Instant Replay: Pacific division still up for grabs after Ducks beat Sharks

Instant Replay: Pacific division still up for grabs after Ducks beat Sharks

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SAN JOSE – Perhaps the Pacific Division race isn’t over quite yet, after all.

Patrick Eaves and Jakob Silfverberg scored goals in a 2-1 Ducks win over the Sharks at SAP Center on Saturday, bringing them to within four points of San Jose for the division lead. The Sharks, who still have one game in hand on Anaheim, had a nine point cushion on the rest of the Pacific after beating Buffalo on Tuesday.

Anaheim has won the Pacific Division in each of the last four seasons. The Sharks are seeking their first title since 2011.

It took Anaheim more than eight minutes to get their first shot on goal in the second period, as momentum swung towards San Jose in a 1-1 game.

But with six-and-a-half minutes left in the middle frame, Silfverberg blocked a Paul Martin shot after the defenseman fumbled with the puck just inside the offensive zone blue line, and raced in for a breakaway score at 13:29. The Ducks took their 2-1 lead to the dressing room.

San Jose’s best chance to tie it in the third came on a Patrick Marleau breakaway with nine minutes to go, but he couldn’t slip through a backhand.

The Sharks pulled Martin Jones with about two-and-a-half minutes left in regulation, but couldn’t find the equalizer.

The Sharks finished their season-long six-game homestand with a 3-3-0 mark. They lost back-to-back games in regulation at home for just the second time this season (Nov. 3-5).

Anaheim, playing its second game in two nights, improved to 5-1-1 in its last seven.

The Ducks had the Sharks on their heels early. They took the lead just 39 seconds into the game when Eaves finished his check on Justin Braun, snuck out to the front of the net, and lifted a Ryan Getzlaf feed over Jones’ glove hand. It was Eaves’ third goal with Anaheim since he was traded from Dallas just before the deadline.

Anaheim kept up the pressure, including a Ryan Kesler breakaway which is rang off the post, but the Sharks would tie it late in the frame.

On a two-man advantage, Joe Thornton found Logan Couture alone in the slot, and Couture – playing in his 500th career NHL game – whipped it through Jonathan Bernier at 19:13.

Couture nearly had his second of the night some remaining power play time early in the second, but his redirection of a Martin saucer caught iron.

Jannik Hansen left the game midway through the third period after colliding with Ducks defenseman Brandon Montour, and did not return.

The Sharks and Ducks concluded their five-game season series. Anaheim was 3-0-2.

Special teams

The Sharks finished 1-for-3 on the power play, scoring their third five-on-three goal of the season.  Couture’s 11 power play goals leads the team.

Anaheim was 0-for-2 on the power play, as the Sharks improved to 12-for-13 on the PK over the last six games.

In goal

Jones has allowed two or fewer goals in his last eight starts, but fell to 4-8-0 in his career against Anaheim with two goals allowed on 27 shots. He played all five games of the season series.

Playing in his fourth game this season against San Jose, Bernier made 33 saves to get his 15th win of the season.

Anaheim remains without goalie John Gibson, who is sidelined with a lower body injury and has missed 10 of the last 11 overall.

Lineup

Andrew Cogliano played in his 776th straight game, tied for the fourth-longest streak in NHL history.

Up next

After Monday’s game against the Stars opens a four-game road trip, the Sharks will visit Minnesota on Tuesday, and go right back to Dallas for another game on Friday. The trip concludes with their only visit of the regular season to Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena.

Sharks' Vlasic joins Canada for World Championships

Sharks' Vlasic joins Canada for World Championships

Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic will compete in the upcoming IIHF World Championships for Team Canada, it was announced on Friday.

The tournament runs from May 5-21 in Paris, France and Cologne, Germany. 

Vlasic, 30, a native of Montreal, has played in the tournament twice before in 2009 and 2012. He also represented Canada in the 2014 Olympic Games, helping it to a gold medal, and the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, which Canada also captured.

In 75 games with the Sharks this season, Vlasic posted 28 points (6g, 22a) and a +4 rating. He was second on the team in shorthanded time on ice (2:04 per game) and blocked shots (146).

A pending restricted free agent in 2018, Sharks general manager Doug Wilson called getting Vlasic signed to a long-term deal an offseason priority for the club. The two sides can begin negotiations on July 1.

“Vlasic [is] arguably one of the best defensemen in the league,” Wilson said. “[He] is still one of the most underrated players in the league in the outside world.”

The Sharks lost in the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs to Edmonton, although Vlasic and partner Justin Braun helped to keep Connor McDavid in check at even strength. The league's leading scorer had just one even strength point in the six-game series, an empty net goal with less than one second left in Game 6.

Boedker tops list of disappointing Sharks depth forwards

Boedker tops list of disappointing Sharks depth forwards

SAN JOSE – The Sharks didn’t make any blockbuster moves last summer, content to make another run in 2016-17 with largely the same group that came within two wins of capturing the Stanley Cup.

They still acquired a notable player, though, when Mikkel Boedker was signed on July 1 to add an element that the Sharks knew they needed more of moving forward – speed. Boedker was expected to make the team faster, after the Sharks were exposed for not having enough of that against Pittsburgh in the NHL’s final round, as well as play in a top six role. 

At the time, it was hailed as a slick, under-the-radar move that wasn’t going to change the dynamic of the club but could help push it over the top.

When Boedker was a healthy scratch in games three and four of the first round against Edmonton, the evidence became clear, though, that this was a decision that fell flat on its face. 

Frankly, Boedker – who is signed for three more years with a $4 million salary cap hit – brings back visions of Sharks bust Marty Havlat. You know the skill is there, but the desire to use it on a nightly basis while showing any semblance of a battle level is lacking. 

Should the Sharks give Boedker another chance next season, or should they do everything in their power to try and move him? That’s a question that will likely be debated in the front office over the next several weeks.

On get-away day on Monday, indications were that the Sharks were planning on sticking with the 27-year-old, who finished with 26 points in the regular season (10g, 16a) and added one goal and one assist in four games in the playoffs.

“He has the things we’re looking for: his career scoring average, his speed, [penalty killing] ability,” general manager Doug Wilson said. “Did he meet the expectations that he had for himself [or] that we had for him? No. Can we get that out of him? Pete [DeBoer] believes we can.”

DeBoer has known Boedker since he played for him in 2007-08 in Kitchener (OHL). Despite scratching him in the playoffs, DeBoer said he saw “huge improvement” in Boedker throughout the course of the season after the forward spent nearly all of his NHL career in Arizona.

“There was an adjustment. He’s played 6-7 years a certain way in the NHL,” DeBoer said. “We’ve asked him to play differently here, and there was an adjustment.”

Boedker still believes that he can be a fit in San Jose.

“I think it will be and it can be,” he said. “It’s learning period, but you’ve also got to look in the mirror yourself and see what you can change and what assets you need to bring. I’ve learned a lot, and I’m ready to do that.”

The list of Sharks depth forwads that had frustrating seasons hardly begins and ends with Boedker, though.

Veteran Joel Ward’s production dipped from 43 points last season to 29 in 2016-17, although that probably isn’t too surprising considering he’s 36. Tomas Hertl is proving to be a streaky player, too, although his season was interrupted by another a knee injury.

The bigger disappointment came from players like Chris Tierney and Joonas Donskoi, who both made big impressions in the 2016 playoffs but struggled to produce consistent offense this year. Both were mentioned by name by DeBoer on Monday.

There are some promising youngsters in the pipeline like Timo Meier, Kevin Labanc and Marcus Sorensen, but it’s still too early to project any of them as can’t-miss scorers at the NHL level.

“I think we’ve got a large group of guys that I like, but need to step up,” DeBoer said. “Is Sorensen [like] Donskoi next year, where he takes a step back, or [does he take a] step forward? We’ve got a lot of guys that there’s a lot of potential there – Chris Tierney. 

“There’s a lot of those guys, but they need to have big summers and take a step, and show that they’re not just one season or one month players.”