Free agent Owen Nolan apparently not an option for the Sharks

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owennolan1.jpgWhile there’s still a lot of veteran free agents floating around available to be signed still, it appears one big name from the recent past is having one potential landing location taken off the list for him. Former Wild right wing Owen Nolan has been skating and working out of late in San Jose with handfuls of other players and while it might seem that the Sharks could use a dose of veteran grit from a guy like Nolan, it appears San Jose isn’t hiring if what David Pollak of The San Jose Mercury News is correct.

After scoring 41 goals the past two seasons in Minnesota, Nolan had a chance to play a third  with the Wild, but took a pass. Instead he pinned his hopes on being able to sign with San Jose — a more serious cup contender for one thing; his off-season home for another — as a free agent. But it didn’t go the way he wanted as the Sharks are opting to go with younger prospects such as Cameron Macintyre or Frazer Mclaren in the role Nolan would have filled.  And by the time that was clear, the Wild had gone out and signed Eric Nystrom, Matt Cullen and John Madden — leaving no room for Nolan to return.

Nolan must wish things had gone differently, but he doesn’t sound at all bitter, saying he understands and accepts General Manager Doug Wilson’s decision.

“I totally respect the direction they’re going,” Nolan said.

Nolan is optimistic he will land somewhere in the NHL and continues to skate at the informal captain’s practices weekday mornings at Sharks Ice that continue until the Sept. 17 start of training camp. In fact, he and his young son Dylan occasionally take the ice together once everybody else has left.

With the kind of flair for the nostalgic that I’ve got, it would’ve been great to see Nolan throw the Sharks jersey on for one more year. While he’s many years removed from his famous “called shot” in the 1997 All-Star Game in San Jose as a member of the Sharks, Nolan’s managed to stick around in the game and provide the sort of veteran leadership youthful teams (like the Wild) needed. The Sharks aren’t exactly a young team, but they’ve got enough young parts ready to step in immediately this year to make things a bit interesting for a Stanley Cup contender.

Ideally, Nolan will end up elsewhere and with jobs, at the moment, being scarce it may come down to getting an invite to a team camp in order to earn a spot. While that can provide a bit of a shot to one’s pride, having the motivation set right in front of you to go out and win a job is the sort of thing I’d be afraid of if I was a younger player trying to crack the lineup and someone with the competitive fires burning like Owen Nolan is in camp.

Sharks swarm in the third period, take down Predators in Game 1

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For two periods, the San Jose Sharks couldn’t solve Pekka Rinne.

Maybe it was because of that black cat that found its way on to the ice prior to the start of Friday’s game, or the video review that didn’t go in San Jose’s favor in the opening period.

But that all changed in the final period. It started with Tomas Hertl on the power play finding room just under the glove of Rinne to get San Jose on the board. Joel Ward followed that up with a gorgeous deke, tucking the puck in behind Rinne just as he started to go behind the net, as San Jose was able to take advantage of a defensive breakdown.

Logan Couture added the eventual winner. Within the span of 13 minutes, the Sharks had completely taken over, cashing in on two Nashville penalties and a defensive lapse.

When the onslaught was over, the Sharks skated off with a 5-2 win in Game 1 of this second-round series with the Predators, who only wrapped up a seven-game series win over Anaheim on Wednesday.

Ryan Johansen made it interesting, cutting into San Jose’s lead with under two minutes remaining, but any further comeback attempt was quickly halted by a pair of empty net goals from the Sharks.

The game ended with a dust-up along the boards, before cooler heads did prevail.

Another North Dakota junior goes pro as Blackhawks sign Luke Johnson

Quinnipiac forward Tommy Schutt, left, moves the puck as North Dakota forward Luke Johnson, middle, checks Quinnipiac forward Travis St. Denis during the first period of an NCAA college hockey tournament game Friday, March 27, 2015, in Fargo, N.D. North Dakota won 4-1. (AP Photo/Bruce Crummy)
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Another day, another University of North Dakota player deciding to enter the professional hockey ranks.

This time, it was 21-year-old forward Luke Johnson who turned pro following his junior year, as he signed a three-year contract with the Chicago Blackhawks, the team that selected him in the fifth round of the 2013 NHL Draft.

In 43 games with the NCAA champs this season, Johnson scored 11 goals and 21 points, just shy of his college career high of 24 points set the previous year.

Johnson will forgo his senior year at North Dakota, making him the fourth member of that program’s junior class to turn pro since the end of the season. Keaton Thompson signed with the Anaheim Ducks, Troy Stecher inked with the Vancouver Canucks and Paul LaDue signed with the L.A. Kings.

Senior forward Drake Caggiula, now a free agent, has reportedly narrowed down his list of NHL suitors to six teams.

Brock Boeser, Vancouver’s 2015 first-round pick and coming off an impressive freshman year, will return to North Dakota for his sophomore year, as per Canucks general manager Jim Benning earlier this month.

Video: Black cat hits the ice before Sharks-Predators Game 1

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Perhaps it’s an ominous sign of bad luck to come, but for which team?

Prior to puck drop between the host San Jose Sharks and Nashville Predators in Game 1 on Friday, a black cat hit the ice at SAP Center, taking a nervous stroll along the boards.

Not sure exactly where it came from, although it’s possible someone was feeling extra superstitious before the start of this series.

Official update on the really important story of the evening:

Speed, skill help Stars score late victory to take series lead over Blues

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The Dallas Stars scored a late winner, held on in the final minute and eventually struck first in their best-of-seven second-round series with the St. Louis Blues.

Once again, it was the speed and skill of the Stars that proved to be the difference in the end. Radek Faksa scored with less than five minutes remaining in the third period, breaking the deadlock and giving Dallas a 2-1 victory and 1-0 series lead over their Central Division foes on Friday.

As he entered the zone on the rush, Faksa dished off to a flying Ales Hemsky, who was denied by Brian Elliott in alone. But Faksa followed up, jamming in the rebound to give the Stars the lead, as both St. Louis defensemen Jay Bouwmeester and Alex Pietrangelo were caught by the speed of the Dallas forwards on the rush.

The Stars held on from there, as the Blues made a late push to tie the game.

Kari Lehtonen stopped 31 of 32 shots for Dallas, while Elliott was busy throughout the night, stopping 40 of 42 shots.

Elliott was furious after the Stars opened the scoring in the second period, as Antoine Roussel tallied on a rebound after yet another nice Dallas passing play in the offensive zone.

Stars forward Patrick Eaves left the game early in the third period and didn’t play another shift after being hit in the lower part of his leg with the puck from a point shot.