Sharks

Early goal not enough for Sharks in 2-1 loss to Wild

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Early goal not enough for Sharks in 2-1 loss to Wild

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE Logan Couture would have been thrilled for Wild rookie goaltender Matt Hackett under any other circumstance.Hackett, making his first career appearance in an NHL game, stopped all 34 shots he faced in relief of Josh Harding in leading Minnesota to a 2-1 victory over the Sharks on Tuesday night at HP Pavilion. Couture and Hackett grew up just a few houses down from one another in Guelph, Ontario.Numerous times this summer and last summer I said he was going to play in the NHL and he was going to be a good NHL goalie, and hes got a bright future ahead of him, said Couture.

That was on display as the Sharks jumped out to an early 1-0 lead on Harding, only to be shut down the rest of the way by Hackett when Harding was knocked out of the game early in the first period. Minnesota survived an early onslaught by the Sharks, who jumped out to a whopping 16-0 advantage in shots on goal and 1-0 lead early in the first period. A pair of goals later in the first by the Wild, though, ended up being all of the the scoring for the game.The biggest disappointment for the Sharks, other than the defeat, may be that they wasted the strong start they were looking for in rebounding from a poor effort in Saturdays 5-3 loss to the Florida Panthers. Not only did San Jose put 42 shots on net, but the Sharks missed the net 18 times and had 33 shots blocked, for a whopping 93 attempts total.Obviously, it was a better effort. The execution was a bit better besides the fact that we didnt finish like we wanted, said Ryane Clowe. The opportunities that we got were because of some good plays.Todd McLellan, who punished the Sharks by canceling a day off after the loss to Florida, was also more pleased with his teams effort.Theres some frustration. You can feel it on the bench and in the locker room, because tonight the work ethic was a lot better than it was against Florida the other night, said the coach. We played a lot crisper and a lot sharper, but we werent rewarded for it. There are still things we need to work on that we have to get better in, but our overall game improved and thats a good sign.One obvious aspect that needs work continues to be the penalty kill, and special teams in general. Leading 1-0, the Sharks had a golden opportunity to increase their lead when Cody Almond was whistled for high-sticking Joe Thornton at 10:45 of the first period.San Jose had some good looks at the net, and did a good job creating havoc around the goal crease, but was unable to capitalize. Clowe had perhaps the best chance, but he fanned on a one-time attempt from the slot. The Sharks are just 1-for-14 on the power play in the last four games.Couture said: We created some chances. Obviously you want to score when you have four minutes, and I thought we did create some positive momentum, but unfortunately they came back and scored one.Less than three minutes after the Sharks extended power play ended, the Wild tied it up, and it was former Shark Dany Heatley who helped create the equalizer. A subtle dip of his shoulder dropped Dan Boyle to the ice, and Heatley skated around him cutting towards the slot. He fired a shot that Antti Niemi stopped, but Mikko Koivu was there to deposit the rebound.The Sharks' penalty kill, which entered the game last in the league both at home and overall, faltered in surrendering what turned out to be the game-winning goal at 19:48 of the first.A trip to Torrey Mitchell at 19:11 of the first gave the Wild their first power play of the game, and they capitalized. Pierre-Marc Bouchard fired a one-timer on a cross-ice pass from Koivu under the right arm of Niemi, who was moving from his left to his right.We got a little sloppy in front of the net for a little bit in the first and they had a few chances, said Boyle. Otherwise, they play a pretty patient game. They dont come at you with a lot of heat. They force you make mistakes. We knew it was going to be a low scoring game, but youre not going to win too many games scoring one goal.Hackett, the nephew of former Sharks goalie Jeff Hackett, entered the game just 1:11 into the first period after Harding was inadvertently elbowed by his own teammate, Nick Schultz. The Wild defenseman was trying to hold off a charging Joe Pavelski after Patrick Marleau threw one on net, when he bowled over Harding. The Sharks led 1-0 at the time.That goal came at the one-minute mark when a Boyle shot on Harding bounced out to the slot, where Pavelski spun around and whacked it in.The Sharks kept coming in waves as the period progressed, but Hackett made good saves on a blast by Brent Burns about four minutes into the game, and Jim Vandermeer a few minutes later.Could we have got it to 2-0 or 3-0? That would have been probably what we needed, obviously, said McLellan.It didnt happen, though, as the Sharks have now lost four of their last five games courtesy of Coutures childhood friend.Great kid, but I didnt like what he did to us tonight, said Couture.Odds and ends: Matt Hackett was dressed only because regular starter Niklas Backstrom is recovering from a groin injury. Douglas Murray did not play, recovering from a right hand injury. Justin Braun took his place in the lineup, while Colin White was scratched. The Sharks won the faceoff battle for the ninth straight game, 31-26. Todd McLellan bumped Patrick Marleau from the top line to the third line, while putting Brad Winchester with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski for much of the third period. Former Shark Devin Setoguchi suffered an apparent lower body in the game and played just 2:51. San Jose has not won a regulation game since Nov. 23, a 1-0 win over Chicago.

Sharks winger Joonas Donskoi has officially arrived

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AP

Sharks winger Joonas Donskoi has officially arrived

It turns out the top-six winger the Sharks needed to replace Patrick Marleau was on the roster all along.

Joonas Donskoi skated on Logan Couture’s line in Monday night’s shootout loss to the Ducks, and was San Jose’s best player. He scored the Sharks’ only two goals, and tied for the team-lead among forwards with four shots on net.

Donskoi added another goal in the ninth-round shootout, but his two goals in regulation were his sixth and seventh on the season. With those goals, he surpassed his total from an injury-riddled campaign a year ago, and stands three tallies clear as San Jose’s second-leading goal-scorer this season.

Due to Melker Karlsson’s injury, Donskoi skated with the Sharks’ leading goal-scorer, Logan Couture, and rekindled the strong chemistry the pair has shown since the Finnish winger arrived in San Jose in 2015.

Of the nine lines Couture has skated on for at least 50 minutes dating back to the beginning of the 2015-16 season, the three best in terms of puck possession have had Donskoi on his wing. Those three combinations have controlled at least 54 percent of the five-on-five shot attempts, according to Corsica Hockey.

Adding Tomas Hertl, who’s already a strong possession player, to that line bodes well for an even stronger second line moving forward. With Karlsson on the wing, the line controlled only 47.7 percent of the shot attempts, per Corsica, meaning the Sharks have been routinely out-possessed with them on the ice.

That was not the case with Donskoi in Karlsson’s place, as Donskoi posted positive possession numbers alongside Couture and Hertl on Monday, according to Natural Stat Trick. The results were there, as evidenced by the game’s opening goal, but it’s a good sign that the process was, too.

The same, frankly, can be said of Donskoi’s entire season up to this point. He likely won’t convert on over 18 percent of his shots all season, of course, but the Sharks have the puck more often than their opponents when he’s on the ice, and should continue to generate pressure, chances, and ultimately goals, even if Donskoi’s personal scoring comes down.

When Karlsson comes back, Donskoi should remain on Couture and Hertl’s line. That would allow the former to slide into a role better-suited to his game, and the latter to bolster San Jose’s top-six forward group.

Donskoi’s earned an extended look in that spot thanks to his resurgence, and subsequent emergence, this season. Thanks to him, replacing Marleau’s production suddenly seems much less daunting.

Two Donskoi goals not enough as Sharks fall to Ducks in shootout

Two Donskoi goals not enough as Sharks fall to Ducks in shootout

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Antoine Vermette beat goalie Martin Jones in the ninth round of a shootout to give the Anaheim Ducks a 3-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Monday night.

Corey Perry, Cam Fowler and Brandon Montour also scored during the tiebreaker for Anaheim.

Joonas Donskoi, Tim Heed and Brent Burns had shootout goals for the Sharks. Tomas Hertl missed his attempt in the ninth round, leaving Vermette a chance to win it.

Perry and Rickard Rakell scored in regulation for the Ducks. Reto Berra made 40 saves in his first start of the season.

Donskoi had two goals for the Sharks, including the tying score in the third period. Jones stopped 28 shots.

Donskoi helped create his own goal by knocking the puck away from a Ducks defender and getting it to Logan Couture for a give-and-go as the Sharks took a 1-0 lead 3:31 into the game.

The Ducks came back in the second period to even the score 45 seconds in. After winning a faceoff in the San Jose zone, Brandon Montour sent a sharp pass to Perry's stick. Perry settled it and fired into the net for the equalizer.

Rakell gave the Ducks a 2-1 advantage midway through the second, just as a power play ended. Perry took a shot that bounced off Jones' pads, and Rakell knocked it into the net before Jones could cover up.

The Sharks snapped an 0-for-17 streak on the power play with a goal midway through the third to tie it. Donskoi tracked down a rebound and flipped it off Berra's right pad and into the net for his second career multi-goal game.

NOTES: Ducks D Cam Fowler returned to action after missing 12 games with a knee injury. ... Sharks C Melker Karlsson missed the game with an upper-body injury. ... Sharks forward Kevin Labanc, who hasn't played much recently, started on the top line with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski. Donskoi was moved to the second line. ... Ducks G Ryan Miller missed the game with a lower-body injury. Berra made his fourth appearance this season. ... Perry has seven points in his last five games. ... Rakell has a point in seven of his past eight games, with a total of 11 during that span. ... The Sharks scored their second power-play goal in eight November games.

UP NEXT

Ducks: Host the Vegas Golden Knights on Wednesday.

Sharks: Play at the Arizona Coyotes on Wednesday.