The .500 mark is in striking distance for the San Jose Sharks following their 5-3 win over the Anaheim Ducks. They’re still second-to-last in the division, but hopefully their improved play can buoy them up the standings.
Tomas Hertl continued his scoring streak with a goal in each of the first two periods against the Ducks. He’s now at 10 goals on the season. His two goals kept the Sharks in the game through the first 40 minutes.
Hertl left the game in the third period with an apparent lower-body injury, but is fine according to coach Pete DeBoer’s postgame comments. He finished with two goals, four shots on goal, 14 minutes of ice time and just over three minutes on the power play.
Hertl tied with Evander Kane and Logan Couture, who each also scored, for most power-play time among forwards. The Sharks were led in overall power-play time by Brent Burns, who gave the Sharks the lead in the third period. They had played behind a goal or tied until that point.
Once they had the lead, the Sharks picked it up. Kane teamed up with Couture for a shorthanded goal just past the halfway point of the period. The Ducks pulled back within one with a little under five minutes to go, but the Sharks showed no signs of sweating it. DeBoer adjusted the lines a bit, partly due to the absence of Hertl for the majority of the third period.
The Ducks put an extra attacker on for the final two minutes, but the Sharks weathered the push. Couture finalized the win with a one-on-one against John Gibson in the final minute.
The Sharks never trailed by more than one, added to the lead once they got it, and took it in stride when the Ducks got one back. Things are looking good.
The Sharks will play again on Saturday when they host the Detroit Red Wings.
18:51: The Sharks fail to clear and the Ducks quickly counterpunch. Their first shot on goal...is a goal.
17:24: Erik Gudbranson shoves Melker Karlsson pretty aggressively into the boards behind John Gibson. Sharks power play.
13:15: Tomas Hertl and Barclay Goodrow launch up ice two-on-one. Hertl carries most of the way and passes to Goodrow, who pops it to the net with his backhand. Hertl follows up and forces the puck in. After situation-room initiated review, the call is a goal. Gibson really wanted his coach to challenge that for goaltender interference.
12:27: Dalton Prout decides to fight in his first NHL game in a month.
2:34: The Sharks’ fourth line gains some substantial time in the Ducks’ zone.
END FIRST: Sharks 1, Ducks 1
The Sharks forced the Ducks to the perimeter pretty well within their own zone, especially in the last few minutes of the period. They stayed to the edges a bit too much in the offensive third, aside from Hertl and Goodrow’s work that led to the goal.
18:38: The Sharks ice the puck pretty early in the period.
15:42: Kevin Labanc goes off for slashing. He reached for the puck from behind his man and puts the Sharks on the penalty kill.
13:44: The Sharks are nicked for a face-off violation. It doesn’t look like Melker Karlsson was even given a warning before the penalty was assessed.
10:34: Joe Thornton passes to Marcus Sorensen skating up the right wing, but the pass isn’t quite on the right spot. Sorensen topples over trying to collect the puck.
7:21: Brent Burns reaches for the puck from behind Troy Terry and hauls him down. So, thing to work on: reaching from behind.
7:00: Martin Jones fails to fully close his pads and Jakob Silferberg stabs the puck from between his legs. 2-1 Ducks.
6:04: Barclay Goodrow draws a hooking penalty in the Anaheim zone. Sharks power play.
3:52: The Ducks get a rush as soon as Max Jones leaves the box. Martin Jones pushes laterally to deny a third goal.
1:38: Tomas Hertl uses his defender as a screen and ties the game.
END SECOND: Sharks 2, Ducks 2
Tomas Hertl is keeping the Sharks in the game on his own. He’s scored in both periods and has four shots in just over ten minutes of skating. The rest of the Sharks have trouble with their positioning, I guess, and keep taking reaching penalties.
18:36: Kevin Labanc is now on Thornton’s line.
13:24: Patrick Marleau swings around the net and tries to get the puck past Gibson. Evander Kane seems to think it’s a goal. Replay says no.
13:18: Derek Grant holds Lukas Radil’s stick to win a faceoff. That’s not allowed.
12:14: Jones saves two shorthanded chances in 25 seconds.
11:55: Brent Burns gives the Sharks the first lead of the game.
10:50: Dalton Prout puts the Sharks on the penalty kill within a minute of Burns’ leading goal.
9:29: Logan Couture makes a great read on the penalty kill. He and Evander Kane rush up ice and Kane taps it past Gibson for a 4-2 lead on a shorthanded goal.
4:10: One-goal game again. The Ducks had generated serious, sustained pressure for the past minute. Matter of time.
1:50: Anaheim’s net is vacated.
0:38.1: Logan Couture snatches the puck in the middle of the ice and snaps it through Gibson’s five-hole. Gibson had taken a couple strides out of the crease and couldn’t get set up with Couture skating down on him.
FINAL SCORE: Sharks 5, Ducks 3
Tomas Hertl is on absolute fire. In the four games since the coaching staff rearranged the team’s lineup, the just-turned-26-year-old center has a goal in each contest to go along with two primary assists (and one secondary assist, but we don’t bother with those too much).
During this four-game win streak, Hertl and linemate Timo Meier have helped the Sharks take around 60 percent of all 5-on-5 shots and collect a similar ratio of dangerous shots (expected goals, Natural Stat Trick). In the 36 minutes of 5-on-5 that Hertl, Meier and Barclay Goodrow have skated together, the Sharks have taken unblocked shots that are 94 percent more likely to go in than the average unblocked shot (HockeyViz). That number is sure to regress back toward league-average as they play more minutes, but for the moment sending that trio over the boards is as close as possible to conjuring up a certain goal.
It appears those three will face off against a motley, injury-ravaged crew of Anaheim defensemen. It’s likely Hertl and Co. spend most of their minutes against a combination of Cam Fowler, Jacob Larsson, Brendan Guhle and Korbinian Holzer, none of whom is renown for his exceptional defensive abilities.
The new top line of Logan Couture, Kevin Labanc and Evander Kane hasn’t been as prolific offensively as the team’s other big group. Tonight represents an opportunity for them to get right against one of the Ducks’ less talented defense pairs.
Behind those forward lines, the Sharks top-four defense group of Erik Karlsson and Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Brent Burns and Radim Simek will hit the ice against centers Ryan Getzlaf and Adam Henrique. Getzlaf and wingers Nick Ritchie and Ondrej Kase present the most formidable offensive threat these Ducks have to offer. The nominal second line of Henrique, Rickard Rakell, and Jakob Silfverberg sound nasty on paper but are mostly average in practice.
San Jose depths will be plumbed by an all-youth line of Max Jones, Sam Steel and Troy Terry, a group that has so far struggled to produce consistent 5-on-5 play. Joe Thornton’s new line of Patrick Marleau and Marcus Sorensen haven’t been very effective offensively, but my have they shut down opposing depth players. The 40-year-olds will get a stiff test in new legs, but it’s unlikely the rookie Anaheim trio will must much against the veteran presence line.
Helping the Ducks cause is the fact Dalton Prout draws back into the lineup for Tim Heed. Heed and recent partner Brenden Dillon had mostly played well in two games together, but it’s been clear from day one that Prout is head coach Pete DeBoer’s preferred third-pair righty. We can’t expect a whole lot out of a mostly immobile duo that have yet to manifest any sort of transition game in their careers to date.
In the end, though, the stiffest test may be the goaltending tonight. Both Anaheim goaltenders have performed just better than average this season while both Sharks goalies have, uh, not.
Expected scratches: Tim Heed (coach hates him), Noah Gregor (can’t have too much skill in the lineup), Mario Ferraro (still injured)
Rickard Rakell — Adam Henrique — Jakob Silfverberg
Nick Ritchie — Ryan Getzlaf — Ondrej Kase
Max Jones — Sam Steel — Troy Terry
Nicolas Deslauriers — Derek Grant — Carter Rowney
Cam Fowler — Jacob Larsson
Brendan Guhle — Korbinian Holzer
Josh Mahura — Erik Gudbranson
Expected scratches: Josh Manson (IR), Hampus Lindholm (IR), Ryan Kesler (IR), Patrick Eaves (IR), Michael Del Zotto, Devin Shore
Where to watch
Tonight’s puck will drop at about 7 p.m. PST / 10 p.m. EST from Honda Center in Anaheim, California. If you decide to earnestly watch the Sharks’ third pair struggle to get out of their own zone, the game will be broadcast on NBCSCA in the Bay Area and KCOP-13 in the Anaheim area. You can also listen at 98.5 KFOX and check out the NHL.tv feed if you pay for it or the Sharks App.