Sharks can't complete comeback, fall to Ducks


Sharks can't complete comeback, fall to Ducks


SAN JOSE -- Eventually, they are going to start going in. At least, thats what theyre telling us.The San Jose Sharks outshot and outchanced their opponent again but came out on the wrong end of a 3-2 loss to Anaheim at HP Pavilion on Monday night. It was their second loss to the Ducks in four nights, and third straight overall. They are now 1-3 and in last place in the Pacific Division.Listening to the postgame quotes is starting to sound like a broken record.

We got another 40-plus shots, we just have to bear down when the chances are there. Were getting good, quality scoring chances, were just not scoring, Joe Thornton said.Dan Boyle said: I dont know that were giving up that much defensively. Just offensively its not clicking or going in for us.Once again, it was early mistakes that cost the Sharks. The team committed three straight minor penalties in the first period, leading to the ageless Teemu Selanne putting the Ducks on the board with a power play goal at 9:42, when he tapped in a pass through the slot by Saku Koivu. We said before the game, stay out of the penalty box. We made a parade to the box early on and it flattened us out for the whole first period, Thornton said.Selanne added a second goal less than five minutes later when he snuck behind Colin White and got the rebound of Koivus bad-angle shot to make it 2-0.Todd McLellan switched up his top two lines to start the second period, putting Logan Couture with Thornton and Joe Pavelski and Patrick Marleau with Ryane Clowe and Torrey Mitchell. It seemed to jump start his club, which outplayed the Ducks the rest of the way. By the time it was over, the Sharks had 43 shots to Anaheims 22.San Jose finally found the scoreboard with a fortunate bounce. Marc-Edouard Vlasic lifted a backhander on net that deflected off of goaltender Dan Ellis, hit Bobby Ryan in the shin, and redirected back into the net. Marleau was in the crease at the time hindering Ellis vision, and Vlasic got credit for his first of the season at 6:39 of the second period.The Sharks applied good pressure to start the third, trailing 2-1, but suffered a back-breaking goal to last seasons league MVP when Corey Perry wheeled around and fired a wrist shot through Dan Boyle into the top corner of the net.Antti Niemi, making his first start of the season, explained the goal from his perspective.I obviously saw it at some point, but should have seen it maybe earlier and made the save there, he said.Niemi may be being a little hard on himself, as Perry, in the faceoff circle, used Boyle as a screen and put the puck where few players in the league can.Perry spun and fired it where he needed to fire it. It was as simple as that, McLellan said.Brent Burns power play goal in the third brought the Sharks back to within one, but that was as close as they got. Ellis, starting his first game of the season to give starter Jonas Hiller a break, stopped a turnaround shot by Couture late in the period and Burns hit the side of the net with a bouncing puck with 23 seconds remaining.It just kind of handcuffed me. If I was a lefty I would have been good, but I cant shoot left, said Burns of his late opportunity.As for the Sharks' line changes, McLellan was cryptic after the game as to which players he was trying to send a message to.It was our way of telling a number of players we werent very happy with them, he said. Quite frankly, were still missing some key people, and they arent injured. They are dressed, and they are people that we count on. Its probably a pretty good weekend for them to take stock of their own games and figure out what they need to do to find it.Well save the speculation for another day as to which players McLellan is talking about, but should point out that Thornton, Couture and Marleau are still looking for their first goals of the young season.The Sharks will regroup with a practice tomorrow before flying to Newark, New Jersey on Wednesday. They open up a six-game road trip on Friday night against the Devils.We go on the road now, so just have a good road trip, Thornton said. Weve had a pretty good road record in the past, so just look forward to it and just keep working at it.Odds and ends The Sharks finished 1-for-6 on the power play, and 2-for-3 on the penalty kill. ... Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller, who shut out the Sharks 1-0 on Friday, got his first night off after playing the first four games of the season. Thorntons assist on Burns goal was his first point of the season. It ties him with Sergei Fedorov for 53rd place on the all-time assist list with 696. Ducks defenseman Francois Beauchemin took a scary looking slap shot to the head in the third period, but was apparently saved by his visor. He later returned.

In return to San Jose, McLellan emerges victorious, ends Sharks' season

In return to San Jose, McLellan emerges victorious, ends Sharks' season

SAN JOSE – To borrow a phrase from Chuck Woolery, Todd McLellan was back in two and two.

Saturday’s Game 6 between the Sharks and Oilers marked exactly two years and two days since the Sharks-McLellan love connection was broken up, as the coach and his staff were all essentially fired on April 20, 2015. But McLellan and assistants Jim Johnson and Jay Woodcroft quickly resurfaced with the Oilers a few weeks later, and now they’re moving on to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs at the expense of their former employer.

At what was his home for seven seasons, McLellan took the press conference podium at SAP Center as the victorious visiting coach after Edmonton’s 3-1 win clinched the series in six games. Asked what the moment meant to him, McLellan preferred not to focus on himself or his staff.

“It’s not about Todd, it’s not about Jay or Jimmy. It’s about the Oilers and the group of players there that are growing up in front of us,” McLellan said.

“We’re part of this team now. I obviously have a soft spot for a lot of the players that are here in San Jose. They gave us a hell of a series. They helped us grow up by pushing us, and we’re lucky to get through. That’s an important thing for us.”

Amazingly, the Oilers managed to prevail with just one even strength point from Connor McDavid, who led the league in scoring in the regular season. That point came with less than a second remaining on the clock on Sunday when McDavid converted on an empty net.

The focus from the outside, among many of the Edmonton and San Jose media, was that the Sharks were doing an admirable job of defending the 20-year-old, who had 30 goals and 100 points in the regular season. Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun, in particular, were keeping McDavid frustrated.

While that may be the case, McLellan said after Game 6 that he had no problem with the McDavid vs. Vlasic showdown. In his view, the Oilers could win the series elsewhere.

“There was a lot of talk in this series about us trying to get Connor away from Vlasic and Braun. Obviously we don’t want to talk about it during the series, but we had an eye on [Ryan Nugent-Hopkins] against [Joe Thornton’s] line, especially since they put them together. That was a match we were looking for.

“You can’t get everything. When you’re a coach, the media experts find something and they keep going to it. But coaches have different plans sometimes. Peter [DeBoer] had his plan, we had ours. Ours wasn’t about getting Connor away from Vlasic and Braun, ours was getting [Nugent-Hopkins] on the ice against [Joe] Pavelski and Jumbo and Patty Marleau. For the most part, it worked in our favor.”

It worked, because as the stars on both teams were essentially neutralized, the Oilers’ depth players contributed just a little bit more than the Sharks group did and at more opportune times.

Zack Kassian had a pair of game-winning goals in games two and three; David Desharnais was the Game 5 hero with a game-tying assist and game-winning goal; and Anton Slepyshev posted the game-winner with a breakaway in Game 6. Not exactly big names.

DeBoer was particularly disappointed with Game 3, a 1-0 loss on Kassian’s third period goal; and Game 5, in which the Sharks had a 3-1 lead that they couldn’t protect. That the Sharks only got one power play goal in 18 chances not counting the Game 4 blowout was also one of the reasons for their downfall.

“If you had told me before the series we would have held McDavid in check, we would have won the special teams battle on paper, I probably would have felt pretty good about our chances,” DeBoer said.

Instead, McLellan will take his up-and-coming team to the next round, where it will face off with the Anaheim Ducks.

“For our team, we’re watching them grow up right in front of us, which is a great thing,” he said.


Sharks rue 'key moments' as they are knocked out by Oilers

Sharks rue 'key moments' as they are knocked out by Oilers

SAN JOSE – The clock said there was seven minutes and 48 seconds remaining in the third period. It was frozen there for a bit after Patrick Marleau’s goal brought the Sharks back to within a single score of Edmonton.

Filled to capacity, the Shark Tank came to life, ravenous for the equalizer. The next several minutes offered a reminder of the team’s thrilling 2016 playoff run, when the Sharks finished just two wins away from a championship while taking their fans along for a ride they had never been on in a quarter-century.

But those seven minutes and 48 seconds quickly wound down, leaving the Sharks worlds away from what they did just a year ago. The Oilers held on for a 3-1 win, ending the Sharks’ season in a first round series that lasted six games.

Other than Game 4, a Sharks blowout victory, all the games were competitive.

“There were just a couple key moments in the series,” Joe Pavelski said.

In Game 6, the key moments that won the game for Edmonton came early in the second period. Justin Braun’s point shot was blocked leading to Leon Draisaitl’s goal to open the scoring, and Chris Tierney’s pass to Paul Martin at the point was just off the mark, allowing Anton Slepyshev to glide ahead untouched for another goal. The scores both came within the first two minutes of the middle frame, and were just 56 seconds apart.

That was probably poetic justice in that the Oilers were the much more aggressive and hungry team in the first period, they just weren't rewarded on the scoreboard.

Joe Thornton agreed with a suggestion that the Sharks were “a little bit sloppy” early, “but we got better. I thought we played a great second period and pushed in the third period. Just not enough time left on the clock.”

The Sharks did seem to get their game going just after Slepyshev’s score, but couldn’t solve Cam Talbot more than once. Pavelski nearly tied it with 3:45 to go, but his backhander from down low glanced off of both the crossbar and the post.

Key moments.

“It felt good coming off the stick, it really did,” Pavelski said of his chance. “It was there.”

Connor McDavid’s empty net goal with less than a second on the clock capped the scoring, sending the Oilers and former Sharks coach Todd McLellan on to the second round. 

Other than Game 4, which they dominated 7-0, the Sharks managed just seven goals in the other five games. Brent Burns failed to record a point in five of the six games, while Pavelski had just a single assist outside of Game 4.

The depth scorers also failed to come through, no surprise after the Sharks got little from them for much of the season.

“They defended well, Talbot played well. They were all close games,” Pete DeBoer said. “You’ve got to find a way to win 1-0, 2-1 in the playoffs. It’s not realistic you’re going to get three or four every night. They found a way to win more of the close games than we did.”

Burns said: “Series was pretty tight. I think it’s like Pavs said, it’s just little moments here and there. So much is luck, just puck luck, creating that luck. It’s a tight series, back and forth.”

The Sharks face an uncertain offseason, as there is little reason to believe their current roster, as constructed, will be able to compete with an Oilers team that has not only proven to be better now but is only going to improve. Whether Thornton and Marleau return remains an uncertainty, too.

“This is a big summer. We’ve got some guys that are up, and the expansion draft and whatnot,” Logan Couture said. 

“Every year I’ve been in this league, the team has never been the same the next year. There’s always been changes. Unfortunately, that’s the way that this league works. We’ll see what happens this summer, and come back hungrier next year.”

In the meantime, the Oilers will continue their push for a Stanley Cup while San Jose’s visit to the final round last year will only become more and more of a distant memory.