Sharks' offense erupts in 5-3 win over Capitals


Sharks' offense erupts in 5-3 win over Capitals


WASHINGTON, DC If there was an unmistakable sign that it was Joe Pavelskis night, look no further than the first goal of the Sharks 5-3 win over the Washington Capitals at Verizon Center on Monday night.

The Sharks forward was the beneficiary of a fortunate bounce when he got his stick on a slap shot from Dan Boyle, who wound up behind center ice. Pavelski tipped the puck at the blue line and it skipped in on goaltender Braden Holtby, who allowed it to squeak by at 12:12 of the first period.

Boyle was trying to fire it on net to give a charging Joe Thornton a chance at the rebound, while Pavelski just wanted to prevent an icing call.

You see it bounce, and you hope when youre that far away that something stupid happens, and it did, Pavelski said.

That gave the Sharks a 1-0 lead, and Pavelski tallied another goal and two assists to tie his career high of four points before the evening was through.

Thornton finished with three assists and Patrick Marleau a pair of goals as the Sharks improved to 1-1 on their season-long nine-game road trip. They opened up a three-point lead on the Los Angeles Kings for first place in the Pacific Division in the process, with three games in hand.

The power play played a huge role for the Sharks, too. They were 0-for-4 with a man advantage on Sunday night's 3-0 loss in St. Louis, ending a stretch where they had been an impressive 10 for their last 22 in the eight games prior. They put that effort against the Blues quickly behind them in Washington, though, finishing 3-for-6.

We wanted to get back to making crisp tape-to-tape passes and getting our shots through, and guys in the right spots, Marleau said. We were able to do that tonight, and it paid off.

A real good sign of leadership, when it can bounce back an respond the way it did, said Todd McLellan of the power play.

After Pavelskis goal was the only marker of the first period, San Jose had a comfortable 3-0 lead in the second period thanks to power play goals from Pavelski and Marleau, and looked like it would head to the locker room with that cushion after 40 minutes. Instead, Dmitry Orlovs slap shot handcuffed Thomas Greiss, and the puck trickled over the line with less than a second to go in the period to keep the Capitals in the game.

To their credit, the Sharks werent rattled to start the third, and quickly gained a 5-1 lead. Brent Burns blast through traffic got past Holtby at 4:36, while Marleau managed to get his stick on a pass from Thornton in front of the net for another power play tally at 7:03.

That Orlov goal was a tough goal to give up, but that fourth goal was huge, Boyle said. It gave us a little more breathing room, and we fought hard tonight.

You never want to give one up at that point, McLellan said. Youve got the crowd thats in it now, youve got a coach that was probably upset going in, and in one second he changes his mind and hes now selling, hey we can do this.

The coach had a clear message for his team at the intermission.

We challenged our guys. Its up to them. They can choose to be on their heels, or they can choose to get on their toes and get after them. Im glad they chose the second.

Roman Hamrliks backhander through traffic midway through the third made it 5-2, while a low slapper by Jeff Schultz beat Greiss to the short side at 14:09, but the Capitals wouldnt come any closer in losing for the eighth time in their last 11 games (3-5-3).

Meanwhile, the Sharks improved to 16-1-0 against Washington since the start of the 1999-2000 season, including a 5-2 win at HP Pavilion on Jan. 7.

After the early gift goal, Pavelski got his second of the game at 3:26 of the second. Couture managed to push the puck towards the net through defenseman Kyle Alzner, and Pavelski skillfully flipped it over the shoulder of Holtby for his 22nd of the season.

Later, Thornton drew a high-sticking penalty on Jeff Halpern and the power play went to work again. This time, Couture deflected a wrister from the point by Pavelski, which hit Holtby in the chest before falling to the ice. Marleau was in front to deposit it at 15:11.

Greiss, making his first start since a Feb. 2 win against Dallas, was outstanding in stopping the first 29 shots fired in his direction before Orlovs stoppable shot cut into the Sharks lead.

The first two periods I played very well, he said, before adding the Orlov goal was a bad play on my part.

Greiss improved to 8-4-1 with 39 saves, and is 4-0-1 in his last five starts.

The first period had a frantic pace to it, in direct contrast to the Sharks loss in St Louis. Early in the game, Tommy Wingels, returning from a nine-game absence with a left shoulder injury, nearly put the Sharks ahead on a pair of chances in front of the net on a delayed penalty call, but Holtby stopped them both with his glove.

San Jose had a couple of defensive breakdowns in the first on which the Caps failed to capitalize. Alex Semins blast was challenged and stopped by Griess, while Orlov had a wide-open look from the circle but fired high.

The Capitals almost took the lead on a shorthanded breakaway by Brooks Laich, but Greiss got just enough of it to keep the game scoreless midway through the first.

Holtby made his first start of the season as Tomas Vokoun is suffering from an illness, and Michal Neuvirth played on Sunday in New York. Holtby played 14 games last season, and made the drive from Washingtons AHL affiliate in Hershey earlier in the day.

San Jose made it a night to forget for him, though, in what was a key win early on their marathon trek up and down the East Coast.

We wanted that first one yesterday and didnt get it, Pavelski said. It was really important for us, you see what happened with Chicago it just keeps snowballing and never gets easier on the road. You take the wins as you get them.

Odds and ends: Tommy Wingels started the game on the second line with Logan Couture and Ryane Clowe in his return, but was later moved to the fourth line. Jim Vandermeer and Benn Ferriero were San Joses healthy scratches. Jason Demers remains out with a lower body injury. Joe Pavelskis previous four-point game came on March 15, 2011 in Dallas.

Sorensen returns to Sharks after having 'positive impact' last season

Sorensen returns to Sharks after having 'positive impact' last season

Editor's Note: The above video is from March 2, 2017

One of the Sharks’ young forwards expected to challenge for a full time roster spot this season has been re-signed.

Marcus Sorensen, who started the year in the AHL before working his way up to the Sharks, signed a two-year contract extension the team announced on Tuesday. A source told NBC Sports California that the deal is worth $700,000 at the NHL level for each of the next two seasons.

In 19 regular season games with the Sharks, Sorensen, 25, posted one goal and three assists. He appeared in all six playoff games against Edmonton, posting one goal and one assist.

In 43 games with the AHL Barracuda, Sorensen had 17 goals and 17 assists for 34 points.

"The time he spent with the Sharks this season, and the positive impact he had, proved that he can be an effective player at the highest level,” assistant general manager Joe Will said in a statement.

Sorensen originally signed with the Sharks as a free agent on May 13, 2016. He was originally drafted by Ottawa in the fourth round of the 2010 draft, but spent six seasons playing in Sweden before joining San Jose.

Sorensen was a restriced free agent. The Sharks have just one RFA left to sign in forward Barclay Goodrow.

Mailbag: Will Sharks miss Marleau's leadership? Thornton to be bumped?

Mailbag: Will Sharks miss Marleau's leadership? Thornton to be bumped?

Now that the dust has settled on the draft and free agency, here’s a meaty offseason Sharks mailbag before my vacation…

Who will replace Patty's leadership? (philip malan‏ @pmalan1979)

Patrick Marleau was a good example for other players in that he always came to camp in great shape and took care of himself between games, allowing him to be very productive into his later years. 

But let’s not overblow it. From what I understand, Marleau preferred to avoid confrontation, and was never the guy in the dressing room challenging other players to step up. That was left more to guys like Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski, with Logan Couture growing into that role in recent years, too. When it comes to veteran leadership there are other guys still in the dressing room of more value than Marleau. His leaving town shouldn’t change the dynamic.

Will Thornton be bumped from the top line center role? Who do you think will replace Marleau on the PP? (Elle‏ @LikeShiningOil)

The whole “top line” designation is something that us writers and broadcasters like to use, and I’m going to keep using it for Thornton so long as he and Pavelski are on the same line. That said, there will be plenty of games where the Couture line gets more even-strength ice time than the Thornton line. I guess my point here is don’t read too much into the labels. I don’t expect Thornton’s ice time to go down from what it was last season. He’s averaged 18 minutes and change in each of the past five seasons, and probably will again.

As for replacing Marleau on the power play, I would tab Tomas Hertl as the frontrunner, but I’m sure the Sharks will try a number of different looks there in training camp. After finishing 25th in the NHL last season they pretty much have to, right?

How will the lines roll this season, if you were to prognosticate now? (Erik Kuhre @Puckguy14)

It seems like we say this every year, but it depends on where the Sharks see Hertl slotting in. Last season Hertl started out on the wing of the top line after offseason knee surgery before moving to center fairly quickly. I know he battled through yet another knee injury during the season, but Hertl’s 22 points in 49 games was a disappointing total.

If the season were starting today, I’d put Hertl on the wing of the Thornton line again with, of course, Pavelski on the other side. Here’s what I’ve got in that scenario:

Tomas Hertl – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Timo Meier – Logan Couture – Joonas Donskoi
Jannik Hansen – Chris Tierney – Mikkel Boedker
Melker Karlsson – Ryan Carpenter – Joel Ward

Extras: Marcus Sorensen, Kevin Labanc, Barclay Goodrow

(One guy who is really going to have to fight to keep his spot is Ward. I could see him getting pushed out, but for now I’m leaving him in).

Will there be a tough guy in the lineup to protect the kids? (Jim Kelley)

The Sharks signed free agent Brandon Bollig a couple weeks ago to replace Micheal Haley, but I don’t seem him as a regular in the NHL lineup. Bollig could be a guy they recall if they think it’s necessary to dress a pugilist, like when Pete DeBoer brought up Haley late in the 2015-16 season for the sole reason of fighting Darnell Nurse, who had jumped Sharks defenseman Roman Polak just two weeks earlier for no real reason.

Do you think Chris Tierney is capable of more point production at this point in his career? (Ian Stephenson)

Count me among those that thought Tierney was ready to have a better season last year after his strong performance in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Still, he’s just 23 years old, and his line in the series against Edmonton with Meier and Sorensen was a very effective one for long stretches of play. This is a huge year for Tierney, who had to settle for the Sharks’ one-year, $735,000 qualifying offer. Perform, and he’ll get paid. Struggle, and he could be on the move.

Do you think the Sharks will trade either Grosenick or Dell? Doesn't seem Grosenick has much more to prove in AHL. (Chris Greni)

No, they’ll hold on to all three for the time being. Getting Troy Grosenick re-signed to a one-year deal was a nice move on the Sharks’ part, considering Aaron Dell still has just 20 games of NHL experience. Perhaps if they both continue to play well the Sharks could dangle one as trade bait later in the year, but it wouldn’t make sense at this point. 

Any thoughts on DW using the offer sheet to bring in scoring help? There’s several serviceable RFAs out there still waiting for contracts. (Tony Martinico)

Keep in mind that some of those high end RFAs, like Colton Parayko, Nino Niederreiter and Tomas Tatar are currently headed for arbitration, which takes the offer sheet off the table.

Purely speculation here, but I have to wonder if the Sharks have at least kicked around trying to ink Leon Draisaitl to an offer sheet. You have to think Berlin native Hasso Plattner would love to add the “German Gretzky” to the roster. I know we're settling into the part of the NHL offseason where typically nothing happens, but it was July 19 when the Flyers signed Shea Weber to a monster offer sheet five years ago.

And, of course, Doug Wilson has used the power of the offer sheet in the past, signing Niklas Hjalmarsson in 2010 and then using the threat of an offer sheet with Boston to acquire Martin Jones.

Which Cuda player, aside from Meier, Labanc and Sorensen, would you expect to be a dark horse and could make the big team out of camp? (olin @sleepymofo)

Keep in mind that the sixth and defensemen spots are open, too. I would presume that Dylan DeMelo is the frontrunner to replace David Schlemko, but Tim Heed and Joakim Ryan are coming off of strong seasons in the AHL. Perhaps one of them overtakes DeMelo in training camp.

As for other forwards than those you mentioned, Goodrow could end challenging for a spot on the fourth line. I get plenty of questions about Danny O’Regan, too, and perhaps he makes a push. The issue with O’Regan is that although he’s a skilled player in the minors, he’s probably not quite skilled enough to make up for his small frame at the NHL level. I view him more as a fill-in guy.

Any word on [Barclay] Goodrow and [Marcus] Sorenson? I'm assuming they didn't sign their QO's? (DaveBPilot‏ @DaveBPilot)

Yes, that’s safe to assume, since the deadline was Saturday. They remain RFAs, and negotiations will surely continue.

Still, it’s worth mentioning what happened last year with Matt Nieto. The forward didn’t sign his qualifying offer, as he was pushing for a multi-year deal, and ended up signing for one year for less than he would have made had he accepted the original offer. He was waived and claimed by Colorado.