Sharks come back to beat Penguins in shootout, 4-3

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Sharks come back to beat Penguins in shootout, 4-3

BOX SCORE
SAN JOSE -- Something had to be done after the first period.Not only were the Sharks trailing Pittsburgh 2-0, but they were thoroughly outplayed, outshot, and their starting goaltender was pulled just over two minutes into the game.Enter Ryane Clowe. The Sharks forward dropped the gloves just seven seconds into the second period, scored in the third, and then tallied the only goal in the shootout to give San Jose a 4-3 come-from-behind win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night.

We had no business winning that game after the first period, said Todd McLellan. But, we found a way to work back into it.RATTO: Fan silence motivates late-arriving Sharks
San Jose erased a 3-1 deficit with a pair of third period goals.Struggling most of the night to generate any prime scoring chances against the Penguins, Clowe converted on a rush with Marty Havlat to cut it to 3-2, when he lifted a perfect backhander over the shoulder of Marc-Andre Fleury at 9:11.The Sharks third line, which McLellan said earlier in the day he wanted to see more from, got the equalizer. Michal Handzus found Jamie McGinn in front of the net and McGinn managed to whack it past Fleury with 4:54 left in regulation. It was McGinns first of the season.We knew after the first 10 games we werent producing like we wanted to, said McGinn. We just werent getting the points or the goals. It was very important for us to change momentum, keep the puck in their end, get some zone time and we were rewarded with a goal.Clowe was the only one of six shooters to score in the shootout, but it was his fight with Derek Engelland that seemed to wake up his team. In the first period, Engelland drilled Joe Thornton with a crushing hit along the boards, sending the Sharks captain to the ice.Even though it was clean, Clowe took exception.He took a pretty good run at Joe, and at times you cant really go after a guy so you take a number," he said. "The other thing, though, they were playing five defensemen. I think he was smart about it saying no at first, but hes a gamer so I figured he would. And he did.Clowe asked Engelland to drop the gloves while the teams were lining up for the opening faceoff in the second.I figured I would at least send out the invitation, said Clowe.Patrick Marleau got the Sharks on the board shortly after at 2:37 of the second, when his wrist shot got underneath the arm of Fleury.The Penguins got their two-goal cushion back, though, on a fortunate bounce.On a three-on-two rush, Evgeni Malkin took a pass from Kris Letang and fired it on net. The puck never made it, hitting James Neal in the leg. Fortunately for the Penguins, it subsequently hit Malkins skate and redirected over the goal line at 9:37. A video review confirmed that Malkin did not use a kicking motion.It was one of two goals on the night for Malkin. The Penguins star banked in a puck off of the skate of Brent Burns at 2:04 of the first period, giving the Penguins a 2-0 lead.That goal chased Antti Niemi, who also gave up a goal to Engelland just 24 seconds in, in favor of Thomas Greiss.McLellan had a couple reasons for making the change in net.I didnt think Niemi was ready to play though, either. Just like everybody else, said the coach, who wanted to change momentum, but also send a message that Niemi has to be ready to go, as well.Greiss stopped 29 of 30 shots in picking up his second victory. He also made a bit of history, becoming just the second goalie in the overtime era (since 1983-84) to come into a game in relief, play more than 60 minutes, and earn the win.I thought Tommy came in and played extremely well, and gave us a chance to work our way into the game, said McLellan.Malkin, who was the Penguins best player of the night, had a chance to put the Penguins ahead as their second shooter in the shootout. He faked a shot and tried to fire it past Greiss, but the Sharks goaltender didnt go for the move.I come out pretty far, try to make them go around me, said Greiss of his shootout strategy.It worked, giving Clowe a chance to win the game, which he did when he fired it below the blocker and above the pad of Fleury and Griess stopped Pascal Dupuis.
That gave the coach at least some measure of satisfaction.Todd said he would put us through the paces pretty good tomorrow, but at least we got the two points to sleep a little easier, he said.Odds and ends: The Sharks honored Thornton in a pregame ceremony for his 1000th game played and 1000th NHL point. Among the gifts was a wooly mammoth tusk, presented to him by his teammates. I think after the first everybody touched it, and it kind of gave us some luck, said Thornton. There was just one power play all night, in which the Sharks failed to convert in the third period. The last time the Penguins didnt have a power play in a game was Feb. 23, 2003. Brad Winchester got the decision on a fight with Craig Adams in the first, landing a good right hand. Jason Demers and Colin White were scratched in favor of Justin Braun and Jim Vandermeer. Benn Ferreiro was also scratched. ... The Sharks are 2-0 in shootouts this season, and 3-0 when a game goes past regulation.

Mailbag: Should Sharks trade a d-man for scoring help?

Mailbag: Should Sharks trade a d-man for scoring help?

Tuesday’s practice was canceled, as the Sharks boarded an afternoon charter flight to Los Angeles with the dads in tow for the annual fathers trip. That leaves us some extra time for a mailbag…

Why is no line set over halfway through the season? (Kevin Cocquyt @KevinCocquyt39)

The shuffling up of lines is one of those aspects of the game that I think gets overblown a bit. I can’t put a number on how many times Pete DeBoer has prefaced his reply to a question about the latest line changes with the phrase, “we’re not married to any lines…”

That said, I do think the preference would be to ice a more consistent top six at this point. The fact that they haven’t found a left wing to consistently skate on the top line with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski is concerning. On the second line, it remains to be seen if Kevin Labanc can stick with Logan Couture, or if he’ll start to fade a bit in his first NHL season. The other players that started the season on the second line, Joonas Donskoi and Mikkel Boedker, have been moved all up and down the lineup all season long (more on that below).

Tomas Hertl’s absence has thrown a monkey wrench into all of this, of course. Assuming he gets back next month, there’s still plenty of time to get the lines sorted out for the playoff push. Regardless, though, they are almost always fluid, and keep in mind when DeBoer made a major change to his lines last playoff run – moving Patrick Marleau up to the second line and Chris Tierney to center the third line in the middle of the Nashville series – the Sharks finished off the Predators in the second round and went on to beat the Blues in the Western Conference Final.

So I guess my message here would be, don’t panic all that much at this point. It’s a long season.

Largest surprise and disappointment with the Sharks halfway through the season? There's a lot to pick from on both fronts. (Drew Cormier @DrewCormier)

I’ll give you one obvious and one maybe less obvious for both.

I’ll start with biggest surprise. It has to be Labanc. I know he tore up juniors last season, but this is still a kid who just turned 21 years old and wasn’t a high-round draft pick (sixth round, 2014). I knew the organization was high on him, and I even had him down as a dark horse player to make the team out of camp, but to come up so soon, and play regularly on a top scoring line and score seven goals – more than Donskoi, Boedker, Tierney, Joe Thornton and Joel Ward – is impressive, and, frankly, surprising.

One guy that’s gone under the radar a bit, though, is Brenden Dillon. The 26-year-old defenseman is simply faster and more mobile than he was last season, and he’s really made this defense corps one of the best in the NHL one-through-six. I know the numbers don’t show it, as Dillon has just four assists and a minus-five rating, but he’s a better player than he was last season.

As for disappointment, Boedker remains at the top of that list, even after his hat trick against the Oilers. He just doesn’t seem like the type of player that fits in with this forward group. At this point, I have to think there’s some buyer’s remorse there with Boedker owed $4 million a season through 2019-2020.

But another player that just hasn’t taken that next step so many thought he would is Donskoi. He was downright electrifying on some nights in the playoffs last season, and I thought this season we might see him get to 15-20 goals and 40-50 points. Instead, he’d be on pace for just 28 points in a full 82-game season. I thought he’d be better.

What do you think [Justin] Braun is worth? Can he be used as part of a deal for a top scoring forward? We need extra scoring. (Backhand Shelf @ChrisRivs)

I can understand the concern with the Sharks’ lack of scoring, and that many of their key forwards seem to be underperforming. Perhaps adding a little more scoring punch to their roster at the trade deadline is something that Doug Wilson will explore.

But, I don’t see any way this team will move one of its top four defensemen for a scoring forward. The strength and identity of this team this season has been its defensive structure and its ability to limit the opposition from getting shots and scoring chances in front of goalie Martin Jones. Moving Braun, or any of their other big minute defensemen, just wouldn’t make any sense.

I do, however, expect they’ll lose at least one of their current top six before next season, either through a trade or the expansion draft. That could very well be Braun, who might not get protected. In the meantime, though, they need him on the blue line.

Sharks recall three; Donskoi to IR

Sharks recall three; Donskoi to IR

The Sharks placed forward Joonas Donskoi on injured reserve Tuesday, and recalled a trio of players for their game against Los Angeles on Wednesday at Staples Center.

Donskoi has not played since Jan. 11 at Calgary, dealing with an upper body injury that is not believed to be serious. Although he’ll miss his third straight game on Wednesday, the 24-year-old could technically return for Thursday’s home game against the Lightning. In 41 games this season, Donskoi has six goals and 14 points.

Up front, forwards Ryan Carpenter and Barclay Goodrow were recalled, suggesting that someone from Monday’s 5-2 win over the Jets might not be able to play against the Kings. Logan Couture blocked a Toby Enstrom shot with about nine minutes to go in that game, and there was no immediate update on his status. The Sharks did not practice on Tuesday morning.

Carpenter has one goal in three games with the Sharks this season, coming on Nov. 30 in Los Angeles. He has 20 points (8g, 12a) in 29 AHL games this season. 

Goodrow has yet to make his Sharks season debut, but is first on the AHL Barracuda with 12 goals. He has 15 points (4g, 11a) in 74 career NHL games.

Tim Heed, also recalled, will likely serve as the seventh defenseman filling the void left by an injured Dylan DeMelo (broken wrist).