Sharks fall to 'soft' Rangers in road trip finale

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Sharks fall to 'soft' Rangers in road trip finale

BOX SCORE

NEW YORK, NY -- It was a bittersweet finale for the Sharks at Madison Square Garden on Monday night, as they dropped the last of their six-game road trip to the Rangers, 5-2.The Sharks go home with 10 points out of a possible 12, which several players and the coach admitted they would have taken in a heartbeat two weeks ago.But their performance against the Rangers was their worst of the trip, and it was a game that they should have won fairly easily, if you believe the captain.To be honest with you, they were probably the softest team we played against on this road trip, said Joe Thornton. We played some good teams, and I think we probably should have beat these guys, to be honest with you.RELATED: Coaches respond to Thornton's jab

Thornton was probably being a little more blunt than usual. The Sharks and Rangers wont meet again this season, and his comment isnt going to show up on any bulletin boards in the newly renovated locker room at Madison Square Garden. Regardless, the Sharks didnt seem too happy with their game against the Rangers or Saturdays on Long Island when they beat the lowly Islanders in overtime, 3-2.Well be thinking about this game and the Islanders game. We havent been nearly good enough, said Joe Pavelski, who had a goal and an assist. We were able to find a way on the Island, and this team we battled back, and then we let a few things go.Pavelski is referring to the Sharks erasing an early 2-0 deficit before they surrendered three unanswered goals to New York. He himself put San Jose on the board when he put in the rebound of a shot off of the post by Doug Murray late in the first period, and Logan Couture rocketed a one-timer past Martin Biron at 11:03 of the second to tie it at 2-2.A delay of game call on Colin White less than a minute after Coutures goal led to the first of two goals by the Rangers Ryan Callahan. New York regained momentum when the Rangers captain whacked in a perfect pass through the slot by Erik Christensen that somehow got through Murray at the 14-minute mark. It was officially an even strength goal, although White was just stepping out of the box at the time.White explained what happened on his penalty.I just swatted at it, tried to bump it by Brandon Dubinsky, and it ended up going over the glass, he said.That was the turning point, as the Sharks struggled with their penalty kill all night. They have allowed at least one power play goal in four straight games, but it was some of the penalties themselves that could have been avoided. Along with Whites, there were two others that could be considered careless: a too-many-men call at 2:17 of the first period, and a Dan Boyle high stick at 4:29 of the third. We just have to stay out of the penalty box. The penalties we were taking were just ones that are definitely avoidable, said Thornton. When your penalty kill is not going good and you take some sloppy penalties, its definitely tough to kill.Todd McLellan didnt want to pin the loss on special teams, even though the Sharks gave up essentially two power play goals and were 0-for-3 on the man advantage.Lets look at it from a whole, he said. We werent a very good team tonight. When youre not doing it five-on-five, the odds of you doing it on special teams isnt very good.Two minutes and 42 seconds after Callahan made it 3-2, Artem Anisimovs backhanded water bottle goal over the short side shoulder of Antti Niemi gave New York its two-goal lead back. I should have been further out to challenge more. I was a little bit too deep, said Niemi. Good backhander on the roof, it surprised me a little bit.The Rangers werent done, when Brad Richards fired one towards Niemi that hit the goaltender squarely in the chest. It squirted to Callahan, who tapped it in while falling to the ice at 19:12 of the second for a backbreaking goal.Im not overly pleased with what we threw out on the ice. Were a better team than that, individually and collectively, and its a little bit disappointing, said McLellan.Despite the loss, the Sharks trip as a whole has to be considered a successful one. When they left San Jose, they were just 1-3 and some of their top players were not finishing their numerous chances.They come home as winners of five out of six, with their key forwards all contributing. Pavelski is leading the way with 13 points, while riding a six-game point streak. Couture also has at least one point in six straight.Leaving San Jose the way we did, if somebody said you could come home with 10 points, wed be ecstatic with that, especially in some of the buildings and teams we played against, said McLellan.The hurdle now is that the Sharks return home on a losing note, and will face one of the best teams in the league on Thursday when the Pittsburgh Penguins visit HP Pavilion.Well have this bad taste in our mouth and well carry it with us the rest of the week, said the head coach.Odds and ends: Patrick Marleaus point-streak ended at four games. Ryane Clowe and Brandon Prust dropped the gloves for an extended bout just seven second after the opening faceoff. Neither played landed any significant blows, though. Jim Vandermeer, Benn Ferreiro and Justin Braun were scratched for San Jose. Crazy coincidence of the night: Faceoffs (29), hits (26) and missed shots (12) were all exactly even. The Rangers outshot the Sharks, though, 31-26. Biron started just his second game of the season, and the Rangers earned their first home win in three tries.

Sharks' depth players, Burns, snap cold streaks just in time

Sharks' depth players, Burns, snap cold streaks just in time

SAN JOSE – For at least one night, the Sharks’ depth players – most of which have been missing in action for weeks – found the scoresheet against the Rangers in a 5-4 overtime win on Tuesday.

It couldn’t have come at a better time. 

The Sharks were playing their first of what will surely be at least a few games without center Logan Couture, and are still in the hunt for a Pacific Division title with four of their six remaining games against Edmonton and Calgary – teams they are trying to fend off to earn home ice in the first round. And, of course, they ended a wretched six-game losing streak in which they never had a lead in any of the defeats.

Coach Pete DeBoer mentioned earlier in the week that the coaching staff had challenged the depth players to do more, especially now that their second line center is out indefinitely. The response on Tuesday included two goals from Chris Tierney (including a late game-tying score), one goal and one assist from Jannik Hansen, a shorthanded goal by Melker Karlsson, two assists from Mikkel Boedker, and an assist from Tomas Hertl.

Consider the challenge met.

“We want to score. All the depth guys know, and talked about stepping up,” Tierney said. “It's good that we broke through tonight, especially with Logan out of the lineup. We're going to have to keep doing it throughout the playoffs."

DeBoer said the internal challenge “didn’t involve much more than just ‘Hey, we need some contributions from you.’ We can’t always look to the big guys to get the job done. We got that tonight. Those guys got on the board. It’s never a lack of effort with that group, but we’re the sum of our parts. We need those guys to get on the board for us on a regular basis and they did that tonight.”

It was also surely welcomed that one of their big guys – perhaps their biggest – got the overtime winner. Brent Burns had been mired in a 16-game drought without a goal, but his slap shot got through Henrik Lundqvist half-a-minute into an overtime power play.

While the depth guys will need to continue to produce, the Sharks are going to need more from Burns, too, as the postseason approaches. The defenseman had been kept off of the scoresheet in nine of 10 games from March 5 – 21, but now has one point in each of his last three games. That’s a good sign.

Getting a goal was particularly nice, as was ending the losing skid.

“Yeah on both accounts,” Burns said. “That was a big win, especially coming back, staying resilient, getting that big goal there at the end.”

Still, with all that went right, the game was far from perfect. The Sharks allowed a 3-1 second period lead to turn into a 4-3 deficit in just a span of five minutes and seven seconds, indicating they’re still a bit fragile. Derek Stepan made it 3-2 late in the second with a power play goal, Jesper Fast scored on a deflection early in the third, and J.T. Miller gave New York its first lead of the night less than five minutes into the final frame.

“There’s still room for improvement, definitely,” Joe Pavelski said.

Still, the Sharks fought back for Tierney’s late game-tying goal with less than two minutes in regulation, setting up Burns’ overtime heroics. 

The captain sensed some displeasure from the home fans due to the blown lead, something he surely understood, but indicated that the energy level on the Sharks’ bench was still high.

“Whether you think, like, ‘Here we go again’ or not – I’m sure someone in this building thought that tonight,” Pavelski said. “Guys just kind of stuck with it, and we believed we would tie it up tonight.”

Getting that extra point in overtime brought a sense of relief.

“When you lose six straight, it's obviously a relief when you win one,” Martin Jones said. “But win or lose, we played a lot better tonight.”

 

Instant Replay: Sharks rally late, stun Rangers in OT to end skid

Instant Replay: Sharks rally late, stun Rangers in OT to end skid

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE – Despite blowing a two-goal lead, the Sharks found a way to tie their game with the Rangers late and win it in overtime, 5-4, to end their losing streak at six games.

After New York had turned a 3-1 deficit into a 4-3 lead, Chris Tierney knotted the score with just 2:15 left in regulation. Mikkel Boedker’s shot from high in the zone rattled around the slot, and Tierney was there to flip it home for this second of the night.

Brent Burns ended a 16-game goal drought with a power play goal at 3:10 in overtime, overpowering Henrik Lundqvist with a slap shot.

After Tierney had given San Jose a 3-1 lead earlier in the second period the Sharks kept up the pressure, recording seven of the next eight shots. But Patrick Marleau’s interference penalty on Jimmy Vesey gave New York a late power play and turned the game in their favor.

Derek Stepan – who was stopped on a partial breakaway midway through the first period – brought the Rangers back to within 3-2. Mats Zuccarello hummed a seam pass through Justin Braun to Stepan, who had an open net to deposit his 16th of the season in the final minutes of the second period.

In the third, Jesper Fast redirected a Brady Skjei floater at 1:24, tying the game at 3-3. A Burns tripping minor during four-on-four play offered a power play to the Rangers, and they capitalized on a J.T. Miller one-timer at 4:44, his second of the night.

The Sharks remain two points back of Anaheim for first place in the Pacific Division, and are tied with Edmonton for second.

For the first time in eight games the Sharks struck first. A newly configured third line of Tomas Hertl, Boedker and Jannik Hansen scored on its first shift together, as Hansen chopped in a loose puck at 1:44. Boedker and Hertl both got assists, ending pointless streaks of 10 games and 12 games, respectively.

Hansen’s first goal as a Shark also gave the team its first lead in more than two weeks, as it never led throughout its six-game regulation losing streak.

The Rangers tied it at 13:30 of the first on a goal by Miller, who took the puck from Paul Martin along the wall and lifted a perfectly placed wrist shot over Martin Jones’ near shoulder.

Melker Karlsson, returning from an eight-game absence, put the Sharks ahead 2-1 late in the first period with a shorthanded score. He whizzed a wrist shot past countryman Lundqvist at 18:01 while on a two-on-one with Tierney.

Tierney increased the lead to 3-1 in the middle frame, taking a shot from the slot and following up his own rebound at 11:38. It was just his second goal in the last 22 games, and eighth of the year.

The Rangers won the only other game of the season series back on Oct. 17 at Madison Square Garden, 7-4. The Sharks finished the season with a 21-7-4 mark against Eastern Conference clubs.

The Sharks were without Logan Couture, who is out indefinitely with a facial injury.

Special teams:
Two of New York’s goals came on the power play, on three opportunities. The Sharks are 11-for-15 on the PK in the last six games.

San Jose had just one power play before overtime, failing to score. Karlsson’s marker was his second shorthanded score of the season, and the Sharks’ seventh as a team.

In goal:
After allowing a career high seven goals-against on Saturday in Nashville, Jones made 24 saves on 28 shots.

Lundqvist suffered the loss with 30 saves on 35 shots.

Lineup:
Micheal Haley served a one-game suspension for punching Nashville’s Calle Jarnkrok on Saturday.

Tierney (upper body) and Marc-Edouard Vlasic (flu) both returned after missing Saturday’s game with the Predators. Marcus Sorensen came out of the lineup for Kevin Labanc, who was recalled on Tuesday morning and skated on the top line.

New York’s Skjei had three assists.

Up next:
The Sharks have six games remaining in the regular season – two each against Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver.

A three-game road trip against each of those division rivals begins on Thursday with the Oilers, as the clubs battle for home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs, and continues on Friday against the Flames and Sunday versus the Canucks.