Hiller says Ducks 'own' Sharks


Hiller says Ducks 'own' Sharks

ANAHEIM There was a strong sense entering the third period of last nights 3-1 Sharks loss to Anaheim that whoever got the next goal was going to triumph. Scoring chances were at a minimum on both sides of what was a pretty evenly played 1-1 match between two Pacific Division rivals after 40 minutes.

Teemu Selanne got the shaft of his stick on a blast by Luca Sbisa about five and a half minutes into the third period for what turned out to by the game-winner.

They did a good job getting it through to the net. You cant really blame a lot of people on it, Todd McLellan said of Selannes goal. Thats hockey, and thats the way it is.

There werent a lot of momentum swings. It was pretty evenly played. You had a feeling whoever was going to get that next one was going to hold a real distinct advantage. There werent a lot of chances either way.

Although Antti Niemi looked a bit shaky at times throughout the game, there was nothing he could do on Selannes goal. The velocity on the shot from Sbisa offered him no time to react to any sort of redirection.

If its a slower puck than you can read the situation more, but if its a slap shot you have to go there and react, Niemi said. You cant think its going to hit something.

Ducks own Sharks: Jonas Hiller, who made 28 saves in net, didnt hold back when asked about his teams success against the Sharks.

Its a rivalry, and it looks like we own them right now, Hiller said. Everybody is really motivated and we didnt want to eliminate ourselves. We are still trying to play good hockey. We dont want to just give up. That is what we did tonight, and that's why we won."

Anaheims 5-1-0 season mark against the Sharks is a new franchise record, eclipsing a 4-1-0 record vs. San Jose achieved in 1994-95 and 1995-96.

Bruce Boudreau was clearly pleased with Hillers performance, which included a highlight-reel glove save on Joe Pavelski with about five minutes left in the game.

Hes important every night. The save he made when it was 2-1 is what hes been doing since January, Boudreau said. When we have a chance, whether we are behind or not, he lets us have the opportunity to win. That is all you can ask a goalie to do.

Ducks roll four: According to Joe Thornton, the Sharks 1-5 record in their season series with Anaheim was due mainly to their inability to match them line-for-line.

Its probably their depth up front. Theyre a good four-line team, and thats probably been our Achilles heel. We havent been able to match a four-line game with them, said the captain.

Niemi said: Overall, theyre playing with four lines, and it wasnt easy to get in their zone.

The Sharks did, however, have their chances in this one, giving a much better effort than the 5-3 loss at home to the Ducks on March 19.

We played solid," Thornton. "Id like to see us finish a couple more chances. We competed hard, but weve got to get all four lines going. We played good against Colorado with all four lines, but to get in the playoffs were going to need all four.

Playoff chances take a hit: How much did the results of last nights games around the league hurt the Sharks playoff probability?

According to the math on sportsclubstats.com, the Sharks are down to a 64.2 percent chance to make it to the post season down 14.9 percent from Wednesday morning.

Calgary (4.7 percent) and Colorado (3.5 percent) have all but been eliminated, meaning there are four teams competing for three open spots.

Three takeaways: Sharks make life easy on Avs rookie goalie

Three takeaways: Sharks make life easy on Avs rookie goalie

SAN JOSE – It took overtime for the Sharks to surpass the worst team in the NHL, but the points are valuable any way they come in the second half. Here are our three takeaways from the 3-2 victory on Saturday night…

1 – Top guys struggle, but depth comes through

It wasn’t a very good night for the captain’s line, which was particularly sloppy on Colorado’s tying goal in the third period. Brent Burns and Marc-Edouard Vlasic weren’t much better, as the former was caught out of position a couple times, and the latter was tagged with six giveaways.

But those guys have been playing the bulk of the minutes lately, so they’re allowed to have an off night. At least, that’s how Pete DeBoer saw it.

“We've ridden our big guys pretty hard,” DeBoer said. “They played some tough minutes with some of the opponents we played this week, in L.A. and on and on. Tonight's a night you're looking for your depth guys to step up and give you some energy, and I thought we got that."

The Sharks’ fourth line was probably its best from start to finish, including Melker Karlsson’s goal, from Ryan Carpenter.

“[Tomas] Hertl's missed 30 games, so we needed somebody to come in and help us out in that area, and he's done that,” DeBoer said of Carpenter.

2 – Making it too easy on Martin

Spencer Martin was making his NHL debut in difficult circumstances, playing in front of what has been an incredibly loose team in its own end against one of the best teams in the Western Conference. But, the Sharks made it easy on him most of the night.

Avs forward Nathan MacKinnon, who had a tremendous game, told the Denver Post that he thought Colorado was the better team.

“Tonight, we outplayed them,” he said. “We outplayed the team that went to the (Stanley Cup) Finals last year, and there were some bright spots for us. We have to climb out of this hole and have a good last 30, 40 games here and go into next season feeling pretty good about ourselves.”

They’ll get another chance against the Sharks on Monday at Pepsi Center as the teams conclude their two-game season series. San Jose will try and give the Colorado goalie, whoever it is, a more difficult time.

“When we’re on our game, we’re making it tough with grind time and traffic at the net, some chances,” Joe Pavelski said. “Tonight we didn’t have as many as we could have had. We’ll try to find a little bit more for next game.”

Schlemko said: “We just didn’t have as much grind time in the o-zone as we usually do. If you’re not playing in their end you’re usually playing in your end.”

3 – Ward gets another on the power play

Joel Ward’s resurgence continues, as the forward again found a way to contribute on the scoresheet. His first period power play goal was one of the easier scores he’ll have, on a nice setup by Joe Thornton.

“[Thornton] had it behind the net and came around the side, and sent it to me on the far side, so it went in,” Ward said.

The 36-year-old Ward has nine points (3g, 6a) in his last 13 games. To put that in perspective, the last time he was a healthy scratch on Dec. 20, he had just nine points in 31 games on the season.

Sharks win 'ugly' vs Avs as they fight through brutal schedule

Sharks win 'ugly' vs Avs as they fight through brutal schedule

SAN JOSE – Playing their fifth game in eight days thanks to the condensed (some would say foolish) NHL schedule this season, perhaps it’s not all that surprising that the Sharks looked like they hit a wall on Saturday night at home against Colorado.

Still, this was the Avalanche, who have been far and away the NHL’s worst team for the past six weeks. Even a subpar effort should be enough.

And, it was. The Sharks got a power play goal by Joel Ward and another from their fourth line, while David Schlemko pounced on a rebound in overtime to push the Sharks to a 3-2 win.

It was an uninspiring victory, but a victory nonetheless.

“Two points is what was the important thing,” Ward said. “It wasn't our best, but we found a way."

Joe Pavelski said: “We had some moments where we were good. Some that we could have been better. It’s a game right now that you’ve got to really stick to your foundation, because there’s a lot of games in a lot of nights here.”

Coach Pete DeBoer, who has skillfully managed his veteran team’s rest since taking over at the start of last season, wasn’t all that critical of the Sharks’ effort, either, even though they made life far too easy on rookie goalie Spencer Martin making his NHL debut.

To DeBoer, the Sharks may be in the midst of their toughest stretch of games on the calendar. By the time they host the Oilers on Thursday in the final game before the All-Star break, San Jose will have played seven games in just an 11-day span.

“I feel the fatigue, and I haven't played a game. I'm just coaching,” he said. “We found a way to win. It was ugly, but we found a way."

Perhaps the most encouraging aspect from the Sharks’ perspective is that their fourth line continues to make an impact, scoring a goal for the third straight game. Ryan Carpenter got on the scoresheet for the second straight, floating a puck towards the net that was redirected by Melker Karlsson. It gave the Sharks a 2-1 lead with five minutes to go in the second period.

“I think we fit pretty good together,” Karlsson said of playing with Carpenter. “Good centerman, good guy. It’s fun.”

Pavelski said: “You can see [the fourth line is] playing with confidence. They’re playing hard. They’re in on a lot of pucks, and giving us energy that way, and they’re getting rewarded.”

The game-winner was a simple one from Schlemko’s perspective. He hopped over the boards, slithered towards the crease, and stickhandled in a Logan Couture rebound for his second goal of the season.

“The rebound came right to me and I just had to tap in,” Schlemko said. “I’ll take those any day.”

While the Sharks were fighting through some physical and mental sluggishness, Colorado looked better than a team that hasn’t won a regulation game in a month and a half. Playing in front of a goalie making his first NHL start likely had something to do with that, as they tried to give Martin an honest effort.

Nathan MacKinnon was particularly effective, generating a game-high seven shots and setting up Colorado’s first score. Just before that goal that was finished off by Mikhail Grigorenko, MacKinnon breezed through the neutral zone untouched, and Pavelski mentioned that area of the game as a troublesome one for his club.

“Whether they were good in the neutral zone or we weren’t as sharp – that wasn’t a very strong point of our game, I don’t think. Turned over a few too many pucks,” he said.

The Sharks will have a better idea of what to expect headed into Monday’s rematch in Denver. Whether they have their legs back by then is uncertain.

“It was hard from an energy point of view for us today,” DeBoer said.