Sharks hit low point with 6-3 loss to Columbus

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Sharks hit low point with 6-3 loss to Columbus

BOX SCORE

COLUMBUS Now may be a good time to hit the panic button.

Four unanswered goals in the first period by the NHLs worst team paced the Columbus Blue Jackets to a comfortable 6-3 win over the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday night at Nationwide Arena.

In what has to be considered the nadir of their season, the Sharks lost their fourth straight first time for the first time this year, and are just 1-4-1 on what is turning into a nightmarish nine-game road trip.

All of us realize what were in for right now. Its pretty much square one, Joe Thornton said. Weve pretty much hit bottom now, and now well just hopefully dig our way out of it because were definitely in a race now to get into the playoffs.

It was a night to forget for the starting goaltender, too. Antti Niemi was pulled just in the first period after allowing three goals on just 11 shots, and saw his team lose for the ninth time in his last 13 starts (4-8-1).

When asked if this was the low point for the team, Niemi said: For sure, for me at least. Not getting too many points right now.

Jeff Carters hat trick in his 500th career NHL game led the way for lowly Columbus, which had its largest goal output of the season.

San Joses lead in the Pacific Division is gone. Phoenix defeated the Kings 5-4 in a shootout to draw even with the Sharks atop the division with 69 points. While the Sharks are 3-6-1 in their last 10 games, the streaking Coyotes are 8-1-1.

Thornton was unusually candid after the game regarding the team's effort.

You can talk so much, but really its up to that individual to come out and perform. Thats what why we get paid is to perform every night, Thornton said. For whatever reason, everybodys not on board. Weve got to get on board, and Im sure were going to see a lot of video tomorrow. Weve got to get some wins now.

I dont know if some guys really understand where we are at this point in the season and how the season is dwindling quickly, Todd McLellan said. Other teams are playing well. You cant just come to the rink and wear the jersey. You have to find a way to contribute. Theres been a few that havent lately, and that will be my job tomorrow.

The Blue Jackets scored three goals or less in their previous 14 games, but managed to score four in the first period alone against an unfocused and at times lethargic Sharks team that was coming off of a good effort in a 3-2 loss to Detroit on Sunday.

R.J. Umberger got it started when he was left completely alone in front of the net to deposit the rebound of a Grant Clitsome shot just 4:55 into the game. Niemi mentioned he thought he had the puck frozen under his glove and was expecting a whistle that never came.

An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty to Joe Pavelski for snowing the goaltender led to the first of two power play goals for Carter, when the Blue Jackets sniper fired it past Niemi at 6:51.

It put us on our heels and we never got it back, said Pavelski, who also gave the impression that he didnt agree with the penalty.

Rick Nash made it a 3-0 game at 15:18, skating from the boards to the slot and ending Niemis night by beating him to the glove side.

Thomas Greiss relieved Niemi and surrendered Carters second with a man advantage at 19:30 of the first. A shot by Vinny Prospal deflected off of Brent Burns stick and then Jamie McGinns skate before Carter tapped it in to make it 4-0.

San Jose made it at least somewhat interesting in the second period with a pair of goals just 26 seconds apart. Colin Whites shot off of Thorntons skate at 5:11 made it 4-1, and a Logan Couture wrist shot from the faceoff dot over Masons near shoulder brought the Sharks to within two goals.

An undisciplined penalty to Ryane Clowe at 7:37, though, essentially sealed the Sharks fate. Clowe disagreed with a cross-checking call and slammed the door to the penalty box, earning a minor for unsportsmanlike conduct on top of the original infraction. The Blue Jackets capitalized on the back-end of the double-minor when David Savards blast deflected in off of Marc-Edouard Vlasic at 10:59.

I was upset because they called a penalty. It was a bad call on the penalty so I got upset, said a visibly annoyed Clowe.

It was Columbus third power play goal of the night, and second on an avoidable penalty to Clowe, who was sent off for roughing late in the first leading to Carters second goal.

Weve got two situations to deal with, and Ill talk to Clowie about it tomorrow, but frustration seeps through a little bit there, McLellan said. He was sent a message and wasnt put back on the ice for a little while, but in the same breath he does take care of his teammates.

When mentioned that the team took some undisciplined penalties, Thornton said: They know. They cant be doing that kind of thing and it cost the team, is the bottom line tonight. Were in that game and a couple unfortunate penalties like that put you behind the eight ball, and they score.

Right now, as fragile as the team is, we cant take the undisciplined penalties.

Carter completed the hat trick at 1:26 of the third after a defensive zone breakdown by San Jose led to Nash finding Carter in the slot for another easy conversion.

It was just one of a number of defensive zone miscues for the Sharks, who surrendered six goals for the second time on this trip. San Jose lost to Tampa Bay in overtime last Thursday, 6-5.

Youve got to play with some intensity, and, fear is not the word, but youre got to be ready to go. Youve got to sense some urgency and get in there and create a little bit more, Pavelski said. We do that at times, and get our chances and we havent scored on them early enough.

With that, weve got to defend better.

Coutures second of the night, a deflection on the power play, made it 6-3 at 8:35 and capped the scoring.

The Sharks may have lost newcomer Dominic Moore. Moore did not come out for the start of the second period due to an unspecified injury, but was seen walking to the team bus after the game.

San Jose will be looking for wins in Toronto, Nashville and Minnesota before hosting Philadelphia on Feb. 28.

Odds and ends: Torrey Mitchell was a healthy scratch for the second time this season. Marc-Edouard Vlasic played with a full cage after taking a puck to the face in Detroit on Sunday. Joe Thorntons goal was his 600th point as a Shark. The Sharks finished 3-1-0 against Columbus in the season series. Steve Mason finished with 38 saves, while Greiss allowed three goals on 24 shots and took the loss.

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.