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Lock down defense nets win in Minny
Couture scores a pair to lead SJ in 4-0 win
12/18/18 - By Mike Lee -

The Xcel Energy Center hasn't been kind to the Sharks. San Jose's dismal record in Minneapolis was offset for a night by one of the best performances by the Sharks this season. The focus was clearly on a defensive first approach, that resulted in a 4-0 shutout win as the Sharks capped their short 2-game road trip by taking their 7th win in the last 8 games. Martin Jones made 26 saves for the shutout win.

After getting pulled in Chicago after giving up 3 goals on 4 shots, Jones looked like a completely different goaltender. The defense out front was a major factor in Jones success on Tuesday night.

San Jose generated all the offense they would need in the 2nd period, then established some breathing room with a second pair of goals in the 3rd. Logan Couture scored twice to lead San Jose, who has suddenly become formidable with their emphasis on the backend.

A defense first approach by both teams resulted in more of a feeling-out party than a goal fest in the opening 20 minutes. Minnesota threw 8 shots at Martin Jones in the period. The Sharks countered with 5 shots of their own, but neither team generated any serious scoring chances.

Timo Meier took an uncharacteristic fighting major after dropping the gloves with defenseman Greg Pateryn 5 minutes into the 2nd period. The Sharks would have probably preferred to have Meier out on the ice, but it was a welcome boost to see the young forward standing up for his team. Sometimes those intangibles are worth the skill that's offset from sitting in the penalty box.

San Jose cracked the scoring open with a pair of quick goals in the period to grab the 2-0 lead. Logan Couture scored his 12th of the season on a highlight reel feed from Lukas Radil at 9:49 of the period. Radil collected the puck behind the Wild net just off the left post, then sent a blind backhand pass out to the front of the net while facing the end boards. Couture had a slam dunk from the top of the crease after he crashed the net and collected Radil's feed.

Joe Pavelski doubled up the score 29 seconds later when Tomas Hertl sprung him with a lead pass up the gut. The Sharks captain raced up ice uncontested before lifting a shot over Devyn Dubnyk's left shoulder for his 21st goal of the season. Radim Simek was credited with the secondary assist on both goals.

Erik Karlsson just missed making it a 3-0 game with 1:30 left in the period when he rang a shot off the crossbar. Miko Koivu would take a tripping penalty moments later to setup the game's first power play. That penalty would carry over to the 3rd period where it played a role in extending the Sharks lead.

Couture converted right after the Koivu penalty expired, essentially coming against four Wild defenders. Hertl gathered an Erik Karlsson pass in the high slot, before feathering a pass to Couture on the left side. Couture whipped a shot from the bottom of the left circle to pad San Jose's lead.

The only real pressure Jones saw all night came in the last 5 minutes of the game, when the Wild missed on a flurry of shots through traffic. The Sharks netminder made the necessary saves to keep the Sharks lead intact.

Minnesota was forced to pull Dubnyk with 2:40 left in regulation. Radil converted after a deflection landed on his stick as he was floating out of the Wild zone. It couldn't have been any easier for the Sharks rookie, who buried the empty-netter for his 2nd career NHL goal.

Radil finished the game with a goal and an assist with a hit and a block shot to go along with a +2 plus/minus. The rookie returns home along with his teammates to play the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday.

Game Notes:

* Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl, Radim Simek, and Lukas Radil all had multi-point performances.

* Brent Burns and Logan Couture finished the game with a +3 plus/minus.

* Erik Karlsson led all skaters with 6 shots on goal. His speed made him a force to be reckoned with, opening up those shooting chances.

* Marc-Edouard Vlasic had one of his best games of the season. The defenseman was rock solid with linemate Justin Braun, and recorded a team-high 4 blocked shots.

* The Sharks skated without giving up a minor penalty. The Wild only committed one minor infraction. San Jose was 0-for-1 on the power play, although they did score after that one chance ended.



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Scoring
1 2 3 T
SJ 0 2 2 4
MIN 0 0 0 0
1st period - None.
2nd period - 1, SJ, Couture 12 (Radil, Simek), 9:49. 2, SJ, Pavelski 21 (Hertl, Simek), 10:18.
3rd period - 3, SJ, Couture 13 (Hertl, E. Karlsson), 0:51. 4, SJ, Radil 2 (unassisted), 17:45, (en).
Penalties
1st period - None.
2nd period - Meier, SJ (fighting major), 5:05; Pateryn, MIN (fighting major), 5:05; Koivu, MIN (tripping). 18:46.
3rd period - None.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
SJ - Jones 26 26
MIN - Dubnyk 24 21
MIN - empy net 1 0
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 5 12 8 25
MIN 8 8 10 26
Power Play Conversion
SJ 0 of 1
MIN 0 of 0
3 Stars of the Game
Logan Couture
Tomas Hertl
Radim Simek
Attendance
Xcel Energy Center - 18,870
Officials
Referees: McIsaac, Walsh. Linesmen: Murchison, Shewchyk.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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