Sharks score five in win over Stars

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Sharks score five in win over Stars

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE With the game tied in the second period, and the Sharks having just squandered a lengthy two-man advantage, San Jose desperately needed a penalty kill.

Thats been easier said than done this season, as the Sharks entered the game with the leagues worst percentage on the PK. But they managed to keep the game knotted at 2-2 with Marc-Edouard Vlasic in the box, and exploded for three goals later in the middle frame to key a 5-2 victory over the Dallas Stars on Thursday night.

It was the Sharks first regulation win since Nov. 23, and ended a stretch in which they had lost four of their last five.

We havent played well the last two or three games, so it was nice to come out and play well tonight, said Joe Thornton, who had two assists.

San Jose took a 2-1 lead into the second period, but failed to capitalize on penalties just 10 seconds apart to Dallas Nicklas Grossman and Sheldon Souray. In fact, the Sharks had trouble even maintaining possession in the offensive zone, and shortly thereafter, Brenden Morrows power play goal tied it up.

The five-on-three that we had could have killed us, said Todd McLellan. There was a lot of momentum lost, and they come back and score.

Dallas had a chance to take the lead on the power play less than three minutes later, when Vlasic was whistled for high-sticking Mike Ribeiro in front of the Sharks net at 9:12. The Sharks managed to kill it off, though, against a Dallas team that entered the game just two for its last 29 with a man advantage in its last 12 games.

San Jose took over from there, beginning with Ryane Clowes goal at 11:53 and followed by markers from Brad Winchester and Torrey Mitchell.

The following penalty kill, we did a good job, said McLellan. I was happy that we didnt sag, and showed some resiliency and were able to come back and take the game over again.

The goal from Clowe, his sixth, came after a shot from the circle by Marty Havlat rebounded high in the air and Thornton gathered it in. The captains failed wrap-around attempt popped out to Clowe, who found the open net.

Less than two minutes later, Winchester was credited with a goal when a point shot from Brent Burns deflected first off of Thornton and then Winchesters stick at 13:48.

The Sharks werent finished, when some hard work by Patrick Marleau resulted in a Mitchell goal with 2:03 remaining in the second. Marleau provided a strong forecheck and Jamie Benn inadvertently tipped the puck out to Mitchell, who blasted in his third of the season from the circle.

The Sharks rolled out some new lines for the game, and adjusted a couple of them midway through. No fewer than 10 players got on the scoreboard.

Obviously, Todd doesnt want anyone getting too comfortable, said Mitchell. Switching lines up, and different faces with different guys, is a good thing.

Sometimes when you move your lines around, everybody gets a wakeup call, said McLellan. You wonder, Why is he doing it to me? Why am I not in that situation, and why am I not playing with that guy? It gets some people mad, and those people that were mad had pretty good nights.

Mitchell could be considered one of those guys. The winger began the night on the fourth line and eventually replaced Michal Handzus on the third line, playing with Marleau and Jamie McGinn.

Mitchey had a hell of a night. He started on the fourth line and got more and more ice time as it went along, and it was nice to see him rewarded with a goal, said McLellan. He went to the net, found some garbage and put it in.

The other change that provided immediate dividends was putting Winchester on the top line with Thornton and Joe Pavelski. For just the second time this season, the big wingers ice time exceeded 13 minutes as he scored his third goal.

I liked him there, said McLellan. I thought he could do what he did. He was very good along the boards and around the net. He managed his shift-length well, and did a good job.

I just try to be around the net and much as possible and create something, said Winchester.

The game was not without the standard chippy-ness that commonly accompanies a Sharks-Stars matchup.

In the second period, Frazer McLaren drilled Dallas Radek Dvorak along the boards and was sent off for charging, but not before Eric Nystrom started a scrum with McLaren and Andrew Desjardins. Later, Vlasic and Ribeiro exchanged niceties in front of the Sharks net after Antti Niemi froze the puck, resulting in the high-sticking penalty to Vlasic that the Sharks subsequently killed.

At 18:36, Ribeiro was called for roughing Jason Demers while San Jose-favorite Steve Ott picked up a 10-minute misconduct.

San Jose got off to a flying start in jumping out to a 2-0 lead. First, Logan Couture fired in a wrist shot from the high slot on a two-on-one at 1:07 after the opening faceoff. Just 15 seconds later, Jamie McGinn cleaned up a loose puck in front of the net for his third goal in the last four games.

The Stars tied it up, though, on a goal by Ribeiro at 13:37 of the first and the power play marker from Morrow at 6:30 of the second. Morrow, Dallas captain, was returning from a six-game absence with a back injury.

After taking the 2-0 lead, the Sharks allowed several odd man rushes to the Stars and were generally sloppy in their own zone until the intermission.

There were a few things odd-man rush-wise that we were able to tighten up, said Winchester. Certainly, they have a lot of skill up front. If you can take away their lateral movement at the blue line, and cuts and drops and stuff like that with strong back pressure, you cut down on the odd-man rushes.

Stars goalie Andrew Raycroft was replaced by backup Richard Bachman to start the third period, after surrendering all five Sharks goals on 24 shots.

Niemi finished with 18 saves to record his 11th win.

Odds and ends: The Sharks begin a three-game road trip on Saturday in St. Louis. Andrew Murray was scratched for the first time this season in favor of Frazer McLaren, who played just 3:42. Douglas Murray (right hand) and Jim Vandermeer (upper body) were out for San Jose. The Sharks won the faceoff battle for the 10th straight game, 31-23.

Sharks' Vlasic joins Canada for World Championships

Sharks' Vlasic joins Canada for World Championships

Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic will compete in the upcoming IIHF World Championships for Team Canada, it was announced on Friday.

The tournament runs from May 5-21 in Paris, France and Cologne, Germany. 

Vlasic, 30, a native of Montreal, has played in the tournament twice before in 2009 and 2012. He also represented Canada in the 2014 Olympic Games, helping it to a gold medal, and the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, which Canada also captured.

In 75 games with the Sharks this season, Vlasic posted 28 points (6g, 22a) and a +4 rating. He was second on the team in shorthanded time on ice (2:04 per game) and blocked shots (146).

A pending restricted free agent in 2018, Sharks general manager Doug Wilson called getting Vlasic signed to a long-term deal an offseason priority for the club. The two sides can begin negotiations on July 1.

“Vlasic [is] arguably one of the best defensemen in the league,” Wilson said. “[He] is still one of the most underrated players in the league in the outside world.”

The Sharks lost in the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs to Edmonton, although Vlasic and partner Justin Braun helped to keep Connor McDavid in check at even strength. The league's leading scorer had just one even strength point in the six-game series, an empty net goal with less than one second left in Game 6.

Boedker tops list of disappointing Sharks depth forwards

Boedker tops list of disappointing Sharks depth forwards

SAN JOSE – The Sharks didn’t make any blockbuster moves last summer, content to make another run in 2016-17 with largely the same group that came within two wins of capturing the Stanley Cup.

They still acquired a notable player, though, when Mikkel Boedker was signed on July 1 to add an element that the Sharks knew they needed more of moving forward – speed. Boedker was expected to make the team faster, after the Sharks were exposed for not having enough of that against Pittsburgh in the NHL’s final round, as well as play in a top six role. 

At the time, it was hailed as a slick, under-the-radar move that wasn’t going to change the dynamic of the club but could help push it over the top.

When Boedker was a healthy scratch in games three and four of the first round against Edmonton, the evidence became clear, though, that this was a decision that fell flat on its face. 

Frankly, Boedker – who is signed for three more years with a $4 million salary cap hit – brings back visions of Sharks bust Marty Havlat. You know the skill is there, but the desire to use it on a nightly basis while showing any semblance of a battle level is lacking. 

Should the Sharks give Boedker another chance next season, or should they do everything in their power to try and move him? That’s a question that will likely be debated in the front office over the next several weeks.

On get-away day on Monday, indications were that the Sharks were planning on sticking with the 27-year-old, who finished with 26 points in the regular season (10g, 16a) and added one goal and one assist in four games in the playoffs.

“He has the things we’re looking for: his career scoring average, his speed, [penalty killing] ability,” general manager Doug Wilson said. “Did he meet the expectations that he had for himself [or] that we had for him? No. Can we get that out of him? Pete [DeBoer] believes we can.”

DeBoer has known Boedker since he played for him in 2007-08 in Kitchener (OHL). Despite scratching him in the playoffs, DeBoer said he saw “huge improvement” in Boedker throughout the course of the season after the forward spent nearly all of his NHL career in Arizona.

“There was an adjustment. He’s played 6-7 years a certain way in the NHL,” DeBoer said. “We’ve asked him to play differently here, and there was an adjustment.”

Boedker still believes that he can be a fit in San Jose.

“I think it will be and it can be,” he said. “It’s learning period, but you’ve also got to look in the mirror yourself and see what you can change and what assets you need to bring. I’ve learned a lot, and I’m ready to do that.”

The list of Sharks depth forwads that had frustrating seasons hardly begins and ends with Boedker, though.

Veteran Joel Ward’s production dipped from 43 points last season to 29 in 2016-17, although that probably isn’t too surprising considering he’s 36. Tomas Hertl is proving to be a streaky player, too, although his season was interrupted by another a knee injury.

The bigger disappointment came from players like Chris Tierney and Joonas Donskoi, who both made big impressions in the 2016 playoffs but struggled to produce consistent offense this year. Both were mentioned by name by DeBoer on Monday.

There are some promising youngsters in the pipeline like Timo Meier, Kevin Labanc and Marcus Sorensen, but it’s still too early to project any of them as can’t-miss scorers at the NHL level.

“I think we’ve got a large group of guys that I like, but need to step up,” DeBoer said. “Is Sorensen [like] Donskoi next year, where he takes a step back, or [does he take a] step forward? We’ve got a lot of guys that there’s a lot of potential there – Chris Tierney. 

“There’s a lot of those guys, but they need to have big summers and take a step, and show that they’re not just one season or one month players.”