Sharks advance after sweep of hapless Ducks

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Few figured the San Jose Sharks would have had it this easy against the Anaheim Ducks.

Anaheim came roaring into the postseason, winners of five straight and eight of their past 10 as they worked their way into second place in the Pacific Division

Perhaps they just ran out of gas or, perhaps, the Sharks are quite good at Duck Hunt. Either way, the Sharks made quick work of their California rivals, recording the sweep after a 2-1 win on Wednesday in Game 4.

The truth is the Sharks were far and away the better team in the series and the Ducks — outside of John Gibson — were horribly inept offensively and couldn’t handle the Sharks’ offensive attack, or solve Martin Jones.

After being shutout in Game 1, the Ducks lost a close 3-2 decision in Game 2 only to follow that up with an incredibly embarrassing effort in an 8-1 loss in Game 3.

In Game 4, and on the cusp of being swept, the Ducks managed just a single goal as they went crashing out of the playoffs.

That’s four goals in four games.

Poor John Gibson. The Ducks’ No. 1 faced a combined 69 shots in Games 1 and 2 and then 24 in Game 3 before being pulled, mercifully, in favor of Ryan Miller. In Game 4, Gibson faced a further 24 shots and once again received next to no run support.

The Ducks’ veteran core of Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler and Corey Perry combined for four points in the series. Perry was shutout entirely and the trio failed to combine for a single goal.

The Sharks were very much the opposite.

Captain Joe Pavelski had a goal and four assists. Logan Couture had two goals and five points. Evander Kane, acquired at the trade deadline, scored three times and added an assist.

And then there was Marcus Sorensen, who in 32 regular season games only scored five times but had three goals and an assist in four games in the series.

Jones got all the run support Gibson didn’t and was equally as good, turning aside 131 of the 135 shots he faced during the four game.

The Sharks will play the Vegas Golden Knights in the second round after Vegas swept the Los Angeles Kings in four games on Tuesday.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Sharks drop Golden Knights 2-1 in overtime

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If the San Jose Sharks and the Vegas Golden Knights meet in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, it’s fixing to be one hell of a series,

Thursday’s meeting cemented that. The game had all the ingredients that make up that playoff feel — tight play, tight checking, great goaltending and low scoring. There was urgency from both teams, despite both being near locks to make the postseason.

And it came right down to the last shot of the game.

Logan Couture scored 39 seconds (ironically, Couture’s jersey number) into overtime to clinch a 2-1 win for the Sharks on Thursday night.

The Sharks gained a single point on the Golden Knights and are seven points back of Vegas for first in the Pacific Division with eight games remaining. Perhaps most important, they remained four points clear of the Los Angeles Kings, who leapfrogged the Anaheim Ducks with a 7-1 win against Colorado. San Jose owns a game in hand on L.A.

Catching up to Vegas seems unlikely, but stranger things have happened. The two teams play each other for the last time next week.

The loss was bittersweet for the Golden Knights, who set record No. 2321778 for a club in their inaugural season.

Malcolm Subban made 42 saves, a career-high after being thrust into action following an injury to Marc-Andre Fleury.

Tomas Tartar got the ball rolling in the game 3:47 into the first period to give the Golden Knights an early lead.

That lead lasted for roughly a period.

Brent Burns tied the game 1-1 at 3:27 of the second period with the slickest of wrist shots from the point.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

WATCH LIVE: Vegas Golden Knights at San Jose Sharks

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[Puck drop at 10 p.m. ET, CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE]

PROJECTED LINES

Golden Knights

Jonathan MarchessaultWilliam KarlssonTomas Tatar

David PerronErik HaulaJames Neal

Ryan CarpenterCody EakinAlex Tuch

Tomas NosekPierre-Edouard BellemareRyan Reaves

Brayden McNabbNate Schmidt

Shea TheodoreDeryk Engelland

Jon MerrillColin Miller

Starting goalie: Malcolm Subban

[Golden Knights – Sharks preview]

Sharks

Evander KaneJoe PavelskiMelker Karlsson

Tomas HertlLogan CoutureMikkel Boedker

Timo MeierChris TierneyKevin Labanc

Barclay GoodrowEric FehrJannik Hansen

Marc-Edouard VlasicJustin Braun

Paul MartinBrent Burns

Brenden DillonDylan DeMelo

Starting goalie: Martin Jones

Pavelski, Sharks feast on Blackhawks in 7-2 win

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You can chalk this one up as payback.

Last Friday, the Chicago Blackhawks welcomed to the San Jose Sharks to United Center and promptly dispatched them 3-1. On Thursday, San Jose repaid the favor and then, dropping the Blackhawks 7-2 at SAP Center.

The Blackhawks scored first, with Artem Anisimov putting smiles on the faces of his teammates just 2:12 into the first period. That would be the last time the Blackhawks looked like they were anywhere close to having fun.

San Jose scored seven straight in response, including four in the second period. J-F Berube, who began the night in Chicago’s crease, saw his night come to an end after the second frame after allowing six goals on 28 shots.

Berube was only part of the problem. Chicago’s defense was particularly bad in this one, with San Jose enjoying 15 high-danger scoring chances. The blob of red you see below is not good for the Blackhawks. Not good at all.

It’s all very strange, given that the Blackhawks hadn’t played since Saturday. That’s a lot of rest. Even with the good start, they fell flat in quick succession and that was that.

For San Jose, they were looking to keep their two-point cushion ahead of the Los Angeles Kings for second place in the Pacific Division.  With Los Angeles also playing on the night, the win was critical.

Joe Pavelski scored twice in the game and now has eight goals and 16 points in his past 12 games. Martin Jones, getting his 45th start of the season, turned aside 32-of-34. He’s allowed two goals or fewer in 11 of his past 13 starts.

Evander Kane, who was acquired at the trade deadline from Buffalo, got his third assist in two games since the deal.

San Jose played their first of five straight at home on Thursday and are now 19-9-3 in the Shark Tank.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

WATCH LIVE: Chicago Blackhawks at San Jose Sharks

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CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

PROJECTED LINES

Chicago Blackhawks

Brandon SaadJonathan ToewsVinnie Hinostroza

Tomas JurcoArtem AnisimovPatrick Kane

Alex DeBrincatNick Schmaltz — Matthew Highmore

Patrick SharpDavid KampfAnthony Duclair

Duncan KeithJordan Oesterle

Connor MurphyBrent Seabrook

Erik GustafssonCarl Dahlstrom

Starting goalie: J-F Berube

[Blackhawks – Sharks]

San Jose Sharks

Evander KaneJoe PavelskiJoonas Donskoi

Tomas HertlLogan CoutureMikkel Boedker

Timo MeierChris TierneyKevin Labanc

Marcus SorensenBarclay GoodrowMelker Karlsson

Joakim RyanBrent Burns

Marc-Edouard VlasicJustin Braun

Brenden DillonDylan DeMelo

Starting goalie: Martin Jones