While the San Jose Sharks can’t be thrilled with their post-All-Star record — they’re just 4-3 over the last seven games — they have to be pleased with the play of linemates Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski.
The pair has racked up 22 points (9G, 13A) playing on a line with Patrick Marleau — Pavelski and Thorton also man the first power play unit together — with Thornton posting 4G-8A-12PTS, Pavelski notching 5G-5A-10PTS.
“I like playing with Joe,” Thornton told CSN Bay Area. “He sees the ice well and has a knack for being around the net and putting in timely goals. We enjoy playing with each other.”
Credit Sharks head coach Todd McLellan for utilizing the Joe-Joe chemistry to spark his anemic power play. The normally powerful unit struggled through most of the year (just 22 PP goals in the first 46 games) until McLellan put Pavelski and Thornton together…but with a twist.
Little Joe was moved to the point, and the results were immediate — dating back to the Sharks’ game in Vancouver on Jan. 21 (when Pavelski first started manning the blueline), San Jose is 13-for-32 with a man advantage, a remarkable 40.6 percent.
“To climb from where we were, and we reminded them of this after the St. Louis game, to where we are now, is a credit to them,” McLellan said, referring to an 0-for-4 performance against the Blues on Sunday. “It became real important to them and real important to our team that we fix [the power play.]”
“When you’re playing well in that area, it should translate over to feeling good about your game and having some confidence elsewhere.”
This offensive spark couldn’t have come at a better time. The Sharks are two games into a grueling nine-game road trip and their schedule over the final two months — 32 games in 59 days, six back-to-backs — is one of the league’s toughest. The likes of Thornton, Pavelski and Marleau will need to keep clicking if the Sharks hope to survive and remain atop the Pacific Division.
The San Jose Sharks became the only team in the second round to jump out to a 2-0 lead in their series. The Sharks did it by beating the Predators 3-2 in Game 2 on Sunday night.
San Jose opened the scoring in the second period when Logan Couture buried a rebound by Preds goalie Pekka Rinne. Brent Burns took the initial shot from the point and extended his playoff point streak to four games.
The Predators finally got on the board at the 12:56 mark of the third period when Mattias Ekholm tied the game at one.
Here’s the goal:
Nashville’s good fortune didn’t last very long. Sharks captain Joe Pavelski gave San Jose a 2-1 lead less than five minutes later.
Pavelski also picked up two assists in the game. The 31-year-old has at least one point in six of his seven postseason games in 2016.
Joe Thornton then added an empty-netter in the final minute of play before Ryan Johansen scored with four seconds remaining.
Despite the loss, Preds head coach Peter Laviolette wasn’t too disappointed by the way his team played.
The Predators outshot the Sharks (39-25), they outhit San Jose (46-26), but they just couldn’t outscore them.
Like the old saying goes: “you’re not in trouble until you lose a game on home ice.” The Preds still haven’t done that, which means they’re not done yet.
The series now shifts to Nashville for Game 3, which will be played on Tuesday night.
It’s a scary night for players getting hit in the head with pucks.
After Brian Elliott was hit in the head by a Jason Spezza slapshot, it was Marc-Edouard Vlasic‘s turn to narrowly avoid disaster.
In the third period of Sunday’s game against the Predators, Vlasic took a puck to the face. The end result could have been catastrophic had Vlasic not had a visor.
You can see the incident by clicking the video at the top of the page.
It’s nice to see that Vlasic was in a joking mood after the game:
Hockey Twitter breathed a collective sigh of relief after Vlasic got back up:
You’ve all seen it by now (if you haven’t, click the video at the top of page). Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta was forced to leave Game 2 against the Capitals after taking a late hit from Brooks Orpik. Not only was the hit late, but Orpik also caught Maatta in the head.
After the Penguins’ optional skate on Sunday, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan wasn’t optimistic about Maatta’s chances of playing in Game 3 on Monday night.
“Olli’s being evaluated as we speak, so I don’t have any real update as far as his status is concerned,” Sullivan said, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He’s being evaluated today, we’ll probably have more information in the morning.
“I don’t have a lot of sense of his availability. I’m probably not optimistic, though.”
After the game, Capitals coach Barry Trotz stood up for his defenseman.
“We’ll let the league handle it,” Trotz said, per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “If you know anything about Brooks, he plays hard, he plays clean. He’s not a dirty player.”
And the league certainly did handle it, as they suspended Orpik for three games.
—Penguins coach takes issue with late, high Orpik hit on Maatta
Brooks Orpik has been suspended for three games for his hit on Olli Maatta (top). The Caps defenseman will be forced to miss Games 3, 4 and 5 of the best-of-seven series against the Penguins.
Orpik delivered a late, high hit to Maatta in Game 2. The Penguins defenseman was wobbly getting off the ice and he was unable to return to the game.
Here’s how the Department of Players Safety saw the play:
“Orpik steps up to pressure Bonino, who quickly moves the puck to Maatta. Orpik peels off Bonino to pressure Maatta, who releases a shot from the top of the circle. The two continue on their path toward the goal line, as the puck is kicked into the slot. A full second after Maatta releases the puck, Orpik delivers a high, forceful hit making significant head contact. This is interference.”
To watch the NHL’s Department of Player Safety’s full explanation, click the video below.
This is the third time Orpik’s been suspended in his NHL career.