Sharks win in OT 3-2

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Sharks win in OT 3-2

BOX SCORE

UNIONDALE, NY Listening to a subdued Logan Couture after the Sharks defeated the New York Islanders on Saturday night at Nassau Coliseum, and you would have no idea that the Sharks had just closed the book on their fifth straight win.

It was just a tough night for us," said Couture. We werent coming through the neutral zone, they were much quicker than us, they are a fast team and they skated better than us.

That may all be true, but the Sharks, playing their second game in as many nights after the Islanders had off on Friday, found a way to keep their road trip perfect with a 3-2 overtime triumph. Brent Burns perfectly placed wrist shot on the power play at 1:07 of the extra session means that San Jose can go a perfect 6-0 on their journey with a victory over the struggling New York Rangers on Monday night.

Burns took a pass from Joe Pavelski and fired it high over the shoulder of Rick DiPietro for his third goal of the season. With San Jose on Day 11 of a 13-day trek, Burns admitted that fatigue was a factor against the Islanders.

I think we were a little tired maybe more mental than physical, but its a sign of a good team to survive and come out with two points, he said.

San Jose didnt have its skating legs up front, but solid team defense in front of Thomas Greiss was the biggest reason the Sharks were able to hang with and eventually overtake the young and feisty Islanders.

Marc-Edouard Vlasic, in particular, made some huge plays in the third period with the game tied 2-2. He neutralized John Tavares when the Isles leading scorer threatened to go in on a breakaway, and later hurried back in his own zone to snuff an attempt by Michael Grabner.

His biggest play came on a three-on-two shorthanded rush by the Isles, though, when he broke up a cross-ice pass towards Grabner with his stick with less than three minutes left in regulation.

I knew they would do that, especially with him using his speed, said Vlasic. I just made sure to get the stick on the puck. I had a good jump, came back early, and I was able to get the puck off of him.

Vlasic's strong game was especially important as Dan Boyle was under the weather, Todd McLellan later informed the media.

Another tremendous game for him, on a night when one of our key guys played sick on the back end, said the head coach. He logged a lot of minutes and he and Burnsie were probably our best pair. He defended a guy like Grabner who can fly 100 miles an hour with a very good stick there at one point. Just a very reliable, trusty guy for us.

The rest of the team stood tall in front of Thomas Greiss, who was making his first start since October 15 vs. St. Louis. Greiss looked a little shaky through the first 10 minutes or so, but was able to settle down shortly thereafter. He finished with 35 saves, and the Sharks did a good job at keeping the Islanders to the outside and clearing the puck from the goal mouth after Griess made the initial stop.

I had to stop the first and the rest they took care of, so it made my life a little easier, said Greiss. I was a little rusty at the start and let a couple bad rebounds, but overall I was happy. You just try to stay sharp in practice and be ready to go.

Joe Pavelski scored just 17 seconds into the game with Steve Staios in the box on a cross-check. Paveslki found the rebound of a shot off of the post by Burns for the fastest power play goal to start a game in Sharks franchise history.

The Islanders responded with two straight in the second to take their first lead. Greiss stopped a point shot and then rebound attempt at the front of the net by Matt Moulson, but the puck ended up on the stick of Tavares and he easily fired in his seventh goal.

Later, with Pavelski in the box for delay of game, Grabner cut through the slot and whizzed by Burns before converting a centering pass from Kyle Okposo at 11:28 for the Isles second power play goal of the game.

Couture was the recipient of a fortunate bounce when he tied it up less than two minutes later. Burns threw the puck towards the net and it bounced off of defenseman Mark Streit right to the stick of Couture in the slot, and the Sharks forward wristed it past DiPietro.

I just let it go, quick. I dont even know where it went, said Couture.

The Sharks may have been a little lucky in overtime. Travis Hamonic was whistled for a delay of game penalty just 29 seconds in, and vehemently disputed the call, saying the puck tipped off of the glass.

I heard from some others that it went off the glass, said McLellan. Those calls even out throughout the course of the year.

Most of the Sharks will have the day off in New York on Sunday before trying to conclude the road trip with a perfect mark against the Rangers the following day.

Tomorrow is a rest day. Monday is a work day, said McLellan.
Odds and ends: Okposo threw a nasty elbow to Boyle's face in the third period, and was called for a minor. Dont be surprised if the league takes a look at that one. McLellan made some changes to his lineup before the game. Playing alongside Michal Handzus on the third line were Torrey Mitchell and Andrew Murray, while Jamie McGinn was demoted to the fourth line with Andrew Desjardins and Brad Winchester. On defense, Jason Demers played in his first game since last Friday in New Jersey, paired with Colin White. Benn Ferreiro, Jim Vandermeer and Justin Braun were the Sharks scratches. The Islanders honored 10 members of their 1992-93 team before the game. Dont remember that team? It was the year Pierre Turgeon scored the winning goal against Washington and was promptly steamrolled by Dale Hunter. The previous franchise mark for fastest power play goal was Oct. 24, 2008, when Joe Thornton scored 51 seconds after the opening faceoff.

Report: Division rival interested in Joe Thornton

Report: Division rival interested in Joe Thornton

The mere thought of Joe Thornton wearing a Kings sweater may be enough to cause some Sharks fans to lose their lunch.

But it might be a possibility.

According to LA Kings Insider Jon Rosen, the Kings consider Thornton to be a “priority” should be hit the open market as a free agent. While the two sides are currently allowed to express mutual interest, NHL rules forbid them from discussing terms of any deal until Saturday at 9 a.m. PT.

Rosen points to a number of individuals in the Kings' organization that have ties to Thornton, including general manager Rob Blake, who played on the Sharks with Thornton from 2008-10. Mike O’Connell was Thornton’s general manager in Boston and currently serves as the Kings’ senior advisor to the general manager. Glen Murray, a former teammate and frequent linemate of Thornton’s with the Bruins for three-and-a-half seasons, is in Kings player development.

The Kings, under new management since replacing Dean Lombardi with Blake, and head coach Darryl Sutter with John Stevens, have put a priority on finding players this offseason that can get pucks to dangerous scoring areas. 

Adding one of the best passers in the history of the NHL would surely help in that regard. Thornton sits 13th in the NHL all-time with 1,007 assists.

Rosen writes: “Los Angeles has been a dominant possession team without being a high scoring team for the better part of the last six-plus seasons, and it was articulated earlier in the off-season that the team needed to do a better job of taking advantage of that possession discrepancy. In trying to find players with the ability to turn possession into actual production, the team has placed an emphasis on finding players capable of distributing the puck into high-danger in the attacking zone. There might not be another player in the NHL – let alone unrestricted free agents – who is as gifted of a passer of Thornton, which places the team’s needs in concert with the future Hall of Famer’s skill set.”

As reported here previously Thornton, who turns 38 on Sunday, is seeking a deal of three years. That might not be agreeable to the Sharks, who are likely to sign Martin Jones and Marc-Edouard Vlasic to long-term and expensive contract extensions that would kick in with the 2018-19 season.

Of course, Thornton could also be using the Kings as leverage to get a new deal in San Jose, where he would prefer to remain.

Tierney, Sorensen among players qualified by Sharks

Tierney, Sorensen among players qualified by Sharks

The Sharks have issued qualifying offers to restricted free agent forwards Chris Tierney, Marcus Sorensen and Barclay Goodrow, while cutting ties with three players in the system.

Tierney, 22, posted 11 goals and 12 assists for 23 points in 80 games last season, serving primarily as the fourth line center. He has 64 points (24g, 40a) in 202 career games over three NHL seasons, all with the Sharks.

Sorensen posted one goal and three assists in 19 games with the Sharks last season, his first in the NHL. The 25-year-old played in all six playoff games against Edmonton, scoring one goal and one assist.

Goodrow, 24, skated in three games for the Sharks last season with one assist. He has 16 points (4g, 12a) in 77 games over three seasons with the Sharks, although has played in just 17 NHL games since the start of the 2015-16 season.

Forward Nikita Jevpalovs, defenseman Patrick McNally and goalie Mantas Armalis - also known for his career as a male model - were left unqualified and are now unrestricted free agents.

Earlier in the offseason, the Sharks signed pending restricted free agents Joonas Donskoi and Melker Karlsson. Donskoi received a two-year deal at a salary cap hit of $1.9 million, while Karlsson was signed to a three-year deal at $2 million annually.