Sharks' comeback falls short in 4-3 loss to Blackhawks


Sharks' comeback falls short in 4-3 loss to Blackhawks


CHICAGO The Blackhawks top line of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Viktor Stalberg apparently didnt get the memo regarding how tight the Sharks' defense had been of late.That trio teamed up for five points, including a goal by Toews that put Chicago ahead to stay in the second period, in a 4-3 Blackhawks victory over the Sharks on Sunday night at the United Center.Oh, and they combined for no less than 17 shots on goal as the Blackhawks outshot San Jose for the game, 40-24.Just about every time they were on the ice, if they werent creating a scoring chance right away, they were holding onto the puck waiting for something to open up.

They are quick, smart players, said their former teammate, Antti Niemi. They can shoot or pass, so you have to be ready for anything.Too much, hows that? Todd McLellan said, when asked what he saw from Toews, Kane and Stalberg. Their big boys had the puck the whole night. They are a tough enough group to play against when youre managing the puck properly, but when you turn it over as many times as we didI dont know if the puck had a Blackhawk logo on it, we thought we had to give it back to them.The Blackhawks had 16 takeaways half by the top line.Toews go-ahead goal started with a misplay by Niemi. The Sharks goalie went behind the net to play the puck, but instead it ended up in the corner on Kanes stick. Kane threw it to the front of the net and Toews got the tip of his stick on it to redirect the puck into the open net before Niemi could recover at 7:06 of the second period. That made it 3-2, Chicago.Just a quick play. Couldnt get back, Niemi said.The goal was especially demoralizing in that the Sharks had erased a 2-0 deficit to tie the game early in the second on goals from Joe Pavelski and Jamie McGinn. Pavelski tipped in a wrister towards the net from Marc-Edouard Vlasic at 1:42, and McGinn wrapped the puck around and was able to beat Corey Crawford on a goal that Crawford should have stopped just 26 seconds later.I think I just surprised him going far side. I just jammed it in the net, said McGinn.The Sharks had been outplayed to that point and were fortunate to be at 2-2. That was the moment they needed to seize momentum.It didnt happen.Instead, Chicago coach Joel Quenneville called a timeout and saw his club control play for just about the rest of the period, while taking back the lead in the process. In fact, the Sharks went over 10 minutes in the second without a single shot.We had full momentum after making it 2-2. Its a good call by their coach to call time out and settle things down, but we had to take the opportunity and pounce on them right away, McGinn said. I didnt think we did that, and they got the next goal and that was key.McLellan said: We established ourselves to get back in the game, and then we gave it right back to them. It was an uphill battle from there that we werent coming back on.Although San Joses four-game road trip ended with a thud, it was just their second loss in regulation in the last 16 games (10-2-4) and ended a streak of seven games with at least a point in the standings.Weve been playing well, Joe Thornton said. Well put this behind us, and it was a good road trip.The Sharks even had a great chance to steal a point in the end. Andrew Shaw gave Chicago a two-goal cushion early in the third to make it 4-2, but Tommy Wingels first career NHL goal with less than five minutes left brought the Sharks back to within one.Niklas Hjalmarsson was called for hooking with 1:07 left in regulation, giving the Sharks a 6-on-4 advantage with Niemi pulled for an extra attacker. They couldnt capitalize, though, and finished 0-for-3 on the power play.The Blackhawks stormed out to a 2-0 lead with a pair of goals late in the first.Dave Bolland got it started, firing home a wrist shot past Niemi on a feed from behind the net. Niemi had trouble tracking the play behind him, giving Bolland just enough daylight to get his 13th of the season at 18:01.Chicagos top line struck for the first of its two goals with less than 20 seconds left in the period. Stalberg caught Brent Burns flat-footed in the slot and directed in a Toews pass to give the Blackhawks a two-goal lead.You come back into your zone and you stare at the puck against this team, youre in trouble, McLellan said. The puck-carrier seldom does the damage. Its who hes dishing it off to, and we just stared at the puck, and they had a number of chances off of it.Niemi finished with 36 saves in suffering his eighth defeat, but had perhaps his best stop of the year midway through the first. He lunged across the crease to rob Kane from firing it into an open net on a nice feed through the slot by Toews, snagging it with his glove and freezing play.It comes so quick that youre almost not sure if youre going to make the save, Niemi said. You just reach and realize its in the glove. It felt great.Kane, who has just two goals in his last 17 games, looked dumbfounded that the puck didnt hit the back of the net.Crawford finished with 21 saves to record the win, as Chicago has won two of three from the Sharks. They meet for the fourth and final time this regular season on Feb. 10 at HP Pavilion.The Sharks host Calgary on Tuesday.Odds and ends: The Blackhawks won 58 percent of faceoffs (33-24). Brad Winchester fought for the second time in as many nights, taking on Sean ODonnell in the first period. Ryane Clowe removed the cage he had been wearing the past two games. Did the training staff agree to let him do that? No, not really, he said. The Blackhawks had just one power play, which they did not score on. Torrey Mitchell had two assists.

Sharks conclude 2017 NHL Draft with five more forwards in the system

Sharks conclude 2017 NHL Draft with five more forwards in the system

CHICAGO – After nabbing a center in the first round on Friday, the Sharks added four more forwards and one defenseman to conclude the second day of the annual NHL Entry Draft on Saturday, held this year at United Center.

The Sharks weren’t explicitly trying to restock their forward cabinet, according to general manager Doug Wilson and scouting director Tim Burke, although the club did make two separate moves in surrendering some later round picks to move up in the fourth round (to take center Scott Reedy) and sixth round (to take left wing Sasha Chmelevski).

First, though, it was defenseman Mario Ferraro in the second round at 49th overall. The offensive defenseman was a player that the Sharks targeted, using the pick they acquired from New Jersey last Friday as part of the trade for Mirco Mueller.

“He’s got a lot of speed, offensive guy, exciting,” Burke said. “Puck-moving type of guy.”

Wilson said: “We’re very pleased with the d-man. He’s a very dynamic, athletic guy, great skater. He was a guy that we moved up a little bit aggressively to get because that round, you could see people going after who they wanted. He is a guy that we identified.”

After moving up from the fifth round to the fourth round last Friday, again because of the Mueller trade, the Sharks jumped up 21 more spots in the fourth round by obtaining the Rangers pick at 102nd overall for the 123rd and 174th selections.

Center Scott Reedy is a player that Burke has high hopes for, projecting the Minnesota native as a “second line right winger [with] high-end potential.” Burke pointed out that Reedy, who is friends with first round pick Josh Norris, occasionally played on the same line with Norris for each of the last two seasons with the U.S. Under-18 team.

“He’s a big, strong forward that can play both positions (center and right wing),” Burke said.

Right wing Jacob McGrew, an Orange, CA native, went to the Sharks in the fifth round despite missing all of his first season in junior with a lower body injury suffered in training camp with Spokane (WHL).

“We knew about him before he went up there,” Burke said. “He’s a California kid. … If he was healthy he probably would have gone earlier.”

The Sharks again moved up to snag Huntington Beach native and center Chmelevski at 185 overall, and made their sixth and final pick in the 212th position by taking left wing Ivan Chekhovich in the seventh round. Both players look to have some offensive skill, based on their numbers and Youtube highlights.

Burke was surprised that both players were around so late.

“I thought they had pretty good years and they kind of slipped in the draft,” he said. “We weighed that versus some other more project-type guys, and we thought they had more offense and finish to their game. They just kept sliding, so we took a chance on them.”

Wilson said: “We moved up for the guys we wanted, and then there were some skilled guys at the end that we were surprised were still there. … We’ll go back and take a look how it all went, but we feel, I think, really good about where we ended up with this.”

Sharks coach DeBoer had 'good relationship' with Kovalchuk

Sharks coach DeBoer had 'good relationship' with Kovalchuk

CHICAGO – Ilya Kovalchuk is still reportedly mulling over a return to the NHL, four years after he surprisingly walked away from a monstrous contract with the New Jersey Devils to play in the KHL.

The Sharks have been linked to Kovalchuk, in large part because of Pete DeBoer, who was Kovalchuk’s most recent head coach. In 2011-12, Kovalchuk was a dangerous scoring winger under DeBoer, helping the Devils reach the Stanley Cup Final.

It was apparently a good working relationship between the player and the coach for the two seasons they were together, DeBoer said on Friday at the NHL Entry Draft at United Center.

“I loved Kovy in New Jersey,” DeBoer said. “We went to a Stanley Cup Final together. He was a huge piece for us there. I really enjoyed coaching him. I haven’t seen him in four or five years now. I’m sure there’s still a lot of game left there.”

DeBoer said he’s had no contact with the 34-year-old Kovalchuk, who would have to be traded by New Jersey before signing a new contract with any other NHL club. Still, it seems like the Sharks’ coach might welcome a reunion with Kovalchuk, who posted 78 points in 60 games with SKA Saint Petersburg last season, and has 816 points (417g, 399a) in 816 career NHL games with Atlanta and New Jersey.

“I had a really good relationship with him. I had a lot of respect for him as a player and a person,” DeBoer said.

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DeBoer seemed as uncertain as everyone else as to whether Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau will return to the Sharks or move on to other clubs as free agents.

But, naturally, it’s on his mind.

“You think about it all the time,” DeBoer said. “They’re obviously important pieces in the history of the franchise, and in our group. I also understand the business side of this, and there’s always tough decisions to make. The way I approach these type of things is I’m going to go to Canada and relax, and Doug [Wilson] is going to make those decisions. I’m sure we’ll have a good group come training camp.”

“We’ve got a really good core group of guys and some tough decisions that have to be made. The one thing Doug and his group has shown over the years is their ability to stay competitive, to find a way even after making tough decisions. I have all the faith in the world in that, and I’m excited about training camp.”

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The Sharks lost David Schlemko in the expansion draft earlier in the week. Vegas then flipped him to the Canadiens for a fifth round pick in 2019.

“I think for David, it’s a great opportunity for him, especially going to Montreal,” DeBoer said. “For us, it’s an opportunity for a young guy to jump in. The one thing we have in the organization is some depth. There’s a lot of guys knocking on the door, and guys hungry to grab that job.”