Sharks drop second straight, fall to Flames 4-3

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Sharks drop second straight, fall to Flames 4-3

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE An egregious turnover by Colin White in the third period led to Olli Jokinen completing a hat trick and was the difference in a 4-3 Flames win over the Sharks at HP Pavilion on Wednesday night.

For the second straight game, the Sharks committed several mistakes and made soft plays with the puck, and it cost them against an opponent thats desperate to stay in the Western Conference playoff picture. Whites turnover was the most obvious mistake, but there were several others to pick and choose from as San Jose surrendered four goals in back-to-back games for just the third time this year.

In fact, Jarome Iginlas goal in the second period to give the Flames a 3-2 lead might have been even bigger than the game-winner, even though the Sharks would later tie it up early in the third with a power play goal.

Iginla's marker came after the Sharks fell behind 2-0 in the second period but came roaring back to tie the it with a pair of goals just one minute and 23 seconds apart.

First, it was Logan Couture. On a delayed penalty call, the Sharks pulled Antti Niemi for an extra attacker and patiently waited to set up their breakout and eventually bring the puck into the offensive zone. Ryane Clowe fed a perfect cross-ice pass to Couture, who rifled in his 23rd goal of the year ay 6:29.

The tying goal came when Joe Thornton found an open Joe Pavelski in the slot from behind the net, and Pavelski deposited his 20th of the season in what was his 400th game in the NHL.

It was all Sharks at that point, and the top line was buzzing in the Flames zone once again minutes later. But, defenseman Brent Burns got a bit too aggressive and was caught too far inside the blue line when Jokinen and Iginla raced the other way on an odd-man rush.

Burns managed to catch up to the play, but was not in position when Iginlas snap shot from Jokinen sailed past Niemi at 11:15, killing the Sharks momentum on what was another preventable mistake.

The formula is pretty simple for our group. Weve given up four or more goals 12 times this year, and won one game, Todd McLellan said. If we think we can screw around with the puck, and be lackadaisical with line changes and not be desperate until the last 10 minutes of the game, well give up four again and we wont win. Its as simple as that.

The Sharks lost to Phoenix on Saturday, 5-3, including an empty-net goal by the Coyotes.

You cant give them four goals. Bad bounces or not, you dont win many games, Pavelski. You see it in Phoenix, and you see it here tonight.

Trailing 3-2 entering the third period, San Jose tied the game with a power play goal less than a minute into the final frame. Michal Handzus won an offensive zone draw and then pushed in the rebound of a blast by Burns off of the back boards just 49 seconds in.

Alex Tanguay intercepted Whites pass from behind the Sharks net shortly after the equalizer, though, and Jokinen quickly released Tanguays pass over a diving White at 3:25 to give Calgary the lead back.

The Flames held on this time, beating the Sharks for the first time in three tries this season.

I tried to just kind of bank it off of the boards for our winger, tried to get him a little time with it instead of just rimming it at his feet, White said. It just took a harder bounce than obviously I wanted it, and kind of went out into the middle. I was desperate then, just trying to get into a shooting lane and he made a pass back door. They capitalized on the mistake there.

We worked to get all the way back into the game, and the winning goal makes no sense to me at all, how we can have full possession and it ends up in our net, McLellan said. Who do you point the finger at? Theres five guys out there that all could manage the puck much better than they did.

The Sharks were without the services of Dan Boyle, a late scratch due to the flu. It was the first game Boyle has missed this season.

Danny is a tremendous player and means a lot to our hockey club, but we should be able to work our way through it, McLellan said.

No excuses. Dans obviously a great player, but the guys that are back there have to pull their load when guys are injured or sick, Thornton said. Well be better next game.

The Sharks host Chicago on Friday before embarking on a nine-game, 15-day road trip.

The Sharks had some great chances to tie it up in the third period after falling behind again. One came midway through the period when Marc-Edouard Vlasic found the net, but referee Kevin Pollock correctly ruled Patrick Marleau interfered with Kiprusoff after bowling into the Flames net untouched. McLellan said it was the right call.

Pavelski, whacking at a loose puck with about three minutes to go, nearly got it past Miikka Kiprusoff but the Flames goalie somehow froze the puck between his pads after it bounced over him.

It was ridiculous, to see his legs come up when youre just watching the puck and hoping it hits the net, Pavelski said.

Kiprusoff, a former Sharks goalie, recorded the 300th win of his career with 34 saves.

The loss was the Sharks second straight in regulation after Phoenix snapped their three-game winning streak on Saturday. San Jose leads the Pacific Division with 64 points, two better than Los Angeles, and has three games in hand on the Kings.

Jokinen, who finished with three goals and an assist, staked Calgary to a 2-0 lead. The Sharks turned it over a couple times in their own zone, including a soft play by Couture along the boards, before Jokinen redirected in a shot from the point by defenseman Chris Butler at 12:30 of the first period. A power play goal at 2:36 of the second period came when Tanguays shot rebounded off of the back boards, White couldnt find it, and Jokinen was there to whack it through Niemi.

They were in their spots, and they go to the net hard, White said.

Couture extended his scoring streak to seven games, with 10 points over that span (5g, 5a). Thornton assisted on the first two Sharks goals and has eight points in his last four games (3g, 5a).

Odds and ends: Miikka Kiprusoff is the 27th goalie in NHL history to reach 300 wins. ... Olli Jokinens hat trick was the seventh of his career. Owen Nolan, who announced his retirement in a press conference at HP Pavilion on Wednesday, took part in a ceremonial faceoff before the game. He got a lengthy standing ovation. Cory Sarich, who found with Andrew Desjardins in the second period, was forced to wear a nameless 65 sweater for the remainder of the game after his normal 6 sweater apparently ripped during the altercation. The Sharks were 39-31 in the faceoff circle, including a 14-3 performance from Joe Pavelski, the leagues leading faceoff man.

Sharks to support San Jose flood victims with $20,000 donation, raffle

Sharks to support San Jose flood victims with $20,000 donation, raffle

SAN JOSE - The San Jose Sharks announced today that they will support San Jose flood victims with a $20,000 donation from the Sharks Foundation and at upcoming home games on Thursday, March 9, Saturday, March 11 and Sunday, March 12, through the Foundation's 50/50 Raffle.

The $20,000 donation and half of the evening's jackpot, during all three games, will be donated to the San Jose Flood Victims Relief Fund at Silicon Valley Community Foundation to support nonprofit organizations providing immediate and long-term relief and recovery assistance to flood victims in San Jose.

The Sharks Foundation will also accept monetary donations during each game at the Sharks Foundation booth located at section 118 on the concourse or to donate now, click here.

A series of heavy rain in the area caused Coyote Creek to rise to a 100-year peak. With widespread flooding as a result, 14,000 residents have faced mandatory evacuations.

About the Sharks Foundation
The Sharks Foundation is dedicated to enhancing the lives of youth and families in our community with an emphasis in the areas of education, health and safety, and character development. During the 2015-16 season, the Sharks Foundation donated a franchise-record $1.5 million in funding to support the Bay Area. Since its inception in 1994, the Foundation has given nearly $10.1 million to hundreds of high-performing non-profit organizations serving youth and families in need. To learn more about how the Sharks Foundation is helping underserved children and families in the community, visit SharksFoundation.org or read our 2015-16 San Jose Sharks & Sharks Foundation Community Report.

About Silicon Valley Community Foundation
Silicon Valley Community Foundation advances innovative philanthropic solutions to challenging problems. As the largest community foundation in the world, we engage donors and corporations from Silicon Valley, across the country and around the globe to make our region and world better for all. Our passion for helping people and organizations achieve their philanthropic dreams has created a global philanthropic enterprise committed to the belief that possibilities start here. Learn more at siliconvalleycf.org.

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Analysis: Scoring winger a need for Sharks ahead of trade deadline

Analysis: Scoring winger a need for Sharks ahead of trade deadline

SAN JOSE – There are no glaring holes for the San Jose Sharks to fill ahead of next week's NHL trade deadline on March 1.

Still, Sharks general manager Doug Wilson is a notorious tire-kicker, and he’s surely working the phones these days to see if there’s anything out there that could help his hockey club, which has a comfortable five-point lead on the Pacific Division midway through its bye week.

“We’ll see, but we do feel really good about this group,” Wilson told CSN earlier this month. “We believe in our players and we believe in our guys on the Barracuda, because they’ve earned that.

“Having said that, our history speaks for itself. If there’s a way to help this hockey team or add something, we’ve always done it, and we’ll always explore it.”

So, what might the Sharks be exploring? There are two areas that make the most sense – a backup goaltender, and a scoring winger.

* * *

No question Aaron Dell has exceeded expectations in his first NHL season. He’s 7-3-1 with a 1.95 GAA and .934 SP in 12 games, and his .953 even-strength save percentage is tops in the league among goalies that have played at least 10 games.

Still, it’s unknown if Dell would be able to handle the day-to-day grind, if anything were to happen to Jones. Even in the minors last season when he earned the number one job with the Barracuda, he wasn’t playing three and four games a week due to the AHL’s Pacific Division having fewer games than the rest of the league. He’s also not been overly tested at the NHL level – of Dell’s 10 starts, only one has come against a team currently in playoff position, and the Calgary Flames are only barely in the second Wild Card spot.

There are some goalies thought to be trade bait as pending unrestricted free agents. They include Tampa Bay’s Ben Bishop, Winnipeg’s Ondrej Pavalec, the Islanders’ Jaroslav Halak, or Philadelphia goalies Steve Mason and Michal Neuvirth. All could likely be gotten for some combination of young players and/or draft picks.

But is it worth it for the Sharks to make a move for a player that might not even be needed in the postseason? According to one NHL analyst, the Sharks should just take their chances with the inexperienced North Dakota product.

“I probably wouldn’t put a whole lot of resources in [finding a backup goalie],” NBCSN analyst Keith Jones told CSN on the latest Sharks Insider Podcast. “If Martin Jones was injured you’d have a real problem, it would be tough to find a goalie to replace what he brings to the table. I know they tried James Reimer last year, and the book is out on him. … I’m not sure that that’s a major upgrade on Aaron Dell.”

That said, Keith Jones would like to see Martin Jones – who’s on pace to play 69.5 games – get more time off after the schedule resumes. That means increased playing time for Dell.

“I think you might just want to take a chance with your backup a little more frequently,” Jones said. “You may want to sacrifice a few games along the way. [Dell] gains some experience, and Jones gets some rest.”

The impression here is that the Sharks will probably stick with Dell. Sharks coach Pete DeBoer has been nothing short of glowing in his reviews of Dell lately, as well he should be. The goalie has earned his place on this team, and none of the other goalies that the Sharks could acquire would be obvious upgrades at this stage of the season.

* * *

A much stronger case can be made that the Sharks are in need of another scoring winger. 

While the offense has been more dangerous in recent weeks than it was over the first half of the season, it still doesn’t look as effective as it was last season going into the playoffs, when it finished fourth in the league. Yes, the power play has been relatively power-less, but there’s more to it than that.

Mikkel Boedker has been a disappointment after signing a four-year deal as a free agent, and was benched yet again on Sunday. Joonas Donskoi, still out with what looks like a shoulder injury, hasn’t taken that next step after his strong playoff run last season. Joel Ward is off his scoring pace from last year. Patrick Marleau has been outstanding, but remains streaky. Kevin Labanc and Timo Meier have done some nice things as rookies, but neither of them has “arrived” yet, to borrow a word commonly used by DeBoer. Nikolay Goldobin failed in his two-game tryout last week, too.

Finding a winger to play on the Joe Thornton-Joe Pavelski line should be a priority, as DeBoer has tried seven different wingers there this season without finding a permanent fit. 

Among the veterans that could be available are Dallas’ Patrick Sharp or Patrick Eaves, Arizona’s Shane Doan, Colorado’s Jarome Iginla, Detroit's Thomas Vanek, or even Vancouver’s Alex Burrows or Jannik Hansen, if the club is looking for a more agitating type.

Sharp is perhaps the most intriguing name on that list. Although he’s been hurt off and on this season and his numbers are down on a bad Dallas team, he’s a veteran scorer that has won three Stanley Cups as part of Chicago’s dynasty. He’s an obvious upgrade over the players that have rotated through the Thornton line.

Bringing in one of those aforementioned forwards would require some salary cap juggling (especially Sharp, who carries a $5.9 million cap hit) and perhaps a salary from the current roster going the other way, as the Sharks don’t have a whole lot of room right now. But it’s worth exploring, as a consistent offensive attack should be this team’s biggest worry right now with seven weeks until the postseason.

* * *

If the Sharks don’t make a move, DeBoer and company are still confident with the team in the dressing room. After all, most of those players were a part of the team’s run last season, when the Sharks were just two wins from capturing the Stanley Cup.

“For us, it’s not whether a piece comes in or whether we don’t bring any pieces in, I think we’re confident in our group,” DeBoer said. “It’s about us…playing to our identity for as long a stretch as is possible, because that’s what wins in the playoffs. Whether we don’t do anything or whether a piece comes in here, I don’t think that mindset changes.”

Justin Braun said: “Management is going to do what they’re going to do, but if they don’t do anything, we have confidence with everyone in here to get the job done.”