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.

Mailbag: Should Sharks trade a d-man for scoring help?

Mailbag: Should Sharks trade a d-man for scoring help?

Tuesday’s practice was canceled, as the Sharks boarded an afternoon charter flight to Los Angeles with the dads in tow for the annual fathers trip. That leaves us some extra time for a mailbag…

Why is no line set over halfway through the season? (Kevin Cocquyt @KevinCocquyt39)

The shuffling up of lines is one of those aspects of the game that I think gets overblown a bit. I can’t put a number on how many times Pete DeBoer has prefaced his reply to a question about the latest line changes with the phrase, “we’re not married to any lines…”

That said, I do think the preference would be to ice a more consistent top six at this point. The fact that they haven’t found a left wing to consistently skate on the top line with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski is concerning. On the second line, it remains to be seen if Kevin Labanc can stick with Logan Couture, or if he’ll start to fade a bit in his first NHL season. The other players that started the season on the second line, Joonas Donskoi and Mikkel Boedker, have been moved all up and down the lineup all season long (more on that below).

Tomas Hertl’s absence has thrown a monkey wrench into all of this, of course. Assuming he gets back next month, there’s still plenty of time to get the lines sorted out for the playoff push. Regardless, though, they are almost always fluid, and keep in mind when DeBoer made a major change to his lines last playoff run – moving Patrick Marleau up to the second line and Chris Tierney to center the third line in the middle of the Nashville series – the Sharks finished off the Predators in the second round and went on to beat the Blues in the Western Conference Final.

So I guess my message here would be, don’t panic all that much at this point. It’s a long season.

Largest surprise and disappointment with the Sharks halfway through the season? There's a lot to pick from on both fronts. (Drew Cormier @DrewCormier)

I’ll give you one obvious and one maybe less obvious for both.

I’ll start with biggest surprise. It has to be Labanc. I know he tore up juniors last season, but this is still a kid who just turned 21 years old and wasn’t a high-round draft pick (sixth round, 2014). I knew the organization was high on him, and I even had him down as a dark horse player to make the team out of camp, but to come up so soon, and play regularly on a top scoring line and score seven goals – more than Donskoi, Boedker, Tierney, Joe Thornton and Joel Ward – is impressive, and, frankly, surprising.

One guy that’s gone under the radar a bit, though, is Brenden Dillon. The 26-year-old defenseman is simply faster and more mobile than he was last season, and he’s really made this defense corps one of the best in the NHL one-through-six. I know the numbers don’t show it, as Dillon has just four assists and a minus-five rating, but he’s a better player than he was last season.

As for disappointment, Boedker remains at the top of that list, even after his hat trick against the Oilers. He just doesn’t seem like the type of player that fits in with this forward group. At this point, I have to think there’s some buyer’s remorse there with Boedker owed $4 million a season through 2019-2020.

But another player that just hasn’t taken that next step so many thought he would is Donskoi. He was downright electrifying on some nights in the playoffs last season, and I thought this season we might see him get to 15-20 goals and 40-50 points. Instead, he’d be on pace for just 28 points in a full 82-game season. I thought he’d be better.

What do you think [Justin] Braun is worth? Can he be used as part of a deal for a top scoring forward? We need extra scoring. (Backhand Shelf @ChrisRivs)

I can understand the concern with the Sharks’ lack of scoring, and that many of their key forwards seem to be underperforming. Perhaps adding a little more scoring punch to their roster at the trade deadline is something that Doug Wilson will explore.

But, I don’t see any way this team will move one of its top four defensemen for a scoring forward. The strength and identity of this team this season has been its defensive structure and its ability to limit the opposition from getting shots and scoring chances in front of goalie Martin Jones. Moving Braun, or any of their other big minute defensemen, just wouldn’t make any sense.

I do, however, expect they’ll lose at least one of their current top six before next season, either through a trade or the expansion draft. That could very well be Braun, who might not get protected. In the meantime, though, they need him on the blue line.

Sharks recall three; Donskoi to IR

Sharks recall three; Donskoi to IR

The Sharks placed forward Joonas Donskoi on injured reserve Tuesday, and recalled a trio of players for their game against Los Angeles on Wednesday at Staples Center.

Donskoi has not played since Jan. 11 at Calgary, dealing with an upper body injury that is not believed to be serious. Although he’ll miss his third straight game on Wednesday, the 24-year-old could technically return for Thursday’s home game against the Lightning. In 41 games this season, Donskoi has six goals and 14 points.

Up front, forwards Ryan Carpenter and Barclay Goodrow were recalled, suggesting that someone from Monday’s 5-2 win over the Jets might not be able to play against the Kings. Logan Couture blocked a Toby Enstrom shot with about nine minutes to go in that game, and there was no immediate update on his status. The Sharks did not practice on Tuesday morning.

Carpenter has one goal in three games with the Sharks this season, coming on Nov. 30 in Los Angeles. He has 20 points (8g, 12a) in 29 AHL games this season. 

Goodrow has yet to make his Sharks season debut, but is first on the AHL Barracuda with 12 goals. He has 15 points (4g, 11a) in 74 career NHL games.

Tim Heed, also recalled, will likely serve as the seventh defenseman filling the void left by an injured Dylan DeMelo (broken wrist).