Sharks' slide continues, drop third straight in loss to Dallas Stars

Sharks' slide continues, drop third straight in loss to Dallas Stars

BOX SCORE

DALLAS  — Kari Lehtonen made 30 saves for his 36th career shutout Monday night. And still, one of the toughest shots he faced came before the game.

"He was ready to go today, just because I hit him up high in warmups," Dallas Stars teammate Patrick Sharp said. "I was a little worried. When he made those first couple saves, I was breathing a little bit easier."

Lehtonen thought Sharp's shot helped him get in the right frame of mind before his 1-0 win over the San Jose Sharks.

"It woke me up. Woke the beast," the goalie said.

Dallas scored the only goal Lehtonen needed at 14:54 of the second period. Curtis McKenzie got his fifth on a tip-in from the slot that beat Sharks goalie Aaron Dell.

Adam Cracknell took the shot from the left point.

"Great job by (Cracknell), just holding on the puck," McKenzie said. "He must have had it for a good 10 seconds before he shot it at the net. I just found myself open in front, so I was able to get a tip-in there."

Pacific Division leader San Jose (42-23-7) lost a third straight game for only the second time this season. The Sharks have scored just two goals in those three games.

"Chances are there," coach Peter DeBoer said, "so we've just got to bear down and we've got to get one dirty or ugly around the net. We've got to get one on the power play some way. It's not all bad by any means. There's a lot of good that's going on, but right now we're cold. We're paying a price for that."

The Sharks outshot the Stars 30-20, including 12-6 in the third period.

Dallas (29-33-10) is barely alive in the playoff race with 10 games remaining.

"It's been a tough year," Lehtonen said, "so after a game like this it feels especially good. Just the way we played the whole 60 minutes. It was really cool. Guys were blocking shots and getting all the rebounds."

Dallas' other shutout this season was Lehtonen's 3-0 win Dec. 3 at Colorado.

"He found a few pucks through traffic that were big saves for us," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. "He made big saves when we needed it."

Neither team scored during the first period as they totaled 14 shots on goal, eight by the Sharks.

San Jose's Logan Couture, who has 25 goals, almost got another in the first, but Lehtonen stopped the shot with his foot.

"It was just a difficult situation when Couture has some time and I'm already down, so I have to do something tricky," Lehtonen said. "I thought he was going to shoot right away, and he was trying to go around me. That's where the long legs came to help me."

The Stars had another good chance in the second after McKenzie's goal, but Dell stopped a 3-on-1 rush. San Jose again outshot Dallas, 10-8, for an 18-14 advantage after two periods.

San Jose couldn't score even after pulling Dell with just under two minutes remaining. Dallas missed two tries at the empty net.

"It's a 1-0 game," Sharks captain Joe Pavelski said. "Feeling is, just stick with it. We can't hang our head. Just got to find a way to be a little bit better."

NOTES: Sharks C Chris Tierney was out for the first time this season, sidelined by the flu. ... Dallas C Jason Spezza did not play because of back spasms. ... Stars D Dan Hamhuis went down on the ice at the end of the second period. He was hit in the face by Couture's stick when the Sharks' center followed through on a shot from the right corner. Hamhuis returned after taking stitches during the intermission. ... The Stars were coming off a 1-3 road trip — they were outscored 17-5. ... San Jose has been shut out five times this season. ... Each team was 0 for 2 on the power play. ... Dallas C Tyler Seguin won 10 of 13 faceoffs.

UP NEXT

Sharks: Play the second of a four-game trip Wednesday at Minnesota before returning to Dallas to play on Friday.

Stars: Travel to Chicago to play on Thursday.

Boedker tops list of disappointing Sharks depth forwards

Boedker tops list of disappointing Sharks depth forwards

SAN JOSE – The Sharks didn’t make any blockbuster moves last summer, content to make another run in 2016-17 with largely the same group that came within two wins of capturing the Stanley Cup.

They still acquired a notable player, though, when Mikkel Boedker was signed on July 1 to add an element that the Sharks knew they needed more of moving forward – speed. Boedker was expected to make the team faster, after the Sharks were exposed for not having enough of that against Pittsburgh in the NHL’s final round, as well as play in a top six role. 

At the time, it was hailed as a slick, under-the-radar move that wasn’t going to change the dynamic of the club but could help push it over the top.

When Boedker was a healthy scratch in games three and four of the first round against Edmonton, the evidence became clear, though, that this was a decision that fell flat on its face. 

Frankly, Boedker – who is signed for three more years with a $4 million salary cap hit – brings back visions of Sharks bust Marty Havlat. You know the skill is there, but the desire to use it on a nightly basis while showing any semblance of a battle level is lacking. 

Should the Sharks give Boedker another chance next season, or should they do everything in their power to try and move him? That’s a question that will likely be debated in the front office over the next several weeks.

On get-away day on Monday, indications were that the Sharks were planning on sticking with the 27-year-old, who finished with 26 points in the regular season (10g, 16a) and added one goal and one assist in four games in the playoffs.

“He has the things we’re looking for: his career scoring average, his speed, [penalty killing] ability,” general manager Doug Wilson said. “Did he meet the expectations that he had for himself [or] that we had for him? No. Can we get that out of him? Pete [DeBoer] believes we can.”

DeBoer has known Boedker since he played for him in 2007-08 in Kitchener (OHL). Despite scratching him in the playoffs, DeBoer said he saw “huge improvement” in Boedker throughout the course of the season after the forward spent nearly all of his NHL career in Arizona.

“There was an adjustment. He’s played 6-7 years a certain way in the NHL,” DeBoer said. “We’ve asked him to play differently here, and there was an adjustment.”

Boedker still believes that he can be a fit in San Jose.

“I think it will be and it can be,” he said. “It’s learning period, but you’ve also got to look in the mirror yourself and see what you can change and what assets you need to bring. I’ve learned a lot, and I’m ready to do that.”

The list of Sharks depth forwads that had frustrating seasons hardly begins and ends with Boedker, though.

Veteran Joel Ward’s production dipped from 43 points last season to 29 in 2016-17, although that probably isn’t too surprising considering he’s 36. Tomas Hertl is proving to be a streaky player, too, although his season was interrupted by another a knee injury.

The bigger disappointment came from players like Chris Tierney and Joonas Donskoi, who both made big impressions in the 2016 playoffs but struggled to produce consistent offense this year. Both were mentioned by name by DeBoer on Monday.

There are some promising youngsters in the pipeline like Timo Meier, Kevin Labanc and Marcus Sorensen, but it’s still too early to project any of them as can’t-miss scorers at the NHL level.

“I think we’ve got a large group of guys that I like, but need to step up,” DeBoer said. “Is Sorensen [like] Donskoi next year, where he takes a step back, or [does he take a] step forward? We’ve got a lot of guys that there’s a lot of potential there – Chris Tierney. 

“There’s a lot of those guys, but they need to have big summers and take a step, and show that they’re not just one season or one month players.”

Facial fractures for Couture; Thornton undergoes surgery

Facial fractures for Couture; Thornton undergoes surgery

SAN JOSE – Just in case there was any question as to the grisly nature of Logan Couture’s mouth injury, the Sharks forward shared a picture on his personal Instagram account on Monday.

If you haven’t seen it yet, proceed with caution.

The photo was taken the night of his injury on March 25 in Nashville, showing several top teeth missing in a mouth that can accurately be described as a bloody mess, after he was hit with a defected puck while standing in front of the net in a game against the Predators.

Couture revealed on Tuesday in a conference call that there was more to his injury that just damaged teeth. He also has some facial fractures, including one above his upper lip that extends to his nasal area, and another that is under the bottom row of his teeth.

The one that’s higher in his face is still painful. 

“Still struggle to eat and sleep. … It’s not a comfortable state to be in,” said Couture, who missed the final seven games of the regular season before returning for the six-game first round series loss to Edmonton.

As for the next step, Couture has yet to sit down with his dentist, although further work is on the horizon.

“There’s going to be some implants to get the teeth fixed,” he said. “Hopefully get it done in the next few weeks, and then I’ll head back to Canada.”

Couture doesn’t yet know how many teeth need to be replaced.

“All depends on how the teeth respond,” he said.

* * *

Joe Thornton had successful surgery on his left knee on Monday afternoon, NBC Sports California has learned, and according to a team statement released later on Tuesday he is expected to "make a complete recovery and be ready for the start of the 2017-18 season." 

According to a source, the damage to Thornton’s MCL was more significant than his ACL. The team declined to give any details about the surgery in its statement, including who performed it and where it was done. 

Thornton played four playoff games against Edmonton despite damaged knee ligaments, head coach Pete DeBoer revealed on Monday, when he said Thornton was dealing with a “torn MCL and ACL” after getting hurt in Vancouver on April 2.