Sharks take big step toward playoffs with win in Dallas


Sharks take big step toward playoffs with win in Dallas


DALLAS Logan Couture scored a power play goal late in the second while four other Sharks also found the net in a 5-2 San Jose win over the Dallas Stars on Tuesday night at the American Airlines Center.

The Sharks (41-29-10, 92 points) solidified their playoff position by moving three points ahead of Dallas and, at least momentarily, into seventh place in the Western Conference ahead of the Coyotes. Phoenix, one point ahead of the Sharks at the start of the night, is hosting the Columbus Blue Jackets in a game that is yet to be completed.

Dallas (42-33-5, 89 points) remains in ninth place.

Dallas had the territorial advantage for much of the second period, especially early, but found itself trailing 3-2 after 40 minutes.

Alex Goligoski gave the Stars their first lead at 11:10 when his blast from the high slot beat Antti Niemi to make it 2-1. But it didnt last long.

Just 32 seconds later, San Joses fourth line tied it at 2-2. Dominic Moore, from behind the net, found TJ Galiardi to Kari Lehtonens left, and Galiardi skillfully lifted it high over Lehtonens shoulder for his first point as a Shark.

A Michael Ryder tripping penalty put the Sharks on the power play late. They cashed in on Logan Coutures first goal in 11 games, when he nicely redirected a pass from the boards by Marty Havlat past Lehtonen at 17:24.

Coutures 10-game goal-less drought tied his career high. He equaled Joe Pavelski for the team lead with 31 this season.

Joe Thornton gave the Sharks some insurance with a wrist shot from the circle over Lehtonen at 15:10, converting a pass from the corner by Joe Pavelski. The goal came just moments after Antti Niemi stopped the dangerous Jamie Benn on a breakaway.

Ryane Clowe's empty-net goal with just over a minute left capped the scoring.

The Stars had a great chance to take a lead late in the first and early in the second, as penalties to Colin White and Brent Burns gave them nearly a minute of time with a two-man advantage. They failed in the closing seconds of the first, even while Couture had a broken stick, and then Couture, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Dan Boyle kept the Stars at bay for the remainder of the two-man advantage to start the second. San Jose then killed off the remaining time on the Burns hooking call to keep it 1-1 at the time.

Dallas entered the game with the leagues worst power play (14.1 percent).

The Sharks survived an early push from the Stars and took a 1-0 lead at 12:09. Burns shot deflected to Daniel Winnik, who managed to bounce his shot off of a fallen Lehtonen for his eighth of the year.

The lead didnt last. Stars captain Brenden Morrow managed to bank a puck in off of Niemis right skate from underneath the goal line at 17:47 in a bad goal by the Sharks netminder.

Dallas, which entered 1-4-0 against San Jose this season including a 3-0 loss on Thursday at HP Pavilion, registered eight of the first nine shots in front of a rare sold out crowd.
Odds and ends: Douglas Murray missed his third straight game with a lower body injury. There was a stretch of six minutes and 24 seconds in the first period without a whistle. ... The Sharks wasted a four-minute power play earlier in the third with Mark Fistric off on a double-minor for high-sticking Joe Thornton at 3:27.

Sharks to get another speed test against Preds

Sharks to get another speed test against Preds

SAN JOSE – There’s a common trait among the three teams that the Sharks have lost to so far this season, and it’s the same thing that they struggled with in last June’s Stanley Cup Final against Pittsburgh.

Speed. The Rangers have made more of a commitment to playing a fast game this season, and the result was a 7-4 win over San Jose on Oct. 17 in which several of their scores were a result of their fleetness afoot. Three days later, even without arguably their two fastest players in Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang, the Penguins defeated the Sharks again in a furious third period comeback. 

Finally, on Oct. 22, the Detroit Red Wings drastically outskated, outworked and out-chanced the Sharks in a 3-0 win, flying up and down the ice while scoring twice off the rush.

The Nashville Predators figure to be one of the faster teams in the Western Conference this season, after pushing the Sharks to seven games in the playoffs last season and swapping Shea Weber for P.K. Subban over the summer. Although they’re off to a difficult start at 2-4-1, they have perhaps the quickest, most skilled back end in the NHL featuring Subban and Roman Josi, while forwards like Filip Forsberg, Mike Fisher, Craig Smith and Ryan Johansen can also get up and down the ice.

They visit the Sharks on Saturday.

“They’re a fast, skilled team,” Marc-Edouard Vlasic said Friday. “Very dangerous up front with versatile d-men, and a good goalie. … We’re playing a very good team tomorrow.”

Sharks coach Pete DeBoer pointed out that “every team has speed,” although “some teams are four lines deep with speed, [and] some teams are two lines deep with speed.”

When playing against those types of teams, though, being careful with the puck becomes even more important. Feeding into a fast team’s transition game, like the Sharks did against the Red Wings and Rangers, in particular, is suicide.

“It’s attention to detail. Make sure you’re working above, away from the puck, and keeping a good gap,” DeBoer said. “All those things.”

Vlasic said: “When you turn the puck over and feed their transition, fast teams make you pay the price. We did that constantly against Detroit, and against the Rangers [it was] a couple missed assignments [and] battle level. That’s not necessarily struggling against a fast team, it’s struggling against a good team.”

The Sharks are generally pleased with where their game is now, though, after back-to-back home wins against the Ducks and Blue Jackets. Although they are struggling to score five-on-five goals, with none in their last three games, the scoring chances have been there. They deserved better than a 1-1 tie against the Ducks on Tuesday before prevailing in overtime, and had an apparent even strength goal by Brenden Dillon on Thursday get called back due to an extremely close offside challenge.

Eventually, the floodgates should open if they keep their game at the level it’s at currently.

“Our five-on-five offense, I think we’re creating enough chances,” DeBoer said. “If they’re not getting chances it’s one thing, but we’re creating enough to score, so it is just a matter of time before we do.”

Dillon said: “For whatever reason we’ve been putting good shots towards the net, we’ve been getting good opportunities, but whether it’s a post or a big save or an overturned call like [Thursday] night, we’re not able to put up six or seven goals right now. But, I think our team defense has been fantastic.”

That defense is set for another test against speedy Nashville, which is 0-1-1 on a three-game trip through California.

“They lost their last two games, so we have to expect their best,” Vlasic said.

Sharks' Dillon frustrated with disallowed goal

Sharks' Dillon frustrated with disallowed goal

SAN JOSE – In order to enhance the review process for offside challenges, the NHL installed blue line cameras at beginning of last year’s Stanley Cup playoffs. They are now standard in every building.

But that didn’t prevent an obnoxiously long delay from occurring in the Sharks-Blue Jackets game on Thursday in San Jose, when Brenden Dillon’s apparent goal at 6:09 of the third period was waived off after a coach's challenge. After approximately seven minutes, and with the fans clearly perturbed, it was finally concluded that Chris Tierney’s skate was about an inch off the ice when Patrick Marleau brought it over the blue line.

The whole process seemed disjointed. Sharks coach Pete DeBoer said: “The on-ice officials told me they didn’t have the same angles that the NHL did, so it obviously went to the [Toronto war room], and they had some different angles.”

Dillon also said one of the linesmen told him that they “couldn’t really tell” if the play was offside, but “Toronto was helping us out.”

It’s up for debate whether reviewing an offside that close violates the spirit of the rule, which was originally intended to prevent any egregious mistakes from going unnoticed and affecting the outcome. What isn’t up for debate, at least in Dillon’s mind, is that the length of time it took the referees and Toronto war room was unacceptable.

Dillon would like to see a time limit imposed on the process.

“Whether it’s a five-minute window, if we can’t find enough evidence in that five minutes, or three minutes, which would be more preferable for us players instead of having our goalie sitting around,” he said. “I think Columbus’ next shift after that, [after Blue Jackets coach John] Tortorella is yelling at them for eight minutes, they come out buzzing and flying and almost scored one.”

DeBoer wasn’t nearly as frustrated as his defenseman, though, either after the game or after Friday’s practice. The Sharks hung on and beat the Blue Jackets, 3-1.

“That’s for bigger and smarter people than me to discuss,” DeBoer said of the rule. “Obviously last night is an example of, do we want to spend time on that, or don’t we?

“I think you want the same playing field for everybody. Right now the mandate is to get it right, regardless of how long it takes or how many cameras we have to put in. If that changes, then as long as it’s the same for everybody, we’re good with that.”

According to the coach, the officials did ultimately get the call right.

“When I looked at it today it was the right call,” DeBoer said. “Unfortunately, it went against us.”