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Sharks can't hold lead, fall in OT to Nashville 4-3

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Sharks can't hold lead, fall in OT to Nashville 4-3

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE Even after blowing a two-goal third period lead, the Sharks were still in prime position to beat the Nashville Predators on Saturday night at HP Pavilion.

On a Sharks power play with regulation time winding down, Joe Pavelski found himself alone with the puck, staring at a wide-open net. He quickly fired, only to be denied by the speedy right pad of Pekka Rinne with less than 30 seconds left in the third period.

That save allowed the Predators to prevail in overtime, 4-3, when David Legwand scored his second goal of the night on a backhanded feed from Francis Bouillon.

From what I saw, it was open, said Pavelski, who scored his ninth goal of the season in the second period. I couldnt really get it up at the time, just tried to get it on net. A few inches over, its in, but hes big and makes those saves pretty often. Its tough.

While Rinne was busy being his typical spectacular self, Antti Niemi, who was pulled just 2:07 into Thursday night's match against Pittsburgh, struggled for the second straight game. He surrendered back-to-back goals by Patric Hornqvist and Ryan Suter in the third period, and a 3-1 Sharks lead was history.

First, Predators defenseman Shea Weber floated a wrist shot on net, and Niemi allowed it to sneak through his five hole after it was deflected on the way. Hornqvist, who originally got a piece of the shot, was there to knock it in at 2:57.

A power play goal was the equalizer, when Patrick Marleau was in the box on an interference minor. Suters wrist shot from the high slot found daylight over Niemis right shoulder, on what was a very stoppable shot with 14:02 left in regulation.

Niemi admitted he was a bit disoriented just before Suter gained possession.

I lost the pass a little bit from the boards, he said. It took awhile to find the puck, then when I found it, it was already on the way. A little late there.

The loss cant be pinned entirely on Niemi, though.

The Sharks seemed to be in command when Logan Couture chipped in a lively bounce off of the back boards on a planned play when Pavelski fired it into the zone. A rare misplay by Rinne, who was caught leaning the wrong way as if to play the puck behind the boards, seemed to indicate it was San Joses night despite what was otherwise a strong performance by the goaltender.

The Predators turned up the energy on the forecheck, though, and the Sharks were suddenly on their heels. Hornqvists goal, his sixth in the last five games, was the turning point.

They are a very persistent team. Thats a quality that they have, said Todd McLellan. They werent going away, and we talked about it between periods. That second goal changed the tide.

We were up 3-1, and right after the third goal we kind of stopped playing, said Marty Havlat. They were the better team in the third period. They kept battling and kept putting pucks behind us and forechecking us, and we were a little slow with the passes and werent that sharp after our third goal, the way we wanted to be.

The loss was especially disheartening in that the Sharks achieved a strong start after a brutal first 20 minutes against the Penguins. They outshot the Predators 18-7 and dominated territorially, even though they couldnt solve Rinne, who made some key saves on Brad Winchester, and then Marleau and Dan Boyle on a Sharks power play.

If you give that start to us night in and night out, were going to win a few games in the first period, said Pavelski.

The effort tonight was much better than it was against Pittsburgh, said McLellan, who appeared much more annoyed after Thursdays win than he did the loss to Nashville. A couple mistakes led to goals. I think we can clean that up.

The Predators got the games first goal early in the second. A shot from the point by Legwand was headed wide of the net, but it bounced off of Torrey Mitchell and behind Niemi at 1:02.

The lead didnt last, as the Sharks tied it on a highlight-reel passing play. After Joe Thornton fought to bring the puck into the zone, he found Couture in the faceoff circle. Couture gathered the puck, spun around and whipped a backhanded pass through the slot to an open Pavelski, whose one-timer sailed past Rinne at 4:40.

A power play goal gave San Jose its first lead of the game. After a scramble in front of the net the puck ended up on the stick of Havlat, who roofed it over a fallen Rinne, who had lost track of the puck.

It was Havlats first goal as a Shark.

Its nice to get a goal, but unfortunately it didnt help to win the game, said Havlat. Id rather not score and win the game.

San Jose went to the power play with 1:04 remaining in regulation, when Jonathon Blum was called for hooking. After Rinnes save on Pavelski, it carried over to overtime, but San Jose was unable to generate any more prime scoring chances.

It cost them, when Legwand got position on Pavelski in front of the net, and ended it at 2:53.

We needed on one the power play there at the end and got a couple good looks, but didnt get what we wanted, said McLellan.
Odds and ends: The Sharks fell to 3-5 when allowing the first goal of the game. Colin White was back in the lineup after he was a healthy scratch on Thursday. He was paired with Justin Braun as the teams third defense pair. McLellan generally stuck with the line combinations that the team was practicing the last two days. Thornton was between Couture and Pavelski, while Marleau skated with Ryane Clowe and Torrey Mitchell. Havlat was with Michal Handzus and Jamie McGinn. The Sharks were 35-for-58 in the faceoff circle.

Sharks start training camp with familiar face elsewhere: ‘It’s kind of strange’

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AP

Sharks start training camp with familiar face elsewhere: ‘It’s kind of strange’

SAN JOSE — There was something familiar missing in San Jose when the Sharks opened training camp.

For the first time since 1996, the Sharks took the ice for their first training camp practice without Patrick Marleau on the team as the franchise's career leader in games and scoring left as a free agent for Toronto this summer.

"I've spent a lot of years with him. It is kind of strange," said Joe Thornton, who came to San Jose in 2005. "It's his birthday today too. It's a little weird, but he's going to do great up in Toronto."

Marleau had been with San Jose since being picked second overall in 1997 but left the Sharks to sign an $18.75 million, three-year deal with the Maple Leafs in July.

Marleau has 508 goals and 574 assists for 1,082 points. He had 46 points in playing all 82 games last season as he rebounded from a disappointing 2015-16 season by scoring 27 goals, including the 500th of his career. He ranks first in San Jose in career goals, games and points.

Only six players in NHL history have played more games with one team than Marleau's 1,493 in San Jose. The Sharks haven't played a game without him on the ice since April 7, 2009.

"Obviously Patty has meant so much to this organization and this group," captain Joe Pavelski said. "Everyone in this room has pretty much played with him and Patty has done something to help them out. He'll be missed. ... Just by committee somebody will step in and fill that kind of hole. That's what we'll need."

The Sharks made no major additions this offseason so will need to replace Marleau's 27 goals by getting development from younger players like Tomas Hertl, Timo Meier, Kevin Labanc and Danny O'Regan, as well as bounce-back seasons from veterans like Thornton, Mikkel Boedker and Joonas Donskoi.

Only Pavelski, Logan Couture and Brent Burns are back after scoring more than 12 goals last season.

"When I look back at last year we had key people either have down years or miss significant time with injuries or coming off injuries," coach Peter DeBoer said. "I think if we can stay healthy I think we've got a large group of guys that can really take a step this year and I expect a step out of them."

While the Sharks lost Marleau in free agency, they did manage to keep Thornton by giving him a one-year, $8 million contract despite dwindling production last season and offseason knee surgery.

He scored just seven goals — his fewest in an 82-game season since his rookie year in 1997-98 — and was a key part of a power-play unit that uncharacteristically struggled last season. But he still managed 43 assists, teaming with captain Joe Pavelski on San Jose's top line.

Thornton missed the final week of the regular season and the first two playoff games with a left knee injury before returning for the final four games of a first-round loss to Edmonton. Thornton then underwent surgery to repair his MCL and ACL after the season but was back skating in August and started ramping it up for training camp two weeks ago. Thornton believes the lower-body work he did in rehab this offseason will pay dividends on the ice.

"They feel real strong," he said of his legs. "I feel a lot of pop out there. They're probably as strong as they've ever been just because I had to rehab that knee so much."

Sharks Media Day highlights: Beards, smiles & cup checks

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Sharks Media Day highlights: Beards, smiles & cup checks

The boys were back together in San Jose on Thursday for Sharks Media Day, with plenty of smiles and moments of levity. Check out the highlights...

Hey Jumbo, you dropped something. 👖🤷‍♂️

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Martin Jones is pretty good at photobombs 📸💣

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🤳 Media Day #SJSharks

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New season. New commercials. 🕉🚌📺 #ComingSoon #SharksForLife

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