Sharks come unglued with 4-2 loss to Blackhawks

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San Jose Sharks 2, Chicago Blackhawks 4

Blackhawks
lead series 2-0

How do you judge this series so far?

Is
this the San Jose Sharks choking? This is two straight losses at home,
with a clear path to the Stanley Cup finals after reaching the
previously-hallowed ground of the conference finals.

Or is this
just a measure for just how good are the Chicago Blackhawks? The
Vancouver Canucks were stacked, and so are the Sharks, yet the
Blackhawks have handled both teams fairly well.

After two games,
and two big wins, the Chicago Blackhawks now have a commanding 2-0 lead
as they head back to Chicago.

The Sharks started off the game
with a bit of a rush, working hard to recover from a painful Game 1 loss
and yet again, they found themselves losing after mostly outplaying the
Hawks to that point. Unlike Game 1 however, in which the Sharks
continued to battle for most of the game, this time an early goal seemed
to take the life out of the team.

The Blackhawks jumped all over
the Sharks from that point, scoring twice more in the second period and
then once again in the third. The Sharks would try to make things
interesting, cutting the lead to two with over four minutes remaining,
yet never really attempted a truly all-out attack in the waning moments
to try and tie the game.

Joe Thornton, despite a nifty pass on the
Sharks’ first goal of the game, continues another disappearing act in
big games. The top line of Thornton, Marleau and Dany Heatley is now a
combined minus-18 for the playoffs, as all three made several poor
decisions with the puck tonight to negate prime scoring chances.

Most
frustrating of all was the completely unnecessary slashing penalty
Thornton took just minutes after his team allowed a fourth goal.

Like
the Canucks before them, the Sharks are finding their emotions getting
the best of them and all at the wrong time. The Sharks looked lifeless
and a bit bored after the Hawks scored the first goal, and only really
showed true emotion when confronting Dave Bolland out on the ice.

Showing
emotion and responding offensively after going down 1-0 early in the
game? Nope.

Showing emotion with inspired offensive attacks as
they worked to get Antti Niemi off his game? Nope.

Showing emotion
by not taking dumb penalties right as your team hopes to build a
comeback? Nope.

No, the Sharks decided to come alive and show some
actual emotion in the final seconds with — you guessed it — going
after Dave Bolland. Prime example of a frustrated team falling deeper
into the trap.

Unfortunatley, if the Sharks don’t pull this
together, we’re in for what is looking to be two quick conference
finals.

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

Ilya Mikheyev
Bob Frid/USA TODAY Sports
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

austonmatthews
Nick Turchiaro/USA TODAY Sports
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Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

caufield surgery
David Kirouac/USA TODAY Sports
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MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

matty beniers
Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports
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SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.