Sharks' skid continues with 4-3 shootout loss to Avalanche

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Sharks' skid continues with 4-3 shootout loss to Avalanche

BOX SCORE
DENVER -- The road isnt so friendly to the Sharks, after all.San Jose concluded its brief three-game trek with an 0-1-2 mark after losing in a shootout to the Colorado Avalanche, 4-3, on Tuesday night at Pepsi Center. The Sharks salvaged a point with a late goal from Patrick Marleau in the last minute of regulation, but Milan Hejduk and Gabriel Landeskog scored in the shootout to send San Jose to its seventh defeat in the last nine games (2-5-2).The Sharks were feeling pretty good themselves on Dec. 8, when they concluded a homestand with a convincing win over the Dallas Stars and the road trip on the horizon. San Jose had won seven of 10 games away from HP Pavilion at that point, and the players seemed excited about getting away for an extended trip for the first time since late October.

Instead, they lost a 1-0 decision to St. Louis on Saturday in which the offense was non-existent, followed by a 3-2 overtime defeat to Chicago where they surrendered a late lead.In fact, the Sharks blew 2-1 third period leads in the final two games of the trip, including Tuesdays loss.Thats probably the thing that sticks out to me, said Dan Boyle, who had a goal and an assist and was a 2 against Colorado. Were not scoring very many goals right now, we have to keep teams to one or two. Second game in a row we get the lead in the third, and we gave it away.There was that phase in the third period where we sat back on our heels, and you cant win like that, said Todd McLellan.The Sharks and Avalanche meet again at HP Pavilion on Thursday.Trailing 3-2, the Sharks tied the game at 19:38 of the third period. Logan Couture gathered in a loose puck, skated towards the net, and backhanded a perfect pass through the slot to Marleau who wristed it in.After a scoreless overtime, Landeskog and Hejduk scored on Antti Niemi in the shootout for the Avalanche, while the Sharks Joe Pavelski was the only one to get a puck past Semyon Varlamov.While surrendering a lead in the third period isnt ideal, the Sharks were able to prevent the trip from being a complete disaster with Marleaus late goal just his second in the last 10 games. Boyle, also, has not exactly been lighting it up on either end of the ice this season. He scored for the first time since Nov. 7 for just his second of the season.McLellan is hopeful that goals and points from some of his slumping players can help get things moving in the right direction offensively. Marleau and Boyle got the goals, but Joe Thornton, Pavelski and Couture all got on the scoresheet with assists.Lets hope so, because its been a long time coming, said the coach. Its great to see Boyle get on the board five-on-five, and Patty finally getting there. Were still waiting for some others.Colorado scored twice in the third period to take a 3-2 lead.First it was Daniel Winnik. After Niemi stopped Erik Johnsons blast, the Sharks goaltender leaned forward as if to gather in the puck. Winnik got to it first, though, and his wraparound beat Niemi before the goaltender was able to recover at 6:31.The Sharks 28th-ranked NHL penalty killing unit failed in its one and only attempt with Colin White off on a holding call at 10:16. Matt Duchesne was left alone at the point as Couture was caught out of position, and the shifty forward found the top corner at 11:51 to give Colorado a 3-2 lead it would maintain until Marleaus late marker.I thought they upped the ante and increased the speed and the play, said McLellan of Colorado. Not necessarily right away, but five or six shifts into the period. We didnt respond well until they scored, and then we got desperate again and started to play the way we were earlier in the game.We have the talent and the ingredients to play on our toes, so weve got to fix that.Playing on their toes is something the Sharks failed to do late in the first period, as well. With the game still scoreless and the clock winding down, Colorados Stefan Elliott skated end-to-end while flying past Jamie McGinn, Marleau and Marc-Edouard Vlasic before firing a wrist shot past Niemi from the circle.It was inexcusable goal, and a microcosm of the Sharks tendency to fall asleep at times.It was a line change, and we just backed right in. They came in, got a good shot off and it went in, but we definitely didnt get up in the neutral zone in order to force him to make a play, said Marleau. We gave him a lot of room to skate.The Sharks got on the board with just their second power play goal in the last nine games early in the second period. Boyle controlled the puck, skated towards the center of the ice high just inside the blue line, and spotted McGinn cutting towards the net. McGinns perfect redirection of Boyles low tape-to-tape pass evened the score at 3:16.That ended a 1-for-28 stretch for the Sharks with a man advantage, including an ineffective first period power play.San Jose took its first lead of the game at 13:39 of the second. Torrey Mitchell did the grunt work behind the net, finding Pavelski in the circle. Pavelskis attempt deflected off of Paul Stastnys skate to Boyle in the high slot, and the Sharks defenseman buried a wrist shot.It wouldnt last.Odds and ends: McGinn has five goals in his last seven games. Frazer McLaren and Matt Irwin were the Sharks healthy scratches. Colorado ended a three-game losing streak but increased its home winning streak to four. Niemi finished with 30 saves, while Varlamov had 27. The Sharks won 36 of 62 faceoffs (58 percent). Colorado out-hit the Sharks, 30-9.

Notes: Injured Sharks Hansen, Karlsson return to practice

Notes: Injured Sharks Hansen, Karlsson return to practice

DALLAS – Injured Sharks forwards Jannik Hansen and Melker Karlsson both returned to the ice for Thursday’s practice in Dallas, in what Pete DeBoer called “a good first step” in their recoveries.

The coach left open the possibility that one or both could play against the Stars on Friday night, even though neither was skating on a set line for practice.

“We’ll have to wait and see how they feel [Friday] morning and what the recovery is,” DeBoer said. “I’m not prepared to say they’re in tomorrow, but it’s a good sign they’re on the ice and participated.”

Hansen has been out for the past two games since getting a stick in the head from defenseman Brandon Montour on Saturday against Anaheim. 

“Took a couple days [off] to make sure everything was aright,” Hansen said. “Getting better, back on the ice today.”

Officially, it’s an upper body injury. When pressed if it was a concussion issue, Hansen said: “I don’t know. It’s tough to say to begin with, but obviously you do all the precautionary things that [are] involved now.”

Although he has just one assist in his first six games with the Sharks, Hansen seemed to spark the Sharks’ top line with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski, as the line generated one even strength goal in each of the first four games Hansen played.

Karlsson has missed the last six games with a lower body injury. He has 19 points (9g, 10a) in 60 games with a plus-nine rating.

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The lines remained the same for Thursday’s practice. Patrick Marleau was with Thornton and Pavelski; Logan Couture centered Joel Ward and Mikkel Boedker; Tomas Hertl was between Joonas Donskoi and Marcus Sorensen, while the fourth line sweaters were worn by Chris Tierney, Micheal Haley, Timo Meier and Danny O’Regan.

San Jose stayed over in St. Paul on Tuesday night and flew to Dallas on Wednesday morning on their day off.

The Wild game, a 3-2 loss, was the Sharks’ fourth straight. They’ve generated just four goals over that span.

That game also capped off a stretch of seven games in 11 days for the Sharks, who now have just a two-point lead on Anaheim for first place in the Pacific Division – a lead that was nine points before the losing streak began.

Was the day off good?

“Yeah. We’ve been kind of struggling scoring goals, so just to kind of relax yesterday and then kind of get back and refocus today,” Thornton said. “But sometimes you just need a little time away from the rink. I think yesterday was needed.”

DeBoer said: “I think our group is pretty mature. I don’t think we’re overeating to the situation. No one’s happy we’ve lost a few, but we also know that we’ve done enough good things that we could have won two or three of those games. We’ve just got to stick with it, clean up a couple things, and score some goals.”

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Defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic skated after missing Tuesday’s game with the flu. Tierney missed Monday’s game in Dallas, also due to illness.

Is that all gone now?

“Knock on wood. Nothing today. Hope so,” DeBoer said.

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.”