Sharks skate past Stars 4-1


Sharks skate past Stars 4-1


DALLAS The Sharks scored twice on the power play and Antti Niemi was outstanding in net once again, as San Jose beat the Dallas Stars at the American Airlines Center on Saturday night, 4-1.

The much-maligned San Jose penalty-killing unit, which entered the game dead last in the NHL, killed off all three Dallas power plays in helping the Sharks take over the top spot in the Pacific Division for the first time this season. The Sharks, Kings and Coyotes each have 23 points, but San Jose has one more win and fewer games played than both Los Angeles and Phoenix.

Dallas entered the night with a scoreless streak of more than 147 minutes, and San Jose withstood an early push from the Stars before Brent Burns tallied on the power play at 4:58 of the first period. It was downhill from there for Dallas, which got exceedingly frustrated as the game progressed. Logan Couture scored a power play goal in the second period, Brad Winchester tallied later in the frame, and Jamie McGinn added one in the third as the Sharks took over after Burns goal.

Mike Ribeiro ended the streak at 194:11 with a goal at 6:22 of the third period, but that was all the Stars would get past Niemi, who finished with 30 saves.

Nemo played well again, especially early in the game when we were trying to find our way, said McLellan. They were coming hard and they had a really good forecheck."

The Stars had numerous chances to score early. On a power play with Douglas Murray in the box just after the Sharks had just taken the lead, Niemi made impressive saves on a Toby Petersen redirection and two attempts from Michael Ryder in the faceoff circle. Later, he stopped Loui Eriksson from the slot to maintain the 1-0 lead through the first period.

Dallas had another great scoring chance when Ryder broke in all alone during a four-on-four situation in the second period with the Sharks up, 3-0. Ryder fired a wrist shot from just above the hash marks, but Niemi flashed his glove and snagged the puck, freezing play.

Niemi, who made 40 saves in a 5-2 win over Detroit on Thursday, has won his last four starts. He's given up two goals or less in each of them.

As with most Sharks-Stars matchups, the animosity was evident. In the second period there were two fights just two seconds apart, when Krys Barch fought with Jim Vandermeer and Eric Nystrom dropped the gloves with McGinn. The Stars were likely attempting to change the momentum of the game, but it didnt do them any good as Winchesters goal came just 37 ticks after the second fight.

I think frustration was setting in for them. I think we did a pretty good job not reacting too much to it, said Vandermeer, playing in his first game since Nov. 3. Obviously, we have to defend ourselves out there. We came back strong and scored a goal right away.

Late in the third, with the game essentially decided, more emotions bubbled over. Ryane Clowe gave Stephane Robidas a whack with his stick after Robidas was pushing and shoving with Joe Thornton, and Clowe later had a big-time bout with Barch.

At the end of that tussle, Barch was seen pointing and yelling in the direction of Clowe and the Sharks bench. Clowe said later that he was yelling at Barch for starting a fight with him at the end of his shift, while Barch was just stepping onto the ice.

I dont know if Id chase someone down in that situation, said Clowe. Youre at the end of youre shift, but it happens. Im sure I might have done that before as well, but I dont usually turn down a challenge.

Clowe sensed an aggravated Dallas team that has now lost five straight games after starting 11-3-0.

We had a real great second period, controlled the play and they were getting frustrated, he said. Theyve got guys that even when you leave them alone, you dont know what theyre going to do. They like to continue to push the envelope, and we answered the bell well.

The Sharks took advantage of a Nicklas Grossman holding call to take the early lead. Thornton was positioned down low, and stopped a pass from Patrick Marleau with his skate. The captain quikcly threaded a pass between the legs of Trevor Daley to a changing Burns, who tapped his fourth goal of the season into an open net at 4:58 of the first period.

San Jose made it 2-0 early in the second. Couture pounced on a fortunate bounce off of Sheldon Sourays skate as the puck squirted to the side of the net, where he flipped it over the shoulder of Andrew Raycroft at 1:23.

The Sharks fourth line contributed its second goal in as many games when Winchester took advantage of a Dallas turnover in its own zone and wristed it past Raycroft at 4:52 of the second period. Winchester scored his first goal on Thursday against the Red Wings.

McGinns marker at 4:34 of the third period put the game away, making it a four-goal cushion. The only thing that had to be decided at that point was whether or not the Stars would end their scoring drought, which they did on Ribeiros wrist shot through traffic.

The Sharks would have liked to get their first shutout of the season for Niemi, regardless of the Stars futility, but it wasnt to be.

It would have been nice for Nemos sake. I dont really pay attention to what theyre doing, but Nemo played great and it would have been nice to get him the zero, said Thornton.

Still, the Sharks won for the 10th time in their last 13, and sixth time in their last seven road games.

It took us seven or eight minutes to kind of get in the game but once we did, we got our legs, said Thornton. And the night was over.

Odds and ends: Colin White and Justin Braun were the scratches for the Sharks. Dan Boyle broke his stick three times during the night. The Sharks visit Colorado on Sunday evening. San Jose has outscored the opposition 28-11 in the second period. There was a total of 100 penalty minutes in the game, 53 by Dallas. Thornton and Patrick Marleau had two assists each. Jason Demers was a game-high 2.

Barracuda power play leads the way in Game 2 win over Grand Rapids


Barracuda power play leads the way in Game 2 win over Grand Rapids

SAN JOSE – The Barracuda struck for three power play goals, including the game-winner in the second period by Joakim Ryan, in overcoming the Grand Rapids Griffins at SAP Center on Sunday night, 4-2.

San Jose’s victory evens the best-of-seven Western Conference Finals series at one game apiece.

Grand Rapids erased a 2-0 hole to tie the game in the middle frame, but less than a minute after Matt Ford knotted the score at 2-2 with a rocket from the circle on a Griffins power play, Ryan’s blast from just inside the blue line at 15:28 staked the Barracuda a lead they would keep for the rest of the night. 

The Barracuda finished 3-for-5 on the power play, after going 0-for-6 in a Game 1 loss on Saturday.

“The power play was a lot better tonight,” Ryan said. “We got set up more. We were able to get shots through from the point.”

One of those shots came early, when defenseman Julius Berman beat goalie Jared Coreau from long range just 3:35 into the game with San Jose on a man advantage. Later in the first, on another power play, Ryan Carpenter found open ice in the slot and redirected a Tim Heed pass at 10:44 for his team-leading eighth of the playoffs.

“Coming out, we wanted to get the first goal tonight,” Carpenter said. “For Bergman to get that first goal was huge for us.”

Ryan and Carpenter both attributed the power play success to winning faceoffs, which is something coach Roy Sommer wanted the club to focus on after it dropped the series opener, 3-1.

Winning faceoffs often is an indication of a team’s compete level, and that, too, was lacking for the Barracuda in an opener in which Sommer said his team played “dumb and slow.” 

Sunday was a much better performance.

“Whenever we’ve had a bad start, or a bad game, the next day these guys have responded,” said Sommer, whose club is the top seed in the Western Conference. “They’ve done it all year.”

The series now shifts to Grand Rapids for the next three games, with Game 3 going Wednesday. The primary affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings, the Griffins posted a 25-11-2 record in their own building in the regular season.

The Barracuda, though, should be a confident group on the road. Against San Diego in the second round, San Jose won all three games in Southern California after splitting the first two at home.

“It’s going to be a hell of a series,” Sommer said. “It’s probably going to go the duration, I imagine. Both teams are kind of feeling each other out and kind of have a pretty good idea of what the other guys are doing now.”

Ryan said: “Honestly, I think they are the team in the league that plays the most like us. I felt like last night they did a better job of taking the game to us. I thought we came out better tonight, and we battled harder, competed more, won more pucks. They’re a really good team, it’s going to be a battle the rest of the series, for sure. They’re not going to lay down.”

Barclay Goodrow’s empty netter with 1:06 left in regulation was the only goal in the third period.

The Barracuda outshot the Griffins, 40-35, including a 20-11 advantage in the first period.

Sharks GM Wilson confirms shoulder surgery for Joel Ward


Sharks GM Wilson confirms shoulder surgery for Joel Ward

Sharks forward Joel Ward recently had surgery on his shoulder, general manager Doug Wilson said in a statement on Friday.

"Joel was dealing with a minor shoulder injury last season and, once the season ended, had a choice to either rehab the injury or to have a surgical procedure,” Wilson said. “Joel opted to proceed with the surgical procedure, which was completed successfully, and he is expected to be ready for the start of the 2017 season."

Ward was seen at the Oakland A’s game on Thursday night with his right arm in a sling.

In 78 games last season, Ward had 29 points (10g, 19a). He added one goal and three assists in six games in the playoffs.

The 36-year-old has one year remaining on his contract with San Jose, carrying a $3.275 million salary cap hit.