Sharks come on strong at end of road trip to stop losing ways

Sharks come on strong at end of road trip to stop losing ways

NEWARK – Sharks defenseman Brent Burns isn’t just outscoring all of his blue line counterparts in the NHL this season. In some cases, he’s outscoring entire teams.
 
A legitimate Hart Trophy candidate, Burns entered Sunday’s afternoon game in New Jersey with 22 goals. The Devils, as a team, had just 22 goals all season from their group of rear guards.
 
Burns added two more, though, while New Jersey got just one from forward P.A. Parenteau in a 4-1 Sharks win at Prudential Center. Both of Burns’ goals came on wrist shots that glanced the iron on their way into the net, as the Wookiee played with the puck high in the zone and eventually found a shooting lane, turning a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 Sharks lead that they would not relinquish.
 
"His shot is unbelievable,” Logan Couture said. “The ability he has to get his shot through, there's nobody in the league that does it better.”
 
Burns said: “Both [goals were] kind of the same. Good work down low, getting it up by the forwards, and then just traffic and shooting.”
 
The Sharks conferred about getting more traffic in front of goalie Cory Schneider after the first period, when they registered 19 shots on goal but none that went in. Despite that inflated total, they didn’t have many great scoring chances while going 0-for-4 on the power play, too.
 
Martin Jones saw just three shots in the first period, allowing Parenteau’s score at 11:42.
 
“The talk is just you’ve got to come out and you’ve got to put that effort in again,” Joe Pavelski said of the first intermission discussion. “We came out, we get a little bit more traffic – that was one of the things we wanted to do. Those shots, you could kind of tell [Schneider] couldn’t really find them, and they got by him.”
 
Jones said: “When pucks started going in, we were in front of the goalie. [Burns has] got a great shot, both are off the bar and in. But, you need to have bodies at the net to score from that distance.”
 
Joe Thornton capped off a strong second period stretch with his second goal in three games, as the Sharks scored three times in 8:55 to take control of the game. 
 
“We got on a little run there,” Thornton said. “We felt we were going pretty good. Our forecheck was working pretty good. It probably sealed the game right there.”
 
Jones still had some work to do, though. He made some key stops on Taylor Hall and Stefan Noesen late in the second period to keep it a two-goal lead at the second intermission, and made seven saves on seven shots in the third as the Sharks locked it down.
 
His brief cold streak, starting with the third period in Buffalo last Tuesday and continuing in Boston when he was pulled after one period, appears to be over.
 
“I thought we managed the puck pretty well tonight,” Jones said. “We didn’t turn the puck over, we didn’t give up odd man rushes. That was a big difference, especially in the third period against Buffalo and against Boston, we were giving up some odd man rushes, some looks that we don’t normally give up. Tonight, we did a really good job.”
 
San Jose snapped its winless streak at four games, capturing four of a possible eight points on its road trip.
 
“We feel like we've played a little better than our record so far on the trip, and we wanted the two points,” Pete DeBoer said. “Back-to-back, not having success in the first – it would have been easy to get down, but we stuck with it."
 
Pavelski said: “To end the trip with a win – a good, complete performance – it makes for a nice flight home.”

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?