Sharks fall to 'soft' Rangers in road trip finale

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Sharks fall to 'soft' Rangers in road trip finale

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NEW YORK, NY -- It was a bittersweet finale for the Sharks at Madison Square Garden on Monday night, as they dropped the last of their six-game road trip to the Rangers, 5-2.The Sharks go home with 10 points out of a possible 12, which several players and the coach admitted they would have taken in a heartbeat two weeks ago.But their performance against the Rangers was their worst of the trip, and it was a game that they should have won fairly easily, if you believe the captain.To be honest with you, they were probably the softest team we played against on this road trip, said Joe Thornton. We played some good teams, and I think we probably should have beat these guys, to be honest with you.RELATED: Coaches respond to Thornton's jab

Thornton was probably being a little more blunt than usual. The Sharks and Rangers wont meet again this season, and his comment isnt going to show up on any bulletin boards in the newly renovated locker room at Madison Square Garden. Regardless, the Sharks didnt seem too happy with their game against the Rangers or Saturdays on Long Island when they beat the lowly Islanders in overtime, 3-2.Well be thinking about this game and the Islanders game. We havent been nearly good enough, said Joe Pavelski, who had a goal and an assist. We were able to find a way on the Island, and this team we battled back, and then we let a few things go.Pavelski is referring to the Sharks erasing an early 2-0 deficit before they surrendered three unanswered goals to New York. He himself put San Jose on the board when he put in the rebound of a shot off of the post by Doug Murray late in the first period, and Logan Couture rocketed a one-timer past Martin Biron at 11:03 of the second to tie it at 2-2.A delay of game call on Colin White less than a minute after Coutures goal led to the first of two goals by the Rangers Ryan Callahan. New York regained momentum when the Rangers captain whacked in a perfect pass through the slot by Erik Christensen that somehow got through Murray at the 14-minute mark. It was officially an even strength goal, although White was just stepping out of the box at the time.White explained what happened on his penalty.I just swatted at it, tried to bump it by Brandon Dubinsky, and it ended up going over the glass, he said.That was the turning point, as the Sharks struggled with their penalty kill all night. They have allowed at least one power play goal in four straight games, but it was some of the penalties themselves that could have been avoided. Along with Whites, there were two others that could be considered careless: a too-many-men call at 2:17 of the first period, and a Dan Boyle high stick at 4:29 of the third. We just have to stay out of the penalty box. The penalties we were taking were just ones that are definitely avoidable, said Thornton. When your penalty kill is not going good and you take some sloppy penalties, its definitely tough to kill.Todd McLellan didnt want to pin the loss on special teams, even though the Sharks gave up essentially two power play goals and were 0-for-3 on the man advantage.Lets look at it from a whole, he said. We werent a very good team tonight. When youre not doing it five-on-five, the odds of you doing it on special teams isnt very good.Two minutes and 42 seconds after Callahan made it 3-2, Artem Anisimovs backhanded water bottle goal over the short side shoulder of Antti Niemi gave New York its two-goal lead back. I should have been further out to challenge more. I was a little bit too deep, said Niemi. Good backhander on the roof, it surprised me a little bit.The Rangers werent done, when Brad Richards fired one towards Niemi that hit the goaltender squarely in the chest. It squirted to Callahan, who tapped it in while falling to the ice at 19:12 of the second for a backbreaking goal.Im not overly pleased with what we threw out on the ice. Were a better team than that, individually and collectively, and its a little bit disappointing, said McLellan.Despite the loss, the Sharks trip as a whole has to be considered a successful one. When they left San Jose, they were just 1-3 and some of their top players were not finishing their numerous chances.They come home as winners of five out of six, with their key forwards all contributing. Pavelski is leading the way with 13 points, while riding a six-game point streak. Couture also has at least one point in six straight.Leaving San Jose the way we did, if somebody said you could come home with 10 points, wed be ecstatic with that, especially in some of the buildings and teams we played against, said McLellan.The hurdle now is that the Sharks return home on a losing note, and will face one of the best teams in the league on Thursday when the Pittsburgh Penguins visit HP Pavilion.Well have this bad taste in our mouth and well carry it with us the rest of the week, said the head coach.Odds and ends: Patrick Marleaus point-streak ended at four games. Ryane Clowe and Brandon Prust dropped the gloves for an extended bout just seven second after the opening faceoff. Neither played landed any significant blows, though. Jim Vandermeer, Benn Ferreiro and Justin Braun were scratched for San Jose. Crazy coincidence of the night: Faceoffs (29), hits (26) and missed shots (12) were all exactly even. The Rangers outshot the Sharks, though, 31-26. Biron started just his second game of the season, and the Rangers earned their first home win in three tries.

Marleau back to the middle as Sharks deal with no Couture, Haley

Marleau back to the middle as Sharks deal with no Couture, Haley

SAN JOSE – All four of the Sharks’ lines have been in a blender for much of the season. 

Now, with Logan Couture out for at least one game and probably longer, and Micheal Haley getting tagged with a one-game suspension, the coaching staff has no choice but to mix and match the remaining forwards in time for Tuesday’s home game with the Rangers.

They’ll hope it’s the right recipe to snap out of what has been a miserable six-game losing streak in regulation, including the last two in which the Sharks have been outscored 13-3 by Dallas and Nashville.

The most notable player to be shifted is Patrick Marleau, who will apparently be centering the second line against New York. It will be just the fifth game he starts at center this season, and first since Feb. 11 in Philadelphia, when he was filling in for an ill Couture.

Marleau, of course, has played plenty of center over the years, including the second half of last season and first handful of playoff games when he was in the middle of the third line.

“I don’t think there’s been a year where I haven’t played center, so it’s just one of those things, move in and out,” Marleau said. “We’re interchangeable throughout the whole lineup, anyway.”

Marleau has been one of the few effective Sharks players lately, with three of the team’s last five goals. He has 26 goals on the season, third on the team, and is fifth on the Sharks in points with 44.

“Patty is playing great. I don’t think we could ask for more from him,” said coach Pete DeBoer. “Arguably a lot of nights this year he’s been our best forward. He’s playing hard, he’s playing strong. He’s been a real valuable piece for us. We wouldn’t be in the spot we’re in this year without him and the way he’s played this year.”

Marleau is set to skate with Melker Karlsson and Mikkel Boedker, as Karlsson is good to go after missing the last eight games with a lower body injury. The 26-year-old Swede is having a nice season with 19 points (9g, 10a) in 60 games.

The third line featured Tomas Hertl between Joel Ward and Marcus Sorensen, while Chris Tierney will center the fourth line with Timo Meier and Joonas Donskoi.

Karlsson, who confirmed he was ready to return, said: “Cooch is out, and we’ll see how long he’s going to be out, but I’ll do my best. I’m going to work hard, and hopefully can get going here.”

Marleau described Karlsson as “tenacious on the forecheck, causes a lot of turnovers. He’s hungry on that puck. He’s going to get his opportunities, and I’m sure he’ll put a few in the back of the net.”

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Of course, the Sharks don’t care who scores the goals, just as long as it’s someone. It’s been a season-long issue for them to get their depth scorers to do more, and if they want any chance at reclaiming first place in the Pacific Division while Couture is out, that will be a necessity.

Among the players that will bring their scoring woes into Tuesday’s game will be Donskoi (no points 13 games), Hertl (no points in 12 games), Boedker (no points in 10 games), Ward (no points in six games), Sorensen (one assist in 10 games) and Tierney (one goal in 12 games).

Could Couture’s absence be a wake up call for those guys?

“I would hope it doesn’t take an injury to get that. That’s something we’re looking for, it’s something we’ve challenged the group to get more out of them,” DeBoer said. 

“They’re the first guys to recognize they’ve got to give us a little bit more. That’s been an ongoing process. The good news is they’ve all done it before. I feel that they all have the ability to raise their level another notch here before the playoffs. I think they have enough character that we’ll see that.”

Time is growing short, as the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin in a little more than two weeks.

Marleau said: “When you go into playoffs, [secondary scoring] is usually what makes a difference. We need everybody contributing and guys stepping up at different times. We know that in this room, and guys are looking forward to doing that.”

Sharks' Haley suspended one game for punch on Jarnkrok

Sharks' Haley suspended one game for punch on Jarnkrok

SAN JOSE – Sharks forward Micheal Haley has been suspended one game for punching Nashville’s Calle Jarnkrok on Saturday in San Jose’s 7-2 loss, and will miss Tuesday's home game with the Rangers.

After absorbing a borderline hit from behind into the glass by Jarnkrok, Haley tracked down the Predators forward and promptly delivered a left jab to Jarnkrok’s face at 12:56 of the final frame. He received a match penalty for intent to injure on the play.

According to the video released by the league, Haley “was seeking retribution” for the hit by Jarnkrok, who was already being penalized for boarding, and delivered a “forceful punch on an opponent who was not able to defend himself at the time.”

The 30-year-old Haley, who has never been fined or suspended before in his career, gave his perspective of what happened on Monday.

“We were breaking out there and next thing I know I was face first in the glass,” Haley said. “Just emotions [took over]. Kind of scared from the hit and I just went after him. Looked at him right in the eyes. He saw me. By the time I swung at him his face might have turned a bit. When I went at him I saw him clearly look at me, and I thought he knew I was coming.”

Haley expected Jarnkrok to engage him after the Predators forward delivered the bad check.

“I thought it was a pretty dirty hit, and I thought I gave him ample amount of time. I think he [had] enough time to know what I was trying to do, and trying to get him to fight.”

He added: “In hindsight, I wish none of it happened. I wish I didn’t get hit and I wish I didn’t punch him, but it happened. I don’t think I started it. It wasn’t premeditated or anything. If I missed that punch then we probably don’t have this conversation.”

In 54 games this season, Haley has two goals and nine assists for 11 points. His 110 penalty minutes is fifth in the league.