Sharks

Couture powers Sharks past Jets

Couture powers Sharks past Jets

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE -- Logan Couture scored two goals and Martin Jones had 38 saves as the San Jose Sharks defeated the Winnipeg Jets 4-0 on Saturday night.

The Sharks won for just the second time in six games with two ties over that stretch as they improved to 18-5-2-2 all-time against Winnipeg. The Jets had won five of their previous six and 10 of their last 13.

Couture scored a short-handed goal on a breakaway at 13:13 of the second period for his 13th goal of the season that gave the Sharks a 3-0 lead. Couture took the puck from just past the San Jose blue line. He faked a shot as he approached goalie Connor Hellebuyck and then backhanded the puck into the net.

Tim Heed scored the game's first goal on a power play at 11:30 of the first period. Heed blasted a shot from the high slot off a behind-the-back pass from Kevin Labanc.

Couture scored his goal just outside the crease after he rebounded a deflection with 16 seconds left in the first period.

Tomas Hertl scored an empty-netter at 16:50 of the third.

NOTES: Sharks C Melker Karlson participated in Saturday's practice but missed his fourth game with an upper body injury. . Jets Fs Shawn Matthais and Marko Dano and D Tucker Poolman were healthy scratches.

UP NEXT

Winnipeg: Hosts Minnesota on Monday.

San Jose: Opens a four-game road trip in Philadelphia on Tuesday.

Sharks lose defensive forward to division rival

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AP

Sharks lose defensive forward to division rival

The San Jose Sharks’ center depth took a hit Wednesday morning, as the Vegas Golden Knights claimed center Ryan Carpenter off of waivers. The Sharks waived Carpenter on Tuesday in an effort to send him to their AHL affiliate, the San Jose Barracuda.

Vegas was interested in Carpenter dating back to June’s expansion draft, according to The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun. The Sharks re-signed Carpenter a day before the deadline to submit their protected list, and included him on that list at the expense of signed veteran forwards like Mikkel Boedker and Joel Ward, as well as then-pending unrestricted free agents Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau.

When addressing reporters on Tuesday, Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer was optimistic that Carpenter would go unclaimed and get a chance to work on things with San Jose’s top minor league affiliate.

“Sometimes you need to take a step back in order to move forward,” DeBoer told reporters Tuesday (via The Mercury News). “That’s kind of the case with Ryan. He did some good stuff. But take a step back, find your game again and hopefully next time get back up here and make the most of it.”

Carpenter will get a chance to do just that sooner than expected, and with a new organization. The 26-year-old, who led the Barracuda in postseason scoring, only scored a single assist in 16 games with the Sharks this season.

Part of that was due to usage, as Carpenter started 38.03 of his non-neutral zone shifts at even strength in the defensive zone, the highest mark on the team according to Corsica Hockey. That, in turn, likely affected his possession numbers, as the Sharks were out-attempted with him on the ice.

Still, the Sharks are going to miss his defensive acumen, as no player suppressed five-on-five goal at a higher rate relative to when they were off the ice than Carpenter, per Corsica. They’ll also miss his experience relative to their other options at his position.

As long as Tomas Hertl remains on the wing, the Sharks are left with Danny O’Regan and Barclay Goodrow as options to center the fourth line. O’Regan was recalled from the Barracuda on Tuesday, but has appeared overmatched at times in his second professional season.

Goodrow, meanwhile, is in his fourth, but is playing center for essentially the first time in his professional career. He’s exceeded expectations when he’s been in the lineup, but is now on injured reserve for the second time this season.

 

Martin Jones has not made up for Sharks' recent defensive struggles

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AP

Martin Jones has not made up for Sharks' recent defensive struggles

For just the third time this season, the Sharks scored three goals for the third consecutive game in Sunday night’s loss to the Wild. San Jose’s scored 13 goals in the last three games, which is a dramatic improvement for one of the league’s lowest-scoring offenses.

Sunday also marked the fourth time in the last five games the Sharks, one of the NHL’s best defensive teams, allowed four goals. All four have come in starts by Martin Jones since he returned to the crease on Dec. 2.

San Jose’s looked poor defensively in front of Jones following his return, and it’s been difficult to fault him on many of the goals. The Sharks’ defensive numbers over his last four starts match the eye test.

Normally, 21.66 percent of the shots Jones faces in five-on-five situations and 26.9 percent of the shots he faces in all situation are of the ‘high-danger’ variety, according to Corsica Hockey. Over his last four starts, those numbers are 29.90 percent and 32.23 percent, respectively.

But Jones also has not been up to his usual standards. At even strength this season, his high-danger save percentage is .798, and .821 in all situations.

Over the last four games, those numbers have fallen significantly. His high-danger save percentage at even strength is over seven points lower (.724), and nearly 13 points lower in all situations (.692).

So the Sharks, essentially, have allowed a higher share of high-danger shots in Jones’ first four starts after coming back from injury. Jones, meanwhile, hasn’t been able to offset that increase.

It’s unclear whether that increase, or Jones’ own performance, deserves a larger share of the blame. It’s clear, however, that the Sharks can’t expect to win if either trend continues.

San Jose’s remained in playoff contention this season because of their defense. As they’ve struggled to score, they’ve prevented their opponents from scoring, and won games on the backs of stingy defensive efforts.

The assumption with the Sharks was that, so long as their defensive effort remained level, an offense rounding into form would allow them to climb up the standings. The former’s gotten worse, and the Sharks are struggling more than their record would indicate.

Since Jones returned, San Jose is 2-2-1, and 1-2-1 in his starts. That mark could very easily be 0-2-2 or 0-3-1, if not for a three-goal comeback against the Hurricanes.

That’s worrisome ahead of one of the most vital stretches of the season. San Jose’s next six games are against divisional opponents, and they have an opportunity to gain significant ground in the division.

That opportunity will be wasted if the Sharks defense, and Jones, aren’t able to tighten up.