Win­ning just part of the party vs. Ot­tawa

Burns hon­ored; Karls­son turned tide on old squad; team dads at SAP

The Mercury News - - Sports - By Paul Gackle [email protected] ba­yare­anews­group.com

SAN JOSE >> As Joe Pavel­ski put it: the Sharks had “a lot go­ing on” Sat­ur­day night.

Erik Karls­son got a re­match against his for­mer team. Chris Tier­ney, Dy­lan DeMelo, and Mikkel Boed­ker made their re­turns to SAP Cen­ter. Sev­eral of the team’s dads were kick­ing around after Thurs­day’s fa­thers’ trip to Las Ve­gas and Brent Burns was hon­ored be­fore puck-drop for play­ing in his 1,000th NHL game Dec. 27.

Burns re­ceived a sil­ver stick, a Sharks tooth and two African an­telopes for his ranch in Texas. He skated out of the Sharks head with his 7-year-old son, Jag­ger, skat­ing along­side of him.

“That’s one of the best mo­ments of my life and his life,” Burns said.

Some­how, the Sharks (27-13-7) man­aged to avoid a let­down, se­cur­ing two points to ex­tend their sea­son-high win­ning streak to six games.

Here’s what we learned in the Sharks 4-1 win over the Ot­tawa Se­na­tors (17-245):

THE SHARKS’ FOR­WARD DEPTH COULD GET A TEST BE­FORE THE TRADE DEAD­LINE >> Last week, gen­eral man­ager Doug Wil­son in­di­cated he could be open to pur­su­ing a rental at the trade dead­line if the Sharks dis­play a glar­ing need over the next six weeks.

His team’s for­ward depth could be put un­der the mi-

cro­scope if Joonas Don­skoi misses games.

Don­skoi left Sat­ur­day’s game in the mid­dle of the first pe­riod with an ap­par­ent head in­jury after he took a hit from Mark Borowiecki in front of the Se­na­tors net. The Fin­nish for­ward re­turned for a shift in the lat­ter stages of the first be­fore he sat out the last two pe­ri­ods.

“He tried to come back. He couldn’t come back,” Sharks coach Pete DeBoer said.

The Sharks were off Sun­day, so an up­date on Don­skoi’s con­di­tion isn’t ex- pected un­til to­day.

The in­jury comes at a par­tic­u­larly tough time for both Don­skoi and the Sharks for­ward group. After strug­gling through­out the first half of the sea- son, Don­skoi fi­nally hit a groove after DeBoer shuf­fled his lines in Ed­mon­ton on Dec. 29.

The Sharks coach put Don­skoi on a line with To­mas Hertl and Evan­der Kane and the trio com­bined for 28 points in sev­en­plus games. The rest of the Sharks for­ward lineup fell into place with the third line lead­ing the charge. Don­skoi scored eight goals in eight games after the line’s for­ma­tion.

“It was hard to see,” Pavel­ski said of Don­skoi’s de­par­ture Sat­ur­day. “He’s been play­ing great, he really has. He looks con­fi­dent with the puck, mov­ing well. Hope­fully, it’s not too bad, he gets healthy and keeps that pace to his game.”

When Timo Meier missed three games with a head in­jury in late Novem­ber, it pro­duced a trickle-down ef­fect that im­pacted three lines, ex­pos­ing the Sharks lack of for­ward depth at the time. An in­jury to Don­skoi will give the Sharks an idea of whether they’re bet­ter suited to ab­sorb a for­ward loss in the wake of Lukas Radil’s emer­gence last month.

If Don­skoi misses time and the Sharks strug­gle to com­pen­sate, it could en­cour­age Wil­son to seek more for­ward depth at the dead­line. In­juries are com­mon in the spring and the Sharks don’t want to have their Stan­ley Cup as­pi­ra­tions de­railed by los­ing a sin­gle player.

With the Pitts­burgh Pen­guins rolling into town Tues­day, the Sharks will get a chance to really test their for­ward group if Don­skoi is un­able to go.

THE SHARKS GET IT RIGHT FOR KARLS­SON IN THE RE­MATCH >> DeBoer could see the trap com­ing from the Ve­gas Strip on Thurs­day.

Play­ing their fifth game in eight days against the NHL’s 30th ranked team, DeBoer was glad that his club had the car­rot of earn­ing a win for Karls­son dan­gling in front of them Sat­ur­day night. The Sharks got hu­mil­i­ated in Karls­son’s home­com­ing to Ot­tawa on Dec. 1, a 6-2 loss that in­spired a closed-door meet­ing with Wil­son and a reshuf­fling of the coach­ing re­spon­si­bil­i­ties on DeBoer’s staff.

With Sat­ur­day’s win, the Sharks are 15-3-2 since the de­ba­cle in Canada’s capi­tol.

“It’s huge,” Burns said. “You al­ways want to play well and get a win (against your for­mer team). He’s been awe­some for us.”

The Sharks looked like a fa­tigued group as they bat­tled through a sleepy first pe­riod that pro­duced only goose eggs on the score­board. Pavel­ski even­tu­ally broke the score­less tie at 17:57 of the sec­ond, scor­ing his team-lead­ing 26th goal. Burns, Joe Thorn­ton and Melker Karls­son joined the fun in the third, al­low­ing Karls­son to avenge the dis­as­ter in his re­turn to Ot­tawa last month.

“It’s al­ways spe­cial,” Karls­son said. “It’s still weird. It’s prob­a­bly go­ing to be weird as long as I play some­where else.

“The boys in here were tired to­day and we did what we had to do to get away with a W.”

MARTIN JONES STAYS HOT >> Jones stole a cou­ple points for the Sharks in Ve­gas, mak­ing 36 saves in a game where his team got out­played. Sat­ur­day, he stayed hot, mak­ing sev­eral key saves early that kept the Sharks from hav­ing to chase the game. They were the type of stops Jones had failed to make ear­lier in the sea­son when the Sharks found them­selves play­ing from be­hind on a nearnightly ba­sis.

In the first pe­riod, Jones made an im­pres­sive kick save on a Ru­dolfs Bal­cers shot from the slot. Later in the first, he got a blocker on Mark Stone’s break­away at­tempt. In the sec­ond, he got a left toe on Brady Tkachuk’s shot after he slipped be­hind Thorn­ton on the rush. Jones stretched out his right pad to stop a re­di­rect­ion from Stone a few min­utes later, set­ting the stage for Pavel­ski’s tiebreak­ing goal.

With a 27-save per­for­mance, Jones im­proved his save per­cent­age to .930 in five Jan­uary starts, a good sign for the Sharks head­ing to­ward the stretch run.

“He was really solid tonight,” DeBoer said. “That was a game where the first goal was go­ing to be really im­por­tant for who­ever got it. He was di­aled in and made a bunch of saves to make sure that we got to play out front.”

SCOT TUCKER — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Sharks goalie Martin Jones stayed hot with 27saves against Ot­tawa after also com­ing up big against Ve­gas.

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