Sharks

Has the Sharks-Kings rivalry lost its luster?

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USATSI

Has the Sharks-Kings rivalry lost its luster?

When the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings opened their seasons against each other two years ago today, their rivalry was in a much different place.

Then, the teams were the apples of the league’s eye. As one of its best rivalries. Sharks-Kings was a season-opening lock, and big enough to draw the NHL’s first outdoor game in Northern California in 2015.

Things were also decidedly in the Kings’ favor.

They won those aforementioned postseason series, including an unforgettable comeback down three games to none in the first round in 2014. In fact, from 2013-2015, the Sharks won just 12 of their 28 regular season and playoff games against their Southern California rivals.

But since Peter DeBoer’s debut as head coach two years ago, it’s been all Sharks. Over the regular season and playoffs, San Jose is 10-2-3 since then, with a +13 goal differential to boot. The Sharks finished higher in the standings each of the last two seasons, too, and plowed through the Kings in a five game, first round triumph en route to San Jose’s first Stanley Cup appearance in 2016.

There isn’t the same national allure, either.

The teams aren’t scheduled to play on national television for the first time in five seasons. After three straight years on the opening night marquee, the Sharks and Kings are now not even on the main stage.

Perhaps that’s because the rivalry doesn’t feel as personal. Darryl Sutter and Dean Lombardi are no longer behind the bench and leading the front office, replaced by John Stevens and Rob Blake. Blake maintains the ex-Sharks ties, but the former San Jose captain is hardly hateable. He may have tried to sign Joe Thornton this summer, but he’s the same guy that endeared himself to Sharks fans with his…“dislike” of Corey Perry.

Plus, who knows how much longer the players that do have history with one another will be a part of it all? Drew Doughty’s set to become an unrestricted free agent in 2019, and there are already rumblings he’s bound to leave Tinseltown. If he does stay, the Kings’ salary cap crunch will undoubtedly necessitate the departure of other core pieces. Not to mention potential changes in San Jose, where Joe Thornton is on the downswing of his career and Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski can become free agents themselves in 2019.

Hearing the boos, jeers, and “Beat L.A.” chants at SAP Center tonight in the teams' first matchup of the season will probably be enough to forget about the changing nature of the rivalry. But once the final horn sounds, those will just be another reminder of what once was.

Sharks lose in Vancouver for first time since 2012

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USATSI

Sharks lose in Vancouver for first time since 2012

BOX SCORE

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Sam Gagner scored at 4:34 of overtime and the Vancouver Canucks snapped a four-game losing streak with a 4-3 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Friday night.

Gagner beat Martin Jones with a nice backhand move on a breakaway for his fourth of the season after a feed from Alexander Edler. It was Gagner's first goal in nine games.

Markus Granlund scored twice and Brock Boeser also had a goal in regulation for Vancouver (15-14-4). Henrik Sedin and brother Daniel Sedin each added three assists. Jacob Markstrom made 34 saves.

Brent Burns scored two goals and Marcus Sorenson had one for San Jose (17-10-4). Martin Jones stopped 36 shots for the Sharks, who were playing their second game in two nights after Thursday's 3-2 road victory over the Calgary Flames.

San Jose had won 11 straight at Rogers Arena dating back to the Canucks' last victory on home ice over their Pacific Division rivals all the way back on Jan. 21, 2012. Vancouver was 0-9-2 over that stretch while getting outscored 41-14.

Leading 3-2 through 40 minutes, the Canucks nearly restored their two-goal lead four minutes into the third, but Jones stretched to make a great pad save on Thomas Vanek.

The Sharks mustered only one shot through the first 13 minutes of the final period, but got the equalizer with 5:49 left in regulation when Burns' point shot went off the skate of Canucks defenseman Alex Biega in front and beat Markstrom for his second of the night, sixth of the season and fifth in five games.

Coming off Wednesday's embarrassing 7-1 loss at home to Nashville, the Canucks stormed out of the gate against the Sharks and led 2-1 after the first period before Boeser stretched the lead to two.

The NHL's rookie scoring leader ripped a shot over Jones' shoulder on the power play at 11:56 of the second for his 17th, moments after slicing through the Sharks' defense and ringing a shot off the post.

San Jose got that one back with 1:44 left in the period when former Canucks forward Jannik Hansen started a sequence that ended with Sorenson netting his first past Markstrom.

Already minus five regulars, including two-thirds of their top line with Bo Horvat (broken foot) and Sven Baertschi (broken jaw) out long-term, the Canucks announced Friday morning that shutdown defenseman Christopher Tanev will miss two to three weeks with a groin strain.

Granlund, who came in with one goal in his last 12 games, opened the scoring 44 seconds in on the power play. Daniel Sedin redirected a slap pass in the slot from Henrik Sedin right to Granlund at the side of the net, and he beat Jones between the legs for his fifth.

Vancouver could have easily been up by two or three moments later as the Canucks led 10-0 in shots after just five minutes.

San Jose, which came in 7 for 21 on the power play over its last four games to climb from tied for 24th overall to tied for 11th, tested Markstrom five times on its first man-advantage opportunity before finally breaking through after Vancouver took another penalty.

The Sharks won an offensive-zone faceoff back to Burns, who snapped his fifth past Markstrom at 10:45.

Markstrom stopped San Jose's Chris Tierney on a short-handed breakaway later in the period before Granlund scored his second of the night seconds after the penalty expired. Daniel Sedin's initial shot fell at the top of the crease to Henrik Sedin, who tapped it over for Granlund to put into a wide-open net at 14:27.

NOTES: Canucks center Brandon Sutter and defenseman Erik Gudbranson remain sidelined with upper-body injuries. Vancouver is also without wing Derek Dorsett, who ended his playing career late last month due to spinal problems. ... San Jose forward Joel Ward got an assist on Burns' second goal of the night for his 300th career point in his 700th NHL game.

UP NEXT

Sharks: Monday night at Edmonton.

Canucks: Sunday at home against Calgary.

Check out this hilarious Sharks Christmas music video

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Check out this hilarious Sharks Christmas music video

Everyone knows the classic Christmas songs. Your family probably plays the same tunes year in and year out. 

It's time for the something fresh. 

The San Jose Sharks are here to bring some new flavor to Christmas spirit. On Friday, the team re-released the music video you all need to see, with their song "Holiday Sweater." Turn the volume up for this one.

Merry Christmas and good luck getting that jingle out of your head.