Analysis: Don't expect Sharks' poor OT to carry over into Game 6

Analysis: Don't expect Sharks' poor OT to carry over into Game 6

EDMONTON – Game 5 between the Sharks and Oilers will be remembered primarily for Edmonton’s late dominance, as it completely controlled play in overtime capped off by David Desharnais’ game-winning goal in a 4-3 triumph.

But to assume that it will be more of the same to start Game 6 would be misguided. The fact is the Sharks actually played a pretty darn good road game despite what the stats – both traditional and advanced – say.

Yes, the Sharks were outshot 48-30 in the game, and out-attempted a whopping 107-56. But they also managed to erase an early 1-0 hole to take control of the game in the second period, and were keeping the Oilers from getting any prime chances in the third, too. That veteran savvy that experienced teams show this time of year was on full display.

Oscar Klefbom’s game-tying slap shot wasn’t all that great of a scoring chance, either. He just wound up and fired the puck as hard as he could, and had Joe Pavelski been standing in just a slightly different position, the shot wouldn’t have made it through. It’s a wonder that it didn’t touch the Sharks captain, who looked to be in the right spot.

“The block is there for me, it misses me – probably got a screen on [Martin Jones] maybe a little bit, they tie it up,” Pavelski said.

While it’s concerning that the Sharks were stuck in their own end in overtime, there’s no reason to believe that will have any effect on Game 6, as this series has shown that there really is no such thing as momentum from game to game. 

Edmonton responded after a horrible final two periods in Game 1, the Sharks were dominant after dropping Game 3 with their season essentially on the line, and the Oilers quickly put that 7-0 defeat behind them in time for the start of Game 5.

The Sharks shouldn’t have to change up a whole lot ahead of Game 6 at home with their season on the line.

“I liked our game,” Pete DeBoer said. “You’re left with the taste of the overtime, but the 60-minute game, we came out and weathered the storm, found a way to get the lead, found a way to play with the lead right until two minutes left.

“There was a lot of good stuff here on the road in a tough environment. I think we’ve got to remind ourselves of that and forget the overtime and what that felt like, and get ready for the next game.”

Of course, the Oilers are showing a bit of mettle themselves. They took a beating in Game 4, and the Sharks landed some more punches in the first and second periods of Game 5, too.

Edmonton still found a way to reclaim the series lead.

“Our group believes,” Todd McLellan said. “We know how bad we played in Game 4, but we were able to park it, and start again, make amends. It didn’t look good for us, but we kept at it. When we do that, we’re a tough out.”

Oilers forward Mark Letestu said: “Momentum in this series clearly hasn't carried over. It seems like we've been going back and forth. It's going to take another good game on their ice to seal this thing out. We have to be ready for it, to take it to another level."

Game 6 should be another dandy. Both teams have a right to feel pretty good about themselves headed into it.

“There’s a lot of mood swings [in the series], but that’s the way it goes,” Mikkel Boedker said. “You’ve got to play every game like it’s the last game. … We get [to go] home now, and we’ll look to tie it up.”

Play of Jones, Khudobin this season proof of how fickle goaltending can be


Play of Jones, Khudobin this season proof of how fickle goaltending can be

Martin Jones was a Boston Bruin for less than a week.

The “Original Six” franchise acquired Jones from the Los Angeles Kings on June 26, 2015. Four days later, Jones was traded back into the Pacific Division, this time to Northern California.

The Sharks gave up a first round pick and prospect Sean Kuraly for Jones. It seemed like a fairly high price at the time, but it’s one San Jose was happy to pay: No goalie started more games than Jones over the last two seasons, and the team signed him to a five-year extension this summer.

The first Jones trade in 2015 set off a flood of goalie transactions, as five netminders were traded during Jones’ extremely brief Boston tenure. One of those was Anton Khudobin, who will start for the Bruins as Jones backs up Aaron Dell against  his “former team” on Saturday night.

Khudobin was traded from Carolina to Anaheim, where he started seven games before getting sent down to the AHL. He then signed with Boston in 2016, returning to his former club as the Bruins tried to fill the hole that trading Jones left behind entrenched starter Tuukka Rask.

Jones and Khudobin will have taken vastly different paths to their respective creases on Saturday night. The former enters the game as his club’s undisputed franchise goalie, and the latter the unheralded backup.

Naturally then, Khudobin’s been the better goaltender this season.

Among the 46 goalies that have played 200 five-on-five minutes this season, Khudobin’s .962 five-on-five save percentage was the best entering Saturday, according to Corsica.  So, too, is his .954 save percentage off of high-danger shots.

Jones, meanwhile, ranks 27th (.920) and 14th (.833) in those respective categories.

What does it all mean? For one, it’s early in the season, and the fact that Khudobin’s made seven fewer starts undoubtedly plays a role in his superior performance to Jones.

Mainly, it speaks to just how fickle goaltending can be.

The Bruins backup is arguably getting the nod Saturday night because of how bad the man ahead of him has been. Rask, once one of the league’s best goaltenders, has steadily declined over the last three years and reached a new low this season: This year, he’s 40th out of 46 qualifying goalies in five-on-five save percentage.

Jones has demonstrated this, too. He’s stopped a lower percentage of low-and-medium danger shots at even strength than the last two seasons, but has stopped a higher percentage of high-danger shots.

Plus, he’s played behind one of the league’s best penalty-killing teams after playing behind one of its worst last season, and has benefitted from a corresponding bump in his shorthanded save percentage.

So much of what a goalie does is out of their control. Yet who’s playing in front of them, what kind of shots they see, and how often they see those shots all can affect their performance.

Khudobin and Jones are living proof of that this season.

Sharks fall to Bruins for second straight loss


Sharks fall to Bruins for second straight loss


SAN JOSE -- Anton Khudobin stopped 36 shots to lead the Boston Bruins to a 3-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night.

Peter CehlarikJake DeBrusk and Danton Heinen scored to help the Bruins get their second straight win after a four-game skid (0-3-1). Boston had totaled nine goals in its previous five games, scoring more than two for just the second time in nine November games.

Khudobin remained unbeaten in regulation (5-0-2) and improved to 4-1 with a 0.99 goals-against average in five games against the Sharks.

Timo Meier scored and Aaron Dell finished with 18 saves for the Sharks, one of the lowest scoring teams in the league. San Jose has been held to two of fewer goals in five of their seven games this month.

Meier gave the Sharks, losers of two straight following wins in six of seven, a short-lived 1-0 lead after tapping in a rebound 4:50 into the game. Daniel O'Regan, making his season debut, won the puck behind the net and skated around to take the shot that bounced to Meier. It was O'Regan's first career assist and second career point.

Cehlarik, in his 14th game, scored his first career goal about 1 1/2 minutes later to tie it for the Bruins.

Boston took the lead on DeBrusk's goal with 9:14 left in the first. Charlie McAvoy cleared a puck in his zone that DeBrusk chased down and easily beat Dell 1-on-1.

Heinen made it 3-1 with 5:51 left in the third. Kevan Miller skated down the ice, drawing all the attention on the right side. He passed across the crease, from where Heinen tapped it in.

The Sharks had a goal negated for the second straight game, this one two minutes in.

NOTES: Sharks F Danny O'Regan was recalled before the game. He's the leading scorer for the Barracuda of the AHL. ... The Sharks have had three consecutive goals reversed after challenges dating to Thursday's game against the Florida Panthers. ... Sharks F Joel Ward has recorded points in six of his last eight games. ... DeBrusk, who assisted on Cehlarik's goal, recorded his first multi-point game since Oct. 14, a span of 14 games.


Bruins: At the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday night.

Sharks: Host the Anaheim Ducks on Monday night.