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Blues, Rangers win to wrap up first-round series

Sun, 23 Apr 2017 04:56:55 UT

Blues, Rangers win to wrap up first-round series Magnus Paajarvi scored 9:42 into overtime as the St. Louis Blues beat the host Minnesota Wild 4-3 on Saturday to wrap up the teams’ Western Conference first-round series in five games. St. Louis head coach Mike Yeo, fired by the Wild a little more than a year ago, said he took no special pleasure in beating Minnesota. Mats Zuccarello scored twice in the second period as host New York beat Montreal in Game 6 to advance to the East semis. “He’s a competitive little bugger,” New York head coach Alain Vigneault said of Zuccarello.



Sharks looking to survive in Game 6

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 02:27:42 UT

The Sharks’ coach pays no attention to the regular-season’s condensed schedule or the fact that so many of his key players participated in the World Cup of Hockey before preseason. The bottom line is it’s a razor-thin edge and we’ve been on the wrong side of it a couple of these games. If the Sharks are to mount any sort of run like last year’s journey to the Stanley Cup Finals, it has to start Saturday night in a do-or-die Game 6 against an Edmonton Oilers’ team up 3-2 in the best-of-seven Western Conference showdown. San Jose had a 3-1 lead in the second period of Game 5 and was still in position to make Saturday a potential series-clincher as it held a 3-2 lead for most of the third period. [...] Oscar Klefbom’s screened shot from the point at 17:14 tied it, and the Oilers dominated sudden death before David Desharnais finally ended it with his first series goal at 18:15. [...] Sharks goalie Martin Jones did everything he could, including making a sensational pad save to deny Oilers captain Connor McDavid earlier in OT. The Sharks expected pushback from the Oilers, who absorbed an embarrassing 7-0 loss in Game 4 at San Jose on Tuesday. “You’re left with the taste of the overtime, but the 60-minute game, we came out and weathered the storm, found a way to get the lead, and found a way to play with the lead right down until two minutes left,” he said. In spite of the Oilers’ 48-30 advantage in shots on goal, San Jose limited Edmonton’s ability to get to prime scoring spots during regulation as most of the Oilers’ efforts were from along the boards or the point. “Playoffs are about a guy making a big play, your best players being your best players, timely goals, staying healthy, all those things,” DeBoer said. Oilers lead series 3-2 Sharks 3, Oilers 2 (OT) Oilers 2, Sharks 0 Oilers 1, Sharks 0 Sharks 7, Oilers 0 Oilers 4, Sharks 3 (OT)



Have Sharks passed their sell-by date?

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 01:37:47 UT

In the first period of Thursday’s game, the Sharks’ age and experience looked like a bonus. Edmonton’s young guns were flying around the ice, fueled by the manic energy of their home crowd. [...] the Sharks calmly and methodically neutralized all that excitement and took a 2-1 lead in the first and eventually a 3-1 lead in the second period. [...] late in the game, young Edmonton had energy and freshness and the Sharks simply couldn’t match the Oilers. The entire overtime period, which ended with David Desharnais’ goal, looked like an 18-minute Oilers power play. Despite winning a couple of games, the Sharks could never quite find their footing in that series, against a younger, more talented team. [...] aside from Tuesday night’s ridiculous 7-0 victory at SAP Center, which really didn’t tell us much, the Sharks have looked off-balance in this series as well. [...] goalie Martin Jones was phenomenal in overtime, stopping the first 13 shots he faced. The NHL’s regular-season points leader doesn’t have an even-strength point in the series. [...] McDavid has been phenomenal, flying around the ice and making some crushing hits, like his open-ice connection with Marcus Sorensen. The negative for the Sharks is that the Oilers are finding ways to beat them without McDavid scoring. [...] the talented 20-year-old must look to Sharks fans like a ticking device on the ice, ready to explode with offense at any moment. Former Sharks and current Oilers coach Todd McLellan thinks his young team learned a big lesson in the past two games. There’s no momentum from one playoff hockey game to the next; the action and impetus is free-flowing.



Sharks can’t hold lead, fall to Oilers in overtime

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 06:41:24 UT

EDMONTON, Alberta — David Desharnais scored late in the first overtime to lift the Edmonton Oilers to a 4-3 win over the Sharks on Thursday night, pushing San Jose to the brink of elimination in the NHL playoffs. Desharnais, in the slot, one-timed a Leon Draisaitl cross-ice pass past Sharks goaltender Martin Jones to cap an overtime session dominated by Edmonton. The Oilers lead the Western Conference quarterfinal series 3-2. The Oilers — looking for a bounce-back game after a 7-0 beat-down by the Sharks in Game 4 — dominated the first 10 minutes, energized by the deafening roar of the orange-and-blue-clad fans at Rogers Place. Edmonton took a 1-0 lead at 5:28 of the first period when Maroon, standing at the edge of the crease, corralled a rebound off Matt Benning’s shot and swept the puck past Jones. Taking advantage of a bad Oilers line change, Joe Thornton and Marleau broke in over the blue line on a two-on-one. Thornton’s wrist shot leaked through Oilers goalie Cam Talbot and dribbled to the goal line, where Marleau stuffed it in. A wrist shot by Schlemko from the blue line fluttered through a crowd in the crease and over Talbot’s right shoulder. The Oilers cut their deficit to 3-2 on the power play with less than two minutes left in the second period, with Brent Burns in the penalty box for delay of game. Draisaitl backhanded the puck through a clutch of bodies in the slot to Letestu for a one-timer under the crossbar. The Sharks smothered the Oilers attack for most of the third period until Klefbom blasted a shot from the blue line to tie the game with less than three minutes to go.



Predators complete 4-game sweep of Blackhawks

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 06:26:04 UT

Predators complete 4-game sweep of Blackhawks Roman Josi scored twice and Pekka Rinne had 30 saves as the host Nashville Predators beat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-1 on Thursday to complete a four-game sweep of the Western Conference’s top seed. Colton Sissons also scored and Viktor Arvidsson added an empty-net goal as Nashville completed the franchise’s first playoff sweep. The Predators limited the Blackhawks to three goals in the series. Sidney Crosby and Scott Wilson scored 51 seconds apart in the third period and Marc-Andre Fleury made 49 saves as host Pittsburgh prevailed to win its Eastern Conference series against Columbus in five games. Bryan Rust scored twice for the Penguins, who will face the winner of the Maple Leafs-Capitals series in the East semifinals starting next week. Mika Zibanejad scored at 14:22 of overtime to give visiting New York the victory and a 3-2 lead in the East series. The Sabres, who missed the playoffs for the sixth consecutive season after posting a 33-37-12 record, fired general manager Tim Murray and coach Dan Bylsma. ... The NHL announced that Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews, Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski and Jets wing Patrik Laine are the top three in voting for the Calder Trophy (rookie of the year).



Sharks look to continue offensive momentum in Game 5

Thu, 20 Apr 2017 04:39:28 UT

The Sharks evened their series against Edmonton with a 7-0 win in Tuesday’s Game 4 in San Jose, but they’ll have to win another road match to have a shot at advancing to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. After San Jose broke through for seven goals at home, the questions are now about what’s wrong with the Oilers’ offense heading into Thursday’s Game 5 in Edmonton. The high-flying Oilers have been held to five goals through four games, with only two coming at even strength. NHL scoring leader Connor McDavid has no points at even strength and no points at all the past two games, when he was matched up almost exclusively with San Jose’s shutdown defensive pair of Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun. Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Patrick Maroon have been held to a combined single assist after totaling 94 goals and 213 points in the regular season. [...] the Sharks are looking to prove that Tuesday’s outburst wasn’t an aberration after dropping consecutive shutouts to the Oilers in Games 2 and 3. In Game 4 Joe Pavelski scored two goals, the first of which set a franchise record for fastest goal at the outset of a playoff game — 15 seconds. Couture, still rounding into form after a two-week injury layoff, added two goals despite taking a stick to his already tender mouth in the first period. The Sharks are inviting fans to a Game 5 viewing party at the Silver Creek Sportsplex in south San Jose. Entertainment includes Sharks mascot S.J. Sharkie, the Pepsi Tank Patrol, and raffles and trivia contests for prizes. Sharks public address announcer Danny Miller will host the festivities.



Logan Couture shakes off blow to face, scores twice for Sharks

Wed, 19 Apr 2017 06:40:02 UT

Logan Couture shakes off blow to face, scores twice for Sharks Logan Couture is already playing with many of his teeth awry after taking a puck to his face March 25, and he’ll require extensive dental surgery after the postseason is over. [...] the Sharks’ forward, his lower teeth held in place by wires and his upper teeth by plastic bonding, took a high stick to the face from Drake Caggiula halfway through the first period Tuesday, smacked right in his already tender mouth. “He’s got a lot of courage,” Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer said after Couture’s two-goal night. Couture, like many of the Sharks’ top players, was quiet through the first three games of the first-round series, and he was matter-of-fact about busting out Tuesday. Couture said he was creating more chances, seeing the ice better and winning more puck battles, making more plays. Thornton, too, appears to be regaining his form after returning from a left knee injury.



Sharks score early and often to knot playoff series with Oilers

Wed, 19 Apr 2017 06:36:54 UT

Sharks score early and often to knot playoff series with Oilers The Sharks broke their goal-scoring drought with a vengeance Tuesday night to run the Edmonton Oilers right out of SAP Center. San Jose’s 7-0 victory followed consecutive shutout losses and tied the Western Conference quarterfinal series at two wins apiece. Captain Joe Pavelski set a franchise record for the fastest goal at the outset of a playoff game in addition to scoring later on a power play. Logan Couture added two goals, and defenseman Brent Burns chipped in his first points of the series: three assists. Goalie Martin Jones earned his fourth career playoff shutout with 23 saves. The struggling power play set a record as well, converting 4 of 8 chances (the previous team mark for power-play goals in a playoff game was three, accomplished five times). The seven-goal total tied a club playoff record achieved twice previously — at home April 20, 2014, against Los Angeles and on the road April 30, 1999, against Colorado. Pavelski fully extended his stick to deflect a wrist shot by defenseman Justin Braun from the right point, and the puck bounced past goalie Cam Talbot. The Sharks’ previous record for fastest goal in a playoff game was 28 seconds (Dany Heatley against Los Angeles in 2011 during a 3-2 win). San Jose scored again on the power play, which was overdue after converting only once in 14 tries in the first three games. Couture punched his first playoff goal past Talbot at 11:02 of the first on a feed from Pavelski 1:03 into Kris Russell’s penalty for hooking Sharks rookie Timo Meier. “We were able to create more on the power play and scored on our Grade-A chances,” Couture said. Patrick Marleau started the onslaught with his first of the playoffs with a power-play strike at 2:02 after Edmonton defenseman Oscar Klefbom failed to clear the puck. Rookie Marcus Sorensen was all alone at the side of the net to deposit a rebound of a shot from defenseman David Schlemko at 9:46 and suddenly the Sharks had more goals in less than half of Game 4 than they had scored in the first three games combined. Edmonton center Leon Draisaitl earned a game-misconduct on top of his major for spearing Chris Tierney, and the Sharks struck on the five-minute advantage as Pavelski potted his second of the night by redirecting a Burns drive at 16:46.



Ducks rally to beat Flames, take 3-0 series lead

Tue, 18 Apr 2017 06:08:29 UT

Corey Perry scored 1:30 into overtime and the visiting Ducks rallied from three goals down to beat the Calgary Flames 5-4 Monday night, taking a 3-0 series lead in the Western Conference first-round series. Kevin Fiala scored on a backhander 16:44 into overtime as host Nashville completed its comeback from a two-goal third-period deficit to take a 3-0 series lead on Chicago — the West’s top seed. Tyler Bozak scored 1:37 into overtime to cap host Toronto’s comeback from two goals down in the second period as the Maple Leafs defeated Washington — the Eastern Conference’s top seed — to take a 2-1 lead in the series. “Obviously now, if you talk to our guys, our guys think they’re a good hockey team,” Toronto head coach Mike Babcock said. Bobby Ryan scored on a tip-in on a power play 5:43 into overtime as visiting Ottawa took a 2-1 lead in the East series. “I always say that you make your money during the season, but you make your reputation in the playoffs, and right now he’s showing everybody that he’s a gamer,” Ottawa head coach Guy Boucher said of Ryan. The Bruins had rallied from a 3-0 deficit with three goals in second period, tying the game on a power-play goal by David Pastrnak.



Sharks struggling to score in defense-heavy series

Tue, 18 Apr 2017 02:06:25 UT

Sharks struggling to score in defense-heavy series How badly are the Sharks struggling to score in their first-round playoff series against Edmonton? Taking nothing away from San Jose’s best and vastly underrated defenseman, Vlasic is just not who needs to be scoring. Goals need to come from the team’s best offensive threats soon or the young Oilers are going to make quick work of the defending Western Conference champion Sharks. “I don’t think there’s any magical formula,” said Sharks captain Joe Pavelski, one of six skaters behind Vlasic with a single point in three games. San Jose has been shut out in consecutive playoffs games for only the second time in team history. The Sharks were scoreless for 145:42 at the outset of their 2000 second-round series against Dallas, which the Stars won in five games. The Sharks have been blanked for the past 120 minutes as Edmonton goalie Cam Talbot has turned aside a combined 39 shots in Games 2 and 3 after surrendering an overtime goal by Melker Karlsson to decide Game 1. To suggest it’s been a goaltenders’ duel, with Martin Jones flashing a 1.66 goals-against average and .935 save percentage while Talbot boasts 0.98 and .964 numbers, respectively, is an understatement. Neither is showing any sign of fatigue after Talbot (4,294 minutes) and Jones (3,800) finished first and second during the regular season in terms of playing time. If they see it, they stop it in this league, said center Logan Couture, one of 12 San Jose skaters scoreless in the series. Just like the Sharks have kept league scoring champ and Oilers captain Connor McDavid somewhat under wraps (one goal, two points in all), Edmonton is shutting down San Jose’s biggest threat: defenseman Brent Burns, who for a second straight regular season set a team record for goals (29) and points (76) for a blue liner. “Look around the league, you’re seeing (Patrick) Kane and (Jonathan) Toews in Chicago going through the same thing,” Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer said. San Jose has to hope it’s about to have a breakthrough now that Joe Thornton, who rejoined the lineup Sunday, and Couture, who removed his full-face cage protecting his injured mouth, continue to knock off the rust. Thornton produced five shot attempts in the first period alone in Game 3 — two were on net and one sailed wide.



Minus Joe Thornton, Sharks’ power-play unit struggles

Sun, 16 Apr 2017 01:28:42 UT

Minus Joe Thornton, Sharks’ power-play unit struggles The Sharks know they’re going to be surrounded by friendly faces when they return to SAP Center on Sunday with their best-of-seven playoff series against Edmonton reduced to a best-of-five. [...] the biggest friendly face they’d love to see back — shall we suggest Jumbo friendly face? — is maybe just what they need to help get an anemic power play on track in this Western Conference quarterfinal set. If Sharks center Joe Thornton is eager to test his injured left knee, even if it’s less than 100 percent, there may be no better time than Game 3. San Jose wasn’t good enough in any situation of Game 2 on Friday, but an 0-for-6 showing on the power play — in addition to surrendering two shorthanded goals — in a 2-0 loss had to bother Thornton to the core. “Joe Thornton would help us in a lot of different areas, but we don’t have him and we’ve got to find a way with the group we do have,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said on an early-morning conference call Saturday. A lot can transpire before Sunday night’s face-off, so don’t discount a possible Thornton return. The Sharks rallied from a 2-0 first-period deficit in Game 1 of the Oilers series to win 3-2 in overtime, a contest that included the team converting one of six chances on the power play. Without Thornton, DeBoer tried several combinations, to no avail. The biggest change was putting two defensemen on the ice during power plays instead of incorporating a fourth forward to play opposite rear guard Brent Burns. The Sharks were 7-for-48 on the power play in March and 1-for-8 in April’s last four regular-season contests for a combined 14.3 percent success rate. During last year’s run to the Stanley Cup Finals, the Sharks were 17-for-63 (27 percent) on the power play in postseason series against Los Angeles, Nashville and St. Louis as they won the West. “We expected a tough game and that they would respond,” DeBoer said of the Oilers in Game 2. Sharks 3, Oilers 2 (OT) Oilers 2, Sharks 0



Sharks doomed by Edmonton’s two shorthanded goals

Sat, 15 Apr 2017 06:46:59 UT

Sharks doomed by Edmonton’s two shorthanded goals EDMONTON — Connor McDavid and Zack Kassian took advantage of the Sharks’ sputtering power play to score shorthanded goals in the Edmonton Oilers’ 2-0 win Friday night, evening the best-of-seven Western Conference quarterfinal series at a game apiece. Kassian scored early in the second period and McDavid added the insurance goal midway through the third period. Kassian drove the net effectively and delivered bone-jarring hits on Brenden Dillon and Logan Couture at Rogers Place. Oilers goaltender Cam Talbot faced few quality scoring chances en route to a shutout. The Oilers had missed the playoffs for 10 consecutive seasons before this year. Kassian scored 42 seconds into the second period when Pavelski, on a Sharks’ power play, lost control of the puck at the Oilers’ blue line. Letestu promptly passed to the streaking Kassian, who barreled in alone and fired a wrist shot low past the blocker of goalie Martin Jones. McDavid, the league’s regular-season scoring leader, scored his first NHL playoff goal at the 10:31 mark of the third period, streaking down the left side and launching a short-side wrist shot that eluded Jones. The Sharks were 0-for-6 with the man advantage and are 1-for-12 through the first two games. Thornton has been skating in practice, and head coach Peter DeBoer has said he expects Thornton to return at some point in the series. Dean Bennett is an Associated Press writer. Note: TV channels for Games 5-7 TBA.



Sharks beat Oilers 3-2 in overtime

Thu, 13 Apr 2017 06:01:10 UT

Sharks beat Oilers 3-2 in overtime EDMONTON, Alberta — Melker Karlsson scored 3:22 into overtime and the Sharks came back to beat the Edmonton Oilers 3-2 on Wednesday night in Game 1 of their Western Conference series. The Oilers jumped to a 2-0 first-period lead only for the Sharks to come back to tie the game with just over 15 minutes to play. Edmonton center Connor McDavid, the NHL’s leading scorer in the regular season, had one assist in his playoff debut to extend his points streak to 15 games. The Sharks played without center Joe Thornton, who is day-to-day with a left knee injury. [...] San Jose center Logan Couture returned to the lineup, with a full-face cage. Klefbom scored the Oilers’ first playoff goal since 2006 when he took a cross-ice pass in the high slot from Jordan Eberle and fired the puck low between the pads of Sharks goalie Martin Jones 6:44 into the game. Lucic made it 2-0 with less than three minutes to go in the first period on the power play. San Jose cut the lead in half 1:43 into the second period on the power play. Winger Joonas Donskoi came around behind the net and fed the puck in front on the backhand to Ward, who redirected the puck past goalie Cam Talbot. San Jose tied the game just over five minutes into the third period when Martin jumped on a rebound off Tomas Hertl’s wraparound shot and put the puck in.



Sharks’ Joe Thornton, Logan Couture remain day-to-day

Wed, 12 Apr 2017 02:08:59 UT

Sharks’ Joe Thornton, Logan Couture remain day-to-day On the eve of the Sharks’ playoff opener, the status of Joe Thornton and Logan Couture, two of their best players, remained the same. “Both of those guys, like I’ve said all along, are day-to-day,” Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer said Tuesday. The Sharks are the defending Western Conference champions, but stumbled into the playoffs. By contrast, the Oilers — returning to the playoffs for the first time since 2006 — won 12 of their final 14 regular-season games for head coach Todd McLellan, the former Sharks head coach, to finish with 103 points. The last time Edmonton topped 100 points was 1986-87 when Wayne Gretzky was plying his trade and the Oilers won the third of their five Stanley Cup titles. Led by regular-season scoring champion Connor McDavid (30 goals, 70 assists), the Oilers are young, speedy and dynamic. Thornton, who sustained a left knee injury this month, and Couture, who took a deflected puck to the mouth in late March, each practiced for the second consecutive day. Thornton glided onto the practice ice wearing an orange jersey — which indicated that he could be a possible scratch for Game 1 — and didn’t appear in the second practice session. Couture, who wore a protective cage around his face, appeared in a white jersey during the first practice session, which suggests he could be on the team’s top line. [...] of who plays, the Sharks must bolster their offense to compete with the Oilers, particularly on the power play. San Jose ranked 25th with a man advantage (16.7 percent) and was 19th in goals per game (2.67). “We’re not proud of the numbers in the regular season,” Couture added. Tacuma Roeback is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Note: TV channels for Games 5-7 TBA.



Sharks know they’ll have their hands full with McDavid and Oilers

Tue, 11 Apr 2017 02:11:30 UT

Sharks know they’ll have their hands full with McDavid and Oilers The Sharks open the Stanley Cup playoffs with the challenge of trying to contain the most dynamic young player in hockey, Logan Couture, both or neither will play Wednesday at the outset of the best-of-seven Western Conference first-round series will go right down to puck-drop time. Both Couture and Thornton took to the practice ice Monday, a session that lasted for just more than an hour — long by hockey standards. Thornton, however, retired to the locker room approximately halfway through the skate, and didn’t participate in specific drills designed for Edmonton. Thornton missed the final three games of the regular season with a left knee injury, and he has been wearing a protective brace since returning to the practice ice. Out since March 25 when a deflected puck to the mouth required extensive dental work to try to save his teeth, Couture participated in his first full skate with a full cage on his helmet. “In my mind, I wish I could have played right after it happened,” said Couture, who missed the final seven games of the regular season. Assuming the 20-year-old isn’t blinded by the bright lights of his first trip to the postseason, this will be a stiff challenge for San Jose. McDavid ran away with the league scoring title by finishing 11 points ahead of Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby with a 14-game scoring streak to end the season. [...] we know what Crosby did to the Sharks last postseason. To a man, the Sharks understand that making wise choices with the puck and trying to play as much in Edmonton’s end as possible could minimize McDavid’s threat. The Sharks go into the postseason as they did last year: third-place finishers in the Pacific Division, facing a division rival on the road. [...] running into a young, brash and confident Oilers team in a new building with loyal fans supercharged to have their team in the playoffs for the first time in 11 seasons appears more daunting than last spring’s first-round foe in Los Angeles. San Jose knocked off the Kings in five games to set the tone for a run that didn’t end until the Penguins skated with the Stanley Cup at SAP Center after Game 6 of the Finals. Note: TV channels for Games 5-7 TBA.