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.

Sorensen returns to Sharks after having 'positive impact' last season

Sorensen returns to Sharks after having 'positive impact' last season

Editor's Note: The above video is from March 2, 2017

One of the Sharks’ young forwards expected to challenge for a full time roster spot this season has been re-signed.

Marcus Sorensen, who started the year in the AHL before working his way up to the Sharks, signed a two-year contract extension the team announced on Tuesday. A source told NBC Sports California that the deal is worth $700,000 at the NHL level for each of the next two seasons.

In 19 regular season games with the Sharks, Sorensen, 25, posted one goal and three assists. He appeared in all six playoff games against Edmonton, posting one goal and one assist.

In 43 games with the AHL Barracuda, Sorensen had 17 goals and 17 assists for 34 points.

"The time he spent with the Sharks this season, and the positive impact he had, proved that he can be an effective player at the highest level,” assistant general manager Joe Will said in a statement.

Sorensen originally signed with the Sharks as a free agent on May 13, 2016. He was originally drafted by Ottawa in the fourth round of the 2010 draft, but spent six seasons playing in Sweden before joining San Jose.

Sorensen was a restriced free agent. The Sharks have just one RFA left to sign in forward Barclay Goodrow.

Mailbag: Will Sharks miss Marleau's leadership? Thornton to be bumped?

Mailbag: Will Sharks miss Marleau's leadership? Thornton to be bumped?

Now that the dust has settled on the draft and free agency, here’s a meaty offseason Sharks mailbag before my vacation…

Who will replace Patty's leadership? (philip malan‏ @pmalan1979)

Patrick Marleau was a good example for other players in that he always came to camp in great shape and took care of himself between games, allowing him to be very productive into his later years. 

But let’s not overblow it. From what I understand, Marleau preferred to avoid confrontation, and was never the guy in the dressing room challenging other players to step up. That was left more to guys like Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski, with Logan Couture growing into that role in recent years, too. When it comes to veteran leadership there are other guys still in the dressing room of more value than Marleau. His leaving town shouldn’t change the dynamic.

Will Thornton be bumped from the top line center role? Who do you think will replace Marleau on the PP? (Elle‏ @LikeShiningOil)

The whole “top line” designation is something that us writers and broadcasters like to use, and I’m going to keep using it for Thornton so long as he and Pavelski are on the same line. That said, there will be plenty of games where the Couture line gets more even-strength ice time than the Thornton line. I guess my point here is don’t read too much into the labels. I don’t expect Thornton’s ice time to go down from what it was last season. He’s averaged 18 minutes and change in each of the past five seasons, and probably will again.

As for replacing Marleau on the power play, I would tab Tomas Hertl as the frontrunner, but I’m sure the Sharks will try a number of different looks there in training camp. After finishing 25th in the NHL last season they pretty much have to, right?

How will the lines roll this season, if you were to prognosticate now? (Erik Kuhre @Puckguy14)

It seems like we say this every year, but it depends on where the Sharks see Hertl slotting in. Last season Hertl started out on the wing of the top line after offseason knee surgery before moving to center fairly quickly. I know he battled through yet another knee injury during the season, but Hertl’s 22 points in 49 games was a disappointing total.

If the season were starting today, I’d put Hertl on the wing of the Thornton line again with, of course, Pavelski on the other side. Here’s what I’ve got in that scenario:

Tomas Hertl – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Timo Meier – Logan Couture – Joonas Donskoi
Jannik Hansen – Chris Tierney – Mikkel Boedker
Melker Karlsson – Ryan Carpenter – Joel Ward

Extras: Marcus Sorensen, Kevin Labanc, Barclay Goodrow

(One guy who is really going to have to fight to keep his spot is Ward. I could see him getting pushed out, but for now I’m leaving him in).

Will there be a tough guy in the lineup to protect the kids? (Jim Kelley)

The Sharks signed free agent Brandon Bollig a couple weeks ago to replace Micheal Haley, but I don’t seem him as a regular in the NHL lineup. Bollig could be a guy they recall if they think it’s necessary to dress a pugilist, like when Pete DeBoer brought up Haley late in the 2015-16 season for the sole reason of fighting Darnell Nurse, who had jumped Sharks defenseman Roman Polak just two weeks earlier for no real reason.

Do you think Chris Tierney is capable of more point production at this point in his career? (Ian Stephenson)

Count me among those that thought Tierney was ready to have a better season last year after his strong performance in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Still, he’s just 23 years old, and his line in the series against Edmonton with Meier and Sorensen was a very effective one for long stretches of play. This is a huge year for Tierney, who had to settle for the Sharks’ one-year, $735,000 qualifying offer. Perform, and he’ll get paid. Struggle, and he could be on the move.

Do you think the Sharks will trade either Grosenick or Dell? Doesn't seem Grosenick has much more to prove in AHL. (Chris Greni)

No, they’ll hold on to all three for the time being. Getting Troy Grosenick re-signed to a one-year deal was a nice move on the Sharks’ part, considering Aaron Dell still has just 20 games of NHL experience. Perhaps if they both continue to play well the Sharks could dangle one as trade bait later in the year, but it wouldn’t make sense at this point. 

Any thoughts on DW using the offer sheet to bring in scoring help? There’s several serviceable RFAs out there still waiting for contracts. (Tony Martinico)

Keep in mind that some of those high end RFAs, like Colton Parayko, Nino Niederreiter and Tomas Tatar are currently headed for arbitration, which takes the offer sheet off the table.

Purely speculation here, but I have to wonder if the Sharks have at least kicked around trying to ink Leon Draisaitl to an offer sheet. You have to think Berlin native Hasso Plattner would love to add the “German Gretzky” to the roster. I know we're settling into the part of the NHL offseason where typically nothing happens, but it was July 19 when the Flyers signed Shea Weber to a monster offer sheet five years ago.

And, of course, Doug Wilson has used the power of the offer sheet in the past, signing Niklas Hjalmarsson in 2010 and then using the threat of an offer sheet with Boston to acquire Martin Jones.

Which Cuda player, aside from Meier, Labanc and Sorensen, would you expect to be a dark horse and could make the big team out of camp? (olin @sleepymofo)

Keep in mind that the sixth and defensemen spots are open, too. I would presume that Dylan DeMelo is the frontrunner to replace David Schlemko, but Tim Heed and Joakim Ryan are coming off of strong seasons in the AHL. Perhaps one of them overtakes DeMelo in training camp.

As for other forwards than those you mentioned, Goodrow could end challenging for a spot on the fourth line. I get plenty of questions about Danny O’Regan, too, and perhaps he makes a push. The issue with O’Regan is that although he’s a skilled player in the minors, he’s probably not quite skilled enough to make up for his small frame at the NHL level. I view him more as a fill-in guy.

Any word on [Barclay] Goodrow and [Marcus] Sorenson? I'm assuming they didn't sign their QO's? (DaveBPilot‏ @DaveBPilot)

Yes, that’s safe to assume, since the deadline was Saturday. They remain RFAs, and negotiations will surely continue.

Still, it’s worth mentioning what happened last year with Matt Nieto. The forward didn’t sign his qualifying offer, as he was pushing for a multi-year deal, and ended up signing for one year for less than he would have made had he accepted the original offer. He was waived and claimed by Colorado.