Sharks fall to Wild in shootout; win streak ends at four


Sharks fall to Wild in shootout; win streak ends at four


ST. PAUL The Sharks struck for two goals late in the third period in Minnesota to force overtime, but fell in a shootout to the Wild on Tuesday night at Xcel Energy Center, 5-4.

Logan Couture and Partick Marleaus markers with about three minutes remaining allowed the Sharks to gain a point in the standings, but the team trailed the light-scoring Wild throughout most of the night.

Guess which one coach Todd McLellan chose to concentrate on afterwards.

For two and a half periods I thought we werent very good, he said. That will be the focus for our group. Just not hard enough; competitive areas of the rink, in front of our net, in front of their net, along the boards, faceoff circle. They were a lot grittier than we were.

Still, San Jose was able to find its game and erase two separate two-goal deficits in the third period.

After the Wilds Nick Johnson fired a wrist shot past Antti Niemis glove hand at 7:42 to make it 3-1, Benn Ferriero brought the Sharks back to within a goal when he deflected in a wrister by Marc-Edouard Vlasic midway through the third. Matt Cullen gave the Wild their two goal lead back, though, when he drove to the net after the Sharks turned it over in the neutral zone and the puck snuck across the line with just 6:20 left in regulation.

That could have been the final nail in the Sharks coffin. Instead, Couture found a loose puck and banked it in off of defenseman Justin Falk, who was sprawled out in the crease, at 16:54. Then, Marleau tipped in a pass from Joe Thornton as San Jose worked a three-on-two rush to perfection at 17:16.

It was pretty nice, just drove the middle and Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton made two great passes, and I was able to just get a stick on it and redirect it.

Tie game.

The Sharks maintained pressure into overtime on what appeared to be a deflated Wild team. Thornton almost won it with a redirection of a Dan Boyle low wrister just 20 seconds after the faceoff that may have gone off of Marleau, while Marleaus chance alone in front was turned aside by Josh Harding.

Thornton thought his deflection had the game won.

I did. I think it just hit Patty, and then Patty had a pretty good shot at it, he said.

In the shootout, Cullen and Mikko Koivu converted on Niemi while Harding stopped Michal Handzus and Ryane Clowe to give Minnesota just its second win in the last 13 games and snap the Sharks four-game winning streak.

For the Sharks, the biggest question is, why couldnt they play the same way the first two periods as they did late in the game?

I think for 45 of the first 45 minutes we were not a team that played with a lot of energy or emotion or anything, Boyle said. The last 15 of the third and overtime we turned it up a notch. Shoulda, coulda, woulda at the end there, with tons of chances. They probably should have won it after 45, but with 15 to go we missed our chance to steal a game, I guess.

Some nights you get what you deserve, and tonight we probably got a little more than we deserved, McLellan said. We need to adjust and move on, and were going to need a much better effort in the next three games on this trip.

The Sharks visit Winnipeg on Thursday before continuing to Columbus and Chicago this weekend.

The Wild took the lead on Cal Clutterbucks goal at 7:04 of the first period. After Minnesota gained the zone, Casey Wellman found Clutterbuck skating into the zone with speed. Clutterbuck went around Ferriero and fired a wrist shot past Niemi for his 11th goal.

The Sharks tied it up on a two-man advantage with Jared Spurgeon and Kyle Brodziak off for minor penalties just three seconds apart, when Boyle blasted in his third goal at 16:08.

Minnesota jumped out to a 2-1 advantage with the only goal of the second period. Warren Peters soft wrist shot appeared to be headed wide of the net, but it bounced off of Coutures skate and slowly trickled over the goal line at 13:26.

The Wild entered at 29th in the league in goals-per-game, and were down two of their top six forwards as it was announced that Pierre-Marc Bouchard is out indefinitely again with a concussion, while Devin Setoguchi was scratched for reportedly for missing a team meeting in the morning.

McLellan knew it, and cautioned his team that the Wild would storm out of the gates and clamp down defensively. That made him all the more agitated when it didnt happen.

Expected it, warned our group about it, knew it was coming, he said. They lose a couple of important offensive players, they buckle down and play even better defensively.

Later, he added: Missing a lot of players tonight. A lot of players missing in action.

In net, Niemi finished with 27 saves, while Harding had 34, including a spectacular sliding save on Marleau with 6:20 left in the first period on a pass from Thornton.

The game marked defenseman Brent Burns first appearance back in Minnesota, and he received a warm round of applause from the home fans when recognized in-arena in the first period.

The Sharks are 1-1-1 against the Wild in three meetings this season. The clubs conclude their season series here on Feb. 26.

Odds and ends: Andrew Murray, Frazer McLaren and Antero Niittymaki were the healthy scratches for the Sharks. All five of Benn Ferrieros goals have come on the road. Patrick Marleau recorded his 800th and 801st career points in the NHL. He has nine points in his last six games (3g, 6a). The Sharks have points in 12 of their last 13 games (9-1-4). Faceoffs were even, 35-35. Marc-Edouard Vlasic had five of the Sharks 11 blocked shots.

Sharks start training camp with familiar face elsewhere: ‘It’s kind of strange’


Sharks start training camp with familiar face elsewhere: ‘It’s kind of strange’

SAN JOSE — There was something familiar missing in San Jose when the Sharks opened training camp.

For the first time since 1996, the Sharks took the ice for their first training camp practice without Patrick Marleau on the team as the franchise's career leader in games and scoring left as a free agent for Toronto this summer.

"I've spent a lot of years with him. It is kind of strange," said Joe Thornton, who came to San Jose in 2005. "It's his birthday today too. It's a little weird, but he's going to do great up in Toronto."

Marleau had been with San Jose since being picked second overall in 1997 but left the Sharks to sign an $18.75 million, three-year deal with the Maple Leafs in July.

Marleau has 508 goals and 574 assists for 1,082 points. He had 46 points in playing all 82 games last season as he rebounded from a disappointing 2015-16 season by scoring 27 goals, including the 500th of his career. He ranks first in San Jose in career goals, games and points.

Only six players in NHL history have played more games with one team than Marleau's 1,493 in San Jose. The Sharks haven't played a game without him on the ice since April 7, 2009.

"Obviously Patty has meant so much to this organization and this group," captain Joe Pavelski said. "Everyone in this room has pretty much played with him and Patty has done something to help them out. He'll be missed. ... Just by committee somebody will step in and fill that kind of hole. That's what we'll need."

The Sharks made no major additions this offseason so will need to replace Marleau's 27 goals by getting development from younger players like Tomas Hertl, Timo Meier, Kevin Labanc and Danny O'Regan, as well as bounce-back seasons from veterans like Thornton, Mikkel Boedker and Joonas Donskoi.

Only Pavelski, Logan Couture and Brent Burns are back after scoring more than 12 goals last season.

"When I look back at last year we had key people either have down years or miss significant time with injuries or coming off injuries," coach Peter DeBoer said. "I think if we can stay healthy I think we've got a large group of guys that can really take a step this year and I expect a step out of them."

While the Sharks lost Marleau in free agency, they did manage to keep Thornton by giving him a one-year, $8 million contract despite dwindling production last season and offseason knee surgery.

He scored just seven goals — his fewest in an 82-game season since his rookie year in 1997-98 — and was a key part of a power-play unit that uncharacteristically struggled last season. But he still managed 43 assists, teaming with captain Joe Pavelski on San Jose's top line.

Thornton missed the final week of the regular season and the first two playoff games with a left knee injury before returning for the final four games of a first-round loss to Edmonton. Thornton then underwent surgery to repair his MCL and ACL after the season but was back skating in August and started ramping it up for training camp two weeks ago. Thornton believes the lower-body work he did in rehab this offseason will pay dividends on the ice.

"They feel real strong," he said of his legs. "I feel a lot of pop out there. They're probably as strong as they've ever been just because I had to rehab that knee so much."

Sharks Media Day highlights: Beards, smiles & cup checks


Sharks Media Day highlights: Beards, smiles & cup checks

The boys were back together in San Jose on Thursday for Sharks Media Day, with plenty of smiles and moments of levity. Check out the highlights...

Hey Jumbo, you dropped something. 👖🤷‍♂️

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Martin Jones is pretty good at photobombs 📸💣

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🤳 Media Day #SJSharks

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New season. New commercials. 🕉🚌📺 #ComingSoon #SharksForLife

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