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.

Once a Sharks pest, Hansen excited to join his new teammates

Once a Sharks pest, Hansen excited to join his new teammates

When Jannik Hansen walks into the Sharks’ dressing room he’ll see a very familiar face in Mikkel Boedker, as the two Denmark natives have known each other since they were kids.

He’ll also see a whole slew of players that he’s battled with for the better part of a decade while playing in the Pacific Division for the Canucks since the 2007-08 season. That includes Brenden Dillon, who fought the gritty Hansen to a draw on March 7, 2015.

Of course, that’s just part of the business in the NHL, and there won’t be any hard feelings. Those battles with Dillon and the other Sharks veterans didn’t prevent Hansen from putting the Sharks on the list of eight teams that he was reportedly willing to join.

“A lot of the stuff that happens on the ice, you step off the ice and it’s bygones,” Hansen said on a conference call Wednesday morning. “Obviously it’s always weird to walk into a dressing room and [for] the first time you shake hands with a guy that you fought with, but it’s almost normal, I think.”

The drive to win a Stanley Cup far outweighs any awkward feelings of joining a longtime rival. The Sharks have that chance, while the Canucks are seemingly beginning a rebuild. Hansen, who turns 31 late this month, was ready to move on.

“That was a big thing for me, going to a team that has the opportunity [to win],” Hansen said. “San Jose obviously has that. That being said, I also have a lot of knowledge of the team playing against them for a lot of years. I feel like I have a pretty good sense as to how they play.”

On Tuesday night a few Sharks players, including Dillon, spoke about how Hansen is a pest to play against. He’ll finish his checks, try to get underneath the other team’s skin, isn’t afraid to stick his nose in the middle of a post-whistle scrum, and can contribute offensively, too. Hansen has experience playing with Daniel and Henrik Sedin on Vancouver’s top line, and was frequently in the top six.

He’s the type of player whose value tends to increase in the postseason.

“Everything intensifies once playoff roll around,” Hansen said. “Every inch is so important, and you fight for everything. I think that’s just how I’ve always played. It’s how I’ve found that I’m most successful. If I’m not successful, that’s one of the first areas that I tend to look at, is probably not doing the things I’m supposed to. It’s definitely a part of my game, and something you try to bring on a nightly basis.”

Although he’s played just 28 games this season with 13 points (6g, 7a), battling through rib and knee injuries, Hansen had been in Vancouver’s lineup for the past three-and-a-half weeks before he was held out on Tuesday for precautionary reasons.

“I feel like it’s turning a corner here now and have played for almost a month,” he said.

Hansen revealed he will not be available to skate against the Canucks on Thursday at SAP Center due to the paperwork required to work in the United States for the first time, so his debut will have to wait until Sunday in Minnesota, at the earliest.

He’s now in a position, though, to play much later into the spring than had he remained in Vancouver.

“It’s been cut short a little bit, my season here, so to say,” Hansen said. “Hopefully I get to extend it quite a bit now.”

Sharks stick with it, rewarded with late score to beat Leafs

Sharks stick with it, rewarded with late score to beat Leafs

SAN JOSE – Not only did the Sharks add to their roster on Tuesday night, they added another two points, too.

After it was revealed late in the second period that the club acquired gritty forward Jannik Hansen from the Canucks for Nikolay Goldobin and a conditional fourth round draft pick, Tomas Hertl broke a 1-1 tie with a perfectly placed wrist shot late in the third period in pushing the Sharks to a 3-1 win over the Maple Leafs. Brenden Dillon and Joe Pavelski (empty net) also scored for San Jose, which got 20 saves from goalie Martin Jones, too.

The Sharks improved to 4-0-3 in their last seven games, winning their first two games coming out of the bye week, and have won nine in a row over the Maple Leafs.

"I thought we played a pretty good 60 minutes,” Logan Couture said. “One of our better games in a while.”

The winning goal from Hertl came at 18:36. Patrick Marleau fought off a couple defenders in the offensive zone before pushing the puck to Hertl charging in after a change, and Hertl flicked a quick shot over Frederik Andersen’s nearside shoulder for his eighth of the season.

"I wasn't sure if it was in, but Patty made a great play to hold the puck,” Hertl said. “He gives the pass, and I just shoot and score."

The ending was fitting from San Jose’s perspective, as the Sharks believed they outplayed Toronto for most of the night. They outshot the Maple Leafs, 37-21, and out-attempted them 71-55.

“We outlasted them, for sure,” Pavelski said. “We found a player that makes a big shot there at the end. Patty’s play through the neutral zone into the o-zone, and dishes off to Hertl, and he makes a big time shot. It was pretty rewarding, I think, with how the game was played tonight.”

The Sharks had the better chances in the first period, outshooting the Leafs 13-5, but failing to get on the board due to some skillful saves by Andersen. He made a pad stop on Hertl midway through the frame, and later denied Joel Ward on a two-on-one rush with Kevin Labanc with four minutes to go.

That allowed Toronto to get on the board in the second period on the power play. After Auston Matthews' hard work resulted in a hook on Justin Braun, the rookie buzzed in a shot after some sloppy Sharks defense at 6:41 of the middle frame for his 31st of the season.

Brenden Dillon responded for the Sharks, though, powering a slap shot through Andersen after Labanc set him up nicely less than six minutes after Matthews' score.

“We were kind of buzzing down low,” Dillon said. “I think we got them a little tired, and [Labanc] made a great play through the middle. I kind of got my head up, and a little bit of time, so I thought I'd try the slapper instead of the wrist shot and I was fortunate to find a hole."

San Jose came out for the third period with renewed energy, and outshot the Maple Leafs 14-4 over the final frame, including Hertl’s game-winner.

DeBoer said: “We were unfortunate to be out of that [first] period without being up. .... Second period I thought they pushed back a little, and I thought the third we put our foot right back on the gas again and finally got rewarded. 

“That’s playoff hockey, you’re going to hit a hot goalie once in awhile. … It took 58-59 minutes, but we found a way.”