Sharks collapse in 4-1 loss to Ottawa


Sharks collapse in 4-1 loss to Ottawa


SAN JOSE A turnover in the offensive zone, leading an odd man rush. Continued failures on the power play. An off night for goaltender Antti Niemi.

Those were the key components in a 4-1 Sharks loss to the Ottawa Senators on Thursday night at HP Pavilion, in San Joses final home game before the All-Star break.

Ottawa scored twice in the second period to break a 1-1 tie.

It started with an errant pass from Joe Pavelski, who was underneath the Senators net after a Sharks rush. Pavelski tried getting the puck back to the top of the zone to Tommy Wingels, but instead it bounced around and ended up on the stick of Kyle Turris, who charged the other way on a three-on-two.

Turris fed Erik Karlsson for a one-timer from the circle at 4:30, as the NHLs leading scorer among defenseman buried his seventh goal of the season, putting the Senators ahead to stay.

The backbreaker was that turnover in the second for that outnumbered rush, and obviously we never recovered from there, Todd McLellan said.

Its not as if the Sharks didnt have their chances to recover, though. In fact, San Jose had a pair of power plays shortly after Karlssons goal, but the floundering unit couldnt generate the equalizer.

Instead, the Senators increased their lead to 3-1 with a power play goal of their own. Jamie McGinn was sent to the box for kneeing Jason Spezza, and Colin Greening scored his first of two goals when he corralled a shot off of the back boards by Filip Kuba. Greening had time to turn around, walk towards the net and fire it past Niemi at 14:50.

The Sharks are now just 10-for-82 with a man advantage since Nov. 26 (12.2 percent).

Our power play needs to start going here soon, said Logan Couture, who was a game-low -3. You can say you get as many chances as you want, but its about results. This is a results league, and we need to score some goals when we get those chances.

The turning point has to be the second goal, a turnover in the offensive zone for an outnumbered rush. Probably the second turning point is the power play not producing, and theirs coming out and getting a bit of softie, McLellan said.

Greenings second goal put it away when his wrist shot from the high slot beat Niemi, who had an off night, midway through the third period.

I think Nemo would probably assess himself very fairly, and say that he wasnt on. He made some saves early in the game, but as the game wore and we needed a couple from him, he didnt have them. He had one of those nights, McLellan said.

When asked after the game if he could have stopped a few of the pucks that got by him, Niemi agreed and went into detail about what he could have done differently on each of the four Senators goals.

Yeah, for sure. The first one, get over there and get the left skate on the ice and stop that. Second one, get a better push to the pass. Third one, maybe stay a little more far off the net. Maybe the last one, be a little bit more patient.

It wasnt just Niemi, though, according to the coach.

I thought there was a few of our other high end players, too, that didnt have very good nights, and they have to right now when were short staffed.

San Jose scored two or fewer goals in four of its last five games (3-2-0).

The Sharks and Senators entered the game as two of the most sizzling teams in hockey. Ottawa improved 10-1-1 in its last 12 games, while the Sharks fell to 7-2-1 in their last 10.

Ottawa won for the first time in San Jose since Oct. 18, 2003, ending a five-game skid.

Jason Demers, who missed practice on Wednesday, sat out in place of Colin White despite being available, McLellan said. White had missed the previous nine games with a lower body injury and was activated from injured reserve earlier in the day. To free up a roster spot for White, Ryane Clowe was placed on I.R. with a facial fracture. Andrew Desjardins, meanwhile, returned from a two-game absence after getting hit in the head against Columbus last Saturday.

San Jose may have lost another player, too, as Wingels left the game in the third period. No immediate update was available.

The Sharks embark on a three-game road trip through Canada leading up to the NHL All-Star break on Jan. 25. It begins in Vancouver on Saturday afternoon before stops in Edmonton and Calgary.

The Sharks came flying out of the gate. They were rewarded with a goal by the fourth line, as Desjardins gathered the puck around the boards and fed Brad Winchester for a wrist shot past Craig Anderson at 3:10 of the first period.

San Jose outplayed the Senators for most of the first, but a lapse in their own zone resulted in the tying goal by Turris. Sergei Gonchar drove past Patrick Marleau and found Turris with a backhanded pass through the slot, and the Ottawa newcomer lifted in his fourth goal of the year midway through.

Did McLellan think his team deserved better after the first 20 minutes?

Probably, he said. We went in and looked at the chances for and against like we always do. We didnt give up much in the first, and were tied.

I thought we had a really good first period, we just didnt capitalize, and it just went a little bit downhill from there, Dan Boyle said. Missed opportunities on our part, and them capitalizing on theirs is my feeling right now.

There were a few dangerous looking hits in what was a physical game. In the first period, Ottawas Jared Cowen laid into Justin Braun with a shoulder to the head, which was caught by the referee and nullified an Ottawa power play. In the second, Winchester appeared to inadvertently collide in the neutral zone with Zack Smith, shaking up the Senators forward.

Shortly after Turris tied the game in the first period, Jamie McGinn hit Chris Phillips in the corner, and the door to the home entrance came flying open. McGinn tumbled off of the playing surface, and was lucky to be okay.

Odds and ends: The Sharks outshot the Senators, 37-21. Ottawa won the faceoff battle, 34-28. The game marked the first matchup between Todd McLellan and Sens head coach Paul MacLean, as both were assistants together in Detroit for three seasons. Its MacLeans first year as head coach of the Senators. Ottawa finished 1-for-4 on the power play.

Notes: Injured Sharks Hansen, Karlsson return to practice

Notes: Injured Sharks Hansen, Karlsson return to practice

DALLAS – Injured Sharks forwards Jannik Hansen and Melker Karlsson both returned to the ice for Thursday’s practice in Dallas, in what Pete DeBoer called “a good first step” in their recoveries.

The coach left open the possibility that one or both could play against the Stars on Friday night, even though neither was skating on a set line for practice.

“We’ll have to wait and see how they feel [Friday] morning and what the recovery is,” DeBoer said. “I’m not prepared to say they’re in tomorrow, but it’s a good sign they’re on the ice and participated.”

Hansen has been out for the past two games since getting a stick in the head from defenseman Brandon Montour on Saturday against Anaheim. 

“Took a couple days [off] to make sure everything was aright,” Hansen said. “Getting better, back on the ice today.”

Officially, it’s an upper body injury. When pressed if it was a concussion issue, Hansen said: “I don’t know. It’s tough to say to begin with, but obviously you do all the precautionary things that [are] involved now.”

Although he has just one assist in his first six games with the Sharks, Hansen seemed to spark the Sharks’ top line with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski, as the line generated one even strength goal in each of the first four games Hansen played.

Karlsson has missed the last six games with a lower body injury. He has 19 points (9g, 10a) in 60 games with a plus-nine rating.

* * *

The lines remained the same for Thursday’s practice. Patrick Marleau was with Thornton and Pavelski; Logan Couture centered Joel Ward and Mikkel Boedker; Tomas Hertl was between Joonas Donskoi and Marcus Sorensen, while the fourth line sweaters were worn by Chris Tierney, Micheal Haley, Timo Meier and Danny O’Regan.

San Jose stayed over in St. Paul on Tuesday night and flew to Dallas on Wednesday morning on their day off.

The Wild game, a 3-2 loss, was the Sharks’ fourth straight. They’ve generated just four goals over that span.

That game also capped off a stretch of seven games in 11 days for the Sharks, who now have just a two-point lead on Anaheim for first place in the Pacific Division – a lead that was nine points before the losing streak began.

Was the day off good?

“Yeah. We’ve been kind of struggling scoring goals, so just to kind of relax yesterday and then kind of get back and refocus today,” Thornton said. “But sometimes you just need a little time away from the rink. I think yesterday was needed.”

DeBoer said: “I think our group is pretty mature. I don’t think we’re overeating to the situation. No one’s happy we’ve lost a few, but we also know that we’ve done enough good things that we could have won two or three of those games. We’ve just got to stick with it, clean up a couple things, and score some goals.”

* * *

Defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic skated after missing Tuesday’s game with the flu. Tierney missed Monday’s game in Dallas, also due to illness.

Is that all gone now?

“Knock on wood. Nothing today. Hope so,” DeBoer said.

Meier back with Sharks after working on his game in AHL

Meier back with Sharks after working on his game in AHL

ST. PAUL – On paper, Timo Meier’s production after he was reassigned to the AHL Barracuda on Feb. 16 was down. The former first-round pick had just six points (3g, 3a) in 14 games, and was scoreless in his last five, a far cry from what he was doing there earlier in the season and way off his numbers in juniors.

But at just 20 years old, Meier is still in the learning phase of his professional career. And as impressive as the Barracuda have been this season, they’re still playing in a developmental league, first and foremost. Meier got a chance to work on some of the aspects of his game he needed to work on.

“It was obviously hard going back,” said Meier, who has three goals and two assists in 28 games, before Tuesday’s game in Minnesota. “Sometimes you go back there and you try too much, but they told me to work on some things in my game, and I tried to do that.

“For me, going down there it was all about learning stuff on the ice, off the ice. … It’s my first year [in pro hockey], so as a young guy you want to learn and listen to the coaches, too. Just get better.”

Coach Pete DeBoer went into pretty good detail on what the ninth overall pick in the 2015 draft needed to do with the Barracuda, and what he needs to show now that he’s back in the NHL.

“I think with a lot of big, talented young guys, they have to realize when they can make an extra play with the puck and when they have to chip it in,” DeBoer said. “They’re so used to dominating at the levels they’ve been at for so long, that [it’s] easier said than done. It’s habits you have to learn, and you don’t learn unless you’re doing them on a consistent basis.”

Meier’s shot selection, too, is something that needed some improvement, according to the coach. While the power winger might be generating plenty of shot attempts, no doubt pleasing the advanced stats crowd, there’s more to being an effective forward than running up numbers on the Excel spreadsheets.

“You don’t want to shoot [just] to shoot up here, or to just get shots on net. You’re not scoring on NHL goalies like you are on junior goalies from 30 or 40 feet out,” DeBoer said. “You’ve got to pick your spots. Sometimes you have to look for a better play than a shot.”

Meier said: “It’s a really tough league. As a young guy coming in, sometimes you’ve got to stay patient, too, try not [to do] too much. … Sometimes I tried [to do] a little too much.”

Meier has been in the Sharks’ lineup for each of the last two games. He started on the fourth line before getting bumped up to Tomas Hertl’s third line on Monday in Dallas, and returned to the fourth line with Chris Tierney and Micheal Haley for Tuesday’s tilt in Minnesota. He is scoreless with two shots on goal over those two games.

He could be a temporary fill in for Jannik Hansen, who remains out with an upper body injury but could potentially return before the end of the road trip this weekend. Or, perhaps Meier does enough to stick around for the stretch run and the playoffs. There would seem to be an opportunity to push someone else out of the lineup, as the Sharks’ depth scoring has been a season-long problem.

“It’s a great opportunity for me, getting that chance again later on in the season,” Meier said. “I want to put it all on the ice, leave it all out there and just make the best out of every shift I get. Play my game, play within my strengths, [do] the things that got me here, and I’m sure I’ll be successful like that.”