Sharks hold court over Kings in 4-2 win

582068.jpg

Sharks hold court over Kings in 4-2 win

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE -- They werent going to let a third period lead disappear this time. Not against the Los Angeles Kings.Logan Coutures goal at 6:40 of the final frame increased San Joses lead to three, and the Sharks held on to defeat their rivals to the south on Monday night at HP Pavilion, 4-2.San Jose was ahead of Nashville by the same 3-1 score on Saturday night, before the Predators erased it and won in overtime at HP Pavilion, 4-3.Coutures goal came when he found a juicy rebound of a Marc-Edouard Vlasic shot off of the pad of goaltender Jonathan Quick, and backhanded in his sixth goal of the year.

Very important, is how Todd McLellan described the goal. When you give up a lead in the third like we did the other day, its always in the back of your mind.The game was won in the second period, though. The Sharks trailed after Jack Johnsons rocket of a one-timer on a two-man advantage opened the scoring at 6:19 of the second, but San Jose took over from there.The Sharks scored three times before the period was through, outshooting the Kings 21-8 in the process.Joe Thornton got it started. The Sharks captain controlled the puck behind the net, skated around towards the slot, and caught Quick leaning the wrong way as he lifted a backhand in off of the Kings goaltenders glove at 11:39.I kind of just saw that he was cheating at the very, very end, and I just wanted to get it on net and hopefully bank it in, said Thornton. I got lucky, I guess.San Jose took its first lead less than a minute later. Dan Boyle skated the puck over the blue line and patiently waited as defensemen Johnson and Rob Scuderi faded back towards the crease. Boyles low wrister found the tape of Marleau for a deflection goal at 12:35.Kings forwards Simon Gagne and Justin Williams got tangled up on the backcheck as Boyle skated it up the ice, giving the defenseman plenty of time to survey the landscape before his feed to Marleau.Obviously when I put the brakes on, I have to make a decision. Im no longer in position to skate the puck in because Im standing still, explained Boyle. Its either right side, left side, or on net, and I figured Id go with my chances on Patty going to the net there.The Sharks got a two-man advantage goal of their own at 17:02, when the puck squirted out to Boyle in the high slot and he ripped it home.Boyle seemed relieved to get his first goal of the season out of the way.I felt like Ive been playing with a tennis ball most of this year, the puck has been bouncing around a lot, he said. With an open net like that, everybody in the building expects you to put it in. It was nice to get rewarded, finally, for putting the puck on net.Coutures third period goal gave the Sharks their 4-1 lead, but the Kings didnt go away easily. Colin Whites cross-checking penalty in the third period put L.A. back on the power play, and Boyle gave Anze Kopitar a little too much room on the wing as the Kings leading scorer managed to put in his own rebound at 8:28.That was as close as L.A. would get, though, despite having a six-on-four advantage in the games final minute-and-a-half with Couture in the box and Quick pulled for an extra attacker.Antti Niemi finished the night with 29 saves, in a solid bounce-back performance from his previous two games. The goaltender allowed two third period goals to the Predators that he would have liked to have back on Saturday, and was pulled just 2:04 into last Thursdays game against Pittsburgh.In the first period, he stopped all 15 Kings shots thrown his way, including a pair on the snake bitten Dustin Penner. The Kings forward was denied on a breakaway midway through, and Niemi gloved his quick wrist shot on a setup from Mike Richards with less than a minute before intermission.Niemi explained both chances. On the breakaway, I tried to make him go first, and thats what happened. I got the paddle down so I dont think he had too much there. On the glove save, he caught me moving a little bit and put the puck back to the same side he was coming from. Pretty good shot, but I was able to catch it.He played great, said Thornton. Penner had a couple good shots on him and he made some big saves. I think after the first period, we kind of said lets let Nemo relax and score some goals and give him a comfort zone. But, he kept us in it early in the first.Penner, who was acquired from Edmonton at last years trade deadline and has been nothing short of a bust for the Kings, is still looking for his first goal.The victory, the Sharks third of the year at home, extends the Kings winless streak to five games (0-3-2).Odds and ends: Marleau finished with a goal and two assists for three points. Other Sharks with multiple-point nights included Joe Pavelski (2a), Thornton (1g, 1a) and Boyle (1g, 1a). The Sharks have both scored and allowed two goals on the two-man advantage this season The Sharks and Kings next meeting is on Nov. 28 at Staples Center. Ryane Clowe had a breakaway at the end of the second period but lost control of the puck at the last second. ... The Sharks have a complete day off on Tuesday.

Three takeaways: Fourth line leads the way for Sharks in Arizona

Three takeaways: Fourth line leads the way for Sharks in Arizona

For the first time in five tries this season the Sharks managed to secure a regulation win over the last place Coyotes, 4-1 at Gila River Arena on Saturday. They keep their four-point lead over Edmonton, and are assured of going into the bye week in sole possession of first place in the Pacific Division.

Here are our three takeaways from the win…

1 – Burns turns the tide…again

For the second time in a week, Brent Burns changed the momentum of a game with his deadly wrist shot. The Sharks were on their heels early – Arizona had a 16-9 shot advantage in the first period, perhaps jolted be a pregame ceremony – but Burns’ shot through traffic staked the Sharks a 1-0 lead and they were on their way.

“We kind of weathered their storm early,” Joe Pavelski told reporters. “There was a lot of energy in the building.”

It was similar to a game in New Jersey last Sunday, when Burns had a pair of second period goals, erasing a 1-0 deficit and putting his team on the track to victory.

According to Elias, Burns – who added a third period power play goal, too – is the first defenseman to score 18 goals on the road since Paul Coffey’s 22 in 1983-84. His 26 goals equal his total from last season, tying his franchise record.

“He’s having an MVP season,” Pete DeBoer told reporters. “He’s been that good for us all year and it’s every night. I don’t know what else to say. In my mind right now he’s the best player in the league, and we’re happy to have him on our team.”

Burns remains in third in the league in scoring with 63 points, four points behind Edmonton’s Connor McDavid.

2 – Dell gets the job done…again

Getting his second start in a week, Aaron Dell made a new season high (and, thus, career high) with 36 saves. His best stop was early in the second period on Radim Vrbata, when he managed to snag a pin-balling puck from crossing the line, keeping the Sharks ahead 2-0. Had that one trickled over, the Coyotes might have been able to seize the momentum.

“I think I had it the whole time,” Dell told reporters. “I kind of saw it for a second and then when I turned back I was able to find it and scoop it underneath me.”

DeBoer said: “He’s been good every time we’ve put him in there.”

Dell, whose goals-against average is down to 1.95, outplayed Sharks nemesis Mike Smith, who had stopped 121 of 127 San Jose shots in three games this season.

“We got to Smitty in the first period, which was great,” Pavelski said. “We kind of know what he’s done to us the past few games, stopping a lot of pucks. … That was a big key for us.”

3 – Fourth line magic

Through two periods, the Sharks’ top two lines had generated a total of three shots on goal – one each from Joe Thornton, Kevin Labanc and Patrick Marleau.

Fortunately for the big guys, the fourth line was there to pick up the slack. Melker Karlsson posted three points (1g, 2a), Micheal Haley had one goal and one assist, and the fourth line generated all three of San Jose’s goals through 40 minutes.

One goal from the fourth line is a bonus. Three is virtually unheard of. 

“They showed up and played the right way,” DeBoer said. “Right from the drop of the puck they put pucks behind the other teams defense, they had good support, they created a lot of chances, and got rewarded for it. I think Dell and them were the difference in the game early through the first half, until we got going a little bit.”

Burns leads the charge, Sharks dominate Coyotes

Burns leads the charge, Sharks dominate Coyotes

BOX SCORE

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The San Jose Sharks were facing a team that had been playing well in an arena buzzing with energy following a pregame ceremony.

Once they handled the initial onrush, the Sharks struck first to subdue the crowd and their opponent.

Brent Burns scored two goals, Aaron Dell had a career-high 36 saves and the Sharks beat the Arizona Coyotes for the first time this season, 4-1 on Saturday night.

"We kind of weathered their storm early; there was a lot of energy in the building," Sharks center Joe Pavelski said. "We got to (Coyotes goalie Mike Smith) in the first period. When you get one or two on him early, it kind of breaks them down a little bit and play from behind. That was a big key."

The Sharks bounced back from a slow start in their last game by scoring two goals in the first period and another early in the second to quiet a crowd energized by a ceremony honoring the first Coyotes team in the desert. Dell was sharp in his 11th start of the season, and the Pacific Division-leading Sharks were good in front of him to avoid a season sweep (1-3-1) by the last-place Coyotes.

Melker Karlsson had a goal and two assists, and Micheal Haley had a goal and an assist for San Jose.

Burns, of course, was at the center of the offense from the blue line.

The NHL's third-leading scorer, he had a goal in the first period and his 27th of the season in the third to match the team record for goals by a defenseman that he set in 2015-16. It was his third two-goal game of the season and second in the last three games.

"He's having an MVP season. He's been that good for us all year and it's every night," Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. "I don't know what else to say. In my mind, he's the best player in the league right now."

The Coyotes could not capitalize on a rowdy, sellout crowd. Arizona peppered Dell with 29 shots in the first two periods but didn't score until Martin Hanzal punched in a rebound in the third, when they were down 3-0.

Hanzal scored his fifth goal in five games and Smith stopped 29 shots for Arizona.

"We were pretty good in the period and I don't want to say they were lucky goals, but they scored first and after that, it's hard to chase a team like the Sharks," Hanzal said.

The Sharks trailed 3-1 in the first period and 6-3 in the third before rallying for a point against Florida on Wednesday. On Saturday, they took an early lead when Burns fired a shot through traffic to beat Smith to the stick side.

Karlsson made it 2-0 late in the period, keeping the puck on a 2-on-1 and wristing one past Smith on the stick side again.

San Jose kept the pressure up early in the second, making it a three-goal lead when Haley scored on a one-timer from between the circles for his first of the season.

Burns stopped Arizona's momentum late in the period, wristing a shot that slipped through Smith's pads on a power play.

"That wasn't my best game. I thought our team did a good job tonight to give ourselves a chance to win," Smith said. "They were opportunistic in the first period and we couldn't capitalize on our chances and when that happens, you usually lose."

NOTES

Along with honoring their 1996-97 team — the first after the franchise moved from Winnipeg — in a ceremony before the game, Arizona also announced its all-time starting six, which included current players Smith, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and captain Shane Doan. ... Haley's goal was his first since March 5, 2016 against Vancouver. ... Hanzal moved past Pat Elynuik for 13th on the franchise list with his 116th career goal.

UP NEXT

San Jose hosts Boston on Sunday before getting a five-day break from all hockey-related activities.

Arizona hosts Anaheim on Monday before playing five of its next six games on the road.