McLellan: 'It's eating away at all of us'
San Jose has failed to score more than two goals in regulation in a dozen consecutive games. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
CALGARY – Joe Thornton didn’t want to admit that the 4-1 loss to Calgary on Wednesday night was a step backwards for his club, or even that it felt like the Sharks were sloppy for the first 40 minutes at the Saddledome.
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“Not really,” Thornton said. “You’re so consumed in the game you’re just kind of trying to catch your breath, and go back at it. Pucks were bouncing a little bit. I thought we played well in the third, I don’t think the score indicated that. We pushed and we pushed hard in the third, and just unfortunately we didn’t get the points.”
Dan Boyle offered a distinctly different view.
“It just sucked. It just sucked from the beginning,” Boyle said. “It just sucked, I think.”
Blake Comeau and Jarome Iginla scored third period goals to put Calgary up 3-1, and anyone that’s been following the Sharks in the last six weeks probably knew that they were done for at that point. San Jose has now failed to score more than two goals in regulation in a dozen consecutive games, and 16 of the last 17. The one game they did reach that three-goal threshold was a 5-3 loss to Chicago on Feb. 5.
Boyle made clear his frustration level.
“We’ve scored [bleeping] one or two goals the last  games. That’s it,” Boyle said.
“You go through streaks when you’re not scoring, I understand that. But, [bleep]. [12 bleeping] games in a row.”
There’s no one single reason for the drought, either, according to the veteran defenseman.
“There’s too many things across the board. Pretty much everything you can think of goes into goal scoring. Whether it’s X’s and O’s, or effort, there’s a lot of things that go into that.”
Ryane Clowe, still looking for goal numero uno, said: “You can only ask that question so many times and get the same answer, so you guys have heard it all. I don’t know what it is; just haven’t been able to produce offensively as much as we have in the past.”
The Sharks did manage to pour 17 shots on goal in the third period, but couldn’t solve Miikka Kiprusoff. The former Shark recorded his 300th career win with the Flames, allowing only Thornton’s goal on a pass from Joe Pavelski after an aggressive Patrick Marleau forced Mark Giordano into a turnover deep in the Calgary zone. The goal tied the game at 1-1 at 13:53 of the second period.
Despite San Jose getting the equalizer, the Flames held the territorial advantage and had the better of the scoring chances in the second period. Roman Cervenka, who opened the scoring, was left alone in the slot but was stopped by Thomas Greiss, while Lee Stempniak broke through Jason Demers and Douglas Murray before his shot was denied.
The Sharks gave a push early in the third, but it was the Flames that jumped ahead. Blake Comeau’s wrist shot at 2:57 may have deflected off of Matt Irwin’s stick on its way to the top corner, and a bad turnover in the high slot by Murray led to Calgary gaining a two-goal cushion. Jarome Iginla whizzed one by Greiss at 4:36 after Jiri Hudler forced Murray into giving up the puck.
“I thought the Comeau goal was a bit of a backbreaker. It was from a bad angle that, I don’t know if it went off the stick or not, but that put us on our heels a little bit,” McLellan said. “Then, Jarome’s made us bend a lot more. We make a good play but we don’t handle the puck very well, and it’s poked off our stick and it’s in our net.”
San Jose had a couple of power play chances to at least climb back into the game. Stempniak went off for interference at 10:59 and Comeau was called for hooking at 17:29, but the power play finished 0-for-4. After the Comeau penalty, McLellan pulled Greiss for an extra attacker, but the Sharks failed to generate any good chances. Curtis Glencross’ shorthanded empty-netter put it away.
“The power play has got to come through with a goal, and we didn’t,” Boyle said.
The Sharks got goals from Adam Burish and Scott Gomez in their 3-2 shootout win against Vancouver on Tuesday, but the well was dry among the forwards against Calgary. That has become much too commonplace for the team that is 29th in the league in goals, and has just two regulation wins (four total) in its last 15 games.
“Some of the scorers have been involved in the scoring. Others haven’t. The ones that haven’t are the ones that have to find a way to get on the scoresheet,” McLellan said. “We’ve made a lot of progress and work on getting pucks to the net and bodies to the net. We had 30-some shots on goal again tonight, but we only have one to show for it. Eventually, guys get extremely frustrated, but we’ve got to pull together and find a way.”