Sharks dominate Columbus 6-0 at The Tank

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Sharks dominate Columbus 6-0 at The Tank

SAN JOSE Its not very often that a vicious elbow to the head results in anything positive, but for Joe Thornton and the San Jose Sharks, a 6-0 blowout victory over the lowly Columbus Blue Jackets could probably be traced to just that.

No more than 20 seconds into the game at HP Pavilion on Tuesday night, Columbus Jared Boll hit the Sharks captain with a high hit to the noggin. The Sharks didnt score on the ensuing power play, but the play triggered a wave of emotion on the bench and set the tone for what turned out to be not only a lopsided victory, but a physical and nasty contest throughout.

And it was Thornton leading the way, with two goals and an assist.

You get more in the game, just kind of a wake up call, Thornton said of the reaction to the hit. It gives the group a wake up call. It was a good hit to take, and get the two points, and move on.

It created a lot of emotion in the game, Todd McLellan said. As a coach, youre always worried about whether the guys will be sleepy and what will trigger the game. Then, 20 seconds in, the guys are on their toes already and ready to play. That was a good thing for us. Its not great that Jumbo got an elbow to the head, but it did wake our group up and we played after that.

San Jose scored two goals in each of the three periods, including several in and around the crease an area of concern for the club, which entered with two goals or less in six of its last eight games.

Among the markers from close range were Patrick Marleaus goal at 7:53 of the first period which opened the scoring, Jamie McGinn depositing a rebound at 16:55 of the second period to make it 4-0, and Michal Handzus goal after McGinn forced a turnover in front of the Columbus net early in the third to make it 5-0.

Tonight, the pucks went our way. We dug, and we poked, and we prodded, and they went in the net. A very good job by all the lines to get there, and the D to get the puck to the blue paint to begin with, McLellan said.

Less than two minutes after Marleau opened the scoring, Thornton took advantage of a terrible turnover by Fedor Tyutin, staying with his own rebound to make it 2-0 at 9:43. Andrew Desjardins, playing on the teams first line, helped cause the turnover by charging in on Tyutin who was along the boards and rushed his pass.

Thornton, who assisted on Joe Pavelskis power play marker early in the second to make it 3-0, capped the scoring at 10:54 of the third period. On a three-on-two rush after a nice play by Brent Burns to start the breakout, Thornton deposited a backhanded pass by Pavelski for his 10th goal.

Thats when things got ugly...or entertaining, depending on your viewpoint.

The game already had its share of emotion thanks to the Boll hit, as the Jackets agitator dropped the gloves with Jim Vandermeer on two occassions. The first came after Marleau made it 1-0, and when Boll knew he would have to answer for his early headshot on Thornton.

A big hit on one of our guys, you have to let the their team know we wont stand for that, Vandermeer said. And that was it.

Vandermeer, playing his second straight game at forward, was asked if he challenged Boll to the first fight.

It was kind of mutual. He knew it was coming, and it was either me or Brad Winchester. He picked me, so I switched over to the left side and we went.

A second fight between the two came early in the third, when Boll took exception to a boarding call on Vandermeer. But that was nothing compared to what would happen later in the frame with the game well under the Sharks' control.

It started with a surprising participant, too. Dan Boyle hit Columbus Derek Brassard behind the net, and after some jawing between the two following the play, the gloves came off and Boyle promptly beat up Brassard with a little more than four minutes left in regulation.

Boyle explained how he saw his altercation with Brassard develop.

In my eyes, I could tell he kind of let himself go, he said. He wanted to get hit and wanted to draw ahe made it look worse than it was, and I just didnt like that. I told him not to dive. Then he asked me to go.

As the linesman was restraining Boyle after the fight, Columbus Rick Nash came over to further yap at him. In Columbus last visit to HP Pavilion earlier this month, Boyle and Nash almost fought themselves.

Its because I didnt fight him last time and he wasnt too happy about that, Boyle explained of the most recent confrontation with Nash. But, its game situation. Last time it was a really close game and I didnt feel it was the right time. This one it was a guy my size, too.

The Sharks won that game on Jan. 5, 2-1, as well as the Jan. 14 matchup at Nationwide Arena by the same score.

They werent through, either. Derek Dorsett cross-checked Colin White with less than three minutes to go, setting off another round of fistcuffs between Dorsett and White and Tyutin and Justin Braun.

A total of 92 penalty minutes were dished out in the game, including a season-high 49 to the Sharks, and Vandermeer commented afterwards that its the kind of night that can bring a team together.

I think any time when guys go to battle for each other, it just brings you that much closer together, Vandermeer said. It makes the other guys want to fight that much more for everybody else. Sometimes you dont like to see that many, but its good to see when everybodys got each others backs.

Im glad that we played an emotional game. Its a big thing for our team, McLellan said. I thought we did a really good job of sticking together, and I thought our bigger bodies played important roles in the game today.

Lost a bit in the madness was the fact that goaltender Antti Niemi recorded his second straight shutout. Niemi made 30 saves, following up his blanking of Calgary in the final game before the break exactly a week ago. It was his fourth shutout this season, and came at an opportune time: his father, Veikko Niemi, saw his son play for the first time in the NHL in North America.

Nine Sharks got on the scoresheet, including five who had multiple-point nights. Pavelski, Handzus and McGinn all had a goal and an assist, while Logan Couture recorded a pair of helpers.

For coming out of the All-Star break, that was easily a game you can get emotionally involved in, Thornton said. The guys played well, all around, tonight.
Odds and ends: The Sharks won 47 percent of the faceoffs. Dan Boyle played in his 800th career NHL game; Brent Burns played in his 500th; and Douglas Murray his 400th. Murray recorded his first point, assisting on McGinns goal, since Oct. 31 at Madison Square Garden. Andrew Murray was the lone healthy scratch. Ryane Clowe (facial fracture) and Jason Demers (lower body injury) also did not play. The Sharks recalled John McCarthy earlier in the day.

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.

* * *

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.”

* * *

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.”