McLellan: 'Our defensive play isn't hurting us one bit'
The Sharks were outshot 34-26 by the Red Wings Thursday. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
SAN JOSE -– Logan Couture broke a scoreless tie in the third period, but the Red Wings evened it on Patrick Eaves’ goal and won in a shootout at HP Pavilion on Thursday night, 2-1.
Damien Brunner scored the only goal in the tiebreaker. Michal Handzus, Patrick Marleau and Ryane Clowe all failed to score on Jonas Gustavsson.
The Sharks have just one regulation win in their last 14 games, and have scored two or fewer goals in nine straight.
Neither team scored through two periods, but San Jose, which had the better of the scoring chances in the first 40 minutes, struck first at 4:49 of the third. Douglas Murray threw the puck into the offensive zone, where it took an awkward bounce out to the high slot. Couture pounced on Justin Abdelkader, and Joe Thornton eventually took control of the puck. Thornton found Couture for a one-timer blast past Gustavsson, for Couture’s second goal in as many games.
The lead didn’t last. Niklas Kronwall’s shot from the high slot deflected in off of Eaves a minute and a half later, and the game was tied at 1-1.
A scoreless overtime gave way to the shootout, San Jose's second in as many games at home. Niemi allowed Brunner's attempt to beat him glove side, and the Sharks fell to 9-6-4 and are once again out of the top eight in the Western Conference.
The Sharks had a pair of odd-man rushes in the second period, but failed to get a shot on goal in both. Early in the period, Marleau and Marty Havlat skated into the offensive zone. Kyle Quincey played it well, though, and all Marleau could do was send an airborne pass through the slot that Havlat wasn’t able to get a stick on.
Later, with four minutes to go in the period, Joe Thornton had all day to bring the puck into the zone with Havlat to his right. Defenseman Brian Lashoff knocked the puck away from the captain, though, and the sellout crowd voiced its disapproval with a chorus of boos.
Jordin Tootoo’s marginal-at-best roughing penalty on Tim Kennedy, which appeared to be nothing but a hard hit along the boards, gave San Jose the first power play of the game at 16:54. It didn’t last, when an equally questionable call on Marleau for goalie interference evened things up a little more than a minute later.
The Sharks had the better of the scoring chances in the first period, too. Logan Couture’s deflection on his line’s first shift was stopped by Jonas Gustavsson, and minutes later the winger made a nice move around Brendan Smith but whistled a wrist shot from the circle over the net. He appeared to be going for the far top corner.
Ryane Clowe, returning from a two-game suspension, nearly opened the scoring with 5:30 to go in the first, but Gustavsson stopped his partial breakaway attempt. Clowe is still searching for his first goal.
In the second, Clowe’s pass from along the boards found Michal Handzus alone in the slot, but Handzus couldn’t flip it in midway through regulation.
Thornton extended his point streak to five games (1g, 4a).
The Red Wings were 0-for-2 on the power play, while the Sharks had just 42 seconds of time with a man advantage, finishing 0-for-1.
Since winning their first five games of the season, the Sharks are just 3-for-60 on the power play in the last 14 games.
Niemi made his seventh straight start in net, and stopped 33 Red Wings shots. He fell to 8-2-2 career vs. the Red Wings.
Playing in just his third game of the season, Gustavsson made 25 saves.
Clowe played for the first time since he was banned for coming off of the bench in Chicago last Friday. He skated on the third line with Handzus and Kennedy.
On defense, Matt Irwin, recalled on Monday, played in his first game with the Sharks since Feb. 5. He took the place of Jason Demers, who was a healthy scratch for the sixth time.
Tommy Wingels (undisclosed) missed his second straight game, but skated on Thursday morning. Brent Burns (left leg) remains on injured reserve.
The Sharks conclude a three-game homestand on Saturday against Nashville. They visit Vancouver on Tuesday, in what will be the start of nine out of 11 on the road.