Sharks

Draisaitl: Spearing Sharks forward Tierney 'a stupid play'

Draisaitl: Spearing Sharks forward Tierney 'a stupid play'

EDMONTON – While the Sharks are probably not pleased that Leon Draisaitl escaped suspension for his spear to the groin of Chris Tierney in Game 4, perhaps there’s one benefit to Draisaitl being in the lineup for Thursday’s Game 5.

That is, they can hit him back.

Of course, getting revenge on Draisaitl for his dirty play isn’t something that’s going to be at the forefront of their minds in a playoff series that’s tied at two games apiece. This isn’t a situation like last year, when Pete DeBoer dressed Micheal Haley for the express purpose of fighting Darnell Nurse, after Nurse pummeled Roman Polak for no reason in the previous meeting.

As much as Tierney or some others would surely love to finish their hits on the talented Oilers forward, they have bigger goals in mind, like winning Game 5 and earning a chance to clinch the series at home on Saturday.

“I think we just play our game. It’s playoff hockey,” Tierney said. “We’re focused on wins right now, not about getting somebody back or looking for revenge.”

When asked for his comment on the decision by the NHL to fine Draisaitl, Tierney said: “They obviously did what they felt was right, and hopefully he doesn’t do that anymore. Obviously it’s a dangerous play, and it’s something you don’t want in the game and you don’t want to see, so hopefully it’s the last time he does that.”

Draisaitl also spoke about the play, which earned him a five-minute major and game misconduct in the second period.

“It was a stupid play,” said the 21-year-old. “That’s not who I am. It’s not me. That’s not how I want to be seen as a player. I think everyone knows I am the last guy who wants hurt anyone, or play that type of game. I know it was a bad play by me.”

Oilers coach Todd McLellan backed his young player, too, pointing out that Draisaitl had just 20 penalty minutes in 82 regular season games this season.

“It doesn’t represent him as a player. He could probably be up for the Lady Byng the way he played this year and the amount of points he produced and lack of penalties that he took,” McLellan said. “I don’t think you can paint him with that brush. He made a mistake, he’s paying for it, and we move on."

Something smells fishy about Sharks' early success on power play

Something smells fishy about Sharks' early success on power play

By many traditional measures, the Sharks’ power play is off to a strong start.

They’ve scored seven times on 30 opportunities, including once in Saturday’s 5-3 loss to the New York Islanders. That mark, 23.3%, would have been good enough for third in the league last season, and is nearly seven percent better than the Sharks were in 2016-17.

San Jose’s made some changes on the man advantage, and are getting a different look on their top power play unit with Tim Heed there instead of another forward. Second-year forward Kevin Labanc is playing a significant role on the second unit, operating as something of a focal point.

The puck’s found the net a lot for the Sharks on the power play, but a deeper look at the numbers reveals that success may be a house of cards.

According to Natural Stat Trick, San Jose ranks in the bottom third of the league in shots, shot attempts, and unblocked shot attempts per 60 minutes. Using those rates allow us to compare teams empirically, equalizing for the amount of time each team has spent on the power play. Those rates, by the way, are not very good.

And each of those are lower than last season, when the Sharks finished 25th in power play percentage. This season, the Sharks are converting more shots, despite attempting less.

It would be tempting to think San Jose can hang their helmets on higher shot quality, but they’ve struggled in that area, too. The Sharks finished just shy of the top ten in high danger chances per 60 minutes last season, but are in the bottom third of the league this season, according to Natural Stat Trick.

So the Sharks are shooting at a lower rate and generating chances at a lower rate than last season, when they had one of the league’s worst power plays, but are scoring at a much higher clip. They’ve converted on about 19% of their shots on the power play, almost doubling their conversion rate (10.5%) from a season ago.

If this doesn’t seem like a sustainable mix, that’s because it’s not. In a small sample size of seven games, the power play’s been good enough, but the Sharks can’t count on converting nearly a fifth of their power play opportunities if they continue to struggle generating shots and chances.

Of course, stranger things have happened in a hockey season, so it’s possible the Sharks can ride a sky-high shooting percentage all season long. Banking on that, however, would be foolhardy.

Sharks come up short in New York despite Couture's hat trick

Sharks come up short in New York despite Couture's hat trick

BOX SCORE

NEW YORK — Anders Lee had two goals and an assist to lead the New York Islanders to a 5-3 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night.

John Tavares had a goal and two assists, Josh Bailey added a goal and an assist, and Andrew Ladd also scored to help the Islanders win for the third time in four games. Thomas Greiss stopped 28 shots.

Logan Couture scored all three goals for the Sharks, completing the hat trick with 1:52 remaining to pull them within one. Aaron Dell finished with 18 saves.

Ladd's goal at 3:12 of the third period broke a 2-2 tie. Rookie Mathew Barzal created the scoring chance by taking the puck around the net and then setting up Ladd in the high slot for his second of the season.

Lee's second of the game and fifth of the season gave the Islanders a two-goal cushion with 8:13 remaining as he converted an odd-man rush.

Tavares sealed the win with an empty-netter with 55.4 seconds remaining and helped improve to 22-4-4 in their two-plus seasons at Barclays Center. Tavares points were his first since he had two goals and an assist Oct. 7 against Buffalo, ending a five-game drought.

The Sharks scored the game's opening goal at 6:26 of the second period on the power play. San Jose came away with the offensive draw and Couture scored from the slot, redirected Brent Burns' point shot past Greiss.

The lead lasted just over a minute as Nick Leddy worked his way to the back of the net and then quickly fed Lee for the tying goal.

The Islanders went ahead 58 seconds later after Joe Thornton made a costly turnover in his own end to give Bailey a point-blank chance. Bailey was able to sneak the puck with a backhander between his skates and past Dell to put New York ahead 2-1.

However, an impressive effort by Jannik Hansen to spin past Brock Nelson in the neutral zone led to a quick feed to Couture, who took a few strides and then fired a shot past Greiss to even the score once again.

NOTES: The Islanders held a special pregame ceremony to honor alumni of the organization who were in town for an Islanders Alumni Weekend. Among the players on the ice were Bobby Nystrom, Clark Gillies, Bryan Trottier and Ed Westfall. ... The Islanders scratched D Scott Mayfield, F Josh Ho-Sang and F Nikulay Kulemin. ... San Jose scratched F Joel Ward, F Barclay Goodrow and D Dylan Demelo. ... The Islanders honored Tragically Hip front man Gord Downie by playing music from the band during warmups. Downie passed away on Oct. 17 after succumbing to brain cancer.

UP NEXT

Sharks: At the New York Rangers on Monday night.

Islanders: Host Arizona on Tuesday night.