Sharks take big step toward playoffs with win in Dallas

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Sharks take big step toward playoffs with win in Dallas

BOX SCORE

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' Thornton not concerned with his offensive numbers

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USATSI

Sharks' Thornton not concerned with his offensive numbers

ANAHEIM – When you have a guy on your roster that just broke into the NHL’s top 25 in scoring, it’s probably difficult to tell him how to play the game.

Still, Joe Thornton is not putting up offensive numbers he’s accustomed to. Through 26 games, Thornton has just two goals and 14 assists for 16 points. Somewhat shockingly, both of his goals have come into an empty net, meaning he has yet to beat a single goaltender with a shot with nearly one-third of the schedule already in the books.

Coach Pete DeBoer remarked on Friday morning, “I think every coach that he’s ever played for would like him to shoot more.”

But has DeBoer told Thornton, who has 27 shots, to shoot more?

“I haven’t recently,” he said. “We’ve had conversations like all coaches do about it, but I pretty much let him play his game. I think most of the conversations we have are about other parts of the game.”

"For me, he does so many things so well for us that we’re not piling on that he needs to score or shoot more. He’s got to play his game, and the offense will come. He stirs our offensive drink, so to speak, and he does it well. I’m not worried about the fact that he doesn’t have goals, no.”

There’s reason to believe Thornton will pick up his production. In fact, his start this season is nearly identical to last year, when he had 15 points (3g, 12a) through 26 games. Over the final four months he up 66 points after Dec. 15, tied for Sidney Crosby for the most in the NHL.

The alternate captain indicated the Sharks’ short summer, combined with his playing for Team Canada in the World Cup, might have taken a toll on his 37-year-old body.

“Going deeper in the postseason I think, it just starts a little bit different – plus the World Cup started earlier. You just kind of jam it in,” he said. “I feel good lately, and hopefully [I’ll] continue it.”

Not surprisingly, the famously laid back Thornton isn’t concerned with the fact he doesn’t have any non-empty netters yet.

“They’ll eventually go in. It’s no secret I’m more of a pass-first guy,” he said. “When you don’t expect it, that’s when they usually come. I haven’t been squeezing my stick or anything.”

“It comes at the strangest times. For whatever reason, you get hot for little stretches of time. I’ve never been one to worry too much.”

NHL Gameday: Sharks make first visit to Duck Pond

NHL Gameday: Sharks make first visit to Duck Pond

Programming note – Sharks-Ducks coverage starts today at 6:30 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live on CSN California

WHERE THEY STAND

Sharks: 15-10-1, 31 points, 3rd Pacific Division
Ducks: 13-9-5, 31 points, 4th Pacific Division

PREGAME NEWS AND NOTES

***The Sharks and Ducks have split the first two meetings of the season, both in San Jose. On Oct. 25, Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s overtime goal was the difference in a 2-1 win. The Ducks responded on Nov. 26, beating San Jose, 3-2, and are 4-0-1 in the last five head-to-head matchups. 

“They’re close, they’re hard fought battles,” Joel Ward said. “It’s obviously a lot of similarities of big bodies, teams that get on the forecheck, and got good special teams, as well.”

***Martin Jones will face Jonathan Bernier in goal. For Bernier, it will be his first game since giving up eight goals at Calgary on Dec. 4 in an 8-3 Flames win.

Does Pete DeBoer think that game might linger with Bernier?

“I’m more worried about the reverse,” said the Sharks coach. “I think usually good pros bounce back with great efforts after games like that. That’s what I’m expecting.”

Logic says that Aaron Dell will start the Sharks’ home game against Carolina on Saturday in the second of a back-to-back, but DeBoer would not confirm that was the plan.

***DeBoer wouldn’t offer much in regards to his lineup against Anaheim, either, although defensemen David Schlemko and Mirco Mueller, and forward Matt Nieto stayed on the ice late, indicating they probably won’t play.

Schlemko is battling a right ankle injury that kept him out of Wednesday’s game against Ottawa. Mueller was recalled on Friday morning.

KEEP AN EYE ON...

Sharks: Dylan DeMelo. The defenseman will play his fourth game of the season with Schlemko likely still out, after he was a healthy scratch for the first 19 games of the season. The 23-year-old has one goal, coming against the Ducks on Nov. 26, and an even rating while averaging 13:35 of ice time per game.

Ducks: Ryan Getzlaf. The Ducks captain scored the game-winning goal on the power play in the most recent meeting with the Sharks, and has nine points (1g, 8a) in his last 11 games. Getzlaf is tied for second in the NHL with 20 assists.

PROBABLE LINES

Sharks
Patrick Marleau – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Kevin Labanc – Logan Couture – Joel Ward
Mikkel Boedker – Chris Tierney – Joonas Donskoi
Micheal Haley – Tommy Wingels – Melker Karlsson

Paul Martin – Brent Burns
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Brenden Dillon – Dylan DeMelo

Martin Jones (starter)
Aaron Dell

Ducks
Rickard Rakell – Ryan Getzlaf – Corey Perry
Andrew Cogliano – Ryan Kesler – Jakob Silfverberg
Nick Ritchie – Antoine Vermette – Ondrej Kase
Joe Cramarossa – Stefan Noesen – Logan Shaw

Cam Fowler – Sami Vatanen
Hampus Lundholm – Josh Manson
Shea Theodore – Kevin Bieksa

Jonathan Bernier (starter)
John Gibson

INJURIES/SCRATCHES

Sharks: David Schlemko (right ankle) is doubtful. Tomas Hertl (right knee sprain) is out.

Ducks: Rickard Rakell (upper body) is questionable. Nic Kerdiles (concussion), Nate Thompson (Achilles surgery), Simon Despres (concussion) and Clayton Stoner (lower body) are out.

QUOTEABLE

“We know this is going to be a dogfight right to the end. We’re setting in and prepared for that.” – Pete DeBoer, on the Pacific Division race