Sharks

Sharks fall to last-place Ducks 3-2, winning streak snapped

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Sharks fall to last-place Ducks 3-2, winning streak snapped

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE If the Anaheim Ducks played the San Jose Sharks 82 times this season, they might not be among the NHLs bottom dwellers.

The Ducks beat the Sharks for the third time in three tries or, 30 percent of their 10 wins with a 3-2 victory at HP Pavilion on Monday night. Andrew Coglianos marker at 12:46 the second period broke a 2-2 tie and held up as the game-winner, as the Ducks survived a late charge by the Sharks in the third period.

While Coglianos goal was the difference, the game turned on a bad turnover by captain Joe Thornton early in the second period. The Sharks were dominating territorially with the score knotted at 1-1 before Thorntons blunder led to a breakaway marker by Bobby Ryan at 3:42.

Less than a minute before the goal, the Sharks forced the Ducks into a pair of icing calls that left a tired group of five on the ice for Anaheim, and coach Bruce Boudreau had to use his time out at 2:48.

But, San Jose squandered that energy.

The disappointing thing is we had a lot of momentum in the second period, to the point where they had to use their time out, Todd McLellan said. We had them pinned in their end, and then we turn it over, and it affected us. It really did. We didnt handle it well, and in my opinion they outworked us the last 13 or 14 minutes of the period.

Thornton said: I had so much time, and I just mishandled it at the end. I have to make a better decision at that point.

Jamie McGinn tied the game at 7:13 of the second with his eighth goal, firing a wrist shot into the top corner from the faceoff circle on a cross-ice feed by Justin Braun. But Coglianos soft wrister beat Antti Niemi inside the far post on the second of two goals the Sharks netminder should have stopped.

I have no idea what happened there, said Niemi. Id have to see it on tape to see what happened. Maybe I was too deep there, and I should have been more aggressive on the puck.

Niemi, making his 14th start in the last 15 games, also allowed a shot by Luca Sbisa to beat him at 2:27 of the first period to make it 1-0. It was the young defensemans first goal in 69 games as the puck fluttered awkwardly through the air.

It wasnt flying straight, so I think thats why it went in, Niemi said. I think it was kind of a knuckle-puck.

Still, the Sharks came on strong in the third period, and Niemis play improved, as well. He made a beautiful save on Niklas Hagman with 12 minutes left, robbing the Ducks winger with his left pad.

I thought Nemo made two or three incredible saves that kept us alive, McLellan said, but then, hell tell you that hed like to have a couple of them back. Its got to be a little frustrating for him and for us, as well.

San Joses best chances to tie it in the third came on its first power play of the night when Corey Perry high-sticked Dan Boyle with just 4:34 left in regulation. Patrick Marleau had a couple of good looks at the open net, but misfired on both.

Getting those chances, you think one is going to go in, but missing the net doesnt help, he said.

The Sharks got another power play with just 39 seconds left when Perry was called for slashing, but failed to get the equalizer on a six-on-four advantage with Niemi pulled for an extra attacker, losing for the first time in regulation since Dec. 10 (4-1-2).

Anaheim ended its road losing streak at 13 games, having dropped nine of those in regulation. The Ducks hadnt won away from the Honda Center since Oct. 27, but its their second victory on HP Pavilion ice this season. The Ducks have just three road wins total.

Even though they are buried in last place in the Pacific Division by 13 points, the Ducks seem to have the Sharks number. Theyll meet again three more times, with the next coming on Jan. 4 in Anaheim.

I think when we, meaning you guys and maybe even us a little bit, come into the game, we look at the record and say you know what? The Sharks will win. It doesnt just happen that way, he said. You have to go out and earn it. When I see Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan, Perry, Cam Fowler, and some of those guys, it scares me as a coach because they have the ability to be a very dynamic team and very offensive team.

They were good enough tonight to win.

After Sbisas goal opened the scoring, Joe Pavelski tied it at 19:33 of the first period. Neither team was particularly sharp in the early going after the mandatory two days off for Christmas on Saturday and Sunday, though.

Pavelski agreed that the first period was a little disjointed on both sides.

Yeah, there were some plays that we havent done in the last four games. Just a lot of light plays," he said.

Hiller, who has struggled this season, entering with a goal-against average of 3.10, picked up his second win against San Jose including a 31-save, 1-0 shutout on Oct. 14. His best stop came with 5:21 left in second, when he got his pad on a chance by Marleau at the side of the net to preserve the Ducks 3-2 lead.

A pass by Ryane Clowe "went off of Hillers pad and I reached behind the goal line to get it," Marleau said. "I brought it back in towards the net and tried pulling it over, but he recovered and made a good save."

Hiller finished with 36 saves, while Niemi stopped 20 of 23.

Odds and ends: Dan Boyle had a team-high eight shots. Of the Sharks' 38 shots, 17 came from defensemen. Joe Pavelskis goal was just his second against Anaheim in 32 career games, the fewest he has against any Western Conference opponent. The Sharks conclude their six-game homestand on Wednesday against Vancouver. Its the first of two straight games against the Canucks, whom the Sharks visit on Jan. 2. Joe Thornton had a game-high five giveaways. ... The Sharks won the faceoff battle, 25-24.

Five months after taking puck to face, Sharks' Logan Couture 'still pretty sore'

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AP

Five months after taking puck to face, Sharks' Logan Couture 'still pretty sore'

Nearly five months after taking a puck to the mouth that resulted in major damage, Logan Couture is still dealing with the aftereffects of his surgically repaired mouth, which now features several false teeth.

Appearing on the NHL Network this week, Couture was asked how he’s feeling with less than one month to go before the Sharks open training camp on Sep. 14.

“There’s good days and bad days,” Couture said. “My bottom teeth are still my real teeth. They’ve tried to keep them so I don’t lose them. I don’t know if I’ll be able to, they’re still pretty sore. My top teeth are all fake now – my front six, I think. So, it’s different. It just feels different in my mouth. 

“But everything else with my face and all that is healed. I’m lucky that it’s an injury that didn’t affect my training, and hopefully won’t affect me going forward.”

Couture was injured on March 25 in Nashville. He was set up just outside the crease in the offensive zone when a Brent Burns point shot hit a stick before squarely battering the now 28-year-old’s mouth.

After missing the final seven games of the regular season, Couture returned for the Sharks’ playoff opener. He managed to play in all six games of the first round loss, posting two goals and one assist for three points, although he struggled at times and was seemingly targeted by the Oilers.

Couture is currently in his hometown of London, Ontario where he’s staging a casino event for brain research. Fellow Sharks Chris Tierney and Dylan DeMelo will take part, as will other NHL stars like the Kings’ Drew Doughty.

Analysis: Sharks will need results from recent draft classes

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Analysis: Sharks will need results from recent draft classes

It was late in the lockout-shortened 2013 season when Sharks general manager Doug Wilson really started to prepare for the future. Douglas Murray was dealt to Pittsburgh for a pair of second round selections. Ryane Clowe packed his bags for Broadway, in exchange for a second and a third round pick from the Rangers. Michal Handzus went to Chicago for a fourth rounder.

Wilson’s logic was sound, as it typically takes two-to-four years before draft picks have a chance to make an impact at the NHL level. The general manager figured that by then, players like Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau either wouldn’t be a part of the team anymore or would be slowing down. Restocking the cupboards was essential.

From 2013-15, the Sharks made 24 selections over the next three NHL entry drafts, including seven total picks in the top two rounds. Some players have shown promise. Others haven’t. A few aren’t in the organization anymore. That’s the nature of the business.

The way the 2017-18 opening night roster is shaping up, though, now is the time that some of these young players in the system simply have to step up. Marleau and his 27 goals last season are gone, Thornton’s numbers are down and he’s coming off of major knee surgery, Joe Pavelski is now 33 years old, and the team’s offense depth is suspect at best. There have been no notable additions in the offseason.

Frankly, this season could be viewed as a referendum on the team’s amateur scouting staff, including longtime director Tim Burke. Wilson handed Burke and his staff a wonderful opportunity to provide the organization with fresh talent with the team approaching an organizational crossroads.

What has transpired so far is a bit concerning, as already two of the team’s first round picks from that span ended up being nothing more than trade bait.

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Mirco Mueller, chosen 18th overall in 2013, was a huge disappointment in San Jose. It’s been well documented that he was mishandled by the organization when he was rushed to the league in 2014-15, but even this past season, regular observers of the Barracuda had Mueller as nothing more than the AHL team’s fourth-best defenseman. He’s now in New Jersey, swapped for a pair of draft picks.

The scouting staff was so high on Mueller on draft day that Wilson traded a valuable second round pick to Detroit to move up just two places to select him. With those acquired picks, the Red Wings took Anthony Mantha 20th overall and Tyler Bertuzzi 58th overall – two forwards that have shown a whole lot more NHL potential than Mueller (especially Mantha, who has 39 points in 70 career NHL games so far).

Perhaps more concerning, though, is that the Sharks 2013 draft class as a whole is looking like a dud. Second round pick Gabryel Boudreau suffered a wrist injury and is no longer in the organization anymore, but he was trending downward even before he got hurt. None of the remaining players selected from rounds four-through-seven look to be NHL quality, either.

The next year brought Nikolay Goldobin, chosen 27th overall after the Sharks traded down in the first round, and he ended up being the key piece in the Jannik Hansen acquisition from Vancouver. Goldobin showed some flashes of offensive talent during his time in the organization, but his lack of hockey sense and on-ice work ethic helped lead to his exit. Whether Goldobin becomes an NHL regular, even with a fresh start in Vancouver, is highly uncertain.

Had the Sharks stayed at 20th overall, they could have selected Nick Schmaltz (20th overall), Robby Fabbri (21st overall), or David Pastrnak (25th overall). Instead, they moved down and took Goldobin, making it back-to-back first round failures.

* * *

Still, unlike 2013, other players from Goldobin’s draft class have shown some promise. Second rounder Julius Bergman was a steady blueliner for a good Barracuda team last season, and although he’s probably not NHL-ready yet, he could be on the right track. Late in the draft the team found Kevin Labanc in the sixth round with the 171st overall selection, and Labanc had some nice moments with the Sharks last season. His shot and his hands make him a solid prospect, although Labanc still probably has to get a bit bigger and stronger to play in the NHL full-time.

Noah Rod (second round, 53rd overall) and Rourke Chartier (fifth round, 149th overall) are also still developing, with Rod playing against men in the Swiss league the past few seasons and Chartier a valuable player for the Barracuda last year.

In 2015, the draft provided the Sharks with Timo Meier at ninth overall, as the club drafted in the top 10 for the first time since 2007. At this point, Meier is far and away the best prospect in the organization, and he’ll likely be relied upon to play a top nine (or even a top six) role for the Sharks this season.

The 2015 draft brought other decent prospects, too. Defenseman Jeremy Roy was selected 31st overall, and after suffering a serious knee injury in juniors this year, he’ll get a chance to play for the Barracuda this year. Fourth rounder Adam Helewka and fifth rounder Rudolfs Balcers have also developed nicely since draft day. It’s still a bit too early to evaluate that draft as a whole.

It should also be mentioned that while their draft day record may be suspect the past few seasons, the Sharks have brought in European free agents like Melker Karlsson, Joonas Donskoi and Marcus Sorensen. Karlsson has developed into a versatile, hard-working forward; Donskoi has shown flashes of offensive brilliance despite a disappointing second year in the NHL last season; and Sorensen looks primed to make the opening night roster after his speed and tenacity shined through during the Sharks’ first round series loss to Edmonton.

The Sharks scouting staff has helped to keep the team competitive for a long time, and they’re as big a reason as any that the team has missed the playoffs just once in the past 11 seasons. But this is also a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately business, and now is the time that the Sharks need to see some results from players that were chosen by Burke and company.