Sharks hope to add to Wings' road woes

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Sharks hope to add to Wings' road woes

SAN JOSE Add Detroit to the list of Western Conference clubs that has struggled with a long road trip.

The Red Wings, who have seen their season end the last two years at the hands of the Sharks, will visit HP Pavilion on Saturday night looking to end a three-game losing streak, all in regulation and all away from the Motor City. Overall, the Winged Wheel has lost five of its last six (1-5-0), and has scored just seven goals in the five losses.

The Red Wings (44-24-3, 91 points) were shut out in Anaheim on Wednesday night, 4-0, and practiced in San Jose on Friday after a day off in the Bay Area yesterday. As reported earlier, Detroit will get a key piece back when Pavel Datsyuk returns to a club thats desperately seeking more offense.

NEWS: Wings' Datsyuk set to return vs. Sharks

It will be much-needed. Just another offensive weapon that we need, Todd Bertuzzi said.

The burly winger also talked about his teams rivalry with San Jose (35-25-10, 80 points). The Red Wings lost the first two games of the season series before claiming a 3-2 win at Joe Louis Arena on Feb. 19, when the Sharks were in the midst of a wretched trip themselves in which they finished with just two wins in nine games.

The games against them are always important and always big games, and all that. To be honest though, at the point we are right now, it doesnt matter who we face. We need these two points and weve got to get ourselves back to playing the way we know how, Bertuzzi said.

For the Sharks, theyre not focused on the Red Wings losing streak. Theyre just trying to secure back-to-back wins for the first time since Feb. 2, and hopefully get back into the top eight in the process.

We didnt play in them. It may motivate them more, they may be hungrier, I dont know. I just know that we need to get ourselves on a streak and they stand in the way of that, Todd McLellan said. Weve got to come out and be ready to play our best.

Dominic Moore said: Theyve been an elite team in the league for a long time. Its a good test for us to work on our game, and work on those details.

The Sharks are still in ninth place heading into Friday nights action, but the club has secured five of a six possible points in its last three games, and has at least one point in five of six overall. Things seem to be trending upward despite the fact San Jose has scored just 13 goals in the last nine games.

That 2-1-3 mark comes on the heels of a stretch in which San Jose went just 4-10-1 in a stunning decline for the team that has been in the Western Conference finals for the last two years.

Whats improved?

I think were a little bit more together in terms of our support around the ice. Id say thats true in all zones, but for the most part on the breakouts and in the defensive zone, said Moore, who was acquired by the team in late February in the middle of its slide. Having five guys in the picture and supporting each other, thats a huge thing.

Antti Niemi, who will make his 10th straight start on Saturday, said: I think we give less and create more. Thats huge. We gave up one in the first yesterday and we cant open up our game, we still have to defend. Were shooting a lot, so were going to score.

Kronwall expects nothing less than a hard-fought battle between two teams in desperate need of a win.

I think we match up very well against each other. Its always high intensity, playoff-type games. It should be a good matchup, and both teams are looking to get back on track here, he said.

Like the Sharks, the Red Wings remain focused on their own game.

Im just worried about our team. Im not concerned about what theyre doing. Weve got our own issues, Bertuzzi said.

Report: Division rival interested in Joe Thornton

Report: Division rival interested in Joe Thornton

The mere thought of Joe Thornton wearing a Kings sweater may be enough to cause some Sharks fans to lose their lunch.

But it might be a possibility.

According to LA Kings Insider Jon Rosen, the Kings consider Thornton to be a “priority” should be hit the open market as a free agent. While the two sides are currently allowed to express mutual interest, NHL rules forbid them from discussing terms of any deal until Saturday at 9 a.m. PT.

Rosen points to a number of individuals in the Kings' organization that have ties to Thornton, including general manager Rob Blake, who played on the Sharks with Thornton from 2008-10. Mike O’Connell was Thornton’s general manager in Boston and currently serves as the Kings’ senior advisor to the general manager. Glen Murray, a former teammate and frequent linemate of Thornton’s with the Bruins for three-and-a-half seasons, is in Kings player development.

The Kings, under new management since replacing Dean Lombardi with Blake, and head coach Darryl Sutter with John Stevens, have put a priority on finding players this offseason that can get pucks to dangerous scoring areas. 

Adding one of the best passers in the history of the NHL would surely help in that regard. Thornton sits 13th in the NHL all-time with 1,007 assists.

Rosen writes: “Los Angeles has been a dominant possession team without being a high scoring team for the better part of the last six-plus seasons, and it was articulated earlier in the off-season that the team needed to do a better job of taking advantage of that possession discrepancy. In trying to find players with the ability to turn possession into actual production, the team has placed an emphasis on finding players capable of distributing the puck into high-danger in the attacking zone. There might not be another player in the NHL – let alone unrestricted free agents – who is as gifted of a passer of Thornton, which places the team’s needs in concert with the future Hall of Famer’s skill set.”

As reported here previously Thornton, who turns 38 on Sunday, is seeking a deal of three years. That might not be agreeable to the Sharks, who are likely to sign Martin Jones and Marc-Edouard Vlasic to long-term and expensive contract extensions that would kick in with the 2018-19 season.

Of course, Thornton could also be using the Kings as leverage to get a new deal in San Jose, where he would prefer to remain.

Tierney, Sorensen among players qualified by Sharks

Tierney, Sorensen among players qualified by Sharks

The Sharks have issued qualifying offers to restricted free agent forwards Chris Tierney, Marcus Sorensen and Barclay Goodrow, while cutting ties with three players in the system.

Tierney, 22, posted 11 goals and 12 assists for 23 points in 80 games last season, serving primarily as the fourth line center. He has 64 points (24g, 40a) in 202 career games over three NHL seasons, all with the Sharks.

Sorensen posted one goal and three assists in 19 games with the Sharks last season, his first in the NHL. The 25-year-old played in all six playoff games against Edmonton, scoring one goal and one assist.

Goodrow, 24, skated in three games for the Sharks last season with one assist. He has 16 points (4g, 12a) in 77 games over three seasons with the Sharks, although has played in just 17 NHL games since the start of the 2015-16 season.

Forward Nikita Jevpalovs, defenseman Patrick McNally and goalie Mantas Armalis - also known for his career as a male model - were left unqualified and are now unrestricted free agents.

Earlier in the offseason, the Sharks signed pending restricted free agents Joonas Donskoi and Melker Karlsson. Donskoi received a two-year deal at a salary cap hit of $1.9 million, while Karlsson was signed to a three-year deal at $2 million annually.