Missed opportunities doom Sharks in loss

694132.jpg

Missed opportunities doom Sharks in loss

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE When a team is mired in a lengthy stretch of losing hockey, as the San Jose Sharks are following a 3-2 shootout loss to Edmonton, there is often a laundry list of reasons for failure.

On its terrible nine-game road trip last month, the Sharks couldnt keep the puck out of their own net. On the first three games of the return homestand, San Jose couldnt score.

On Tuesday night at home against Edmonton, it was all about missed opportunities as San Jose dropped its ninth game in the last 11 (2-7-2) and is now tied for eighth place in the Western Conference with 74 points (33-24-8).
RELATED: NHL standings

Patrick Marleau, in particular, may not sleep too well on Tuesday night after failing to convert on a number of chances. Marleau misplayed a two-on-one rush with Joe Thornton in the first period with the game tied 1-1; made a poor decision on a five-on-three advantage midway through the third when his point shot was blocked, and was stoned by Devan Dubnyk with less than four minutes to go in regulation on a three-on-two rush.

We generated enough to win but didnt finish on some of them. Glorious opportunities, Todd McLellan said. Pattys entry late in the third on a pass from Jumbo, those have to be goals. And they will be goals, eventually.

It was good. It could always be better. I still think the urgency could be a little bit better, but we definitely had a lot of opportunities, Dan Boyle said, when asked his general thoughts on the Sharks game and effort.

The disappointing end came via the shootout. Sam Gagner was the only player to convert on Edmontons second opportunity, while Dubnyk stopped Joe Pavelski, Michal Handzus and Brent Burns to give the lowly Oilers the extra point in the standings.

The Sharks finished their four-game homestand with a 1-2-1 record, coming on top of a 2-6-1 road trip, as they continue to scuffle. The team begins a pivotal four-game road trip in Dallas on Thursday, with stops in Phoenix, Edmonton and Calgary before returning home on March 15 to play the Predators.

The game was tied at 2-2 after the second period, and both clubs had excellent chances to take a third period lead before overtime.

First, it was Edmonton. Antti Niemi sprawled out and made a nice kick save on Shawn Horcoff early in the third. The Oilers went on the power play right after that, on a Justin Braun delay of game penalty at 6:05 the first infraction of the night.

There was a mad scramble for a loose puck at one point on the ensuing man advantage, but neither Horcoff nor Jordan Eberle could poke it in, and it slid harmlessly through the crease behind Niemi.

A phantom tripping call on Horcoff nullified the rest of the power play, and the Sharks got 42 seconds of two-man advantage time when Ryan Jones was called for high-sticking. San Jose couldnt generate much during the advantage, though, as Marleaus slap shot from the point was blocked.

Weve got to make the smart play there and get a shot at the net and not get it blocked, or whatever it might be, Boyle said. I think we could have been much smarter on the five-on-three. I didnt particularly like what we accomplished out there.

San Jose continued to apply pressure throughout the rest of the third. Dubnyk made a key save with 3:40 to go on a three-on-two rush, denying Marleau on the doorstep after a feed from Thornton.

Edmonton took the lead on the quickest goal allowed to start a game in Sharks franchise history. Sam Gagner deflected a puck into the San Jose zone, and Boyle couldnt control it. Eberle got a stick on it, and then batted it out of mid air just 10 seconds after the opening faceoff.

Im exactly where I need to be, and its a bad bounce, Boyle said. Thats all there is to it. He made a great play. He picks it up out of the air and bats it out of the air. Its just a bad bounce.

The Sharks responded. Boyle picked off a weak clearing attempt by Gagner, and fed Jim Vandermeer for a slap shot that should have been stopped by Dubnyk at 3:17.

The Sharks had some prime chances to take the lead before the end of the first. Marleau misplayed a two-on-one with Thornton, though, and Dubnyk corralled Brent Burns shot from the top of the circle after an extended shift in the Edmonton zone.

It just blew up on his stick, I guess, Thornton said of Marleaus play on the odd-man rush.

San Jose took its first lead of the game late in the second. Dubnyk misplayed the puck behind the net, and Logan Couture managed to tip it in front, where Ryane Clowe flicked it in at 15:19.

The Sharks fell asleep for the rest of the period, though. After a long shift by the Oilers, Jeff Petrys slap shot went in off of Ryan Smyth less than a minute after Clowes goal. Niemi was visibly upset afterward.

Edmonton swarmed the Sharks on the next few shifts after the goal, and had a couple of good chances, including a one-timer from Gagner that didnt miss by much.

Of course it takes a little bit of momentum away from what you just built, but it shouldnt be deflating for probably as long as we let it go, Clowe said of the team's reaction to the tying goal.

We had a bit of a sag for a four or five minute period. They gained some momentum off of that, but regrouped going into the third and played from there, McLellan said.

Pavelski was struck in the jaw with a puck on his first shift, and fell awkwardly into the boards behind the Edmonton net. He missed the rest of the period, but returned for the start of the second after getting stitched up.

He nearly gave the Sharks the lead in the third period, when his deflection from the slot hit the post.

Pavelski said: I thought I got enough of it, and I was just waiting for the crowd to go."

In the end, it was just another missed opportunity.

Odds and ends: Todd McLellan returned from a three-game absence due to a concussion suffered last Sunday in Minnesota. ... Brad Winchester, Benn Ferriero, Jason Demers and Andrew Desjardins were the Sharks scratches. Patrick Marleau played in his 1,100th NHL game, all with San Jose. ... The Sharks are 6-4 in shootouts.

Sharks conclude 2017 NHL Draft with five more forwards in the system

Sharks conclude 2017 NHL Draft with five more forwards in the system

CHICAGO – After nabbing a center in the first round on Friday, the Sharks added four more forwards and one defenseman to conclude the second day of the annual NHL Entry Draft on Saturday, held this year at United Center.

The Sharks weren’t explicitly trying to restock their forward cabinet, according to general manager Doug Wilson and scouting director Tim Burke, although the club did make two separate moves in surrendering some later round picks to move up in the fourth round (to take center Scott Reedy) and sixth round (to take left wing Sasha Chmelevski).

First, though, it was defenseman Mario Ferraro in the second round at 49th overall. The offensive defenseman was a player that the Sharks targeted, using the pick they acquired from New Jersey last Friday as part of the trade for Mirco Mueller.

“He’s got a lot of speed, offensive guy, exciting,” Burke said. “Puck-moving type of guy.”

Wilson said: “We’re very pleased with the d-man. He’s a very dynamic, athletic guy, great skater. He was a guy that we moved up a little bit aggressively to get because that round, you could see people going after who they wanted. He is a guy that we identified.”

After moving up from the fifth round to the fourth round last Friday, again because of the Mueller trade, the Sharks jumped up 21 more spots in the fourth round by obtaining the Rangers pick at 102nd overall for the 123rd and 174th selections.

Center Scott Reedy is a player that Burke has high hopes for, projecting the Minnesota native as a “second line right winger [with] high-end potential.” Burke pointed out that Reedy, who is friends with first round pick Josh Norris, occasionally played on the same line with Norris for each of the last two seasons with the U.S. Under-18 team.

“He’s a big, strong forward that can play both positions (center and right wing),” Burke said.

Right wing Jacob McGrew, an Orange, CA native, went to the Sharks in the fifth round despite missing all of his first season in junior with a lower body injury suffered in training camp with Spokane (WHL).

“We knew about him before he went up there,” Burke said. “He’s a California kid. … If he was healthy he probably would have gone earlier.”

The Sharks again moved up to snag Huntington Beach native and center Chmelevski at 185 overall, and made their sixth and final pick in the 212th position by taking left wing Ivan Chekhovich in the seventh round. Both players look to have some offensive skill, based on their numbers and Youtube highlights.

Burke was surprised that both players were around so late.

“I thought they had pretty good years and they kind of slipped in the draft,” he said. “We weighed that versus some other more project-type guys, and we thought they had more offense and finish to their game. They just kept sliding, so we took a chance on them.”

Wilson said: “We moved up for the guys we wanted, and then there were some skilled guys at the end that we were surprised were still there. … We’ll go back and take a look how it all went, but we feel, I think, really good about where we ended up with this.”

Sharks coach DeBoer had 'good relationship' with Kovalchuk

Sharks coach DeBoer had 'good relationship' with Kovalchuk

CHICAGO – Ilya Kovalchuk is still reportedly mulling over a return to the NHL, four years after he surprisingly walked away from a monstrous contract with the New Jersey Devils to play in the KHL.

The Sharks have been linked to Kovalchuk, in large part because of Pete DeBoer, who was Kovalchuk’s most recent head coach. In 2011-12, Kovalchuk was a dangerous scoring winger under DeBoer, helping the Devils reach the Stanley Cup Final.

It was apparently a good working relationship between the player and the coach for the two seasons they were together, DeBoer said on Friday at the NHL Entry Draft at United Center.

“I loved Kovy in New Jersey,” DeBoer said. “We went to a Stanley Cup Final together. He was a huge piece for us there. I really enjoyed coaching him. I haven’t seen him in four or five years now. I’m sure there’s still a lot of game left there.”

DeBoer said he’s had no contact with the 34-year-old Kovalchuk, who would have to be traded by New Jersey before signing a new contract with any other NHL club. Still, it seems like the Sharks’ coach might welcome a reunion with Kovalchuk, who posted 78 points in 60 games with SKA Saint Petersburg last season, and has 816 points (417g, 399a) in 816 career NHL games with Atlanta and New Jersey.

“I had a really good relationship with him. I had a lot of respect for him as a player and a person,” DeBoer said.

* * *

DeBoer seemed as uncertain as everyone else as to whether Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau will return to the Sharks or move on to other clubs as free agents.

But, naturally, it’s on his mind.

“You think about it all the time,” DeBoer said. “They’re obviously important pieces in the history of the franchise, and in our group. I also understand the business side of this, and there’s always tough decisions to make. The way I approach these type of things is I’m going to go to Canada and relax, and Doug [Wilson] is going to make those decisions. I’m sure we’ll have a good group come training camp.”

“We’ve got a really good core group of guys and some tough decisions that have to be made. The one thing Doug and his group has shown over the years is their ability to stay competitive, to find a way even after making tough decisions. I have all the faith in the world in that, and I’m excited about training camp.”

* * *

The Sharks lost David Schlemko in the expansion draft earlier in the week. Vegas then flipped him to the Canadiens for a fifth round pick in 2019.

“I think for David, it’s a great opportunity for him, especially going to Montreal,” DeBoer said. “For us, it’s an opportunity for a young guy to jump in. The one thing we have in the organization is some depth. There’s a lot of guys knocking on the door, and guys hungry to grab that job.”