Night to forget for McGinn, Avs

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Night to forget for McGinn, Avs

SAN JOSE Jamie McGinn has already had several memorable nights as a member of the Colorado Avalanche.

Last night in San Jose is one hed like to forget.

McGinn as well as his linemates, Paul Stastny and David Jones finished scoreless with a -4 rating in Colorados playoff bubble-busting 5-1 loss to the Sharks. McGinn had a team-high four shots on goal, tied with rookie Gabriel Landeskog, including one that Antti Niemi was forced to make a good glove save on in the first period when the game was scoreless. But it was all downhill from there.

RECAP: Sharks leap to third in West with win over Avs

His disappointment was evident from his postgame comments.

They jumped on our mistakes. Niemi played good and we had some chances we didnt bury on, McGinn said. Just from our line, we were minus-four; it was a tough night for us. We need to rebound again in Vancouver and just forget about this one."

I was excited. Its a fun building to play in, a lot of energy. The fans are great. Its tough to comment now, after losing 5-1 to an old team. You never want that, you want to be on the winning side, so its pretty frustrating right now.

Avs head coach Joe Sacco didnt hide from criticizing his team.

I dont think we were the better team tonight. I think weve been playing very well lately, but I think tonight, they outplayed us in more periods of the game, Sacco said.

The Avalanche arent quite dead in the water just yet, as losses by Los Angeles and Dallas were just as welcomed by them as they were by the Sharks. Still, checking the latest math, Colorado has just a 12.1 percent chance of making it to the postseason while the Sharks improved to 79.1 percent, according to sportsclubstats.com.

More praise for the vets: Sharks coach Todd McLellan has said numerous times over his teams 6-2-1 stretch that hes pleased with the way his veteran leaders are handling the team. He mentioned it after the Phoenix game, when the Sharks surrendered a late first period goal and one early in the second to fall behind, and again after the win over Colorado last night.

I really liked the poise of our leaders on the bench tonight. They were saying the right things, there was a calmness, and thats a good sign for us, said the coach. Now, weve got to continue to play well and put points in the bank, and that leadership will be important in the next six games.

Keeping an even keel despite re-taking the Pacific Division lead will be paramount.

That doesnt matter right now. We arent going to fall into that trap, said Joe Pavelski, who had two goals against Colorado. The next game is really important for us, and you see how fast it happens. It goes both ways, and weve been on each side of things. Its going to be important guys stay focused and stay in the process of things.

The Sharks visit the Ducks on Wednesday and Coyotes on Thursday.

Boyle reaches 500: Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle recorded his 500th career NHL point with his assist on Joe Pavelskis goal early in the second period. It didnt take long for him to get his 501st, getting another secondary assist on Andrew Desjardins marker less than six minutes later.

The mark is noteworthy in that Boyle is only the fourth undrafted defenseman in league history to reach 500. The others are probably guys youve heard of: Borje Salming (787), Steve Duchesne (752), and Brian Rafalski (515).

Boyle is ninth in the NHL in scoring by a defenseman this season with 44 points (7g, 37a). His 37 assists are tied for fourth among blueliners.

Early empty-netter: According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Ryane Clowes empty net goal at 16:23 of the third period to go was the earliest such goal in Sharks franchise history. Sacco pulled Semyon Varlamov with about four minutes to go in regulation and his team down, 4-1.

The previous mark was at 17:38 of the third period by Patrick Marleau on Jan. 24, 2006 vs. the Los Angeles Kings.

Sharks' Donskoi 'not getting frustrated' during scoring drought

Sharks' Donskoi 'not getting frustrated' during scoring drought

SAN JOSE – Throughout the Sharks’ two-month playoff run, as the team attracted a grander media horde with every round, Joonas Donskoi became more and more popular.

Who was this 24-year-old former fourth round pick of the Florida Panthers, who was such a key contributor to the Sharks’ success? Inquiring minds wanted to know.

The Finland native scored some of the Sharks’ biggest goals during that longest postseason in franchise history. In Game 5 against the Kings in the first round, Donskoi scored a third period goal that put San Jose back up to stay, after Los Angeles had stormed back from a 3-0 hole.

In the Stanley Cup Final, his overtime marker on a turnaround wrist shot in Game 3 kept the Sharks alive, and elicited perhaps the loudest cheer ever heard at SAP Center.

In total, Donskoi contributed 12 points (6g, 6a) in 24 games skating on the second line.

“It was a great run in the playoffs, a lot of great experiences,” Donskoi said.

The expectations for Donskoi were naturally raised headed into this season. Twenty goals and 50 points didn’t seem out of reach for him after the strides he took in his rookie campaign.

So far, though, those goals and points aren’t quite there. Donskoi has just two goals and six assists for eight points in 25 games, while averaging nearly 15 minutes a night. He’s also a mainstay on the second power play unit.

Sharks coach Pete DeBoer agreed with the theory that Donskoi’s profile has risen, and opponents are probably more aware of when he’s on the ice. But it’s those expectations to build on last season that may be weighing a bit on the player.

“A different type of pressure,” DeBoer called it. “When you’re a young guy coming in and no one knows you, you’re just playing and you’re not thinking about things. He knows he can be successful in this league, and there’s a different pressure with now expecting to score and put up numbers.”

Despite Donskoi’s one solitary assist in his last eight games, DeBoer has no issues with the way he is working on a nightly basis. It’s not at all comparable to the situation that arose a week and a half ago with Mikkel Boedker, who was benched for a period and then criticized by the coach for not competing hard enough.

“I know [Donskoi’s] numbers and his scoring aren’t where [he wants], but I think consistently he brings the same effort, same game, same reliability every night,” DeBoer said. “The nice thing is even when he’s not scoring, you still can count on those things. Eventually, it’s going to come.”

Donskoi has no illusions that his numbers are down and he has “a lot to improve.” At the same time, he’s not frustrated, and indicated that his production will pick up if he keeps doing what he’s been doing.

“I’m pretty happy the way I’m playing two ways. I think I’m responsible defensively and creating scoring chances, but just kind of not being able to get on the scoreboard enough. … I feel confident the way I’m still playing. I’m not getting frustrated, or anything.”

After playing exactly 100 games last season between the regular season and playoffs – he hadn’t played more than 71 games in a season in Finland before that – there’s reason to believe that the short summer and World Cup affected him, too. 

“I think the biggest thing for me [is] playing at a high level every night. I’m not there yet,” he said. “There’s a lot of guys in this locker room [that] play at a really high level every night. Those are the guys I’m trying to watch and learn [from].”

Labanc returns to Sharks after successful weekend in AHL

Labanc returns to Sharks after successful weekend in AHL

SAN JOSE – Kevin Labanc had no idea he’d get back to the show so quickly after the Sharks reassigned him to the Barracuda on Saturday.

The 20-year-old made the most of his time in the AHL, though, posting three assists in two games in San Antonio, TX in a pair of wins for the Sharks’ primary minor league affiliate. He was recalled on Tuesday morning.

“It was fun to be with the guys, work hard, get a couple points out of those two games and help the team in the standings,” Labanc said.

Labanc said he was dealing with a painful left knee that was “killing me” following a cross-check in the Sharks’ win over Montreal on Friday - an injury that forced him to the locker room for a brief stretch - and arrived at the arena in San Antonio on Saturday just a half hour before the team meeting.

“You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do, whether it be going on a plane right after a game,” he said. “Just got to do it, don’t ask questions, and just work hard.”

Sharks coach Pete DeBoer decided that a weekend off, which the rest of the team enjoyed without a game for four days, wasn’t ideal for Labanc, who has four points (2g, 2a) in 12 games while averaging nearly 12 minutes of ice time. The result was three games in three days for the Brooklyn native.

“I don’t think any of these young guys have arrived yet where they’re ready for weekends off,” DeBoer said. “If they can play hockey, they’re going to play hockey.”

“I think we’ve gotten great contributions from our American League call-ups. Whether that turns into full time jobs, that’s yet to be seen, but we just go day-by-day here.”

For Tuesday’s practice, Labanc was on a line with Chris Tierney and Joel Ward. Tommy Wingels was with Joonas Donskoi and Mikkel Boedker, while the fourth line was comprised of Melker Karlsson, Micheal Haley and Matt Nieto.

Logan Couture (surgical procedure) and David Schlemko (lower body) missed practice, but both could play on Wednesday against the Senators.