Early returns are strong on Havlat


Early returns are strong on Havlat

Fresh off of their second win of the young season, the Sharks will look to build off of a 4-3 shootout victory over the Devils last night when they meet the defending Stanley Cup champs in Boston tonight.

Antti Niemi is scheduled to make his third straight start in net, and is expected to be opposed by Bostons Tim Thomas.
Havlat debut a success: Martin Havlat made his long awaited Sharks debut on Friday night and registered an assist on Ryane Clowes second period goal. Havlat didnt show any visible ill effects from his left shoulder injury that was surgically repaired in May, and looked comfortable on his line with Clowe and Logan Couture.

That line scored its first even strength goal of the season when Clowe went hard to the net and the puck bounced in off of his left skate.

Havlat said afterwards that the pace of the game was somewhat difficult, but he felt strong nonetheless.

It was a tough game for me, especially just jumping into the season like that. But, its going to get better. Everything was a little bit off, but the more we play the better its going to get, he said.

He talked about feeling good on the ice, and being confident with his injury, said Todd McLellan. He said the tempo was pretty darn quick, which we expected. I felt good about playing him.

Havlat played more than 19 minutes, and that number could increase when he gets a few more games under his belt, according to McLellan.

Shots, shots, shot-shot-shot shots: If youve seen the first five games of the season, you already know that the Sharks are piling up shots on goal. They lead the league with 40.6 per game.

After surrendering just 19 to the Devils last night, they also lead the league in fewest shots allowed per game with 22.6.

Boston is a team that prides itself on its defense in front of Thomas, so it could be a little harder to generate so many shots tonight. San Jose will have to continue to crash the net and look for loose pucks, as Thomas is coming off of one the best seasons in NHL history for a goaltender.

San Jose scored twice on Friday just that way by creating chaos around the net including Clowes goal, which tied the game at 2-2.

We werent turning away. We werent going to easy areas. We scored an ugly goal and it probably made the difference for us, said McLellan.

What can Braun do for you: The Sharks third defense pair of Jason Demers and Colin White has struggled. That was evident on New Jerseys go-ahead goal late in the third period last night, when Demers misplayed a puck at the offensive blue line and White fell down on his backcheck, leaving the Devils David Clarkson alone in front of the net.

McLellan mentioned his displeasure with that goal after last nights win, and the Sharks have since recalled defensemanJustin Braun from Worcester. Braun could be making his season debut tonight, so look for either Demers or White to come out of the lineup.

Tommy Wingels was reassigned to Worcester to make room for Braun.
Points at a premium: Even with their win last night, the Sharks still woke up this morning already trailing Dallas by eight points in the standings. The Stars are 6-1 and have played two more games than the Sharks.

It makes claiming that extra point by prevailing in the shootout last night that much more important.

Its huge, especially coming back the way we did, said Thornton. Its just a big confidence booster and a little shot in the arm for all the guys. Hopefully this can spur something and we can get on a little winning streak.

DeBoer laughs heartily at photo: Thornton 'doesn't like his shirt on'

DeBoer laughs heartily at photo: Thornton 'doesn't like his shirt on'

PITTSBURGH – Joe Thornton and Brent Burns are already two of the more recognizable players in the NHL, standing at six-foot-four and six-foot-five respectively, and beards that are only slightly shorter than that.

Strolling about the Steel City on Wednesday, they caught the attention of one hockey fan who snapped a photo of Burns and a shirtless Thornton, and sent it to Pittsburgh radio host Colin Dunlap, who subsequently tweeted the image. As of Thursday morning, it had nearly 5,000 retweets and more than 8,000 likes.

After the Sharks’ morning skate on Thursday, Thornton simply said he was “just seeing the sights,” before quickly running off to the showers.

Head coach Pete DeBoer laughed heartily when asked if he had seen the picture.

“I did. [Thornton] doesn’t like his shirt on, we know that,” DeBoer said. “That’s the uniqueness and the beauty of our group.”

The Sharks play the Penguins on Thursday night in the first meeting between the teams since the Stanley Cup Final.

NHL Gameday: Pens hurting in Final rematch with Sharks

NHL Gameday: Pens hurting in Final rematch with Sharks

Programming note: Sharks-Penguins coverage starts today at 3:30 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live on CSN California


Sharks: 3-1-0, 6 points, 3rd Pacific Division
Penguins: 2-1-1, 5 points, 2nd Metropolitan Division


***The Sharks and Penguins will meet for the first time since Pittsburgh’s win in the Stanley Cup Final last June. The Penguins are, however, missing some key pieces to that series victory as Sidney Crosby, Kris Letang, Matt Murray and Conor Sheary are all out due to injury.

The Sharks are 2-1 on their current five-game road trip, which concludes on Saturday in Detroit.

“A lot of reminders for sure being back here not long ago,” Joel Ward said. “Definitely excited, a good challenge with us being on the road early again. We’ll try to notch another road win.”

***Pete DeBoer said after the Islanders game that he wasn’t sure what his emotions would be like when he walked into the rink, which is now called PPG Paints Arena. Now that he’s here, how does he feel?

“An overwhelming sense I think of pride for our group and the journey we went on,” he said. “I know we came up short, but the memories I have coming back in here are just of how our guys really emptied the tank. … They were the better team, but I was very proud of our effort. That’s the overwhelming feeling right now.”

As for Joe Thornton, he recalled that the last time the Sharks were here they won Game 5, prolonging the series.

“The last time we were here was a pretty good feeling,” Thornton said. “That’s all I remember, really.”

***Matt Nieto will return to the lineup for Micheal Haley, who played against the Islanders and helped to generate the first goal in the 3-2 win.

DeBoer stressed that Nieto wasn’t removed from the lineup due to his play, but that the Sharks are “going to rotate guys in and out” due to their improved depth.

“[Nieto] brings some more speed for us. I thought he did a good job the game before we took him out,” DeBoer said. “Hales gave us a real good game against a physical team against the Islanders, and Neets will go back in to tonight. He’s just got to do his thing.”

Nieto said: “Something they try to do is play fast, and they’ve got a lot of speedy guys in their lineup. I think if I’m moving my legs it could be effective.”


Sharks: Joe Thornton. The Sharks’ top line center broke through on Tuesday in Brooklyn, setting up the game-tying goal and game-winning goal in a 3-2 victory over the Islanders. Thornton didn’t have a very good Stanley Cup Final against the Penguins with just three assists in six games, so perhaps he has some retribution on his mind, even if he doesn't want to admit it.

Penguins: Matt Cullen. The veteran center is doing his best to help minimize the loss of Crosby, and is tied for the team lead with three points (1g, 2a). Dating back to last season, Cullen, who turns 40 on Nov. 2, has 11 goals in his past 31 games.


Tomas Hertl – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Mikkel Boedker – Logan Couture – Joonas Donskoi
Patrick Marleau – Chris Tierney – Joel Ward
Matt Nieto – Tommy Wingels – Melker Karlsson

Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Paul Martin – Brent Burns
Brenden Dillon – David Schlemko

Martin Jones (confirmed starter)
Aaron Dell

Chris Kunitz – Evgeni Malkin – Bryan Rust
Carl Hagelin – Nick Bonino – Phil Kessel
Scott Wilson – Matt Cullen – Patric Honqvist
Tom Sestito – Eric Fehr – Tom Kuhnhackl

Olli Maatta – Trevor Daley
Ian Cole – Justin Schultz
Derrick Pouliot – Brian Dumoulin

Marc-Andre Fleury
Mike Condon


Sharks: None.

Penguins: Kris Letang (upper body) and Conor Sheary (eye), Sidney Crosby (concussion) and Matt Murray (hand) are out.