Sharks blow late lead, fall to Blackhawks 3-2 in overtime


Sharks blow late lead, fall to Blackhawks 3-2 in overtime


CHICAGO One of the strongest aspects of the Sharks game this season has been their ability to win faceoffs. But in a 3-2 overtime loss to Chicago on Sunday night at United Center, that may have been what cost them the extra point in the standings.

At least, thats how Joe Pavelski and Todd McLellan saw it. Pavelski lost a key defensive zone draw that led to Andrew Brunettes tying goal at 18:54 of the third period, before Patrick Sharp won it in overtime.

We cant lose the faceoffs at the end like that, said Pavelski, whose team lost the battle in the circle, 15-10, in the third period.

It sounds like such a little thing, but believe me, its a big factor when you think about it, said McLellan.

The Sharks entered the game second in the league at winning draws, at 53.8 percent, and had won the faceoff battle in 11 straight games. In the third period, their inability to win draws may have been the result of being worn out by playing their third game in four nights, while Chicago had been off since Thursday.

Trailing 2-1 entering the third period, the Blackhawks controlled play in the Sharks zone for most of the final 20 minutes and overtime, outshooting them 21-4 in the process. That was a complete opposite of the first two periods in which San Jose held a 33-13 advantage in shots.

I think it was pretty evident one team had played three games in four nights and the other one was fresh, said McLellan. We ran out of gas a little bit in the third.

Antti Niemi made some key saves in holding the fort for most of the final frame, including a brilliant pad stop on Hossa with about 15 minutes left.

But, the Blackhawks tied it when Brunette deflected a blast by Hossa from the point with 1:06 remaining and goaltender Ray Emery pulled for an extra attacker.

Sharp gave the Blackhawks the extra point with just 33.2 seconds left in overtime. Again it was Hossa with the primary assist, as he blasted it towards the net from the top of the circle with Sharp in position on Brent Burns to tip it in.

Hossa shot it on the ice, I got a stick on it and it bounced up, and their guy was the first there to the puck, said Niemi.

The loss put a damper on some noticeable improvements to the Sharks game as compared to some of their recent efforts, including back-to-back shutouts on the road to Los Angeles on Nov. 28 and St. Louis on Saturday night. For one, the power play, although it didnt convert, looked much improved.

In the first period, Patrick Marleau had a couple good looks at the side of the net, and Emery made a quick glove save on a laser from the stick of Pavelski.

Tonight our power play was definitely more dangerous and created good momentum, said Pavelski.

Even so, the Sharks are mired in a 1-for-27 slump over their last eight games, and didnt have any power plays after the first period.

The penalty kill was also better, going 3-for-3 in killing one Blackhawks power play in each of the three frames.

I think we played a pretty good game, especially the first two periods, said Niemi, who fell to 4-2 in his career against Chicago. I think we did lots of good things that we can take from this game tonight. I think we worked very hard tonight, and our penalty killing was pretty good, too.

I liked a lot of things about our game tonight, said McLellan. Its something we can build on. We played against a very good team and played very well for two periods.

The Sharks took an early lead thanks to Jamie McGinns fourth goal in the last six games. Michal Handzus threw a soft backhand towards the net, where McGinn whacked it through Emery after a couple tries at 16:25.

The Blackhawks tied the game in the second but not for long.

Niklas Hjalmarssons blast was deflected on its way to the net at least twice, including off of Marcus Kruger, who was credited with his third goal at 7:53 of the second period.

Just one minute and 45 seconds later, the Sharks fourth line generated a goal after providing good energy throughout the first two periods. Brad Winchester found Braun at the top of the circle, and the defenseman's wrister got nothing but net for his first this season.

San Jose continued to pressure.

On a two-on-one rush, Jason Demers skated the puck towards the net and tried sneaking it through the near post, but Emery made the pad save. With less than five minutes remaining, Martin Havlat got the puck alone in front of the net on a nice feed from Logan Couture, but Emery denied his attempted deke with a low pad stop, keeping Chicago in the game long enough for them to tie and eventually win it.

The shots were totally lopsided for the first two periods, and playing last night you wouldnt think so, said Thornton.

From there, though, the Blackhawks took over territorially in winning their sixth game out of eight.

We played well. We really did, said Thornton. We played 59 solid minutes and we probably should have had the two points. If we continue this, thats a pretty good team over there that we did a pretty good job against, and thats a good sign.

Odds and ends: Douglas Murray (right hand) and Jim Vandermeer (upper body) remained out. Defenseman Matt Irwin, recalled from Worcester earlier in the day, was a healthy scratch along with Frazer McLaren. ... Andrew Murray returned to the lineup after a two-game absence.

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.