Marleau's third-period score lifts Sharks, 3-2


Marleau's third-period score lifts Sharks, 3-2

SAN JOSE -- The Sharks game presentation staff plays the theme from the movie Jaws just before a home power play. Lately, the theme from Benny Hill would have been more appropriate.

Patrick Marleau scored with the Sharks on a man advantage in the third period on Saturday night against Edmonton, though, and that proved to be the difference in a 3-2 victory at HP Pavilion. Prior to the goal, the Sharks had scored just twice in 35 chances over the last 10-plus games, including three failed attempts earlier against the Oilers.

We were trying to simplify things and get shots through and people to the net. It was nice to finally get one on the power play, said Marleau.

The goal came after Dan Boyle tossed the puck behind the net towards Jamie McGinn. McGinn tipped it to Joe Pavelski, who wheeled around from behind the net and spotted a charging Marleau on the other side.

Marleau made no mistake in finishing it off at 6:11 for the game-winner, giving the Sharks consecutive victories for the first time since Nov. 20-23.

Pav made a great play over to me and I found the back of the net, said Marleau.

The victory may have come at a cost, though. Marty Havlat, who scored his first even strength goal earlier in the game and just his second of the season, stepped awkwardly onto the ice from the bench in the third period and left through the tunnel without putting any weight on his left leg.
NEWS: Havlat injures leg, leaves arena with cane

Havlat was seen later leaving HP Pavilion with a pronounced limp and with the help of a walking stick.

He got hooked up on the boards, and other than that I cant give you an update right now, said Todd McLellan.

Although he has just two goals and has been maddeningly inconsistent this season, Havlat was playing his second consecutive strong game after a two-assist effort in Thursday nights 5-4 win against Colorado.

I thought he played great, said linemate Michal Handzus. Hopefully, its just minor.

Havlats goal opened the scoring at 8:36 of the first period, as the Oilers were caught in a line change and Havlat and Handzus broke in on a two-on-none. Havlat passed to Handzus, who hesitated a split second before sending it back towards Havlat, who tallied his first goal since Nov. 5 a span of 17 games.

Edmonton tied it up on Jordan Eberles 12th goal. The speedy winger skated the puck from the point and around White towards the goal and slipped it past Antti Niemi at 17:16. Edmonton took the lead with a shorthanded score in the second period, after Havlat failed to corral a pass from Demers at the defensive blue line. Ryan Jones raced in and fired it past Niemi at 5:28.

The Sharks tied it on Joe Thorntons marker at 14:33 during a four-on-four situation. San Jose had the Oilers scrambling in their own zone before Thornton got behind the defense and rookie Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and slid in a pass from Marc-Edouard Vlasic for his first goal since Nov. 17 against Detroit.

That goal helped to erase a nightmarish first period for Thornton, in which the Sharks captain had four giveaways. It was the Sharks first four-on-four goal of the year.

The power play looked disorganized at best on its first two attempts in the second period, including Jones goal when Demers and Havlat got their signals crossed and turned it over. Late in the second, though, Havlat helped to generate some good chances with Ladislav Smid off on an interference call at 17:56.

A couple near misses later, the game was still tied at 2-2 after 40 minutes. But, the Sharks had some confidence back, setting them up for success in the third.

I think thats where we started to get some momentum and started feeling good about the power play, said Marleau. We were able to get another chance, and find the back of the net.

Meanwhile, coach Todd McLellan was doing everything in his power to get the power play off of the ground floor. Of the Sharks 18 forwards and defensemen, 14 of them skated at least one shift with the man advantage, including McGinn and Brad Winchester.

The power play is a privilege, in my opinion, said the coach. It starts with talented players, and they should be on the ice. Theyre the best players and rewarded to do that. You have to maintain your status there. Unless we clean it up, were going to see a lot more of those other guys on the ice, as well.

The other Achilles heel has been the penalty kill, which, despite entering the game ranked 29th in the league at 73.0 percent, managed to preserve the lead with Demers off on a borderline holding call at 9:07 of the third period.

It was the second straight night that unit succeeded when it needed to most, including the third period of Thursdays game against Colorado when the score was knotted at 4-4.

Two nights in a row it came up big in the third period and allowed us to win the third period, said McLellan. As we continue to repair that, weve got to continue to work on the power play. When its all said and done, those two areas have to get better for us to be a successful team.

The Sharks improved to 2-0 on their six-game homestand, which continues on Wednesday with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Weve got to take care of the home games. We know that, said Thornton.

Saturdays game also caps a stretch in which the Sharks played seven games in just 11 days. Theyll have Sunday off, and resume practice on Monday valuable time to work, according to Thornton.

We really havent practiced in two or three weeks, probably. It will be nice to practice some things and settle down and relax for a couple days before we play Wednesday, he said.

Odds and ends: Antti Niemi finished with 23 saves, while Nikolai Khabibulin stopped 34 of 37 Sharks shots. Colin White left the bench in the third period, and team trainers appeared to be working on his right wrist at one point. The Sharks reassigned defenseman Matt Irwin to Worcester following the game. San Jose won 34 of 58 faceoffs (59 percent). Joe Pavelski had a game-high three takeaways. Joe Thornton had six of his teams 18 giveaways. The Oilers lost their third in a row.

Couture's father: Sharks center dealing with 'ugly injury' after puck to mouth

Couture's father: Sharks center dealing with 'ugly injury' after puck to mouth

After requiring a visit to a local hospital in Nashville due to being struck in the face with a deflected puck on Saturday night against the Predators, Logan Couture was able to fly back with the team to San Jose on Sunday morning.

The severity of his injury is still unknown, although his father, Chet, said on Twitter that it was “an ugly injury sadly.”

Another source close to the situation told CSN the injury is “brutal.”

Couture, who lost several teeth, visited with Sharks medical personnel on Sunday and a further update is expected on Monday. 

Perhaps the best-case scenario is that the injury looks a lot worse than it actually is, such as when Marc-Edouard Vlasic was sidelined for one week when he took a puck to the face from the stick Philadelphia’s Shayne Gostisbehere in late December.

Losing Couture for any period of time would be a difficult blow to the Sharks, who have lost their last six in regulation, including Saturday’s 7-2 defeat to the Predators. Couture is third on the team in scoring with 52 points, and has a team-leading 11 power play goals. He entered Saturday’s game with four goals and five assists in his last 10 games, and has arguably been the team’s best player since mid-January.

"You can't replace him, so it would be really tough,” Patrick Marleau said after the game Saturday. “But if that is the case, then guys are going to have to pull up the slack. Definitely we hope he's back sooner.”

Couture was set up just outside the crease in the third period when a Brent Burns point shot late in the second period hit a stick before squarely smacking into the 27-year-old’s mouth. He quickly skated to the dressing room under his own power with just 14 seconds before the intermission.

The Sharks have seven games remaining in the regular season, hosting the Rangers on Tuesday and visiting Edmonton and Calgary later this week. They are tied in points (91) with Anaheim and Edmonton in the Pacific Division.

Three takeaways: Sharks having trouble explaining meltdown

Three takeaways: Sharks having trouble explaining meltdown

NASHVILLE – The Sharks are returning to San Jose on Sunday in a crisis. Nothing good came from Saturday’s 7-2 loss to Nashville, their sixth straight in regulation. Let’s get to the painful three takeaways…

1 – No answers

Neither Joe Pavelski, Brent Burns nor Patrick Marleau – the three players made available to the media after Saturday’s game – offered any kind of in-depth analysis of what’s going wrong. Frankly, I’m not sure anyone really knows. It’s hard to believe that this is the same club that had lost just two games in regulation in its previous 14 before the losing streak began.

“If you’re putting a consistent effort in, battling, competing – it’s tough to lose six in a row,” Pavelski said. “You look at six in a row, and it just seems daunting. Like, how do you get there? So, I think we’ve just got to take a deep breath, really kind of refocus.”

Believe it or not, coach Pete DeBoer thought Saturday’s loss was “a step in the right direction” when asked why Friday night’s 6-1 beat down in Dallas wasn’t enough of a wake-up call. How often do you hear that after a five-goal defeat?

“I liked our game tonight better than I liked [Friday’s game] regardless of the score,” DeBoer said. “I don’t just look at the score. If you want to just judge it on the score than you might not say it’s a wake-up call, but I thought we were much more competitive tonight. 

“It was a step in the right direction. Every team goes through tough parts of the season, and this is ours. We’ve got a lot of character in the room. We’ll get through it.”

2 – Couture injury would spell doom, as Hertl still MIA

Let’s face it – if Logan Couture is out for any extended period of time, this team is DOA once the playoffs begin. Couture has been the Sharks’ best player since the All-Star break, and they don’t have anyone on the current roster or in the system that could replace him. As of Sunday morning, there was still no word as to the severity of his injury after taking a puck to the mouth and going to a local Nashville hospital.

If Couture were to miss time, Tomas Hertl would likely become the team’s second line center. Lately, though, Hertl doesn’t even resemble an effective third line center. He was victimized on Nashville’s first goal, which was similar to one of the Wild goals on Tuesday, when he was just too slow and not strong enough on his skates in getting outworked for a loose puck. He is scoreless in his last 12 games.

3 – Haley shows some emotion that others lack

It’s understandable that Micheal Haley didn’t like getting hit from behind by Calle Jarnkrok in the third period. But, you can’t just make a beeline for a guy and punch him in the face. Haley will almost certainly get suspended for the play.

At least, though, Haley showed a little bit of emotion in the game, including his first period fight with Cody McLeod. Perhaps guys like Hertl, Joonas Donskoi and Mikkel Boedker could take a lesson from the fiery Haley. Those three, in particular, have been virtually useless during this six-game stretch. 

If I’m DeBoer, I’d get on the phone with Doug Wilson and Roy Sommer and ask for a few guys from the Barracuda so I could – depending on the team’s health situation – scratch all three of them for Tuesday against the Rangers, or at least remove Boedker and Donskoi and put Hertl back on the wing. Drastic times call for drastic measures, do they not?