Despite not having their best offensive performance, the Sharks secured a nice shutout win and are once again first in the Western Conference. The low-event, tight-checking game is a good rehearsal for the playoff style of hockey. If the postseason started tomorrow, the Sharks would draw ... the Minnesota Wild.
Martin Jones played well, especially in the first period when the Wild were most threatening. His 22 saves allowed the Sharks to survive the game until their offense got going.
The Sharks didn’t score until well over halfway through the game, when Marc-Edouard Vlasic threw a shot in the general direction of the net. Barclay Goodrow’s chest was in just the right place to deflect the puck nicely past Devan Dubnyk.
Tomas Hertl and Timo Meier got together to put on the most impressive offensive performance of the game early in the third period. Both players now have five-game point streaks.
Logan Couture scored on a penalty shot that he probably only drew because he was offside. But the play wasn’t reviewable and it wouldn’t have changed the outcome, anyway.
The Sharks’ power play was bad — like, “couldn’t even stay in the attacking zone for half the time” kind of bad. It’s a good thing they didn’t have to rely on their power play tonight, but a good power play is always a nice thing.
Joonas Donskoi left the game midway through and didn’t skate during the third period at all. He played less than 10 minutes overall. There’s no official word on why Donskoi was sat for the third; he was on the bench at least for a bit.
The Sharks are showing that they’re trending in the right direction to prepare for playoffs: contributions from depth lines and the ability to grind through tight-checking games are what the playoffs are All About (TM).
The Sharks play again tomorrow in Winnipeg with puck drop scheduled for 5 p.m. Pacific again.
Hello friends, I’m Jay and I’ll be joining you for the game on this nice afternoon!
18:00: Devan Dubnyk has really looked like a street hockey goalie with his first two saves. He’s staying upright and deflects the puck more than outright stopping it. If he plays like this the rest of the game, the Sharks can expect to get a lot of rebound and tip opportunities.
15:06: Zach Parise’s tip makes it through Martin Jones under his left arm and hits the post. Less of that, please.
9:37: Jones dives across the crease to negate an open-lane shot. Looked cool, but it’d be nice if he doesn’t have to do that again.
8:55: Former Shark Eric Fehr takes a defensive-zone tripping penalty for trying to stop Timo Time. You can’t stop time.
3:21: Sharks getting another power play. Their first objective should be to just spend at least half of it in the offensive zone.
END FIRST: Sharks 0, Wild 0
Neither team scored, which is fine I guess. By the eye test, the Wild got closer to scoring than the Sharks did, which is less fine. However, our Ryan Holte noted on Twitter that the Sharks had more high-danger scoring chances.
The Sharks’ power plays both looked bad. If they get another man advantage, something (or some things) have to change.
18:30: Gustav Nyquist in the box.
8:37: There’s been a lot of nonstop hockey since that penalty but nothing to show for it on the scoreboard.
5:54: It somehow fits that the first goal of the game is scored off a Marc-Edouard Vlasic shot. Barclay Goodrow deflected it with the body.
2:23: Brenden Dillon goes to the box for holding Jason Zucker. The puck was already past him, so really his only options were holding or otherwise doing an interference.
END SECOND: Sharks 1, Wild 0
Scoreboard? More like score-bored. The Sharks aren’t looking like the best offense in the West tonight.
Regardless of entertainment value, if the score stays like this, I’ll absolutely take it.
19:25: The Wild get a scoring chance early in the period. Not really ideal.
15:23: Hertl and Meier take the puck at the blueline and deliver it to the back of the net! 2-0.
9:59: Logan Couture is awarded a penalty shot after being hooked on a breakaway. Stand by for results.
Couture skates out to the right on the approach and goes five-hole to score. But now the refs are huddled by the replay tablet. Apparently, the Wild wanted to challenge that Couture was offside when he got the breakaway (true), but a challenge would only be valid had Couture scored on the initial shot rather than the awarded penalty shot. Goal stands!
7:52: Micheal Haley gives the Wild a power play.
FINAL SCORE: Sharks 3, Wild 0
The score didn’t stay the same as it was at second intermission — it got better!
The Sharks and the Calgary Flames have been engaged in a dog-fight for first place in the division ever since the Sharks closed the gap in the division with a win over the Canadiens last Thursday night. The Sharks’ overtime win over the St. Louis Blues on Saturday afternoon put them back on top of the standings, but it only lasted for 24 hours, when the Flames beat the Vegas Golden Knights by a score of 6-3. Just one point separates the two teams from having to play that dastardly Vegas team in the first round.
Tonight will be the first game of a quick two-game road trip. The Sharks will fly up to the WiFi-less city of Winnipeg to play an inconsistent, yet fire-packed Jets team tomorrow night, then fly home to play the Florida Panthers on Thursday night.
The Sharks were able to blank the Wild at the Xcel Energy Center last time they played each other, by a score of 4-0. The win marked Martin Jones’ first shutout of the year.
After announcing that he wouldn’t be able to play “anytime soon,” Erik Karlsson won’t be in the Sharks lineup for the fifth-straight game. Evander Kane won’t be available either, citing personal reasons.
Victor Rask, also known as the guy that got traded for Nino Niederreiter, will make his return to the Wild’s lineup tonight. Rask was activated from injured reserve today after missing 12 games due to a lower-body injury. The Swedish-born forward has only played ten games for the Wild since getting traded from Carolina, scoring one goal and one assist.
Expected Scratches: Lukas Radil, Joakim Ryan, Dylan Gambrell (all healthy), Erik Karlsson (groin), Evander Kane (personal)
Wild (via Daily Faceoff)
Jordan Greenway — Eric Staal — Jason Zucker
Zach Parise — Victor Rask — Kevin Fiala
Ryan Donato — Joel Eriksson Ek — Pontus Aberg
Marcus Foligno — Eric Fehr — J.T. Brown
Ryan Suter — Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin — Brad Hunt
Greg Pateryn — Anthony Bitetto
Expected scratches: Luke Kunin (upper body), Nick Seeler (healthy)
Injured Reserve: Mikko Koivu (ACL), Matt Dumba (pectoral)
Where to Watch
Puck drop from the Xcel Energy Center is at 5 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time/8 p.m. Eastern. The game will be nationally broadcast on NBC Sports, so if you're an NHLtv subscriber, keep in mind that blackout restrictions will apply. As always, 98.5 KFOX and the Sharks app has you covered for radio streaming.