Niemi's scoreless streak ends as Sharks lose in Phoenix


Niemi's scoreless streak ends as Sharks lose in Phoenix


PHOENIX Lauri Korpikoski scored twice and Brent Burns' inadvertent deflection into his own net at the end of the second period helped the Phoenix Coyotes to a 5-3 win over the Sharks at Arena on Saturday night.Phoenix broke a 2-2 tie late in the second when Martin Hanzal got credit for his sixth goal of the year at 19:16 on a two-on-one rush with Ray Whitney. Whitney fed Hanzal to his left, and when Hanzal shot it, the puck deflected in off of Burns stick while the Sharks defenseman was diving back with an outstretched arm.It was a pretty lucky bounce, Burns said.

It wasnt the only break that the Coyotes got, either. They increased their lead to 4-2 at 8:03 of the third period, when Boyd Gordon threw the puck on net from the corner and it deflected in off of Korpikoskis left skate.It was an important goal, too, as Patrick Marleau cut the Phoenix lead to 4-3 with 32.3 seconds left, finishing off a pretty passing play that began with Joe Thornton and Ryane Clowe, but it wasnt enough. Radim Vrbata sealed the Phoenix win on an empty-net goal with less than a second remaining.It would be easy to say that the Sharks were the victims of a few unlucky bounces, particularly regarding the Hanzal marker off of Burns. That goal, which gave Phoenix a lead it would not relinquish, probably could have been prevented even before the odd man rush developed.Thornton was involved in the play as the puck bounced around in the neutral zone, but decided to peel off and head to the bench while Burns hustled back in his attempt to break it up.Todd McLellan didnt like the first Coyotes goal, either, when the Sharks won a faceoff just outside of their defensive zone but allowed the Coyotes to gain possession in the zone before Raffi Torres fired in a shot from the slot at 4:16 of the second period, just 32 seconds after Logan Couture had given San Jose a 1-0 lead.When you look at the five goals they got, I didnt like the first one at all. It was a faceoff we won and we let people go, McLellan said. Then the line change, neutral zone fiasco that we had going for the third one was disappointing. Weve got to clean that up. We give up four, were not winning. Its as simple as that.The Sharks three-game winning streak was halted in the loss. Although they continue to lead the Pacific, their record fell to just 7-6-0 against teams in their division.Phoenix, which entered the game 12th in the Western Conference and in desperate need of points, has won two of three against San Jose after dropping a 6-3 decision on opening night.Every team judges us a measuring stick. Thats the reality of it. We know that and we expect everybodys A-game every night, Thornton said. Theyre excited to play us and theyre in the hunt to get in the postseason, so thats a big two points for them tonight.McLellan looks at it differently.When other teams play against each other and were not involved, they are intense games. So, Im not buying that theory a whole lot that teams get up for you.We better be prepared. We better not let our guard down. We better not assume that teams below us in the standings arent going to come out and go after us. I dont think its a good motivational tool. I think we have to be ready regardless of who and when, said the coach.After a scoreless first period, the teams combined for five goals in a back-and-forth second period.Couture got it started. He deposited his team-leading 22nd when he corralled a loose puck in front of the net and went backhand-to-forehand before sliding it through goaltender Mike Smith at 3:44.Phoenix responded just 32 seconds later when Torres lifted it past Niemi, ending an impressive run for the Sharks goaltender. Niemi entered with back-to-back shutouts against Calgary and Columbus after missing Thursdays 5-2 win against Dallas with a minor injury. Officially, the streak ended at 148:33, more than a period shy of Evgeni Nabokovs team record of 170:58 set in 2009.The Coyotes took their first lead on Korpikoskis first. A hard forechecking Boyd Gordon forced Colin White into a turnover behind the net, and Shane Doan found Korpikoski open in the slot for a one-timer at 9:29.San Joses power play remained hot, tying the game on Jamie McGinns redirection from the slot on a pass from Burns at 12:28 for his 11th of the season.Im just trying to find a soft area and Burnsie made a great kind of shot-pass and it worked out," McGinn said.The Sharks finished 1-for-2 with a man advantage, and are 6-for-15 in their last six games.Niemi was pulled for an extra attacker with 2:20 left in the third period, and Smith, who finished with 32 saves, nearly scored a goal himself. After a dump in on net from behind the red line by the Sharks, Smith shot the puck the length of the ice and missed the open net by about a foot.The Sharks return home to face Calgary on Wednesday, Feb. 8 and Chicago on Friday, Feb. 10. Following the Blackhawks game, the team embarks on a nine-game, 15-day road trip.Odds and ends: Ryane Clowe had three assists. ... Logan Couture increased his point-scoring streak to six games (4g, 5a), and had a game-high five shots. The Sharks and Coyotes next meet in Phoenix on March 10. San Jose lost 31 of 56 faceoffs. Each team had 14 blocks. Marc-Edouard Vlasic was a -2 for the second time in six games.

Sharks 'competed our asses off' in rewarding win over Kings

Sharks 'competed our asses off' in rewarding win over Kings

LOS ANGELES – It’s only mid-January, but the Sharks have already concluded the five-game season series with their biggest rival. That could be a good thing, as Sharks-Kings games are rarely for the faint of heart. 

“I’m glad to be done with them. If we don’t see them again, I’ll be alright with that,” Pete DeBoer quipped.

On the other hand, Wednesday’s latest and final head-to-head matchup resulted in perhaps the Sharks’ most rewarding win of the season, 3-2 at Staples Center. 

San Jose got contributions from up and down its lineup. Despite being without several key players (including Logan Couture, who missed the game due to illness), the Sharks worked hard and smart all over the ice and put some distance between themselves and Los Angeles, which is fighting to remain in playoff position.

“It was a good feeling in this [dressing] room when we came in here [after the game],” said Joe Pavelski, who scored one of the Sharks’ three goals. “Just felt like you put a complete effort out there.”

DeBoer said: “A little bit of a thin lineup, and I thought we competed our asses off. Played hard. This isn’t an easy building to win in. They play a physical game. We stood in there, and I thought played a real complete game.”

Special teams was key, as the Sharks got a power play goal from Pavelski and held the Kings to no goals and just one power play shot on four chances. Martin Jones was his typical solid self, even throwing in a highlight reel save on Dwight King in the third period to preserve the one-goal. Brent Burns continued to dominate, getting yet another goal in the first period (his 19th), and Joe Thornton notched a pair of assists.

And, the fourth line got in on the action, too. Micheal Haley was one of the team’s best forwards of the evening, beautifully setting up Tommy Wingels on a two-on-one, who gave the Sharks a 2-1 lead they would not relinquish with less than five minutes to go in the first period.

“Just tried to make an early pass so [Wingels] had enough time to have a good look, and he made a great shot,” Haley said.

DeBoer said: “Big goal from those guys.”

Defensively, Los Angeles was held to just 24 shots, as the Sharks kept the Kings’ stars at bay. That includes Jeff Carter, who was the best player on the ice in the most recent meeting on Jan. 3, and has been far and away Los Angeles’ most valuable player this season.

“He’s a world class player and he’s having a world class season,” DeBoer said of Carter. “He’s dangerous every time he’s on the ice.”

The Sharks played a committed and detailed game in their own end, though, not giving Carter or anyone else much room to operate in their offensive zone. Los Angeles’ scoring chances were few and far between.

Last week, the Sharks failed to put some distance between themselves and another division rival nipping on their heels, the Flames. They didn’t want that to happen again with the Kings, who could have pulled to within four points of San Jose with a regulation win.

Instead, the Kings are now eight points back of San Jose after losing three of the five meetings. And they don’t have any more of those four-point games left on the schedule.

“You always want to win a season series,” Pavelski said. “It was just important because I think we all know it was pretty tight in the standings. It goes [to] four or eight [points], you know?”

Haley said: “We want to make that distance farther and farther. They’re always in the back of our head.”

Instant Replay: Complete effort helps Sharks take down rival Kings

Instant Replay: Complete effort helps Sharks take down rival Kings


LOS ANGELES – Brent Burns, Tommy Wingels and Joe Pavelski scored goals, and a brilliant performance by the penalty killers keyed a Sharks win over the Kings on Wednesday at Staples Center, 3-2.

The Sharks finished the season 3-1-1 against the Kings, and have won four of their last six overall (4-2-0). Los Angeles concluded a seven-game homestand with a 3-4-0 mark, dropping eight points behind San Jose in the Pacific Division.

After trading early scores, San Jose scored twice to jump out to a 3-1 lead.

Wingels gave the Sharks their second lead of the night at 15:42 of the first period, burying a Micheal Haley pass on a two-on-one rush.

Then, on a second period power play, Joel Ward redirected a Joe Thornton shot wide, but Pavelski grabbed it off of the end boards and bounced it in off of Peter Budaj at the 10-minute mark.

Los Angeles got one back at 15:19. Kyle Clifford stepped out of the penalty box making it a three-on-two, and after Martin Jones stopped Clifford try from the slot, the puck squirted to Marian Gaborik who easily directed it into the open net.

The Kings’ nearly tied it with about 14:20 to go, but Jones made a brilliant stop on Dwight King’s rebound try, lunging at the shot with his right pad.

Los Angeles failed on four power play chances, getting just one shot in nearly eight minutes.

The Sharks were without Logan Couture for the first time this season. According to coach Pete DeBoer, Couture remained in San Jose due to an illness. Patrick Marleau centered the second line, while Melker Karlsson took Marleau’s place on the Thornton-Pavelski line.

The teams traded first period goals. Burns’ wrister from high in the zone deflected off of Anze Kopitar’s stick and high over Budaj at 3:31, but Los Angeles responded on Tanner Pearson’s redirection of Derek Forbort’s floater at 5:46.

According to Elias, Burns is the first defenseman to have at least 19 goals through the first 45 games of the season since Paul Coffey had 22 in 1985-86.

Thornton notched two assists, moving into 24th all-time on the NHL’s scoring list with 1,370 points, passing Johnny Bucyk.

Special teams

In a game that featured an abundance of questionable calls, the Sharks went 1-for-4 while remaining perfect on the PK. San Jose has one power play goal in three of its last four games (3-for-13).

The Kings had one power play goal in each of the first four head-to-head meetings before Wednesday.

In goal

Jones improved to 6-2-2 against his former team, making 22 stops. He was starting for the eighth time in the last nine.

Budaj allowed three goals on 27 shots. He continues to get the bulk of the work with Jonathan Quick still out from a groin injury suffered on opening night in San Jose.


In Couture’s place, Ryan Carpenter played for the first time since Nov. 30, when he scored his first NHL goal at Staples Center. Barclay Goodrow and Tim Heed, recalled on Tuesday, were scratched.

Kopitar played for the Kings after missing Monday’s game with an illness.

Up next

The Sharks will battle the Lightning at home in the second of two meetings on Thursday. On Nov. 12, San Jose beat Tampa Bay at Amalie Arena, 3-1. In the second of back-to-backs, the Sharks are 4-3-0 this season.