Vlasic, Sharks roll over Red Wings 5-2


Vlasic, Sharks roll over Red Wings 5-2


SAN JOSE When youre a team like the Sharks, and you've made it a habit recently of beating the mighty Detroit Red Wings in the regular season and playoffs, you probably need to find an unusual way to win one of those games every once in awhile.A four-point night from Marc-Edouard Vlasic and a pair of goals generated from the fourth line? That certainly qualifies as unconventional, as the Sharks beat the Red Wings for the fifth straight time in the regular season.
The Sharks scored five unanswered goals to cruise to a victory over the Red Wings their fifth straight regular season win over Detroit in a 5-2 victory at HP Pavilion on Thursday night. San Jose concluded its homestand with nine of a possible 12 points (4-1-1).Antti Niemi made a season-high 40 saves in earning his seventh win (7-2-1).

Its a good team. We want to get up for a good team, said Vlasic, who finished with a goal and three assists and whose club has eliminated Detroit from the postseason the last two years. We have elite players, and I think guys like to play against Detroit.The Sharks fourth line, which hadnt found the scoreboard since Andrew Desjardins two goals on opening night, managed to score twice and create havoc on the forecheck for the duration.Desjardins, Andrew Murray and Brad Winchester were on the ice for Vlasics goal in the second period while Winchesters first goal as a Shark midway through the third period put the game away, making it 5-1.They were very good defensively, through the neutral zone, and probably were our best forechecking line, said Todd McLellan. They created a number of opportunities in the offensive zone, and buried themselves in and around the blue paint and scored some goals. It was really nice to see for that group of three that has worked pretty hard lately.Winchester admitted that it was nice to see some results on the scoreboard. Desjardins and Murray each finished the night with an assist, while Winchester had a helper to go with his goal.There are a lot of ways to contribute in terms of the offensive side of things. It was nice to chip in as far as that goes, he said. Well continue to build on it.It took Vlasic less than 40 minutes to double his scoring output through the first 15 games. He factored in the first four Sharks goals as San Jose led 4-1 at the second intermission.With the game tied at 1-1 entering the second, San Jose took its first lead midway through regulation. Joe Thornton and Vlasic broke up a would-be one-timer by Henrik Zetterberg, leading to a rush the other way. Logan Couture faked a shot before sending a perfect cross-ice pass back to Thornton, who fired it past Jimmy Howard.Just backcheck hard. Thats what we try to do, said Thornton. Pickles and Logan made some nice plays and I pretty much just had an open net.Less than three minutes later, it was Vlasic who tallied his second goal of the season. A strong shift by the fourth line resulted in Vlasic controlling the puck behind the net and then wrapping it around at 12:48 when Howard could not recover.Vlasic mentioned that it was probably his first wraparound goal since junior.San Jose made it a three-goal cushion with 1:42 left in the second. After Jamie McGinns wrist shot snuck through Howard, Vlasic sped to the loose puck behind the net and threw it towards the slot. There, it met the stick of an open Torrey Mitchell, who lifted it over Howard for his second of the year.The Sharks were fortunate to be tied with Detroit after the first period after the Red Wings outshot San Jose 17-6, and dominated territorially. Niklas Kronwalls power play goal at 17:23 opened the scoring, when his shot deflected in off of Dan Boyle.San Jose got a gift in tying the game on a shorthanded goal with just 11.2 seconds left in the first. Vlasic threw the puck down the ice after a defensive zone faceoff win, and Howard went behind the net to retrieve it. Kronwall, thinking Howard would play it, peeled off while the puck stopped just outside the trapezoid. Thornton picked it up and had all day to find Joe Pavelski in the slot for his 10th of the season.We didnt play well up to that point, and that probably changed the whole outlook of the game, said Thornton of the Sharks second shorthanded goal of the year. We got some momentum off of that, had a great second period and the game was over.McLellan agreed that Pavelskis goal helped to give the Sharks momentum for a second period that saw them score three more.We probably turned it around on the shorthanded goal, he said. That worked in our favor.In what may have been his best game of the season, Niemi made some key stops, none more important than a sequence early in the second period. With the game tied at 1-1 and Detroit on the power play, Niemi made two saves on Danny Cleary to give the Sharks an opportunity to take the lead later in the frame.Our goaltender earned his paycheck, said McLellan.Even so, it was Vlasics night in the spotlight.Four points for Marc-Edouard is a real nice thing, said McLellan. It doesnt happen often, but he jumped into the play and made some great passes. Heck of a night from him.Odds and ends: The Red Wings came into the game with just two power play goals on the road, but equaled that going 2-for-3 with the man advantage. Four of the five Sharks goals were even strength. Howard was pulled for Ty Conklin at the start of the third period. Jason Demers returned to the Sharks lineup in favor of Justin Braun. Demers took two minor penalties in the first period, and finished with an even rating in 18:48 of ice time. The Sharks won 60 percent of the faceoffs. San Jose has scored the first goal of the game five times this year, and just twice at home. Overall, the team is 5-5-1 when falling behind, 1-0.

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.”


Newly acquired Hansen brings 'in-your-face' style to Sharks


Newly acquired Hansen brings 'in-your-face' style to Sharks

SAN JOSE – Many players on the Sharks roster are plenty familiar with the way that Jannik Hansen approaches the game. 

The 30-year-old forward, acquired by the Sharks on Tuesday evening for prospect Nikolay Goldobin and a conditional fourth round draft pick, has spent the first nine-plus seasons of his NHL career in the Sharks’ division in Vancouver, playing 29 career regular season games against San Jose and another nine in the postseason.

While Hansen has the ability to contribute offense, with 105 goals and 235 points in 565 career regular games, he can’t be judged on stats alone. Hansen is one of those guys that plays a gritty, mean-spirited, physical style that tends to be particularly effective in the postseason.

Logan Couture had a term for it that he repeated twice on Tuesday night following the Sharks’ 3-1 win over Toronto.

"He's in-your-face. He's one of those guys, he'll play chippy, he'll finish his check on skilled guys,” Couture said. “He plays in-your-face."

How important is it to have those “in-your-face” players in the lineup in the postseason?

“It’s critical,” coach Pete DeBoer said. “There’s nowhere to hide, especially out here and especially in our division. You look at the potential trail through the Western Conference, this is going to be a really tough road. We’re going to need some gritty, character guys to add to the grit and character we already have in the room.”

Brenden Dillon, a Vancouver native who said he knows Hansen a bit off the ice, said: “Obviously, [it’s] nicer to have those kind of [gritty] guys on your team than against them. Especially come playoff time, you know the hits and the after-the-whistle stuff is going to happen."

DeBoer didn’t yet have a place in mind for where Hansen might line up, as he said he only found out about the deal when everyone else did, which was late in the second period of the Sharks-Maple Leafs game at SAP Center. Sharks general manager Doug Wilson hinted to DeBoer before the game that he had “some options that he felt were getting closer, but nothing imminent at that point.”

Still, DeBoer knew that Hansen was a potential target, and the Sharks coach rattled of a laundry list of why he believes it’s a good fit for his club.

“A guy that played both ways, had speed, could kill penalties, could chip in some goals, could play with good players, had a long history in the playoffs, knew the Western Conference,” DeBoer said. “All those boxes checked, and from a character point of view, the reports were fantastic as far as fitting in with our group.”

The NHL trade deadline hits on Wednesday at noon, and the Sharks don’t seem to have any obvious holes. Scoring depth was thought to be the top need (at least according to this writer), and Hansen gives the Sharks a little bit more of that to go with his other aforementioned attributes.

DeBoer would be fine with the current group in teal if no more acquisitions are made.

“I love our group. I’ve said that all along,” he said. “This is a bonus. Credit to Doug, it’s not easy to give up a young prospect like that, especially somebody homegrown. We all like [Goldobin] as a kid and as a prospect and I think he’s got a bright future, but I think we recognize that this group has a chance to do something special. He’s gone out and added to it, which I think we all appreciate.”

Couture was glad that no one off the current Sharks roster had to be sacrificed for the newest addition.

“This group here that's very close,” Couture said. “Talking with Doug, that's one thing that he was focused on. He didn't want to change the dynamic of this group and move a guy from this team. So, we stuck with that. We're a team here that obviously a good year last year, and we're hoping to build on that."