Sharks force overtime, top Canadiens in shootout

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Sharks force overtime, top Canadiens in shootout

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE Reunited and it feels so good.

Logan Couture and Ryane Clowe both scored, with Clowes game-tying goal coming late in regulation, and the Sharks won in a shootout over the Montreal Canadiens at HP Pavilion on Thursday night, 4-3.

Couture and Clowe, who had success together for most of last year and the beginning of this season, began the night on the same line for the first time since Nov. 5 in Nashville. Clowes first marker since Nov. 3 tied the game with 1:26 left in the third period.

Trailing 3-2 and with Antti Niemi racing towards the bench for an extra attacker, Marty Havlat fired a wrist shot on Carey Price from the wing. Couture charged the net, and the rebound bounced out to the slot where Clowe was able to lift it over Prices shoulder for his fifth of the season.

Havlat, Michal Handzus and Joe Pavelski beat Price in the six-round shootout, which finally ended when Niemi made a low stick save on Montreals P.K. Subban. The Sharks improved to 3-0 in shootouts in ending their modest two-game losing streak.

Along with Havlat, the Sharks second line combined for five points and was easily the teams best of the night.

Whatever the outcome was tonight, I was happy with the effort of our line to create some offense and get back on track, said Clowe.

Sometimes you need to take a break and get back together. You kind of regroup and get a feel for each other again. Give a lot of credit to Marty, he played well on the wing tonight, too.

So well, in fact, that McLellan labeled it as Havlats best game as a Shark. I dont even think its close, said the head coach.

The Sharks never led in regulation, battling back from three separate one-goal deficits to force overtime.

Montreal took the 3-2 lead with 11:14 left in the third period. David Desharnais battled Joe Thornton behind the Sharks net, coming away with the puck. He managed to squeeze a pass through the crease to Cole, who got position in front of Marc-Edouard Vlasic to direct it past Niemi.

Usually I play that better, said Vlasic, who has undoubtedly been the teams best defenseman this season.

All of Montreals goals, in fact, came from the same line, as Desharnais, Erik Cole and Mike Cammalleri combined for eight points. They victimized the Sharks top line of Thornton, Pavelski and Patrick Marleau, who were a combined -8.

We thought their size was something that we could take advantage of tonight, but it didnt work out for us for whatever reason, said McLellan of his top line. I know that threesome will be better next time out.

The Sharks responded quickly to goals from Montreal in the first and second periods, and the game was tied at 2-2 after 40 minutes.

The Canadiens opened it at 13:21 of the first period. Niemi stopped Coles attempt from the side of the net, but was slow to recover as the puck ended up at the point on the stick of Subban. Subban ripped a low slap shot that Cammalleri redirected into the net.

Just 41 seconds later, though, Jamie McGinn tied it. Handzus, returning after missing Mondays game with a high fever, skated around the net and backhanded one towards the net. The puck glanced off of Prices pad right to a charging McGinn, who slammed it in.

Montreal re-took the lead at 4:41 of the second. Pavelski turned the puck over in the Sharks offensive zone to Cole, who quickly got it ahead the speedy Desharnais. The Sharks were unable to get back in time and watched Desharnais fire a wrister from the circle past Niemi's stick side.

Once again, though, the Sharks countered. This time it was Couture, who got open in the circle and took a nice backhanded feed from Clowe along the boards. Couture showed his quick wrists and immediately fired it past Price for just his second goal in the last nine games at 6:18.

It was one of many scoring chances that line generated throughout the night.

There are nights where you feel good and it feels like the puck is following you around, said Couture. Youre getting in the forecheck a little quicker, and causing turnovers from the other teams D. Tonight was one of those nights.

Despite trailing for much of the game, the Sharks were happier with their overall effort. The Canadiens were an opportunistic bunch, taking advantage of the few mistakes the Sharks made, in scoring their three goals.

It wasn't any real huge mistakes. Theyre good at countering, said Clowe. We talked about that before the game. I liked how we at least stuck with it.

The coach did, too.

We tried to lose it in the third there when we gave up the goal, but Im happy that they stuck with it. There was a group of them that was really determined, said McLellan, clearly referring to that second line.

It was perhaps their best game in a long time. It was nice to see. They did a lot of scoring for us tonight and were real happy about that, he said.

Odds and ends: Niemi made 29 saves for his 10th win of the season. Price stopped 38. The Sharks host the Florida Panthers on Saturday night. There was a total of just four penalty minutes in the game, and each team had just 1:29 of power play time. Neither scored. The Sharks won 39 of 61 faceoffs. The Canadiens, the league leaders in blocked shots, blocked 23 to San Joses 18. The Canadiens were without leading goal-scorer Max Pacioretty, who was serving the second of a three-game suspension.

Marleau back to the middle as Sharks deal with no Couture, Haley

Marleau back to the middle as Sharks deal with no Couture, Haley

SAN JOSE – All four of the Sharks’ lines have been in a blender for much of the season. 

Now, with Logan Couture out for at least one game and probably longer, and Micheal Haley getting tagged with a one-game suspension, the coaching staff has no choice but to mix and match the remaining forwards in time for Tuesday’s home game with the Rangers.

They’ll hope it’s the right recipe to snap out of what has been a miserable six-game losing streak in regulation, including the last two in which the Sharks have been outscored 13-3 by Dallas and Nashville.

The most notable player to be shifted is Patrick Marleau, who will apparently be centering the second line against New York. It will be just the fifth game he starts at center this season, and first since Feb. 11 in Philadelphia, when he was filling in for an ill Couture.

Marleau, of course, has played plenty of center over the years, including the second half of last season and first handful of playoff games when he was in the middle of the third line.

“I don’t think there’s been a year where I haven’t played center, so it’s just one of those things, move in and out,” Marleau said. “We’re interchangeable throughout the whole lineup, anyway.”

Marleau has been one of the few effective Sharks players lately, with three of the team’s last five goals. He has 26 goals on the season, third on the team, and is fifth on the Sharks in points with 44.

“Patty is playing great. I don’t think we could ask for more from him,” said coach Pete DeBoer. “Arguably a lot of nights this year he’s been our best forward. He’s playing hard, he’s playing strong. He’s been a real valuable piece for us. We wouldn’t be in the spot we’re in this year without him and the way he’s played this year.”

Marleau is set to skate with Melker Karlsson and Mikkel Boedker, as Karlsson is good to go after missing the last eight games with a lower body injury. The 26-year-old Swede is having a nice season with 19 points (9g, 10a) in 60 games.

The third line featured Tomas Hertl between Joel Ward and Marcus Sorensen, while Chris Tierney will center the fourth line with Timo Meier and Joonas Donskoi.

Karlsson, who confirmed he was ready to return, said: “Cooch is out, and we’ll see how long he’s going to be out, but I’ll do my best. I’m going to work hard, and hopefully can get going here.”

Marleau described Karlsson as “tenacious on the forecheck, causes a lot of turnovers. He’s hungry on that puck. He’s going to get his opportunities, and I’m sure he’ll put a few in the back of the net.”

* * *

Of course, the Sharks don’t care who scores the goals, just as long as it’s someone. It’s been a season-long issue for them to get their depth scorers to do more, and if they want any chance at reclaiming first place in the Pacific Division while Couture is out, that will be a necessity.

Among the players that will bring their scoring woes into Tuesday’s game will be Donskoi (no points 13 games), Hertl (no points in 12 games), Boedker (no points in 10 games), Ward (no points in six games), Sorensen (one assist in 10 games) and Tierney (one goal in 12 games).

Could Couture’s absence be a wake up call for those guys?

“I would hope it doesn’t take an injury to get that. That’s something we’re looking for, it’s something we’ve challenged the group to get more out of them,” DeBoer said. 

“They’re the first guys to recognize they’ve got to give us a little bit more. That’s been an ongoing process. The good news is they’ve all done it before. I feel that they all have the ability to raise their level another notch here before the playoffs. I think they have enough character that we’ll see that.”

Time is growing short, as the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin in a little more than two weeks.

Marleau said: “When you go into playoffs, [secondary scoring] is usually what makes a difference. We need everybody contributing and guys stepping up at different times. We know that in this room, and guys are looking forward to doing that.”

Sharks' Haley suspended one game for punch on Jarnkrok

Sharks' Haley suspended one game for punch on Jarnkrok

SAN JOSE – Sharks forward Micheal Haley has been suspended one game for punching Nashville’s Calle Jarnkrok on Saturday in San Jose’s 7-2 loss, and will miss Tuesday's home game with the Rangers.

After absorbing a borderline hit from behind into the glass by Jarnkrok, Haley tracked down the Predators forward and promptly delivered a left jab to Jarnkrok’s face at 12:56 of the final frame. He received a match penalty for intent to injure on the play.

According to the video released by the league, Haley “was seeking retribution” for the hit by Jarnkrok, who was already being penalized for boarding, and delivered a “forceful punch on an opponent who was not able to defend himself at the time.”

The 30-year-old Haley, who has never been fined or suspended before in his career, gave his perspective of what happened on Monday.

“We were breaking out there and next thing I know I was face first in the glass,” Haley said. “Just emotions [took over]. Kind of scared from the hit and I just went after him. Looked at him right in the eyes. He saw me. By the time I swung at him his face might have turned a bit. When I went at him I saw him clearly look at me, and I thought he knew I was coming.”

Haley expected Jarnkrok to engage him after the Predators forward delivered the bad check.

“I thought it was a pretty dirty hit, and I thought I gave him ample amount of time. I think he [had] enough time to know what I was trying to do, and trying to get him to fight.”

He added: “In hindsight, I wish none of it happened. I wish I didn’t get hit and I wish I didn’t punch him, but it happened. I don’t think I started it. It wasn’t premeditated or anything. If I missed that punch then we probably don’t have this conversation.”

In 54 games this season, Haley has two goals and nine assists for 11 points. His 110 penalty minutes is fifth in the league.