Vlasic honored by NHL

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Vlasic honored by NHL

The NHL honored Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic on Monday when he was named as one of its three stars of the week.

According to the league press release:

Vlasic tied for the League scoring lead last week with seven points (one goal, six assists) and posted a 7 rating as the Sharks (12-5-1) won three consecutive games and took the Pacific Division lead. Vlasic recorded the first four-point game in his six-year NHL career, tallying the game-winning goal, three assists and a career-high 5 rating in a 5-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings Nov. 17. He closed the week with three assists and a 2 rating in a 4-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche Nov. 20.The 24-year-old Montreal native improved his team-leading plus-minus rating to 11 and increased his season points total to 11 (two goals, nine assists), on pace to easily surpass his career high of 36 points set in 2008-09.
The Sharks host the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday.

Rewind: 'Elite' Martin Jones outplays Price in Sharks' win over Habs

Rewind: 'Elite' Martin Jones outplays Price in Sharks' win over Habs

SAN JOSE – The challenge for Martin Jones headed into 2016-17 was to repeat the kind of campaign he had in his first season as an NHL number one, when he helped the Sharks reach their first-ever Stanley Cup Final.

Having a strong season is one thing. Becoming a franchise goaltender is an entirely different animal. The Canadiens have one, of course, in Carey Price, viewed unanimously as the NHL’s best. 

Jones has some work ahead if he wants to be mentioned in the same breath as Price. But his latest performance – a 31-save effort against Montreal in which he slightly outplayed the former Hart Trophy winner at the other end in a 2-1 Sharks win – capped off a remarkable stretch for Jones, who is perhaps the team’s MVP as they sit in first place in the Pacific Division in the first week of December.

In his last 11 games, Jones is now 8-2-1 with a 1.46 goals-against average and .945 save percentage. His GAA for the season was lowered to a miniscule 1.99.

“We’ve got an elite goalie here,” Burns said. “We’re lucky to have Jonesy. He’s great to play in front of. He’s right up there to be the best goalie in the league. Every night he shows it.”

Dillon said: “He's just continuing to prove that he's an elite-level guy. For us, as defensemen, it's nice when he's back there. But at the same time, we want to do our best to eliminate as much as we can and help him out.”

Dillon, Burns, and the rest of the Sharks defense corps did a nice job against the Canadiens, who still lead the NHL standings even after the loss. But the Sharks wouldn’t have won this one without Jones, who made a number of stellar stops.

His best came in the first period with the Sharks enjoying a 1-0 lead, when Jones robbed Alex Galchenyuk after a sneaky pass from Paul Byron gave Galchenyuk all kinds of net to shoot at. Jones slid across and snatched it, freezing play. 

"I think at that point I was just kind of reacting to the play,” Jones said. “You're not going to see me pull that out too, too often. Just tried to get over and bring as much of my body as I could."

Later in the first, Jones stopped Brian Flynn on a breakaway with 2:53 to go. In the second period he again flashed the leather, this time on Max Pacioretty on a two-on-one with 14:53 remaining in the middle frame. Seconds later, it was his left lad that prevented Brenden Gallagher from cutting into the Sharks’ 2-0 lead, when Gallagher found himself alone in front of the net with the puck on his stick.

Facing Price, Jones knew he would have to be on top of his game. According to assistant coach Steve Spott, filling in for Pete DeBoer, that challenge gave Jones a boost.

“I think when he looked down 200 feet away and saw Carey Price – what a great challenge for Marty, and he was outstanding tonight, as was Price for them. That's as good a goalie duo as I've seen in a long time.”

Dillon said: “He just continues to rise to the occasion.”

The goals came from likely sources. Burns, firing the puck from all over the ice in the first, capitalized on a power play with a slapper from the top of the circle. Joe Pavelski finished off a rush with Joe Thornton in the final minute of the opening frame.

Thanks to Jones, that lead was maintained until late, before Logan Couture’s double-minor for high sticking Alexander Radulov left the Sharks shorthanded. They killed off the first two minutes without even allowing a shot on goal, but Montreal got on the board with a turn-around wrister by Artturi Lehkonen with 1:17 left and Price pulled for an extra attacker.

That spoiled the shutout for Jones, but not the night for the Sharks, who killed the rest of the clock and will now get some down time after 10 games in just 18 days. They don’t play again until Wednesday at home against Ottawa.

“Obviously it’s nice when you’ve got a little break to have that game going into it than something else,” Pavelski said.

Whether it’s a good time to take a break is up for debate, as the Sharks are playing their best hockey of the season, winning six of their last seven.

"You look at it 50/50,” Dillon said. “We're a confident group right now and I don't think come Tuesday or Wednesday of next week, we're going to be looking at it any differently. 

“We're going to take the positives out of [the time off], and try to keep this thing rolling.”

If Jones stays on the run he’s on, there’s a very good chance they will.

Instant Replay: Sharks score early, hang on for home win vs Canadiens

Instant Replay: Sharks score early, hang on for home win vs Canadiens

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE – Despite finally reaching the end of what was a frenzied portion of their schedule, the Sharks found the necessary vigor to get past the NHL’s top team on Friday night at SAP Center.
 
Martin Jones outdueled Carey Price in net, and the Sharks got first period goals from Brent Burns and Joe Pavelski in a 2-1 win.
 
The Sharks (15-9-1) improved to 6-1 in their last seven games, allowing just eight goals over that span. They lead the Pacific Division by three points, and won’t play again until Wednesday after what was their 10th game in the past 18 days.
 
Montreal remains in first place overall in the league standings with 34 points (16-6-2).
 
Two of the Sharks’ most potent goal scorers staked them a 2-0 lead before the first intermission.
 
On a power play, Burns powered a one-timer from the circle past Price at 5:22. San Jose came out of the gate buzzing, and earned the man advantage when Micheal Haley drew a holding minor on Mark Barberio.
 
Pavelski increased the San Jose lead at 19:03, storming towards the goal crease and redirecting a Joe Thornton centering pass on what was essentially a two-on-none rush. 
 
The Sharks were shorthanded late after a double minor for high sticking to Logan Couture with 4:06 left in regulation, when the Sharks forward clipped Alexander Radulov, who left the ice due to some profuse bleeding.
 
After killing off a good portion of it without allowing a shot on goal, Artturi Lehtonen swept a shot through Jones with Price pulled for an extra attacker with 1:17 to go. That was all the Canadiens would get past Jones, though, who made 31 saves.
 
Montreal made a push in the second period, particularly early, but Jones stood on his head. He snagged a Max Pacioretty shot about five minutes into the middle frame, and on the ensuing faceoff got his left pad on Brenden Gallagher’s attempt after the Canadiens forwards slipped to front of the net with the puck.
 
Jones got a bit fortunate, too, when Pacioretty missed a wide-open chance in the slot halfway through regulation.
 
The Sharks won their 10th straight game over the Canadiens in San Jose, and are 7-1-0 in their last eight overall when opposing Montreal.
 
Montreal has not won a game at the Shark Tank since Nov. 23, 1999.
 
Special teams 
 
The Sharks went 1-for-3 on the power play, and are 5-for-19 in their last seven games. Of Burns’ 10 goals, three have come with a man advantage.
 
Montreal finished 1-for-4. The Sharks have allowed one power play goal against in four of their last five games.
 
In goal
 
After getting pulled against Pittsburgh on Nov. 5, Jones improved to 8-2-1 in his last 11. He’s allowed two or fewer goals in eight of them.
 
Jones’ best save of the night came with 11:29 to go in the first period and the Sharks ahead 1-0, when he caught a Alex Galchenyuk shot while quickly shifting from his right to his left. He also denied Brian Flynn on a breakaway with 2:53 left in the opening frame.
 
Price has now lost all five of his starts in San Jose (0-4-1). It was just his third loss in regulation this season (13-3-1), as he allowed two goals on 28 shots.
 
Lineup
 
The Sharks lost defenseman David Schlemko with about eight minutes left in the second period with what looked to be a leg or ankle injury.

Thornton assisted on each of the first two goals, moving into sole possession of 25th place on the NHL’s all-time scoring list with 1356 career points, passing Brendan Shanahan.
 
Tommy Wingels returned from a three-game absence with a lower body injury, replacing Ryan Carpenter, who had played the previous three games and scored his first NHL goal on Wednesday in Los Angeles.
 
Paul Martin played in his 800th career NHL game.
 
Up next
 
The Sharks will host the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday for the first of two meetings this month. They will enjoy a rare two-day break over the weekend with no practices scheduled.