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.

Sorensen returns to Sharks after having 'positive impact' last season

Sorensen returns to Sharks after having 'positive impact' last season

Editor's Note: The above video is from March 2, 2017

One of the Sharks’ young forwards expected to challenge for a full time roster spot this season has been re-signed.

Marcus Sorensen, who started the year in the AHL before working his way up to the Sharks, signed a two-year contract extension the team announced on Tuesday. A source told NBC Sports California that the deal is worth $700,000 at the NHL level for each of the next two seasons.

In 19 regular season games with the Sharks, Sorensen, 25, posted one goal and three assists. He appeared in all six playoff games against Edmonton, posting one goal and one assist.

In 43 games with the AHL Barracuda, Sorensen had 17 goals and 17 assists for 34 points.

"The time he spent with the Sharks this season, and the positive impact he had, proved that he can be an effective player at the highest level,” assistant general manager Joe Will said in a statement.

Sorensen originally signed with the Sharks as a free agent on May 13, 2016. He was originally drafted by Ottawa in the fourth round of the 2010 draft, but spent six seasons playing in Sweden before joining San Jose.

Sorensen was a restriced free agent. The Sharks have just one RFA left to sign in forward Barclay Goodrow.

Mailbag: Will Sharks miss Marleau's leadership? Thornton to be bumped?

Mailbag: Will Sharks miss Marleau's leadership? Thornton to be bumped?

Now that the dust has settled on the draft and free agency, here’s a meaty offseason Sharks mailbag before my vacation…

Who will replace Patty's leadership? (philip malan‏ @pmalan1979)

Patrick Marleau was a good example for other players in that he always came to camp in great shape and took care of himself between games, allowing him to be very productive into his later years. 

But let’s not overblow it. From what I understand, Marleau preferred to avoid confrontation, and was never the guy in the dressing room challenging other players to step up. That was left more to guys like Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski, with Logan Couture growing into that role in recent years, too. When it comes to veteran leadership there are other guys still in the dressing room of more value than Marleau. His leaving town shouldn’t change the dynamic.

Will Thornton be bumped from the top line center role? Who do you think will replace Marleau on the PP? (Elle‏ @LikeShiningOil)

The whole “top line” designation is something that us writers and broadcasters like to use, and I’m going to keep using it for Thornton so long as he and Pavelski are on the same line. That said, there will be plenty of games where the Couture line gets more even-strength ice time than the Thornton line. I guess my point here is don’t read too much into the labels. I don’t expect Thornton’s ice time to go down from what it was last season. He’s averaged 18 minutes and change in each of the past five seasons, and probably will again.

As for replacing Marleau on the power play, I would tab Tomas Hertl as the frontrunner, but I’m sure the Sharks will try a number of different looks there in training camp. After finishing 25th in the NHL last season they pretty much have to, right?

How will the lines roll this season, if you were to prognosticate now? (Erik Kuhre @Puckguy14)

It seems like we say this every year, but it depends on where the Sharks see Hertl slotting in. Last season Hertl started out on the wing of the top line after offseason knee surgery before moving to center fairly quickly. I know he battled through yet another knee injury during the season, but Hertl’s 22 points in 49 games was a disappointing total.

If the season were starting today, I’d put Hertl on the wing of the Thornton line again with, of course, Pavelski on the other side. Here’s what I’ve got in that scenario:

Tomas Hertl – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Timo Meier – Logan Couture – Joonas Donskoi
Jannik Hansen – Chris Tierney – Mikkel Boedker
Melker Karlsson – Ryan Carpenter – Joel Ward

Extras: Marcus Sorensen, Kevin Labanc, Barclay Goodrow

(One guy who is really going to have to fight to keep his spot is Ward. I could see him getting pushed out, but for now I’m leaving him in).

Will there be a tough guy in the lineup to protect the kids? (Jim Kelley)

The Sharks signed free agent Brandon Bollig a couple weeks ago to replace Micheal Haley, but I don’t seem him as a regular in the NHL lineup. Bollig could be a guy they recall if they think it’s necessary to dress a pugilist, like when Pete DeBoer brought up Haley late in the 2015-16 season for the sole reason of fighting Darnell Nurse, who had jumped Sharks defenseman Roman Polak just two weeks earlier for no real reason.

Do you think Chris Tierney is capable of more point production at this point in his career? (Ian Stephenson)

Count me among those that thought Tierney was ready to have a better season last year after his strong performance in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Still, he’s just 23 years old, and his line in the series against Edmonton with Meier and Sorensen was a very effective one for long stretches of play. This is a huge year for Tierney, who had to settle for the Sharks’ one-year, $735,000 qualifying offer. Perform, and he’ll get paid. Struggle, and he could be on the move.

Do you think the Sharks will trade either Grosenick or Dell? Doesn't seem Grosenick has much more to prove in AHL. (Chris Greni)

No, they’ll hold on to all three for the time being. Getting Troy Grosenick re-signed to a one-year deal was a nice move on the Sharks’ part, considering Aaron Dell still has just 20 games of NHL experience. Perhaps if they both continue to play well the Sharks could dangle one as trade bait later in the year, but it wouldn’t make sense at this point. 

Any thoughts on DW using the offer sheet to bring in scoring help? There’s several serviceable RFAs out there still waiting for contracts. (Tony Martinico)

Keep in mind that some of those high end RFAs, like Colton Parayko, Nino Niederreiter and Tomas Tatar are currently headed for arbitration, which takes the offer sheet off the table.

Purely speculation here, but I have to wonder if the Sharks have at least kicked around trying to ink Leon Draisaitl to an offer sheet. You have to think Berlin native Hasso Plattner would love to add the “German Gretzky” to the roster. I know we're settling into the part of the NHL offseason where typically nothing happens, but it was July 19 when the Flyers signed Shea Weber to a monster offer sheet five years ago.

And, of course, Doug Wilson has used the power of the offer sheet in the past, signing Niklas Hjalmarsson in 2010 and then using the threat of an offer sheet with Boston to acquire Martin Jones.

Which Cuda player, aside from Meier, Labanc and Sorensen, would you expect to be a dark horse and could make the big team out of camp? (olin @sleepymofo)

Keep in mind that the sixth and defensemen spots are open, too. I would presume that Dylan DeMelo is the frontrunner to replace David Schlemko, but Tim Heed and Joakim Ryan are coming off of strong seasons in the AHL. Perhaps one of them overtakes DeMelo in training camp.

As for other forwards than those you mentioned, Goodrow could end challenging for a spot on the fourth line. I get plenty of questions about Danny O’Regan, too, and perhaps he makes a push. The issue with O’Regan is that although he’s a skilled player in the minors, he’s probably not quite skilled enough to make up for his small frame at the NHL level. I view him more as a fill-in guy.

Any word on [Barclay] Goodrow and [Marcus] Sorenson? I'm assuming they didn't sign their QO's? (DaveBPilot‏ @DaveBPilot)

Yes, that’s safe to assume, since the deadline was Saturday. They remain RFAs, and negotiations will surely continue.

Still, it’s worth mentioning what happened last year with Matt Nieto. The forward didn’t sign his qualifying offer, as he was pushing for a multi-year deal, and ended up signing for one year for less than he would have made had he accepted the original offer. He was waived and claimed by Colorado.