Sharks blow late lead, are outclassed in overtime loss to Oilers

Sharks blow late lead, are outclassed in overtime loss to Oilers

EDMONTON – The first storm came early, and it was expected. It was the second storm developed out of nowhere and blew the Sharks’ house over.

After withstanding Edmonton’s first period push and even taking a lead before the opening frame was over, the Sharks were thoroughly pummeled in overtime of Game 5 of their first-round series. The Oilers’ David Desharnais scored at 18:15 of the overtime period to give his team a 4-3 win, in a result that seemed inevitable as the extra session progressed.

Leading 3-2 to start the third, the Sharks decided about midway through the frame that they’d start trying to run out the clock. It’s a strategy that’s not uncommon, especially on the road in an unfriendly environment.

They were doing it well, too, until Oscar Klefbom unleashed a powerful one-timer that beat Martin Jones to the far side with less than three minutes to go. That tied the score at 3-3.

Despite a full intermission after the third period to regroup, the Sharks still skated in overtime as if they were stunned. They were outshot 14-2, and the only reason it lasted as long as it did was the San Jose goalie.

“We started to defend with about 10 minutes left in the third, we got in that mindset, and when they tied it up and went to overtime we couldn’t get back on our toes again and reestablish our forecheck,” coach Pete DeBoer said.

Jones denied Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Connor McDavid on prime chances, doing everything he could to buy the Sharks enough time to find their legs. It never happened.

“We weren’t really going and [Jones] allowed us…to get going. We just never really got going,” Joe Pavelski said.

Instead, Draisaitl deftly set up Desharnais in the slot, and the diminutive forward whizzed a shot past Jones to put the Oilers just one win away from the second round.

“Just happens quick,” Jones said. “[Draisaitl] threw the puck from the corner, I just lost it for a second and saw it go by my shoulder.”

The Sharks seemed to have the game under control midway through the second period when David Schlemko’s seeing-eye point shot put them ahead, 3-1. It was the Sharks’ third straight goal after Patrick Maroon had given the Oilers an early lead that the Sharks erased on goals by Patrick Marleau and Mikkel Boedker.

Late in the second, though, Mark Letestu’s power play goal with just 1:27 to go with Brent Burns off on a delay of game penalty put the game within reach in the third for Edmonton. They just needed one little opening, and they got it when Desharnais skated behind the net before setting up the Klef-bomb that tied it.

“I think we battled hard tonight and we did some good things that made us [go] up 3-1, and unfortunately we couldn’t battle it out,” Boedker said.

The Sharks wouldn’t have changed anything they did in the third period, which DeBoer said he “really liked.” They were, after all, just two minutes and 46 seconds away from taking the series lead back.

“I thought we did a good job limiting their chances. They had one good shot they buried,” Schlemko said.

Overtime, though, was baffling. The Sharks never had a chance, and now their season is one loss away from being over.

“It would have been nice to at least have an attempt to cash in there,” Pavelski said.

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.”