Three takeaways: Improved Sharks' performance; concern for Hansen

Three takeaways: Improved Sharks' performance; concern for Hansen

SAN JOSE – Some low scoring NHL games can be fairly boring, but that wasn’t the case on Saturday as the Sharks and Ducks staged an entertaining get together at SAP Center in a battle of two surefire playoff teams. Here are our three takeaways from Anaheim’s 2-1 win…

1 – Improved performance from Sharks

Yes, the Sharks lost their second straight game in regulation for the first time in more than two months, but Saturday’s effort against Anaheim was much better than Thursday’s dud against St. Louis. Friday’s day off surely aided the team in finding its legs, but playing against a division rival likely helped get their motors going, too.

The Ducks pushed the pace early, but the Sharks seized the momentum towards the end of the opening frame and were the better team from the second period on, too.

“The other night wasn’t our best game by any means. Tonight was definitely better,” Joe Pavelski said. “I think we got better as the game went on.”

To be fair, Anaheim may have been feeling the effects of its 10-round shootout loss on Friday night by the time that third period rolled around. The Sharks still felt they should have scored more than just one power play goal before the final horn rang.

Logan Couture said: “We were better tonight than we were against St. Louis. With every game you take positives. … They were playing a back-to-back, but in that third period we had a lot of grade-A chances where we should score.”

Pete DeBoer said: “In a typical night we get at least two or three with the looks we had, and we didn’t tonight. Just got to keep at it. Stick with it.”

2 – Hansen’s injury cause for concern

Jannik Hansen wasted to time in getting off of the ice and to the dressing room after taking an apparent stick to the head in the third period. It didn’t look good. Sunday’s recalls of Timo Meier and Danny O’Regan suggest that Hansen might miss some time, and there was no word as of Sunday afternoon whether Hansen was on the flight to Dallas.

Hansen may only have one assist in six games, but his addition has sparked Pavelski and Joe Thornton. They’ll need him back sooner than later, since the primary reason they acquired him was that no one else in the organization looked like a long term fit on the top line. Hansen did.

Tomas Hertl filled in there after Hansen left the game, and he could start in that familiar position on Monday against Dallas. That would move Chris Tierney up to third line center, while O’Regan could potentially center the fourth line. That’s all me speculating, though, so stay tuned.

3 – Don’t panic about losing the division lead…yet

The Sharks may have squandered a chance to really put the Ducks behind them, but there’s no reason to panic about losing the Pacific Division yet. Although the upcoming road trip presents some challenges with a pair of back-to-backs, two of them are against the Stars, who are a complete disaster right now. That should be four points in the bank.

If the Sharks gain just 11 of 22 points available to them from now until the end of the season, Anaheim will have to gain 16 points in their final 10 games to catch them, as San Jose would almost certainly have the tiebreaker of more regulation/overtime wins. Still, burying the Ducks – who are looking for their fifth straight division title – would have been preferable.

“Obviously teams are going to be up and down, you’ve just got to try to hammer your games out as much as you can,” Joel Ward said.

 

Ducks squeak past Sharks in another low scoring, tight affair

Ducks squeak past Sharks in another low scoring, tight affair

SAN JOSE – Some recent trends have emerged in games between the Sharks and Ducks, and they were again on display on Saturday night at SAP Center.

They’re close, and they’re low scoring, to be specific.

Anaheim’s 2-1 triumph was the eighth straight head-to-head matchup that has been decided by just one goal. Furthermore, the teams have combined for just 28 total goals in those eight meetings, or 3.5 per game.

Of course, in those types of games, one mistake can be deadly. In this case, it came when Paul Martin’s attempted pass to Joe Pavelski was blocked by Jakob Silfverberg, who raced in on a breakaway to beat Martin Jones at 13:29 of the second period. It was the final goal of the game.

Martin described the play.

“[The puck] kind of rolled on me or jammed me a little bit. I was going to shoot, and then I saw Pavs kind of slide up in the slot and I just tried to slide it to him. Hit a shin pad, or hit something, so…yeah,” Martin said.

Logan Couture said: “Obviously it’s a tough break to give up that one, to that guy, with that shot. He picks his corners pretty good. We rebounded and had a good third period.”

Couture is correct in that the Sharks did press Anaheim in the final frame, outshooting the Ducks 14-4 but failing to get the equalizer.  The Sharks had a 34-27 advantage in shots in the game, and a 76-53 advantage in shot attempts.

His line with Patrick Marleau and Joel Ward was the Sharks’ most effective of the evening, and all of them had chances. Ward was stopped in front of the net about four minutes into the third period, though, and Marleau was denied on a breakaway with nine minutes left. Couture finished with a game-high six shots, including a first period power play goal on a two-man advantage.

In one sequence in the second period, Couture’s wraparound try ended up on Ward’s tape on the other side of the net, and with goalie Jonathan Bernier sprawled out in the crease, Ward tried getting it over the goaltender to Marleau in front of an empty net. He didn’t get it high enough, though, and Bernier froze it.

The Sharks were much more pleased with their effort on Saturday than in Thursday’s 4-1 loss to the Blues in which they were thoroughly outplayed. 

“I didn’t like our first 10 minutes, but after that I thought we played a real good game,” Pete DeBoer said. “It was a playoff-type atmosphere. We had enough opportunities to get three or four tonight. We didn’t. That’s a credit to their goalie. But, we did a lot of good things.”

Joe Pavelski said: “They had their chances, we had ours. It was a game, it was physical, it was a fun one. Crowd was into it right from the start, and guys showed up to play.”

There are no points for effort, though, so the Sharks still have some work to do if they want to close out the Pacific Division. They were well aware that they had a chance to essentially bury the Ducks by potentially opening their lead up to seven points with a game in hand.

Instead, they’re now just four points ahead with a pair of back-to-backs on the road on the immediate horizon. The Sharks visit Dallas on Monday and Minnesota on Tuesday, and will have to keep an eye in the rear view mirror on surging Anaheim, which has won five of its last seven (5-1-1).

“I think as the games get closer to the end, you kind of know who’s up and down,” Ward said of the contracting standings.

The primary takeaway from Saturday’s game, though, was that if the Sharks put forth the same kind of effort and performance over their final 11, they’ll be fine.

Martin said: “As long as we’re playing the way that we want to play, I think it will take care of itself.”

“If we play like we did tonight, most nights we’re going to win,” DeBoer said.

* * *

DeBoer didn't offer any sort of update on Jannik Hansen, who left the game in the third period after taking a stick up high from defenseman Brandon Montour as the two came together in the corner. "I don’t have anything for you on that yet," DeBoer said.

Pavelski talked to his linemate after the game.

“I think [Hansen] said he got a stick in the head, or something like that. I don’t really know for sure," Pavelski said.

 

Instant Replay: Pacific division still up for grabs after Ducks beat Sharks

Instant Replay: Pacific division still up for grabs after Ducks beat Sharks

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE – Perhaps the Pacific Division race isn’t over quite yet, after all.

Patrick Eaves and Jakob Silfverberg scored goals in a 2-1 Ducks win over the Sharks at SAP Center on Saturday, bringing them to within four points of San Jose for the division lead. The Sharks, who still have one game in hand on Anaheim, had a nine point cushion on the rest of the Pacific after beating Buffalo on Tuesday.

Anaheim has won the Pacific Division in each of the last four seasons. The Sharks are seeking their first title since 2011.

It took Anaheim more than eight minutes to get their first shot on goal in the second period, as momentum swung towards San Jose in a 1-1 game.

But with six-and-a-half minutes left in the middle frame, Silfverberg blocked a Paul Martin shot after the defenseman fumbled with the puck just inside the offensive zone blue line, and raced in for a breakaway score at 13:29. The Ducks took their 2-1 lead to the dressing room.

San Jose’s best chance to tie it in the third came on a Patrick Marleau breakaway with nine minutes to go, but he couldn’t slip through a backhand.

The Sharks pulled Martin Jones with about two-and-a-half minutes left in regulation, but couldn’t find the equalizer.

The Sharks finished their season-long six-game homestand with a 3-3-0 mark. They lost back-to-back games in regulation at home for just the second time this season (Nov. 3-5).

Anaheim, playing its second game in two nights, improved to 5-1-1 in its last seven.

The Ducks had the Sharks on their heels early. They took the lead just 39 seconds into the game when Eaves finished his check on Justin Braun, snuck out to the front of the net, and lifted a Ryan Getzlaf feed over Jones’ glove hand. It was Eaves’ third goal with Anaheim since he was traded from Dallas just before the deadline.

Anaheim kept up the pressure, including a Ryan Kesler breakaway which is rang off the post, but the Sharks would tie it late in the frame.

On a two-man advantage, Joe Thornton found Logan Couture alone in the slot, and Couture – playing in his 500th career NHL game – whipped it through Jonathan Bernier at 19:13.

Couture nearly had his second of the night some remaining power play time early in the second, but his redirection of a Martin saucer caught iron.

Jannik Hansen left the game midway through the third period after colliding with Ducks defenseman Brandon Montour, and did not return.

The Sharks and Ducks concluded their five-game season series. Anaheim was 3-0-2.

Special teams

The Sharks finished 1-for-3 on the power play, scoring their third five-on-three goal of the season.  Couture’s 11 power play goals leads the team.

Anaheim was 0-for-2 on the power play, as the Sharks improved to 12-for-13 on the PK over the last six games.

In goal

Jones has allowed two or fewer goals in his last eight starts, but fell to 4-8-0 in his career against Anaheim with two goals allowed on 27 shots. He played all five games of the season series.

Playing in his fourth game this season against San Jose, Bernier made 33 saves to get his 15th win of the season.

Anaheim remains without goalie John Gibson, who is sidelined with a lower body injury and has missed 10 of the last 11 overall.

Lineup

Andrew Cogliano played in his 776th straight game, tied for the fourth-longest streak in NHL history.

Up next

After Monday’s game against the Stars opens a four-game road trip, the Sharks will visit Minnesota on Tuesday, and go right back to Dallas for another game on Friday. The trip concludes with their only visit of the regular season to Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena.