Sharks lose momentum with 5-3 loss to Ducks


Sharks lose momentum with 5-3 loss to Ducks


SAN JOSE The Anaheim Ducks scored three unanswered goals and prevented the Sharks from re-taking the Pacific Division lead with a 5-3 win over San Jose at HP Pavilion on Monday night.
The Sharks (36-26-10) remain in ninth place in the Western Conference, on the outside looking in with just 10 games left in the regular season.
Should the Sharks end up missing out on the playoffs, their lack of success against the rival Ducks will be a big reason why. Anaheim, buried in last place in the Pacific Division, has won four of five games against San Jose in the season series. They meet once more at Honda Center on March 28.
The Ducks scored three straight goals to take a 4-2 lead.
The first came on the power play late in the first, after an undisciplined and avoidable penalty by Brent Burns, who interfered with Teemu Selanne for some reason at the defensive blue line after a dump in. Francois Beauchemin got position in front of the net and put in a pass from Nick Bonino at 17:52 to make it a 2-2 game at the intermission.
Anaheims momentum carried over into the second. A pass from Joe Thornton hopped over the stick of Marc-Edouard Vlasic, and the puck bounced into the neutral zone. Ryan Getzlaf gobbled it up and skated in on a breakaway, and although Niemi made the stop, a charging Corey Perry put in the rebound less than a minute into the frame.
There was more. Nate Guenins shot from the point one of 20 from Anaheim in the second found the back of the net with Nick Palmieri setting a screen at 9:59 to give the Ducks a 4-2 lead.
The Sharks made it a 4-3 game on Joe Pavelskis deflection of a Burns wrister from the point at 17:29, but Anaheim responded just 33 seconds later. Thomas Greiss, who entered for Antti Niemi after Guenins goal, came out to challenge a shot from Palmieri skating up the wing. Douglas Murray blocked the shot, but Palmieri got it right back and beat an out of position Greiss to give the Ducks their two-goal cushion back before the intermission.
Jeff Deslauriers made it hold up in the third, although the Sharks didnt give all that much of a push. San Jose had a power play when Devante Smith-Pelly went off for a high-stick, but the Sharks didnt generate much towards the net despite good zone time by their top unit.
The Sharks struck first on Marty Havlats third goal in the last two games. Havlat, at the side of the net, took a pass from Brent Burns and skated around Jeff Deslauriers to deposit his fifth of the season at 6:24 on the power play.
Anaheim responded when Bobby Ryan scored on a rebound at 7:15, but San Jose took a 2-1 lead when Havlat set up Ryane Clowe for a one-timer in the slot at 9:20.
Deslauriers made his first appearance in net since Jan. 10, as Jonas Hiller had started the previous 32 games for Anaheim. Thats the longest streak of its kind since Antti Niemi started 34 straight for San Jose in the second half of last season.
The Sharks visit the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday.
Odds and ends: Tommy Wingels (upper body), TJ Galiardi (upper body), Michal Handzus (undisclosed) were all out for the Sharks. Jim Vandermeer and Colin White were healthy scratches. Greiss made his first appearance since Feb. 26 in Minnesota, as Niemi played all of the last 10 games.

In return to San Jose, McLellan emerges victorious, ends Sharks' season

In return to San Jose, McLellan emerges victorious, ends Sharks' season

SAN JOSE – To borrow a phrase from Chuck Woolery, Todd McLellan was back in two and two.

Saturday’s Game 6 between the Sharks and Oilers marked exactly two years and two days since the Sharks-McLellan love connection was broken up, as the coach and his staff were all essentially fired on April 20, 2015. But McLellan and assistants Jim Johnson and Jay Woodcroft quickly resurfaced with the Oilers a few weeks later, and now they’re moving on to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs at the expense of their former employer.

At what was his home for seven seasons, McLellan took the press conference podium at SAP Center as the victorious visiting coach after Edmonton’s 3-1 win clinched the series in six games. Asked what the moment meant to him, McLellan preferred not to focus on himself or his staff.

“It’s not about Todd, it’s not about Jay or Jimmy. It’s about the Oilers and the group of players there that are growing up in front of us,” McLellan said.

“We’re part of this team now. I obviously have a soft spot for a lot of the players that are here in San Jose. They gave us a hell of a series. They helped us grow up by pushing us, and we’re lucky to get through. That’s an important thing for us.”

Amazingly, the Oilers managed to prevail with just one even strength point from Connor McDavid, who led the league in scoring in the regular season. That point came with less than a second remaining on the clock on Sunday when McDavid converted on an empty net.

The focus from the outside, among many of the Edmonton and San Jose media, was that the Sharks were doing an admirable job of defending the 20-year-old, who had 30 goals and 100 points in the regular season. Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun, in particular, were keeping McDavid frustrated.

While that may be the case, McLellan said after Game 6 that he had no problem with the McDavid vs. Vlasic showdown. In his view, the Oilers could win the series elsewhere.

“There was a lot of talk in this series about us trying to get Connor away from Vlasic and Braun. Obviously we don’t want to talk about it during the series, but we had an eye on [Ryan Nugent-Hopkins] against [Joe Thornton’s] line, especially since they put them together. That was a match we were looking for.

“You can’t get everything. When you’re a coach, the media experts find something and they keep going to it. But coaches have different plans sometimes. Peter [DeBoer] had his plan, we had ours. Ours wasn’t about getting Connor away from Vlasic and Braun, ours was getting [Nugent-Hopkins] on the ice against [Joe] Pavelski and Jumbo and Patty Marleau. For the most part, it worked in our favor.”

It worked, because as the stars on both teams were essentially neutralized, the Oilers’ depth players contributed just a little bit more than the Sharks group did and at more opportune times.

Zack Kassian had a pair of game-winning goals in games two and three; David Desharnais was the Game 5 hero with a game-tying assist and game-winning goal; and Anton Slepyshev posted the game-winner with a breakaway in Game 6. Not exactly big names.

DeBoer was particularly disappointed with Game 3, a 1-0 loss on Kassian’s third period goal; and Game 5, in which the Sharks had a 3-1 lead that they couldn’t protect. That the Sharks only got one power play goal in 18 chances not counting the Game 4 blowout was also one of the reasons for their downfall.

“If you had told me before the series we would have held McDavid in check, we would have won the special teams battle on paper, I probably would have felt pretty good about our chances,” DeBoer said.

Instead, McLellan will take his up-and-coming team to the next round, where it will face off with the Anaheim Ducks.

“For our team, we’re watching them grow up right in front of us, which is a great thing,” he said.


Sharks rue 'key moments' as they are knocked out by Oilers

Sharks rue 'key moments' as they are knocked out by Oilers

SAN JOSE – The clock said there was seven minutes and 48 seconds remaining in the third period. It was frozen there for a bit after Patrick Marleau’s goal brought the Sharks back to within a single score of Edmonton.

Filled to capacity, the Shark Tank came to life, ravenous for the equalizer. The next several minutes offered a reminder of the team’s thrilling 2016 playoff run, when the Sharks finished just two wins away from a championship while taking their fans along for a ride they had never been on in a quarter-century.

But those seven minutes and 48 seconds quickly wound down, leaving the Sharks worlds away from what they did just a year ago. The Oilers held on for a 3-1 win, ending the Sharks’ season in a first round series that lasted six games.

Other than Game 4, a Sharks blowout victory, all the games were competitive.

“There were just a couple key moments in the series,” Joe Pavelski said.

In Game 6, the key moments that won the game for Edmonton came early in the second period. Justin Braun’s point shot was blocked leading to Leon Draisaitl’s goal to open the scoring, and Chris Tierney’s pass to Paul Martin at the point was just off the mark, allowing Anton Slepyshev to glide ahead untouched for another goal. The scores both came within the first two minutes of the middle frame, and were just 56 seconds apart.

That was probably poetic justice in that the Oilers were the much more aggressive and hungry team in the first period, they just weren't rewarded on the scoreboard.

Joe Thornton agreed with a suggestion that the Sharks were “a little bit sloppy” early, “but we got better. I thought we played a great second period and pushed in the third period. Just not enough time left on the clock.”

The Sharks did seem to get their game going just after Slepyshev’s score, but couldn’t solve Cam Talbot more than once. Pavelski nearly tied it with 3:45 to go, but his backhander from down low glanced off of both the crossbar and the post.

Key moments.

“It felt good coming off the stick, it really did,” Pavelski said of his chance. “It was there.”

Connor McDavid’s empty net goal with less than a second on the clock capped the scoring, sending the Oilers and former Sharks coach Todd McLellan on to the second round. 

Other than Game 4, which they dominated 7-0, the Sharks managed just seven goals in the other five games. Brent Burns failed to record a point in five of the six games, while Pavelski had just a single assist outside of Game 4.

The depth scorers also failed to come through, no surprise after the Sharks got little from them for much of the season.

“They defended well, Talbot played well. They were all close games,” Pete DeBoer said. “You’ve got to find a way to win 1-0, 2-1 in the playoffs. It’s not realistic you’re going to get three or four every night. They found a way to win more of the close games than we did.”

Burns said: “Series was pretty tight. I think it’s like Pavs said, it’s just little moments here and there. So much is luck, just puck luck, creating that luck. It’s a tight series, back and forth.”

The Sharks face an uncertain offseason, as there is little reason to believe their current roster, as constructed, will be able to compete with an Oilers team that has not only proven to be better now but is only going to improve. Whether Thornton and Marleau return remains an uncertainty, too.

“This is a big summer. We’ve got some guys that are up, and the expansion draft and whatnot,” Logan Couture said. 

“Every year I’ve been in this league, the team has never been the same the next year. There’s always been changes. Unfortunately, that’s the way that this league works. We’ll see what happens this summer, and come back hungrier next year.”

In the meantime, the Oilers will continue their push for a Stanley Cup while San Jose’s visit to the final round last year will only become more and more of a distant memory.