Sharks singing the Blues, blanked in St. Louis

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Sharks singing the Blues, blanked in St. Louis

BOX SCORE

ST. LOUIS Marc-Edouard Vlasics inadvertent swipe of a loose puck into his own goal was all the St. Louis Blues needed in a 3-0 win over the Sharks in Game 2 of their first round series on Saturday night at Scottrade Center.

Game 3 is in San Jose on Monday, with the series tied at a game apiece.

The Blues scored a goal in each of the three periods.

The first was gift-wrapped from Antti Niemi and Vlasic just 1:31 after the opening faceoff. A wrist shot from Vladimir Sobotka that should have been cleanly stopped by Niemi, instead trickled behind the goalie. Vlasic, who had time to clear the puck out of harms way, instead knocked it into his own net to give the Blues the early lead.

Sobotka was credited with his first of the playoffs, unassisted.

In the second, T.J. Oshies slick moves resulted in an easy conversion by David Backes. Oshie managed to evade Jason Demers and Patrick Marleau along the boards after skating into the offensive zone, and then made a nice cut to avoid a sliding Joe Pavelski in the circle. Oshie spotted Backes on the other side of the ice, and Backes easily deposited his first of the playoffs at 13:49.

The Sharks werent without their chances, and played an especially effective first period. San Joses top line applied good pressure, and its best chance came with 6:40 left when Pavelski hit the post.

There was a scary moment for the Blues in the second. Jaroslav Halak made a nice save on Marty Havlat on a Sharks rush, but the goaltender was plowed into by his own teammate when Barret Jackman couldnt put on the brakes after a hard back-check. Brian Elliott, the NHLs leader in goals-against average (1.56) and save percentage (.940), entered the game after Halak was able to skate off on his own power.

The switch seemed to give the Blues a jolt, as San Jose went more than six minutes without a shot on Elliott.

The first shot wasnt an easy one, either. Pavelski tried a wrap around, and after Elliott made the save, a five-on-five scrum ensued as Brent Burns and Marleau went digging for the puck. Pavelski ended up dropping the gloves with defenseman Kris Russell with 12:08 to go in the second.

In fact, the game was much more physical and nasty as the Sharks and Blues seem destined to have a long and malicious series.

The Sharks nearly tied the game late in the second on the power play, but Elliott made a toe save on Logan Coutures wrap-around attempt with a minute to go.

San Jose had a brief two-man advantage early in the third, but couldnt convert. Boyles wrist shot his Thornton in front of the net, and later, on a five-on-four, Pavelski was stopped from the slot on a nice set up from behind the net by the captain.

Andy McDonald capped the scoring with a late power play goal in the third.

Elliott finished with 17 saves, while Halak, who recorded the win, had 12.

The Sharks' power play was 0-for-4.

Notes: Sharks' Donskoi nearing a return; Sorensen recalled

Notes: Sharks' Donskoi nearing a return; Sorensen recalled

SAN JOSE – Sharks forward Joonas Donskoi took part in his first full practice in more than a month on Monday, as he battles back from an upper body injury and the flu.

He will not play against the Maple Leafs at SAP Center on Tuesday, but appears to be close.

“He looks good. Getting closer,” Pete DeBoer said. “Obviously, it’s been awhile. It’s his first real practice and contact. So, it’s a good step.”

Donskoi, who is wearing a brace around his right shoulder, said he “feels great,” and joked that it’s been “boring” skating only with injured defenseman Dylan DeMelo, “even though he’s a really good guy.” He was supposed to accompany the team to its game in Vancouver on Saturday, but fell ill.

Donskoi skated on the third line right wing with center Tomas Hertl and left wing Melker Karlsson for Monday's practice. The Sharks’ top two lines remained the same, while the fourth line was Chris Tierney centering Joel Ward and rookie Marcus Sorensen. 

Micheal Haley did not skate for personal reasons, but is expected to be available for the Maple Leafs.

Donskoi has been out since aggravating an injury on Jan. 23 in Colorado, and has missed 16 of the last 19 games overall. In 44 games, he has six goals and nine points for 15 points and an even rating.

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The Sharks recalled Sorensen on Monday morning, while reassigning forward Barclay Goodrow to the Barracuda. Sorensen has one assist in two NHL games this season.

In 43 games with the Barracuda, the 24-year-old winger has 34 points (17g, 17a).

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The Sharks confirmed to CSN that their third round pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft belongs to the New Jersey Devils, as compensation for DeBoer. Originally, it was thought that the Devils would not seek compensation for the coach, who was still under contract despite getting fired by New Jersey on Dec. 26, 2014. He was named as Sharks coach five months later.

San Jose still has its first round pick, a fourth, fifth, two sixths and three sevenths in the upcoming draft to be held in late June in Chicago. Its second round pick was dealt to Toronto last season as part of the deal for defenseman Roman Polak.

Sharks feel fortunate with timing of bye week

Sharks feel fortunate with timing of bye week

VANCOUVER – The condensed Sharks schedule has resumed, with a vengeance.

Saturday’s game in Vancouver started a stretch of 22 games over the final 43 days of the regular season for San Jose. The remaining slate features 16 games in the month of March alone, and five back-to-back sets. A game against Calgary at home on April 8 is the finale.

It’s going to be a brutal grind.

Fortunately, the Sharks feel that their bye week came at the right time, as they had five days off with no practice from Monday through Friday, when they boarded an afternoon charter for British Columbia. They had dropped six of eight headed into it, and fatigue was undoubtedly a factor.

Prior to the break, the general feeling was that the Sharks felt privileged with the timing of the bye week. Joe Pavelski was even more emphatic about that notion on Saturday morning, when the complete team reconvened for the first time at Rogers Arena.

“It came at a great time. Everyone’s excited for a break when we get it,” Pavelski said. “Obviously it’s a long season, and you get to go do something you want for a few days, it makes it pretty nice.”
 
Joe Thornton said: “It was just nice to relax and enjoy ourselves.”

The Sharks have essentially had a break in each of the last three months, as the league shut down for Christmas for three days in late December, and the All-Star break came at the end of January. Some teams had their bye weeks as early as the beginning of January, which doesn’t make much sense.

“I thought our breaks were pretty well scheduled – Christmas, All-Star, and then this,” Chris Tierney said. “It was all about a month apart. Hopefully, that pays off.”

It’s been well documented that a number of the Sharks’ veteran players have seen a drop in production, after the club played all the way until June last season in getting to its first-ever Stanley Cup Final. Thornton, Pavelski, Logan Couture, Joel Ward, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Paul Martin all had some ups-and-downs throughout the first 60 games.

Although the Sharks have maintained first place in the Pacific Division, a commendable achievement to be sure, some guys just looked like they needed some time off.

They got it, and now they can turn their attention as a group to finishing the regular season strong and going into the postseason in prime playing shape. 

Really, that’s all that matters.

“We’ve got a big home stretch coming down the end here, [22] games to finish off strong to put ourselves in a good position going into the postseason,” Ward said. “We’re excited about the capabilities of what we have going.”

Thornton said: “We’ve got a lot of games here in a short period of time, so hopefully we all got our rest and get ready for the stretch run.”