Sharks snap Wild's streak with 3-1 win

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Sharks snap Wild's streak with 3-1 win

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE -- The red-hot Minnesota penalty kill finally met its match. His name is Patrick Marleau.Marleau tallied twice on the power play in the second period and Torrey Mitchell scored his first of the season late in the frame, as the Sharks defeated the Wild at HP Pavilion on Thursday night, 3-1.San Jose is 8-1-1 since it started the season losers of three of its first four.The Wild, which entered having won their last five games, had killed off 27 straight opponent power plays before a miscue allowed Marleau to open the scoring.

With Pierre-Marc Bouchard in the box for hooking early in the second, Dan Boyle ripped a shot on net from center ice. Goalie Niklas Backstrom made the easy stop, and the puck settled in front of the net. It should have been a simple clear for either Backstrom or defenseman Justin Falk, but the two of them got their signals crossed and Marleau raced ahead to pop in the loose puck at 2:34.Boyle dumped it on the goalie and I tried to get in on the forecheck, and it was just laying right there, said Marleau. It was nice.The Wild had allowed just three goals total during their winning streak, but it took the Sharks just over 16 minutes to equal that in the second period. After his first goal, Marleau ripped home a one-timer on a cross-ice feed from Ryane Clowe for another one on the man advantage at 15:34.Torrey Mitchells first of the season at 18:39 was the backbreaker. He fired in a one-timer immediately following an offensive zone faceoff win by Michal Handzus on a set play.Handzus saw something and said line up here and one-time it, said Mitchell. So I said, yes sir.The goal was especially important as the Wild seemed deflated at the start of the third period. They didnt register their first shot on goal until almost nine minutes had passed.Two goals, youre still in it. Three, youre starting to doubt yourself, said Mitchell. It was a really big one for us, so yeah, it was huge and probably took some wind out of them, for sure.It sure was a big one, agreed Todd McLellan. To get to three certainly helped. Theyre not a team thats scored a lot, they prevent a lot. And, faceoffs have been an issue for us. We havent had our numbers where we wanted them to be at, so for Zeus to win that draw and Mitchy to put it in was a real good thing for our team.The Wild managed to ruin Antti Niemis shutout bid with a goal by Kyle Brodziak at 13:33 of the third, but the Sharks goalie held the fort for his second straight win and sixth overall with 21 saves. Backstrom took the loss, allowing three goals on 36 shots.The game, though, was more about the final score. Sharks Brent Burns and Martin Havlat were playing against the Wild for the first time since the two teams pulled off several offseason trades over the summer. Conversely, Devin Setoguchi and Dany Heatley played in their old building for the first time this season.Burns, who registered an assist on the first goal, admitted the win felt good but that hes glad its now in the past.It was good to get it over with, he said. Im sure the first one in Minny is going to be the same thing, but its good to get this one over with.McLellan also seemed content to put the game behind him, and not just for his own clubs sake.I think what happened tonight was those players that were moved in this deal realized they have new homes now, said the coach. Its good for us, and certainly good for them. Seto and Heatley had great games, but I think now that its over they realize they have new homes and its time to really settle in and contribute to both organizations.The Sharks have now won three games this season in which one of their key players was facing off against a former club. Long time Devils defenseman Colin White visited his old team earlier this season, while any time Joe Thornton visits Boston it seems to be newsworthy. The Sharks beat the Devils on Oct. 21, 4-3, and the Bruins the next night, 4-2.Burns thinks thats no coincidence.It was a big summer with the trades and everything. We went on the road to New Jersey, and Boston, and I think every game is big. But, when there are games like that, knowing in the room that that guy wants to winit was good, he said.The Sharks also got a good performance from their much-maligned penalty kill, which entered the game ranked 29th out of 30. San Jose killed off all three Wild power plays, after instituting a new system that emphasizes making it more difficult to bring the puck through the neutral zone.It takes everybody on the ice on the PK, and everybody was ready tonight, said Marleau.McLellan said: We did execute some of the things we wanted to following our practices.The Sharks continue their six-game homestand with the Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday. They are 3-0-1 through the first four.Odds and ends: Justin Braun got his first point of the season, assisting on Marleaus first goal. McLellan tried some new defense pairs for the majority of the game, playing Burns with White and Marc-Edouard Vlasic with Braun. Niemi is 4-0 against the Wild all-time, while Backstrom fell to 1-6-1 against the Sharks in his career. The Wild are 1-8-1 in their last 10 games at HP Pavilion.

Mailbag: Which Sharks player is most likely to be traded?

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AP

Mailbag: Which Sharks player is most likely to be traded?

No one asked, but I’m going to begin this week’s mailbag with my prediction for the Stanley Cup Final – Preds in six. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to a few of your questions…

Most likely to be moved this off-season? (Nik @niknisj25)

If the Sharks do make a move – and I’ve argued here that I think it may be time for a shakeup – they’ll surely be looking for someone up front to boost the offense. In that case, they’d likely have to sacrifice a defenseman or two.

The Sharks defense is the strength of the organization at the moment, as they had one of the best one-through-seven groups in the NHL this season. But it’s also an expensive one. The Sharks have nearly $27 million committed to their top seven defensemen next season, while Marc-Edouard Vlasic is due for a hefty raise beginning in 2018-19.

One name that could be intriguing to other teams is Justin Braun. The 30-year-old has been a part of the Sharks’ top shut down pair with Vlasic for several seasons now, and is signed for the next three years at a reasonable $3.8 million cap hit. The Sharks could potentially move him for offensive help, and slot in a guy like David Schlemko alongside Vlasic, while finally giving Dylan DeMelo a chance to play on a nightly basis on the third pair. A Vlasic-Schlemko pair could be more offensive than Vlasic-Braun, too, because as adept as they were at keeping the puck out of their own net, the Sharks didn’t get many goals from their defenders outside of Burns.

Of course, the upcoming expansion draft all but assures that nothing will happen until Las Vegas selects its team on June 21. If the Sharks lose a defenseman to the Golden Knights, they’ll be more reluctant to move another one. Still, with guys like Joakim Ryan, Tim Heed, Julius Bergman, Mirco Mueller and now Radim Simek in the pipeline, the club might be able to handle a couple departures.

How do we fix the power play next season? Bring in a coach that could help us? Change up the lines, or style of play? (adam smith @kickback408)

One thing that won’t be happening is a new coach, as Doug Wilson recently confirmed that Steve Spott would be back alongside Pete DeBoer. Bob Boughner could move on if he gets hired as a head coach elsewhere, but Boughner’s focus is the team’s defense and penalty kill.

Obviously, the future of the power play depends on who is on the roster, beginning with Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau. Both saw their power play production dip this season.

Thornton went from 29 power play points in 2015-16 to 19 this season (he had eight power play goals in 2015-16, and just one this season). Marleau saw a decline from 25 power play points in 2015-16 to 16 last season. Even if both return, it may be time to try other bodies on the top unit.

Do you see Meier, Labanc and/or Sorensen having a breakout season next year? Or anyone else on the Barracuda? (Colin Dunn @ColinDunnACA)

Someone better had, because this team needs to start getting younger, and soon. One of the bigger disappointments of the 2016-17 season is that none of them apparently showed the coaching staff that they were prepared to play on a nightly basis at the NHL level.

Timo Meier and Marcus Sorensen, I would surmise, are at the top of the depth chart as far as forwards go. Their line in the playoffs with center Chris Tierney was the Sharks’ best through the early part of the series with Edmonton. As for Kevin Labanc, I think he’s fallen a bit since he had a brief run of success for the Sharks in December.

While the Sharks did a good job stockpiling some young players through the 2013-15 drafts, they’ve traded away a number of picks in recent years. In last year’s draft they didn’t have a first or third round pick; this year they don’t have any picks in the second, third or fourth rounds; and in 2018 they are already without their second and third round picks. 

It’s great to accumulate young players, but at some point they have to break through. Now is the time.

Sharks, Robinson parting ways after five seasons

Sharks, Robinson parting ways after five seasons

After five seasons with the Sharks, Larry Robinson is leaving the organization.

Robinson, 65, spent the last three seasons as the club's director of player development. He served as an associate coach from 2012-14.

TSN in Montreal and the Montreal Gazette originally reported the news.

The Sharks confirmed that Robinson's contract would be expiring, and general manager Doug Wilson told NBC Sports California that the divorce was amicable, and "because of geography." Robinson lives in Florida.

According to the Montreal Gazette

Robinson’s contract with the Sharks expires on July 1, but agent Donnie Cape said Thursday that San Jose general manager Doug Wilson has given him permission to speak with other teams. Robinson lives in Bradenton, Fla., and the long travel distance to San Jose is one of big the reasons he’s looking for a new team to work for.

Robinson seemed to ponder retirement in 2014, but signed a three-year extension to remain in the Sharks' front office. He worked mostly from his home in Florida the past two seasons, making occasional trips to San Jose, including during training camp.

In the summer of 2015, Robinson underwent surgery for skin cancer.

Recognized as one of the best defensemen in NHL history, Robinson won six Stanley Cup championships with the Montreal Canadiens as a player, and holds the NHL record for playing 20 straight seasons in the playoffs. A 10-time All-Star and two-time Norris Trophy winner, Robinson was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1995.

Robinson was the head coach of the Los Angeles Kings from 1995-99, and the New Jersey Devils from 1999-2002 and again in 2005-06. He led the Devils to the Stanley Cup in 2000. Robinson has nine Stanley Cup rings as a player and coach.

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The Sharks did not renew the contract of pro scout Jason Rowe, who had been with the organization for the past nine seasons. Rowe focused on eastern NHL and AHL teams.