Sharks still hurting for goals entering showdown with Stars

Sharks still hurting for goals entering showdown with Stars
February 5, 2014, 1:00 pm

Losers of four of their last five, the Sharks have two more games before the Olympic break. (USATSI)

Programming note: Stars-Sharks coverage begins tonight at 7 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet California

SAN JOSE -- Leave it to Dan Boyle for an honest answer to the question, what do the Sharks have to do to get out of their scoring slump?

“If we could fix it, we’d do it. I don’t know. We obviously don’t know,” Boyle said.

“We look at film, and try to figure out why. Individually, we’re all trying to figure out why. I think the first thing you’ve got to look at is are you earning chances? If you’re not doing that, then there’s something you’re going to have to change. If you are and it’s just not going in, it’s more a matter of time.”

To review, San Jose has dropped four of its last five games headed into Wednesday’s match with Dallas, scoring just four goals over that span. In losses to Los Angeles, Calgary and Philadelphia, the chances weren’t there.

They had plenty in a 3-0 loss to Edmonton on Jan. 29 in which they generated a franchise-record 59 shots, and in last Saturday’s win against Chicago, San Jose earned a 2-1 shootout victory with a tight defensive effort.

[REWIND: Sharks shut out by Scrivens, Oilers]

Monday’s endeavor in the 5-2 loss to the Flyers was the most discouraging. San Jose generated just 22 shots on goal, the second-fewest they’ve had all season, and Todd McLellan was critical of his team’s work ethic.

[REWIND: No signs of panic after bad Sharks loss]

The head coach pointed to that facet of the game when asked the same question as Boyle.

“First decision we’ve got to make is whether or not we want to work,” McLellan said. “We didn’t make that decision against Philly. I know it’s a different day and a new opponent, but until that decision is made and we decide we all want to compete together for a full 60, it really doesn’t matter what else we have as far as game plan goes.”

Dallas enters Wednesday with a 5-1-1 mark in its last seven games. It has outscored its opponent 24-9 over that span, and will be playing the second of a back-to-back after a 3-1 win in Phoenix on Tuesday night.

“I think it starts with defending. We’re defending pretty well,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “When you make it tough to play against and the opposition finds it hard to get chances, it’s a good step to turn things around.”

Unlike the Sharks, who are locked into second place in the Pacific Division for the foreseeable future, Dallas is fighting to get into playoff position. It is now just two points behind Vancouver for the second wild card spot.

[RELATED: NHL standings]

Claiming that spot before the league shuts down could be a motivating factor for Dallas, while the Sharks could perhaps be a bit too comfortable.

“Right now, the jump we have in our game is minimal,” McLellan said. “The tenacity level that Dallas has is at a maximum right now, I believe.”

The Sharks’ final game before the Olympic break is Friday against Columbus, another team fighting for a playoff spot.

Boyle said: “We’ve got two games left at home here before the break. Obviously, we want to put four points in the bank and get away from here feeling a little bit better about ourselves.”