Sharks prevail over Canucks in shootout, 3-2

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Sharks prevail over Canucks in shootout, 3-2

BOX SCORE

VANCOUVER In what may have been their biggest win of the year er, season, so as not to be confused with a bad pun the Sharks defeated the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena on Monday night, 3-2, by virtue of Michal Handzus shootout goal.

It was the Sharks first victory in three tries against the team that has become their nemesis, and in another vastly entertaining game, it didnt matter if the win came in regulation, overtime, a shootout, extra innings, or a last second field goal.

Any positive result for us at this point is real important, but in this building and against that team is something that we needed, Todd McLellan said.

Surprisingly, it was the Sharks much maligned and 28th ranked penalty kill that led the way. Although Vancouver's Cody Hodgson tied the game at 2-2 with a power play goal midway through the third, San Jose managed to kill off five of the six Canucks opportunities, including a lengthy five-on-three advantage early in the final frame.

Thats no small feat against the leagues top ranked unit, which entered the game with a 24.2 percent success rate.

It was awesome. With that group, five-on-three they are the best in the league, Ryane Clowe said. We didnt really give them too much. It was a great job, and we worked on that a little bit in our practice time.

With San Jose nursing a 2-1 lead, Jason Demers and Brent Burns were whistled for infractions just 51 seconds apart. A couple of blocked shots and clears later, though, the Sharks still had their precious advantage.

The penalty kill has been a lot better significantly better for the last four or five games, now, Dan Boyle said. That was a huge turnaround. Weve been on the other side of that, and its a missed opportunity. They had their chance, but they missed it.

Still, the Canucks fought back and tied it with Clowe off for holding Alex Burrows. Vancouver nearly won it early in overtime, but Dan Hamhuis hit the far post while looking at an open net.

After the teams combined for five failed attempts to start the shootout, Handzus buried a shot past Roberto Luongo to put an end to San Joses four-game road winless streak.

I usually dont think too much about it, said Handzus of what he was going through his head with the game on his stick. Just go in and look where hes standing, and what hes doing. Then, just shoot it or fake it. Pretty simple. It went in for me, and its great for the team to get the two points.

Ryan Kesler, who shot immediately before Handzus, had Antti Niemi beat but fired it off of the post. The Sharks goaltender was happy to hear the chime of frozen rubber on iron.

Yeah, for sure, just to see the reaction of the people and they didnt cheer, Niemi said. At first, youre not sure if the puck goes in or not, and when you realize it didnt, thats a big relief.

Niemi started for the 16th time in the last 17 games, and recorded his 16th win of the season with 27 saves. Luongo took the loss, stopping 33 Sharks shots.

The Sharks used a strong second period to take a 2-1 lead after falling behind in the first.

Benn Ferriero tied the game at 1:34. Kevin Bieksa immediately fell to the ice after blocking a wrist shot by Logan Couture in front of the net. Ferriero took advantage of suddenly being alone in front the net, and deposited his third goal of the year from Clowe.

I was pretty open in front, Clowie found me, and I buried the rebound, Ferriero said.

Patrick Marleau gave San Jose its first lead. A long shift by the Sharks in the offensive zone had the Canucks scrambling, and Marleau banged in the rebound of a soft Justin Braun wrist shot from the point midway through.

The Sharks outshot the Canucks 17-7 in the second period.

Although the five-on-three kill was the most noticeable, the unit came up big early in the second when Vancouver was looking to build on its slim advantage. A high-sticking call on Demers at 19:05 of the first period carried over into the second.

I think the penalty kill going out to begin the second period was important for us, and about five or six minutes later we got a power play and we were dangerous, McLellan said. We felt good about ourselves at that point.

The Sharks were playing for the first time after a four-day break, off since last Wednesdays 3-2 overtime loss to Vancouver at HP Pavilion. The Canucks, meanwhile, continued on to Anaheim and Los Angeles following that game and were concluding a stretch of four games in six nights.

McLellan thought his club might be able to capitalize on what may have been an energy discrepancy.

We knew they had played four games in six nights, and we were fresh. We didnt do anything other than practice, so we wanted to use that to our advantage, the coach said.

Ferriero said thats exactly what happened. We definitely were pretty fresh. We had a good solid break there and some good practices, and I think we expected to come out and play with some jump. We did that tonight.

The Sharks got a scare early in the first period. Couture, who leads the team with 16 goals, limped off of the ice and up the tunnel when a wrist shot from the stick of Keith Ballard caught him in the knee as he lowered down to block it. Couture didnt spend much time in the locker room, though, and the Sharks breathed a sigh of relief as he returned later in the period.

Vancouver opened the scoring on a Jannik Hansen goal. On a three-on-one rush, Hansens centering pass deflected in off of a backchecking Jamie McGinn at 15:42.

It was the 26th time the Canucks had scored first, tied with Detroit for the most in league. They fell to 20-5-1 when doing so.

Odds and ends: The Sharks had 24 blocked shots to the Canucks seven. Vancouver won 61 percent of faceoffs (38-24). Cody Hodgson had a goal and an assist. Colin White, Frazer McLaren and Antero Niittymaki were the Sharks scratches. Vancouver is 5-0-2 in its last seven games against San Jose. Nine of the last 10 Sharks games have been decided by one goal (4-2-3). The Sharks are 9-1-1 when Patrick Marleau scores, and 3-0 when Benn Ferriero gets a goal. Seven of Ferrieros 10 career goals have come on the road. San Jose visits Anaheim on Wednesday. The Sharks are 0-3 against the last place Ducks this season.

Mailbag: Which Sharks player is most likely to be traded?

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AP

Mailbag: Which Sharks player is most likely to be traded?

No one asked, but I’m going to begin this week’s mailbag with my prediction for the Stanley Cup Final – Preds in six. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to a few of your questions…

Most likely to be moved this off-season? (Nik @niknisj25)

If the Sharks do make a move – and I’ve argued here that I think it may be time for a shakeup – they’ll surely be looking for someone up front to boost the offense. In that case, they’d likely have to sacrifice a defenseman or two.

The Sharks defense is the strength of the organization at the moment, as they had one of the best one-through-seven groups in the NHL this season. But it’s also an expensive one. The Sharks have nearly $27 million committed to their top seven defensemen next season, while Marc-Edouard Vlasic is due for a hefty raise beginning in 2018-19.

One name that could be intriguing to other teams is Justin Braun. The 30-year-old has been a part of the Sharks’ top shut down pair with Vlasic for several seasons now, and is signed for the next three years at a reasonable $3.8 million cap hit. The Sharks could potentially move him for offensive help, and slot in a guy like David Schlemko alongside Vlasic, while finally giving Dylan DeMelo a chance to play on a nightly basis on the third pair. A Vlasic-Schlemko pair could be more offensive than Vlasic-Braun, too, because as adept as they were at keeping the puck out of their own net, the Sharks didn’t get many goals from their defenders outside of Burns.

Of course, the upcoming expansion draft all but assures that nothing will happen until Las Vegas selects its team on June 21. If the Sharks lose a defenseman to the Golden Knights, they’ll be more reluctant to move another one. Still, with guys like Joakim Ryan, Tim Heed, Julius Bergman, Mirco Mueller and now Radim Simek in the pipeline, the club might be able to handle a couple departures.

How do we fix the power play next season? Bring in a coach that could help us? Change up the lines, or style of play? (adam smith @kickback408)

One thing that won’t be happening is a new coach, as Doug Wilson recently confirmed that Steve Spott would be back alongside Pete DeBoer. Bob Boughner could move on if he gets hired as a head coach elsewhere, but Boughner’s focus is the team’s defense and penalty kill.

Obviously, the future of the power play depends on who is on the roster, beginning with Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau. Both saw their power play production dip this season.

Thornton went from 29 power play points in 2015-16 to 19 this season (he had eight power play goals in 2015-16, and just one this season). Marleau saw a decline from 25 power play points in 2015-16 to 16 last season. Even if both return, it may be time to try other bodies on the top unit.

Do you see Meier, Labanc and/or Sorensen having a breakout season next year? Or anyone else on the Barracuda? (Colin Dunn @ColinDunnACA)

Someone better had, because this team needs to start getting younger, and soon. One of the bigger disappointments of the 2016-17 season is that none of them apparently showed the coaching staff that they were prepared to play on a nightly basis at the NHL level.

Timo Meier and Marcus Sorensen, I would surmise, are at the top of the depth chart as far as forwards go. Their line in the playoffs with center Chris Tierney was the Sharks’ best through the early part of the series with Edmonton. As for Kevin Labanc, I think he’s fallen a bit since he had a brief run of success for the Sharks in December.

While the Sharks did a good job stockpiling some young players through the 2013-15 drafts, they’ve traded away a number of picks in recent years. In last year’s draft they didn’t have a first or third round pick; this year they don’t have any picks in the second, third or fourth rounds; and in 2018 they are already without their second and third round picks. 

It’s great to accumulate young players, but at some point they have to break through. Now is the time.

Sharks, Robinson parting ways after five seasons

Sharks, Robinson parting ways after five seasons

After five seasons with the Sharks, Larry Robinson is leaving the organization.

Robinson, 65, spent the last three seasons as the club's director of player development. He served as an associate coach from 2012-14.

TSN in Montreal and the Montreal Gazette originally reported the news.

The Sharks confirmed that Robinson's contract would be expiring, and general manager Doug Wilson told NBC Sports California that the divorce was amicable, and "because of geography." Robinson lives in Florida.

According to the Montreal Gazette

Robinson’s contract with the Sharks expires on July 1, but agent Donnie Cape said Thursday that San Jose general manager Doug Wilson has given him permission to speak with other teams. Robinson lives in Bradenton, Fla., and the long travel distance to San Jose is one of big the reasons he’s looking for a new team to work for.

Robinson seemed to ponder retirement in 2014, but signed a three-year extension to remain in the Sharks' front office. He worked mostly from his home in Florida the past two seasons, making occasional trips to San Jose, including during training camp.

In the summer of 2015, Robinson underwent surgery for skin cancer.

Recognized as one of the best defensemen in NHL history, Robinson won six Stanley Cup championships with the Montreal Canadiens as a player, and holds the NHL record for playing 20 straight seasons in the playoffs. A 10-time All-Star and two-time Norris Trophy winner, Robinson was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1995.

Robinson was the head coach of the Los Angeles Kings from 1995-99, and the New Jersey Devils from 1999-2002 and again in 2005-06. He led the Devils to the Stanley Cup in 2000. Robinson has nine Stanley Cup rings as a player and coach.

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The Sharks did not renew the contract of pro scout Jason Rowe, who had been with the organization for the past nine seasons. Rowe focused on eastern NHL and AHL teams.