Sharks shut out by Blues in road-trip opener

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Sharks shut out by Blues in road-trip opener

BOX SCORE

ST. LOUIS -- In what was their second and final appearance in St. Louis this season, the Sharks are probably hoping they dont have to think about any more visits to the Scottrade Center until next years schedule is revealed.San Jose was frustratingly scoreless in its two games here, including Sunday nights 3-0 loss, in which the Blues scored a pair of five-on-three goals and an empty-netter in the closing seconds. Overall, San Jose has been held off of the board for the last 124 minutes and 56 seconds in The Gateway to the West.The Sharks have been silent on the power play here, too, finishing 0-for-4 on Sunday and a combined 0-for-10 overall, including an 0-for-6 effort in a 1-0 loss on Dec. 10.

Sunday night's failures with a man advantage brought their recent momentum in that department to a screeching halt, giving the Sharks their third regulation loss in the last four games (1-3-0). Three of the four power plays on Sunday night were in the third period, leaving the Sharks an open door to cut into what was a 2-0 Blues lead. Instead, St. Louis suffocating style not only prevented the Sharks from getting on the board, but San Jose didnt really have any notable scoring chances, either.Our power play was horrible, so they won that battle, Ryane Clowe said. We didnt even get one real good opportunity, actually, on the power play to even get a scoring chance. That was disappointing, especially the way our power play has been going.Not much, said Brent Burns, when asked what he saw from the Sharks power play. Theyre a great team, and they havent lost too much at home, so obviously theyre good. It was probably a combination of things.The Sharks were 10-for-22 in their last eight games with a man advantage before Sunday, and had scored at least once in seven of those.Todd McLellan gave the Blues credit for their penalty kill, but added: we just couldnt get it out of the crap, is what we call it. We didnt win enough battles in the corners, we werent stick-strong, we didnt get our eyes off the boards and never had a chance to establish any type of momentum in their end to wear them out. They would clear it, get fresh guys on the ice, and do it again. It was a frustrating night that way.What might have been just as frustrating although no one was willing to admit it were some of the penalties that gave the Blues their two-man advantage in the second period, leading to a goal by David Perron. Brad Winchesters elbowing call, in particular, seemed questionable at best.Winchester chose not to comment on the penalty after the game.McLellan simply said: We had eight minutes of power play time and did nothing. Im not going to question anything.The Blues have gained points in 19 consecutive home games (16-0-3), and recorded their league-leading 11th shutout behind 25 saves from Jaroslav Halak.The game was the first stop on a season-long nine-game road trip for the Sharks, who visit the Washington Capitals on Monday night.The Sharks had the early energy, which wasnt unexpected after the Blues had a hard-fought 3-2 overtime home win over Colorado the night before. Clowe nearly tipped in a pass from Joe Thornton early in the game, but couldnt quite find the handle.Three consecutive penalties later in the first cost San Jose the momentum, as well as the first goal. A careless delay of game penalty by Andrew Desjardins gave the Blues a two-man advantage, and they capitalized on a blast by Alex Pietrangelo from inside the blue line after the defenseman had time to wait for traffic to develop in front of Antti Niemi at 15:03.I liked our start, McLellan said. We played the right kind of game, at least for the first 10 minutes until we took the penalties. After that, they got a little momentum back and started to play their game.We were skating well. I thought we had good jump, and the start we wanted, Clowe said. We obviously didnt score, but we were thinking it was going to lead to a goal.Desjardins penalty was preceded by a Burns interference call that gave St. Louis its first two-man advantage of the night, albeit for just nine seconds. Dan Boyle was in the box for a hooking penalty at the time, which the Sharks nearly had killed before Burns infraction.San Jose went more than 11 minutes without a shot on goal in the first after storming out of the gates. Halak stopped Burns attempt with 12:18 left in the period, and wasnt tested again until a wrist shot by Joe Pavelski with 41 seconds to go.The second period was devoid of much action at all as neither team was able to sustain anything in the others offensive zone. That changed late when Winchester was called for elbowing and Clowe was whistled for tripping, both behind the Sharks net at 15:43.The Blues went on their third two-man advantage of the night, this time for a full two minutes, and increased their lead to 2-0 on Perrons goal. T.J. Oshie skillfully kept the puck in at the blue line and sent it to Pietrangelo for a point shot. Perron was able to slip it by Niemi at 17:16 for his third goal in the last two games.The goal nullified what had been a very good penalty kill by Pavelski, Burns and Douglas Murray up to that point, including a diving save by Burns on Perron, who was looking at an open net.Our penalty kill in that situation wasnt that bad, McLellan said. Especially that last one, we did everything we wanted to do, but it finally wore us out and they put it in the net.Pietrangelo finished off a three-point night by adding an empty net goal at 19:54 of the third to give St. Louis their third regulation win in as many tries against the Sharks.This team, if theyre in the playoffs, thats how youre going to have to beat them is probably, 2-1, 1-0, Clowe said. We havent found a way to do it yet.Odds and ends: Jim Vandermeer skated as a forward while John McCarthy was scratched. Jason Demers (lower body) and Tommy Wingels (left shoulder) remained out, but both are skating and could return soon. The Sharks were 26-for-54 in the faceoff circle. Alex Pietrangelo and Dan Boyle tied for a game-high four shots each. Each team had 18 blocked shots. Antti Niemi finshed with 25 saves on 27 shots. The Blues welcomed back forward Andy McDonald, who missed 51 games with a concussion suffered in October. Logan Coutures eight-game point streak ended, as did Joe Thorntons five-game streak.

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.”