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.

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.”

Three takeaways: Sharks' third line woes continue

Three takeaways: Sharks' third line woes continue

ST. PAUL – The losing streak endures, as the Sharks dropped their fourth straight, 3-2 in Minnesota on Tuesday night. A quick start from the home team, and an even quicker response after the Sharks tied it up late in the second keyed the Wild win. Let’s dig a little deeper, though, with our three takeaways…

1 – Wild come out flying

The Sharks’ general lack of panic after their latest loss, as we touched on in the recap, surely had something to do with the circumstances. Minnesota had an extra day of rest while the Sharks were on their second of a back-to-back, with travel. San Jose was also capping off a stretch of seven games in just 11 days (I believe we’ve mentioned here before just how monumentally foolish this year’s NHL schedule is). 

Frankly, the start was predictable. Minnesota was a ticked off team having lost five straight, and even though it had dropped is previous game in Winnipeg, 5-4, it erased a 4-0 deficit in that one only to lose it late. Surely that was a sign that the Wild were ready to break through in the win column.

Pete DeBoer said the Sharks “expected” an early push from Minnesota.

“They’ve been sitting here waiting, they’re desperate, they’re fresh, they’re healthy. We’re coming in on a back-to-back. We knew the first period would be tough. It wasn’t pretty, but we escaped only down 1-0 and I thought from that point on we started to fight back a little bit. Did some good things, just too little too late.”

The Sharks were competitive over the final two periods, finally getting their first goal in more than 138 minutes of game play to make it 1-1 (it was originally credited to David Schlemko, but has since been changed to Patrick Marleau). At that point, though, it was Minnesota’s turn to respond. It did, and that was the game.

2 – Third line woes

We touched on the Sharks’ lack of secondary scorers yesterday, and it was on full display against the Wild again Tuesday night as the third line of Tomas Hertl, Joonas Donskoi and Mikkel Boedker failed to do anything productive. Hertl had one decent chance in the first period from the slot that Devan Dubnyk turned away, but was later too soft and too slow on Minnesota’s third goal, as Zach Parise outhustled and outmuscled him before dishing to Charlie Coyle.

Donskoi finished with two shots, and didn’t even get one off on a second period breakaway. Boedker had no shots, and just one attempt.

Hertl now has no points in his last 10 games, and Donskoi hasn’t found the scoresheet, either, in nine games since returning from an upper body injury.

Prior to Tuesday night’s game, DeBoer indicated it’s taking some time for both players to get up to speed after being out. Hertl, of course, missed two months with his latest right knee injury.

“You come back, there’s a little bit of adrenaline, you’re on a high, and the reality hits that you missed some time and the league is moving at a really fast pace,” DeBoer said. “Just got to play through it and keep battling.”

Hertl said: “I for sure expect [more] of myself. … I try to stay with my game, try and make plays, be strong on the puck, make my linemates better. I need to just keep working all over [in the] D-zone, O-zone, and even power play.”

3 – Dealing without Vlasic

Marc-Edouard Vlasic was the second Sharks player in two nights to be sidelined by a flu bug, so Schlemko was bumped up to replace him paired with Justin Braun, while Dylan DeMelo and Brenden Dillon comprised the third pair.

Schlemko had a nice game, even if he is no longer getting credit for his third goal of the season. He finished with one assist, a plus-one rating, three shot attempts and three blocks.

“You can’t really replace a guy like [Vlasic],” he said. “He’s one of the best defensive D in the league. Just trying to keep it simple. We switched up the partners and spread out the ice time pretty well. Not the start we wanted, but after the first I thought we played pretty well. Played hard.”

DeBoer said: “We've got a little bit of a flu going through. Tierney was out yesterday with it, [Vlasic] got it today. Hopefully, that’s the end of it.”