said. “He plays the way we want to play. He's done a real good job for us."

3 – Important win for Dell

Any good NHL goaltender has to have an ability to put bad games, and bad goals, behind them. Aaron Dell wasn’t awful in Calgary on Jan. 11, but he looked shaky for the majority of the game.

Not against the Lightning, though. Dell played very well, particularly early when the Sharks weren’t skating very well in front of him, and late, when they were holding on to that slim one goal edge.

“We like playing in front of him,” Joe Pavelski said. “You see him, he’s aggressive, he’s into the game, he’s attacking pucks. That’s everything you want from your goalie. He’s made all the saves that we can ask him to make.”

The one he allowed was impossible to stop, as Jonathan Drouin easily held off Mikkel Boedker (who was benched for the third period again) in the neutral zone and skated around Marc-Edouard Vlasic before slipping it through. 

“He's a skilled player, made a skilled play,” Dell said. “I didn't think he could get it around me on that one."

Vlasic, of course, rarely gets beat like that. He joked that when he saw he was requested by the media after the game, “I knew you were going to ask me about that.”

“We won the game. It was 2-1. It was a positive win, so we’ll take the positives from the win,” Vlasic said.

Sharks get back to roots and back in win column against Flames

Sharks get back to roots and back in win column against Flames

SAN JOSE - When Sharks winger Evander Kane opened the scoring 50 seconds into Sunday’s game against the Calgary Flames, it looked as though San Jose was already on the way to notching a victory.

But as captain Joe Pavelski pointed out afterwards, getting out to a quick lead doesn’t always result in keeping it.

“We’ve proven it this year, if you don’t keep playing it can disappear quick.,” he said.  “It’s not the end of the game if you get off to a good start or fall behind.”

Sunday night’s 3-1 win over the Flames was different, though. The Sharks kicked off a season-long, six-game with a better collective effort than they had in their previous games. They didn't sag in the defensive end, and kept the Flames from making a big push.

“I thought we tightened things up and played a better brand of hockey than we’ve played the last couple of games,” coach Peter DeBoer summarized. “More characteristic of how we want to play.”

“I thought we played a consistent game throughout,” Kane agreed. “Working for one another, supporting one another. Fast and just moving our legs. That was the key to success for our entire team – and especially with our line tonight.”

That line was, without a doubt, a catalyst in Sunday’s victory. The combination of Pavelski, Kane, and Joonas Donskoi was responsible for all three of San Jose’s goals on the evening, generating the kind of offense they did together late last season after Kane was acquired from the Buffalo Sabres. 

It has taken a couple games to get that chemistry going again, but it was on full display Sunday. Kane's spectacular dish from behind Calgary's net set up Donskoi for a one-timer in the second period, adding the eventual winning goal to the trio's growing highlight reel. 

“I think yesterday we had a good practice and talked a little bit before the game about getting back to what we did well last year,” Kane explained. “We started off really well, obviously with getting the goal and everybody touching the puck. Had a lot of opportunities that we didn’t finish on tonight as well.”

“We got to play in the o-zone, it’s more fun that way than getting it stuffed down your throat every night,” Pavelski said.

The captain added he thought that offensive surge was something they could build off of. The Sharks will need  thatas the homestand continues.

After losing two straight on the road last week, San Jose needs positive momentum with tough competition like the Nashville Predators and the Toronto Maple Leafs coming into town. There’s no denying getting the home win after the tough road trip was a big deal.

“It’s a huge win, reset our game,” DeBoer said. “This league is about limiting your losing streaks and extending your winning streaks. We want to make sure we nip we nip that in the bud tonight.”

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in 3-1 bounce-back win over Flames


Sharks takeaways: What we learned in 3-1 bounce-back win over Flames

SAN JOSE – The Sharks needed a major improvement over their last performance if they wanted to start out their six-game homestand on the right foot. Sunday night, they did just that.

A day after pointing out their defense in front of their goalie needed to be better, San Jose put a tougher, more determined product out on the ice. Paired with a strong showing in net from Martin Jones, the Sharks extinguished the Calgary Flames, 3-1.

Here are three takeaways from Sunday’s game:

Kane and Donskoi stay hot against the Flames

You may recall that Sharks winger Evander Kane scored four goals against Calgary last season, tallying six goals overall in two games. Fellow forward Joonas Donskoi, for his part, entered Sunday’s contest with five goals of his own against the Flames. While on a line together, the two created some of the Sharks' best chances.

Kane’s game-opening goal, which was set up by center Joe Pavelski and Donskoi, was impressive enough. What was even better was the way Kane set Donskoi up for the second goal of the contest. No.9 held the puck patiently behind Calgary’s net as Donskoi got into position. Mikael Backlund and Noah Hanifin had Donskoi bookended, but they were no match for the Finnish winger’s quick one-timer.

The defensive effort was better

The big talk after the Sharks’ 4-0 loss to the Blues on Friday was that the team’s collective defense wasn’t up to snuff. In talking to the team at practice on Saturday, they identified playing a better all-around defensive game as their key focus.

They were undeniably better Sunday, which achieved another goal they identified ahead of the game – taking pressure off their goalie. Jones for his part made some very important saves to keep the Flames from tying things up, particularly late in the final frame.

On that note …

The third period belonged to Martin Jones

The Sharks' third period had the potential to set the tone for the rest of their homestand. Although they skated into the final frame with a 2-1 lead, their ability to keep the Flames from knotting up the score was crucial. 

Calgary was able to creep up on the shot clock and create some chances, but Jones saved some of his best stuff for those final 20 minutes. Perhaps his best saves came on a flurry of shots from Johnny Gaudreau and Mark Jankowski with a little other seven minutes to go in regulation, as he stretched out his legs in both directions in order to keep a wrap-around attempt and a subsequent rebound attempt from finding the back of the net.