Uncharacteristic sloppiness costs Sharks in OT loss

Uncharacteristic sloppiness costs Sharks in OT loss

SAN JOSE – Here’s the thing about the Sharks’ February schedule – they aren’t facing a single team that is a legitimate threat to win the Stanley Cup. Further, seven of the 11 are against Eastern Conference opponents, while the other four are against Vancouver and Arizona (twice each), the two worst teams in the Pacific Division.

It’s only human nature that the Sharks might not be as mentally focused during a stretch of opponents that aren’t traditional rivals, and that they aren’t going to see in any postseason series. That includes the Florida Panthers, who even if they squeak into the playoffs, aren’t in any kind of position to make a deep run.

The Sharks had their legs against Florida on Wednesday night, outshooting them 36-22. But mental mistake after mental mistake allowed the Panthers to pile on six goals, including Jonathan Huberdeau’s game-winner in overtime, in a 6-5 Florida win.

“You look back at all their goals tonight, [they are] on our sticks,” Logan Couture said. “We gave it to them, and their young skill – they thrive off of turnovers. That’s where they get creative and create chances like they did. Tic-tac-toe, it’s in the back of our net. That’s on us, those are our mistakes.”

“Yeah, we made some errors tonight,” Joe Pavelski said. “They’re one of those teams with a lot of speed, and they’ve got some guys that like to make plays. They finished.”

Florida jumped out to an early 3-1 lead, scoring their first two when Brent Burns and then Brenden Dillon weren’t in the right position. The third came on a blatant Marc-Edouard Vlasic defensive zone turnover.

After getting one back later in the first, San Jose dominated the second period and tied it on a Vlasic slapper, making it 3-3 after two.

A couple more turnovers though, by Timo Meier and Chris Tierney, helped the Panthers gain a two-goal cushion in the third again. Nick Bjugstad swiped in an Alex Petrovic pass to make it 4-3 when Meier couldn’t clear the zone, and Aleksander Barkov finished off a pretty passing play from Jaromir Jagr and Petrovic, after Tierney slid it up to Petrovic's blade high in the zone.

“We didn’t give up a lot of shots, but we gave up a lot of grade-A opportunities, which is a little uncharacteristic,” Pete DeBoer said. “That’s a team that will stick it in the back of the net if you give them grade-A looks. I think that was our biggest error tonight. It wasn’t the number of chances, it was the quality of them. … We’re usually better than that.”

Neither DeBoer nor Vlasic agreed with the theory that the Sharks weren’t as mentally prepared against an opponent like the Panthers, even if their miscues with the puck suggested otherwise. “No, I don’t sense that at all,” said the coach. “We were up tonight, we had great energy. We weren’t smart with the puck in some situations, and it burnt us.”

And, the Sharks nearly won the game anyway. Pavelski scored a pair of late goals to force overtime, getting some help on a redirection by Michael Matheson at 16:39 in his own net, and then lifting in a loose puck off of the post with just 38 seconds to go in regulation.

The captain’s efforts allowed the Sharks to record at least a point in the standings for the 13th time in their last 15 games, even if they’ve won just one of their last six.

“We wanted to get one just to give ourselves a chance,” Pavelski said, “[and] we end up tying it up there. It’s definitely a good feeling.”

In overtime, though, it was more sloppiness that cost San Jose. David Schlemko was pressured into a turnover below the goal line by Huberdeau, who then took a pass from Barkov and slid it past Martin Jones at 1:38 of the extra session.

Had the Sharks just been a little cleaner with the puck - and their heads screwed on a little more tightly - it could have been a routine victory.

“I never for a second thought we weren’t in control of that game,” Couture said. “I thought we had the majority of the chances, just we kept turning the puck over. They made us pay for it. Every turnover ended up in our net.”

Sharks hoping to avoid mumps outbreak in Vancouver: 'Wash your hands'

Sharks hoping to avoid mumps outbreak in Vancouver: 'Wash your hands'

VANCOUVER – The water and Gatorade bottles were all lined up in front of the Canucks’ bench on Saturday morning for their morning skate, each one labeled with an individual player’s number. The purpose was to prevent any further spread of the mumps virus, as five players will be unable to dress against the Sharks on Saturday.

The Sharks went about business as usual when it was their turn to skate. They aren’t really able to take any preventative measures, as the story only came to light on Friday afternoon when they were in the air on their charter flight to British Columbia.

After the morning skate, coach Pete DeBoer joked, “I’ve asked all the guys as they walk by the [Canucks dressing] room to hold their breath on the way out to the bus.”

DeBoer can't do much other than hope that the players remain healthy.

“We had to skate, we had to practice. There’s nothing you can do,” DeBoer said. “You wash your hands. I think our trainers are on it. We’ve got some vaccines set up from what I understand when we get back, but that’s about it.”

Vancouver’s Troy Stecher is the only confirmed case of the mumps, although four others – Nikita Tryamkin, Michael Chaput, Chris Tanev and Markus Granlund – have shown symptoms. That leaves the entire right side of Vancouver’s defense out, so rookie Evan McEnany will be making his NHL debut on the blue line, while Joseph Labate will play his fourth career NHL game up front.

The Sharks will return to San Jose immediately after the game, have a scheduled day off on Sunday, and will reconvene for practice on Monday.

No one in the Sharks’ dressing room had any answers better than DeBoer’s one-liner when it came to trying to avoid the virus, which is spread primarily through saliva and sweat – making it somewhat easily transferable among NHL players, including two seasons ago when several teams dealt with outbreaks. 

Joe Pavelski indicated that many Sharks players should be fine, as they had to be vaccinated prior to past Olympic competitions. “You hope it doesn’t spread through your team, because obviously it’s not fun,” he said.

Joe Thornton and Joel Ward will both be searching for the soap, though.

“Just got to wash your hands, that’s what I learned a long time ago,” Thornton said.

Ward said: “Tell the boys to wash their hands, especially Burnzie. That was kind of news to us, so hopefully that doesn’t travel through us. We’ll just knock on wood and [hopefully] stay healthy.”

 

NHL Gameday: Sharks in Vancouver in first game after bye week

NHL Gameday: Sharks in Vancouver in first game after bye week

Programming note – Sharks-Canucks coverage starts today at 6:30 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live on CSN California

WHERE THEY STAND

Sharks: 35-18-7, 77 points, 1st Pacific Division
Canucks: 26-28-6, 58 points, 6th Pacific Division

PREGAME NEWS AND NOTES

***The Sharks and Canucks will both be coming out of their bye weeks. Most teams have struggled in that first game after the break, but San Jose and Vancouver will be on an even playing field.

“I think what you’re seeing is teams coming out of the break playing against teams that are at game speed or have been busy all week, but that’s not the case here,” Pete DeBoer said. “Both of us are in the same situation, so I don’t think there’s an advantage of disadvantage either way.”

What are the keys to playing a game for the first time since Feb. 19, without any practice time other than a morning skate on Saturday?

“Less is more, I think,” Joe Pavelski said. “Make sure our effort is there, and our compete [level]. You might not feel great all the time, but the game will come back pretty quick, I think. Mentally, make the right play.”

San Jose has a three-point lead on Anaheim and Edmonton in the Pacific Division, with two games in hand on both. It has 22 games left on the schedule, to be played over the next 43 days.

***There was one notable line change, as Tomas Hertl was bumped to the left wing while Chris Tierney will skate as the third line center. Joel Ward is on the right.

DeBoer put that group together late in the Boston game, a 2-1 overtime loss last Sunday. Tierney and Hertl have rarely been on the same line.

Regarding Hertl, Tierney said: “He can kind of play anywhere and play with any type of player, really. He compliments the top line really well, and he can come down and be dominant on our line. It’s pretty easy to play with a guy like that who brings speed, skill and size.”

***Barclay Goodrow, recalled on Friday, will play his second game of the season as the Sharks are carrying just 12 healthy forwards. Joonas Donskoi would have been “close” to being able to play, per DeBoer, but came down with the flu shortly before the Sharks’ flight to Vancouver on Friday. Donskoi has been out since Jan. 24 with what looks like a shoulder injury.

KEEP AN EYE ON...

Sharks: Chris Tierney. The center led the Sharks in their last visit to Vancouver, scoring two goals in a 4-1 win. He’s scoreless in his last eight games, so perhaps a visit to Rogers Arena – and a new linemate in Tomas Hertl – can get him going again. He has four goals and five points in nine career games against Vancouver.

Canucks: Henrik Sedin. With the Canucks shorthanded due to a mumps outbreak, Vancouver will need its big guys to come through. Sedin seems to be in decline, though, with 36 points (12g, 24a) in 60 games and a team-worst minus-19 rating.

PROBABLE LINES

Sharks
Kevin Labanc – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Patrick Marleau – Logan Couture – Mikkel Boedker
Tomas Hertl – Chris Tierney – Joel Ward
Barclay Goodrow – Micheal Haley – Melker Karlsson

Paul Martin – Brent Burns
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Brenden Dillon – David Schlemko

Martin Jones (starter)
Aaron Dell

Canucks
Daniel Sedin – Henrik Sedin – Alex Burrows
Loui Eriksson – Bo Horvat – Jannik Hansen
Joseph Labate – Brandon Sutter – Jayson Megna
Reid Boucher – Brendan Gaunce – Alexandre Grenier

Alex Edler – Philip Larsen
Luca Sbisa – Ben Hutton
Ben Hutton – Evan McEnany

Ryan Miller (starter)
Jacob Markstrom

INJURIES

Sharks: Joonas Donskoi (upper body/flu) and Dylan DeMelo (broken wrist) are out.

Canucks: Nikita Tryamkin (illness), Troy Stecher (illness), Michael Chaput (illness), Chris Tanev (illness), Markus Granlund (illness), Sven Baertschi (concussion), Jack Skille (undisclosed), Derek Dorsett (back surgery), Erik Gudbranson (wrist) and Anton Rodin (knee) are out.

QUOTEABLE

“Tonight, just want to get pucks in deep, simplify, get everyone back into the groove again. Definitely looking forward to these last 22 games.” – Joel Ward