Sharks try to avoid rare third straight loss

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Sharks try to avoid rare third straight loss

PROGRAMMINGALERT: Tune into Sharks Pregame Live on CSNCalifornia at 6 p.m. and Sharks Postgame Live immediately after thegame.

EDMONTON Its been more than three months since the Sharks lost three consecutive games in regulation. Theyll try to avoid it again tonight in Edmonton against the struggling Oilers.

San Jose won its season opener handily against Phoenix before dropping its next three games, including two to Anaheim. Since that time, the Sharks have gone two in a row with no points in the standings just twice, including last Thursday against Ottawa and Saturday afternoon vs. Vancouver.

Youre going to lose games. Ive always stressed that its important not to lose the next one, Dan Boyle said on Sunday after the teams skate at Rexall Place. It is going to happen at times, but I think weve done a pretty good job of coming back after losses with a pretty good effort.

Thats not to say that they dont suffer after the losses, though. For Boyle, its not necessarily a bad thing to keep those disappointing feelings close for a brief time.

I think you have to feel it for awhile. Were all different, and some guys turn the page a little bit quicker than others. I think it does need to sting for awhile, but then you do eventually have to turn the page and move on, he said.

Head coach Todd McLellan doesnt want his team to dwell on any kind of streaks, good or bad. Instead, he wants the team to focus each game individually.

I dont want us to carry streaks. I dont want us to refer to numbers, because when we won nine of 10 we werent running around saying hey, we won nine of 10. Thats not how we operate, he said. I want us to play our game, and play sharp.

The team hasnt necessarily played its worst hockey in the two losses. Vancouver capitalized on its primo scoring chances in a game that could have gone either way on Saturday, including a bad bounce on the game-winning goal by Cody Hodgson late in the third period.

And, yes, the team was outplayed by Ottawa on Thursday night, but goaltender Antti Niemi played one of his poorest games of the season - a major factor in the 4-1 loss.

I want us to play how we did in Vancouver, believe it or not, and clean up a few areas, McLellan said. Not major changes, but I want us to be that competitive and execute as well as we did on the power play and the penalty kill, finally. I want us to clean up a few moments in a game that probably cost us.

San Jose has been able to avoid long stretches of bad hockey for a couple of reasons, according to the coach.

Leadership and maturity. I dont think theres a big sense of panic when we lose games. The sense of urgency goes way up, but there isnt a sense of panic. To come out of a losing streak you have to do it collectively. You cant do it as individuals. I think were learning that lesson as we move on. Well win as a group, and well keep losing as individuals."

After a strong start to the year in which they were among the NHLs best defensive clubs, the Oilers have fallen off the map and look like theyll be challenging once again for the top pick in the draft next June. In fact, the Oilers are just six points ahead of Columbus, in 29th place in the NHL standings.

Edmonton is just 1-7-1 in its last nine games, its lone victory a 2-1 win over the Kings in overtime on Jan 15. The Oilers are also coming off of an ugly 6-2 loss to Calgary in Saturday nights Hockey Night in Canada broadcast, and coach Tom Renney subjected them to a hard practice on Sunday.

Thats not the effort we want, especially against a rival like that, on Hockey Night in Canada, Taylor Hall said. Thats not the effort thats going to be needed to win any games this year. This morning was a result of that. It was a tough practice.

Forward Ryan Jones said: I think thats exactly what we deserved. Toms sending a message, and its well received.

While McLellan doesnt want his team looking at the standings when it comes to the Oilers, the Sharks are likely well aware that the Oilers are fading. That doesnt mean theyll take Edmonton lightly, though, since it gave San Jose a tough match on Dec. 17 at HP Pavilion a 3-2 Sharks win in which Patrick Marleaus third period power play goal was the difference.

They got beat up pretty good last game, and teams most of the time seem to come back from something like that and come together, and usually come out with a pretty strong performance the next time, Boyle said.

Despite loss, Sharks 'in a good spot' headed into bye week

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Despite loss, Sharks 'in a good spot' headed into bye week

SAN JOSE – Despite what was technically their sixth loss in the last eight games, the Sharks seemed to put more stock in the point they gained in a 2-1 overtime loss to the Bruins on Sunday night at SAP Center, rather than the one they left on the table.

They have that luxury. 

The Sharks will enter their bye week five points ahead of Edmonton and Anaheim for first place in the Pacific Division, and figure they’re due for some time off after a short summer followed by a World Cup for some, and a brutal condensed NHL schedule for all.

“[We’ve] showed up and played hard,” Joe Pavelski said. “We’ve been in a lot of games. Games we’ve lost, we’ve battled. There hasn’t been any cheat in [our] game. Defensively, we’ve been strong. There’s a lot of good areas in our game that we like right now.”

Playing in the second of a back-to-back against a Bruins team had was coming off of its own bye week, the Sharks fell behind 1-0 on a first period goal by Ryan Spooner, but notched a Patrick Marleau equalizer in a second period in which they outshot the Bruins 16-9. An evenly played third period gave way to overtime, where Brad Marchand scored on a breakaway to give the Bruins their fourth straight win since changing head coaches.

The Sharks spoke before the weekend about finishing the final two games strong before the respite. They ended up gaining three of four points, including Saturday’s 4-1 win in Arizona, and were pleased with their effort against the Bruins as they capped off 10 games in 20 days since the All-Star break.

“It was an important push into this break,” Pete DeBoer said. “To go in up [five points] on the next closest team is a real testament to our group.”

Paul Martin said: “I thought we played pretty well, considering the back-to-back with some travel, and a team that was waiting for us.”

Perhaps the most encouraging performance came from Martin Jones, who was one of a number of Sharks players that was looking particularly fatigued lately. The goaltender entered the game with a 1-0-2 record, 4.46 goals-against average and .837 save percentage in his last four starts, including getting pulled after the first period in Boston just 10 days ago.

Jones was impressive, though, making a vital pad stop on the dangerous David Pastrnak in front of the net midway through the third period to keep it a 1-1 score.

“It was a good game. Two teams playing hard,” Jones said. “We can take a lot of positives from that one. It was a good hard game, just didn’t go our way tonight.”

Overtimes have been an issue lately, though. The Sharks have lost their last four games decided during the three-on-three, all coming within the last two weeks. As satisfied as they are with their cushion in the division, it could have been cushier.

Against the Bruins, Tuukka Rask denied Brent Burns on a two-on-one in overtime, and Marchand scored off of the ensuing faceoff, blowing the zone past Pavelski and Marc-Edouard Vlasic and corralling a long toss from Torey Krug before sliding it home.

“We get to overtime, shootouts – we expect to get that extra point,” Pavelski said. “We haven’t found it lately. We’ll just keep looking for it.”

DeBoer said: “The points are critical, they’re valuable. I don’t read a lot into [overtime decisions], we’ve won our share over the time I’ve been here. We had a chance to win tonight, too. … I concentrate on the effort, and I thought we got better as the game went on.”

Being focused and energized, as they have been most of the season to this point, shouldn’t be a problem when the season resumes next Saturday in Vancouver. The Sharks are in prime position to win their first division title since 2010-11, and a return trip to the Stanley Cup Final is a distinct possibility.

Losing six of eight won’t be nearly as acceptable coming out of the break as it apparently is going into it, but that’s not something to worry about now, even after another defeat. 

“There are some games you wish you could get back and get those points, but we’re still in a good spot,” Marleau said.

Instant Replay: Bruins score in overtime, send Sharks to the break with a loss

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Instant Replay: Bruins score in overtime, send Sharks to the break with a loss

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE – The Boston Bruins skated past the San Jose Sharks on Sunday at SAP Center, 2-1 in overtime.

Brad Marchand’s breakaway goal after the Bruins won a defensive zone faceoff gave Boston the win, as Torey Krug found the forward charging towards the San Jose net. Marchand slipped the puck through Martin Jones’ five hole at 2:36.

San Jose has dropped its last four games decided in the three-on-three.

The Sharks lost for the sixth time in their last eight games (2-1-5), headed into the bye week. They will not play or practice from Monday through Friday, and resume their season on Saturday in Vancouver.

Boston extended its winning streak to four games since firing Claude Julien and naming Bruce Cassidy the interim head coach. The streak began with a 6-3 win over the Sharks at TD Garden on Feb. 9.

The Bruins were just the fourth team of 20 to win the first game after their bye week (4-12-4).

Boston scored the only goal in the first period, while the Sharks answered with a second period tally.

Ryan Spooner’s marker at 11:05 of the opening frame put Boston ahead. An Adam McQuaid point shot found Jimmy Hayes in the slot, and after Hayes fired wide of the net, Spooner tucked in the loose puck.

San Jose turned up the pressure late in the second, finally resulting in a goal by Patrick Marleau. During a four-on-four situation, Brent Burns’ wrist shot deflected right to Marleau’s tape, and he easily flipped in his 502nd career goal at 17:37.

Sharks coach Pete DeBoer shortened his bench for the third period, leaving Mikkel Boedker and Nikolay Goldobin planted on the pine. Melker Karlsson took Boedker’s place on the second line, while Chris Tierney skated on the third line with Tomas Hertl and Joel Ward.

The Sharks are 6-3-1 in the second half of back-to-backs.

Special teams

Each team had just one power play in the game, failing to convert.

The Sharks are 3-for-24 on the power play over their last eight games (12.5 percent), but a perfect 8-for-8 on the PK in their last five.

In goal

Jones was facing the Bruins just 10 days after he was pulled to start the second period in Boston when he allowed three goals on 12 shots. He allowed two goals on 27 shots.

Tuukka Rask made 29 saves for the win.

Lineup

The Sharks’ lineup was unchanged from Saturday’s win in Arizona, other than the goaltender. Goldobin played in his second game of the season.

Joe Thornton remains two assists away from 1000 in his career. His five-game point streak came to an end.

Burns had 20 shot attempts, including seven on net.

Up next

Saturday’s game in Vancouver begins a stretch where the Sharks will play their final 22 games over a 43-day span. On Feb. 2, they won the first of five meetings with the Canucks, 4-1 at Rogers Arena.

Vancouver, which hosted Philadelphia on Sunday, also has its bye week from Feb. 20-24.