Couture, Tierney back Dell’s 41-save shutout for Sharks
SAN JOSE, Calif. — The man who calls himself “The World’s Okayest Goalie” needs a new nickname.
Aaron Dell posted his second NHL shutout with a career-high 41 saves Saturday night as the San Jose Sharks blanked the Vancouver Canucks 5-0 at a sold-out SAP Center.
Logan Couture and Chris Tierney scored twice each to support San Jose’s backup netminder, who just continues to give his team what it needs when called upon.
“He had an exceptional season last year, and followed it up with a great training camp,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. “And every time we put him in there he’s giving us good games. He’s a big part of our team.”
The 28-year-old Dell improved to 2-2, and certainly carried a much larger workload against the Canucks than when he turned away 21 shots on Dec. 30 of last season against Philadelphia for his other career shutout.
“I feel like I get better every game,” Dell said. “I try to get better every practice, too. I think Heddy (goalie coach Johan Hedberg) really helps me out there, too. He’s been around, and he knows what it takes.”
Couture scored his second goal of the game and 10th of the season into an empty net at 18:19 of the third period before Tierney scored a short-handed empty-netter and again on a penalty shot inside the final 40 seconds.
“We played a great hockey game, a really good hockey game, 2-0 until late,” Canucks coach Travis Green said. “We outshot 37-14 I think over the last 50 minutes, minus the two empty-net shots. Played a good road game but don’t get the results you want.”
San Jose, which is back in action Sunday night at Los Angeles, won for the fifth time in six games.
“It wasn’t the prettiest of efforts, but we’ll take it,” DeBoer said. “Dell was our best player, that’s why we have him. He was great. We found a way and we move on to tomorrow.”
The hosts were reeling in the middle period, getting outshot 13-2, before the penalty-killing duo of Tomas Hertl and Couture clicked.
Moments after Couture failed to convert a 2-on-1 short-handed break, he broke in alone after gathering in a puck chipped out of the Sharks end by Hertl. Couture ignored a last-second slash by Tomas Vanek and made a move to his backhand before filling Vancouver goalie Jacob Markstrom’s five-hole at 15:59 for a 2-0 lead.
“It’s just execution,” Vancouver’s Daniel Sedin of the power-play struggles. “That’s a tough one for sure.”
Before that the Sharks were woeful on the power play, not only going 0-for-4 but taking a penalty to cut one short and basically killing any momentum they had built during 5-on-5 play.
The Canucks put pressure on Dell throughout the middle period until their third power play ended up costing them in the form of the game’s second goal.
“We did a really good job of keeping them to the outside,” Dell said. “I didn’t have that many quality chances (to face). Our penalty kill was great, they didn’t have that many power-play chances. I think that really contributed.”
The Sharks scored the only goal of a first period when they probably felt like they should have had more, especially during the first 15 minutes when they posted 14 of the game’s first 19 shots.
Hertl scored his third goal of the season with the time expiring off the opening faceoff to match the No. 48 on his back. Hertl outmuscled Vancouver defenseman Ben Hutton to gain favorable position at the near post, and punched home a short rebound left on Justin Braun’s shot from the point.
“We played a solid game. We had a lot of shots, a lot of chances, some really good rebound chances,” Canucks defenseman Derrick Pouliot said. “Their goalie played well. We didn’t deserve to be shut out but that’s how it goes sometimes. You run into a hot goalie.”
NOTES: LW Loui Eriksson returned to the Vancouver lineup after missing 12 games with a knee injury. He skated alongside the Sedin twins. ... San Jose D Paul Martin (ankle) missed his 13th straight game. ... Couture now has seven career short-handed goals. His last before Saturdaycame Jan. 8, 2015, at St. Louis. ... The Canucks cap a four-game road trip in Los Angeles on Tuesday. ... The Sharks next visit the Kings on Sunday night. ... RW Jake Virtanen, C Reid Boucher, C Brendan Gonce and D Patrick Wiercloch did not dress for Vancouver. ... D Dylan DeMelo and C Ryan Carpenter were healthy scratches. ... The Sharks announced TV analyst Jamie Baker is taking a leave of absence with the full support of the organization. Bret Hedican moves from radio to TV, and ex-Shark Dave Maley will provide color on the radio.