Sharks win 3rd straight, defeat Columbus 2-1

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Sharks win 3rd straight, defeat Columbus 2-1

Box Score

SAN JOSE It had all of the makings for a letdown.

The Sharks entered Thursdays home game against lowly Columbus coming off of two emotional wins; were playing their third game in four nights and second of a back-to-back against a well rested opponent; while a red-hot Washington Capitals club invades HP Pavilion on Saturday.

Goals by Ryane Clowe and Joe Thornton, coupled with 23 saves from Thomas Greiss in his first start in over a month, though, gave the suddenly surging Sharks a 2-1 victory. It was San Jose's third straight win, and the Sharks have points in 10 of their last 11 overall (7-1-3).

I thought it was a gutsy effort on our behalf. To come back and play three-in-four with a team thats sitting in your city waiting for you and theyre very fresh, I thought it was real good, McLellan said, referring to the Blue Jackets not having played since New Years Eve.

Thorntons second period marker gave the Sharks their first lead and was the difference. The play began when Patrick Marleau sent a snap shot towards the net where it made contact with Thorntons stick, which was in front of the pad of goalie Curtis Sanford. The puck popped into the air and Thornton batted it in at 4:44 for his eighth of the season.

After Columbus took an early advantage on a Vinnie Prospal marker at 2:13 of the first period, the Sharks tied it on a power play with Ryan Johansen off on a double minor for high sticking Dan Boyle in the face at 9:48.

San Jose went to work on the extended man advantage and was generally ineffective for the first three minutes, before Clowe knocked in a loose puck at 13:03.

It was bouncing around. I think Michal Handzus either tipped it or redirected it somehow. Even when I shot, it I didnt think it was in, Clowe said.

The goal was Clowes first in eight games and just his second in the last 12.

The hitting and, consequently, the nastiness picked up in the third period after a generally docile first two. It began when Douglas Murray leveled an off balance Mark Letestu along the boards with about 14 and a half minutes remaining.

A couple minutes later, a scrum ensued behind the Columbus net as Brent Burns and Jared Boll grappled with one another, as did Handzus and Marc Methot. The Blue Jackets Derek Mackenzie picked up the extra minor, though, but San Jose couldnt capitalize on the power play.

With 6:14 left, Derek Dorsett leveled Tommy Wingels with a blindside hit behind the Sharks net, and again San Jose went on the power play. Logan Couture and Marleau misfired on open one-timers, though, and Sanford stopped Thorntons rebound attempt of a wrist shot by Boyle.

It almost cost them. Columbus Jeff Carter had a great chance to tie the game with Sanford pulled for an extra attacker, staring at an open net in the faceoff circle. Boyle alertly dove in front of Carter's dangerous wrister, though, preserving the win.

Im just glad it hit me, Boyle said. It was one of those bang-bang plays, and I didnt see the replay, but everybody say it was probably on the way in. Just in the right place at the right time, I guess.

Boyle and the Blue Jackets Rick Nash had an awkward exchange earlier in the third. In the San Jose zone, the two were seen jawing at each other and appeared ready to drop the gloves. Boyle was puzzled even after the game.

Im confused, because at the end of the night he kind of apologized. So, I still dont know what happened, he said. He thought I wanted to go, he wanted to go, and obviously neither of us fights very often. Im not sure. Just got a little heated there for a second.

I was trying to think, am I going to do this? Its been awhile. With my luck this year I probably would have pulled something.

Columbus did not have a single power play all night, while the Sharks finished 1-for-5.

I dont know if they were trying to draw us in, since they had no power plays, Clowe said of the chippy third period. We did a good job of staying disciplined.

The Sharks didnt start the game well, surrendering seven of the first eight shots along with the goal to Prospal. Columbus nearly made it 2-0, but Greiss stopped Derek Brassard on a two-on-one rush six minutes into the game.

Greiss was playing for the first time since Dec. 3 vs. Florida.

He found a way to make some real good saves. We had four outnumbered rushes against in the first period alone, and then we cleaned that up after, McLellan said.

It was a conscious effort by San Jose to get better defensively after the poor start, according to Thornton.

I think early on with that goal from Prospal, the guys realized weve got to tighten up a little bit, and we did that, he said. Greisser did a good job swallowing pucks up and deflecting pucks away from him. After that first one, we just clamped down and played well defensively after that.

Greiss had a little trouble with his rebound control at times, but improved his record to 5-4-0.

It was a long time and it took me a little bit at the start to get my timing down and everything, but I got a lot of shots at the start and that made me feel better, he said.

Greiss was also thankful for the effort in front of him.

It was great, a couple of blocked shots, and some huge ones at the end. We were working hard all over the ice, so that was pretty good.

Odds and ends: Curtis Sanford finished with 37 saves, as the Sharks outshot Columbus, 39-24. Each team had 12 blocked shots. San Jose won the faceoff battle, 28-26. Joe Pavelski was 9-3 in the circle. Jason Demers assisted on both Sharks goals. Tommy Wingels, recalled from Worcester earlier in the day, played on a line with Michal Handzus and Andrew Murray. Torrey Mitchell was a healthy scratch, as were Frazer McLaren and Antero Niittymaki. Jim Vandermeer and Colin White remain on injured reserve. Brent Burns had a game-high six shots. Joe Thornton played in his 500th game as a Shark. The Sharks are 18-1-3 against the Blue Jackets all-time at HP Pavilion. After the game on Saturday, 17 of the next 23 games for the Sharks are on the road. This was the first of four games between the Sharks and Blue Jackets, with the next on Saturday, Jan. 14.

Sharks blowout loss to Stars includes 'a month's worth of mistakes'

Sharks blowout loss to Stars includes 'a month's worth of mistakes'

DALLAS – In just two-and-a-half weeks, the Sharks will have the opportunity to defend their Western Conference title when the Stanley Cup Playoffs get underway.

(Take a deep breath. They won’t fall out of playoff position.)

Still, it’s a terrible time for them to be playing their worst hockey of the season, and going through the foulest stretch of coach Pete DeBoer’s two-year tenure.

The Sharks were flat-out embarrassed by the Stars on Friday night in their fifth straight regulation defeat, 6-1 in Dallas, showing no signs of life for the duration. Not even a verbal tongue-lashing from their normally reserved head coach in full view of the cameras in the second period got their motors going.

How do you explain this one, Joe Pavelski?

“I don’t know, good question,” said the captain. “There’s a commitment that needs to be there to win in this league right now consistently. Right now, we’re searching for that.”

DeBoer, too, was puzzled.

“You have a handful of those a year where nothing goes right and nobody’s got any kind of legs or energy,” he said. “It was one of those nights. I don’t have an explanation for it. I felt we prepared the right way the last couple days. I thought we felt pretty good about ourselves. Then, the puck dropped and everything went bad.”

It was evident early that the Sharks were off, as they couldn’t figure out a way to get the puck through the neutral zone for the first several shifts and didn’t register a shot on goal until 7:17 into the first period. The first of three Adam Cracknell goals – yes, Adam Cracknell – had them trailing 1-0 after the opening frame.

Traditionally, the Sharks would have found a way to jolt themselves to life at the intermission, as it was so plainly obvious that they didn’t seem focused or driven over the first 20 minutes.

This was a game, too, in which they were healthier, getting Jannik Hansen back in the lineup, and more rested than the Stars, who were playing their second game in as many nights while San Jose was coming off a rare two-day break. Furthermore, the Sharks have seen a nine-point lead in the Pacific Division evaporate to just two points headed into Friday’s action. Motivation should have been easy against a team that shut them out on Monday, to boot.

But the mental mistakes to start the second were even worse. Brett Ritchie was left alone by Brenden Dillon for a goal just 1:58 into the middle frame, and at 5:19, Brent Burns was caught staring at the puck off of a faceoff as Jamie Benn got free in front of the net to push the Dallas lead to 3-0. DeBoer's timeout and screaming session after that third goal did nothing, as Dallas got two more goals off of the rush and another on a breakaway by Cracknell after a gift turnover by goalie Aaron Dell before the night was through.

“That’s a month worth of mistakes in one night, so hopefully we get it out of the system,” DeBoer said.

The defensive miscues should be easily correctable, according to Dillon.

“If you look at a good chunk of those goals, we kind of know whether it was d-zone coverage, or off the rush, or just communicating with one another,” he said. “Stuff that’s not like us. I think if we watched the other 70 games this year, those kind of things don’t happen.”

Of course, the defensive errors become all the more glaring when a team isn’t scoring, either. The Sharks managed just one Joe Thornton power play goal, and have just five total goals in their last five games.

That part of their game wasn’t any better against Dallas than their defense, as Kari Lehtonen had a relatively tranquil evening.

“We have a lot of guys that are going through some tough times right now and struggling to get on the scoresheet,” Logan Couture said. “We're going to need all of those guys to bring more. That's from our top guys, including myself and on down. We need to do more offensively. Score goals, and do more defensively, as well.”

They have just eight more games to figure it all out.

“It’s not ideal, by any means,” Dillon said. “I think it’s maybe a bit of a wakeup call for us. … You can’t take a night off and you have to be emotionally invested. You’ve got to take every shift as hard as you possibly can.”

* * *

DeBoer had no update on Marc-Edouard Vlasic, who didn't play in the third period. The defenseman was seen leaving the dressing room under his own power, but looked to be walking a bit gingerly.

Instant Replay: Sharks allow six to Stars, losing streak now at five

Instant Replay: Sharks allow six to Stars, losing streak now at five

BOX SCORE

DALLAS – Entering the game with their longest regulation losing streak of the season, and playing against what should have been a tired opponent that is already out of playoff contention, the Sharks were obliterated by the Stars on Friday at American Airlines Center, 6-1.
 
From the drop of the puck, the Sharks looked like they had no interest in competing against a Dallas team that had played in Chicago on Thursday night, and had already beaten San Jose earlier in the week.

The loss stretched the Sharks’ losing streak to five, and it is the longest in more than six years when they dropped six in a row in regulation from Jan. 3-13, 2011. After enjoying a nine-point lead on the rest of the Pacific Division on March 14, the Ducks tied San Jose in points with 91 by beating the Jets at home on Friday night.
 
Adam Cracknell, who paced the Dallas offense with a hat trick, opened the scoring with his first of three goals. He drove the puck to the net while fighting off Brenden Dillon, and Micheal Haley inadvertently kicked the loose puck through Aaron Dell at 8:30 of the first period.
 
Prior to that score, it took the Sharks more than seven minutes to register their first shot.
 
San Jose escaped down just 1-0 at the first intermission, but it quickly got worse. Brett Ritchie was left open by Dillon and whipped in a pass from Tyler Seguin at 1:58, and then Dallas’ third goal really set off coach Pete DeBoer.
 
Joe Pavelski lost a defensive zone draw, and Brent Burns inexplicably vacated the front of the net, where Jamie Benn was wide open. Benn had all kinds of time to freeze Aaron Dell and slip through his 25th goal at 5:19.
 
DeBoer called timeout at that point, and was as visibly upset at his bench as he has been in his two seasons as head coach, barking away at the stunned Sharks skaters.
 
It didn’t help. Cracknell made it 4-0 off of a rush less than two minutes after the timeout, and although Joe Thornton got one back on the power play, the Stars scored two more times in the third period. 
 
Dell misplayed a puck on a Sharks power play, sliding it right to Cracknell for a breakaway in which he finished off a hat trick at 4:59. Just 21 seconds later, John Klingberg converted a two-on-one with Jason Spezza – who had three assists on the night – to make it a 6-1 Dallas lead.
 
The five-game winless streak is their worst since they went 0-6-1 from Dec. 1-12 last season.
 
San Jose has just five goals in its last five games.
 
The Sharks had Jannik Hansen back for the game, after the recent addition had missed the last two games with a head injury. Marc-Edouard Vlasic, though, was not able to finish the game, for reasons that were not immediately clear.
 
Special teams 
 
Thornton’s goal was his first on the power play all season, as the Sharks went 1-for-2. Dallas was 0-for-2.
 
Cracknell’s shorthanded goal was the fourth the Sharks have allowed this season.
 
In goal
 
Dell suffered his worst game of the season, and his NHL career, allowing six goals on 29 shots. He played all three games against Dallas, stopping 48 of 50 shots in the first two.
 
Kari Lehtonen, who shut out the Sharks with 30 saves on Monday in a 1-0 win, made 20 saves on Friday. He has played in 10 straight games.
 
Lineup
 
Timo Meier came out of the lineup for Hansen, while Danny O’Regan was reassigned to the Barracuda earlier in the day.
 
Burns snapped out of his seven-game scoreless streak with an assist on Thornton’s goal, but still has no goals in his last 15 games.
 
Dallas’ Tyler Seguin was skating in his 500th career NHL game.
 
Up next
 
The Sharks conclude their road trip Saturday in Nashville, their only appearance there in the regular season. In the first two games of the season series in San Jose, the Sharks won on Oct. 29, 4-1, but dropped a 3-1 decision on March 11.