Sharks anxious for Game 2, Anaheim

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Sharks anxious for Game 2, Anaheim

SAN JOSE - Enough of these grueling, lengthy practices already. Lets play another hockey game.

Thats what Joe Thornton is saying, and you can assume every other player in the locker room is thinking something similar.

I just want to play. Enough of this practicing, said the captain. Its been a long time. Give me four-in-four, I dont care. I just want to get some games in now.

The Sharks will finally get back into game action on Friday night when they visit the Anaheim Ducks, trying to improve to 2-0 for the first time since the 2008-09 season. San Jose beat the Phoenix Coyotes 6-3 on Saturday, but has endured a number of long practice sessions at the hands of Todd McLellan and the coaching staff with no games on the schedule for five full days.

We practiced hard. Was it the right thing? I guess well find out over the next little bit, said McLellan after Thursdays practice. The intensity level, we really tried to keep it high - very competitive in the corners, a lot of bumping and grinding. We hope that sets us up for some good games moving ahead.

The intensity was very high, said Thornton.

The Sharks wont get any sympathy from the Ducks, though. Anaheim has not played since last Saturday either, and it didnt get the benefit of playing at home or even in North America. The Ducks began the season as one of four NHL teams taking part in games in Europe, as the Sharks did last season.

Anaheim split its games there, winning in a shootout over the New York Rangers on Saturday but losing decisively to the Buffalo Sabres the night before.

Is there a chance they will be jet-lagged or lethargic on Friday night? The Sharks dont think so.

We expect their best game and I think thats what were going to get, said Joe Pavelski, who tallied two power play goals against the Coyotes. They will be excited to come home and play, and its our first road trip so we want to start off on the right foot. Its almost like another start to the season.

Marc-Edouard Vlasic said, Its pretty even. Both teams are well rested and ready to start, really, the regular season.

The beginning of games is always important, but the start to this one may be even more so. It should be evident early which team better dealt with the long layoff.

McLellan has a few things hell be looking for in the first 10 minutes.

Id like to see us match their commitment level, he said. They are going to come out and establish a forechecking game and try to hem us into our end. In turn, Id like us to be able to handle that well and play with a tempo that we played in Game 1 here fast, aggressive, getting to loose pucks and hemming teams in.

If we can do that, well have a chance. If they are doing that to us were going to be on our heels and probably not playing that well.

Another consequence of the layoff is that the Sharks will now have more games in bunches, including a stretch of three in four nights. San Jose hosts the St. Louis Blues on Saturday and the Ducks on Monday.

I think well know a lot more about our team on Tuesday morning than we do right now, said McLellan.

Rewind: Sharks fall behind early again, lose 3-2 to Ducks

Rewind: Sharks fall behind early again, lose 3-2 to Ducks

ANAHEIM – Spotting a team the first two goals is a difficult recipe for winning hockey games. That’s even truer when you’re the Sharks, and you’re having tremendous difficulty scoring more than two goals on any given night in the first place.

While the Sharks hung with Anaheim in a closely contested game at Honda Center on Friday night, the Ducks got that extra necessary score. Brent Burns and Kevin Labanc answered first period goals by Rickard Rakell and Antoine Vermette, but Hampus Lindholm’s marker with 5:38 to go in the third period was the difference.

For the fifth time in their last six, and ninth in their last 12, San Jose's scuffling offense couldn’t eclipse the two-goal plateau in a 3-2 defeat.

Coach Pete DeBoer said giving up the first two scores, like they also did on Wednesday in a similar loss against Ottawa, “is not optimal, obviously. But we battled back, and I thought the game could have gone either way. 

“I give our guys credit for battling back. … We didn't hang our head, we battled, and we're just finding a way to lose right now instead of win, which, we've been winning games like that."

For the second straight game, Sharks captain Joe Pavelski had numerous prime chances but couldn’t find a way to get one. An early third period opportunity stood out among the rest, though, when Pavelski was staring at a wide open net in a 2-2 game from close range.

Typically that’s an automatic score for Pavelski, who led the league in game-winners last season. But this time, it went five feet wide.

“Kind of rolls up, catches the blade, and it’s not even close,” Pavelski said. “Those are the moments you’ve got to cash in on. I haven’t done that.”

The Sharks’ best stretch came early in the second period, when they outskated the Ducks and peppered Jonathan Bernier while trailing, 2-1. The Ducks goalie turned them all away until Labanc squeezed one through at 8:40 after the rookie was nicely set up by linemate Logan Couture.

“He didn’t give me much room. You just want to get that off as quick as you can,” Labanc said. “Just took a quick shot, and it went in the net.”

In a game of momentum swings, though, the Ducks outplayed San Jose in the third. They took the lead when Joel Ward gave Lindholm a little too much room to pick his spot on a wrist shot from the top of the circle.

After looking like they were in good shape after two periods, Labanc thought the Sharks were “a little too confident” headed into the third.

“We stopped skating, stopped dumping the puck in, and working hard in the corners,” he said.

Pavelski bemoaned the fact that for the second straight game, a regulation loss in the final minutes, that the Sharks didn't even manage to get the point in the standings for forcing overtime despite fighting back.

"The last few games you have a chance to at least push it to the end," he said. "We're not giving up a whole lot."

The Sharks nearly did tie the game with Martin Jones pulled for an extra attacker, though. After Burns made a pair of remarkable shot blocks on Andrew Cogliano bidding for an empty netter, DeMelo and Ward each had whacks at the puck, but somehow it remained out. 
 
“A bunch of chaos, really,” is how DeMelo described it. “It was really tight. I think we were just inches away from getting the equalizer.”

Again, though, they just couldn’t find a way to get that third score.

“We were close,” DeBoer said, “but not close enough."

Instant Replay: Sharks' comeback thwarted by Lindholm goal

Instant Replay: Sharks' comeback thwarted by Lindholm goal

BOX SCORE

ANAHEIM – For the second straight game, the Sharks fell into an early 2-0 hole.

And for the second straight game they erased that deficit, only to lose on a late third period marker. Hampus Lindholm scored with 5:38 to go in regulation, pushing the Ducks to a 3-2 win over the Sharks at Honda Center on Friday night.

Lindholm snapped a 2-2 tie when he found open ice at the top of the circle and buzzed a wrist shot past Martin Jones, for the defenseman’s first of the season.

Anaheim improved to 5-0-1 in the last six head-to-head matchups between the Pacific Division rivals, and moved ahead of the Sharks by two points in the standings.

The Sharks lost their second straight game, including a 4-2 defeat to Ottawa on Wednesday night at SAP Center. They have scored two or fewer goals in nine of their last 12 games, going 6-5-1 over that span.

Rickard Rakell opened the scoring at 4:44. The forward found the rebound of a Shea Theodore shot after Marc-Edouard Vlasic failed to clear the zone for his 11th goal.

Antonie Vermette increased the lead to 2-0, finishing off a rush at 15:06 when he slid the puck past Jones’ far side.

San Jose got one back just before the intermission, though. One second after a power play had expired, Brent Burns hammered home a one-timer from the circle on a pass from Patrick Marleau with just six seconds left in the period, after Vlasic nicely kept the puck in at the offensive blue line.

Burns has now scored one goal in each of the past three games, and has six in the last nine games overall.

The Sharks pushed the pace early in the second period, but Jonathan Bernier made stops on Mikkel Boedker, Joonas Donskoi, Joe Pavelski and Melker Karlsson to keep the Ducks lead intact. That is, until Kevin Labanc knotted it at 2-2, finishing off a cross-ice pass by Logan Couture at 8:40 for the rookie’s third of the season.

The Sharks had a great chance to take their first lead of the night early in the third period, but Joe Pavelski missed a wide open net less than three minutes into the final frame.

The Sharks and Ducks split the first two meetings of the season series. San Jose returns to Honda Center later this month on Dec. 27.

Special teams

The Sharks were officially 0-for-1 on the power play. They killed off all three Anaheim advantages, ending a three-game streak of one power play goal against.

In goal

Starting for the 10th time in the last 11 games, Jones allowed three goals on 32 shots. He fell to 3-7-0 in his career against Anaheim.

Bernier was playing for the first time since giving up eight goals to Calgary on Dec. 4. He made 22 saves to pick up the win.

Lineup

Defenseman David Schlemko missed his second straight game with a right ankle injury. Mirco Mueller was recalled on Friday morning, but did not play.

Rakell returned from being out for the last two games with an upper body injury.

Up next

The Sharks return home for the second of a back-to-back on Saturday against the Hurricanes, who claimed a 1-0 win in Carolina on Nov. 15.

A four-game road trip begins in Toronto on Tuesday, Dec. 13.