Sharks fall to 'soft' Rangers in road trip finale

Sharks fall to 'soft' Rangers in road trip finale
November 1, 2011, 1:31 am
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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.