Instant Replay: Sharks beat Canucks to end skid, but lose Thornton

Instant Replay: Sharks beat Canucks to end skid, but lose Thornton


One center finally got going, while another left the game early with what looked like a potentially concerning injury.

Tomas Hertl scored twice in the Sharks’ 3-1 win over Vancouver on Sunday at Rogers Arena, but Joe Thornton wasn’t able to play after a first period collision with Michael Chaput on which replays showed his left knee bending backwards.

There was no immediate word on the severity of Thornton’s injury.

The Sharks won for just the second time in their last 10 games (2-8-0), and snapped both a six-game road losing streak and eight-game losing streak against the Western Conference. They drew to within two points of Edmonton and Anaheim for first place in the Pacific Division, and are three points ahead of fourth-place Calgary. The Flames host the Ducks later on Sunday.

Hertl snapped a 16-game goal drought with two goals in the first period in less than two minutes.

After Drew Shore whiffed on a puck in the defensive zone, Hertl took control and pushed it to Jannik Hansen in front of the net. Hansen gave the puck to Mikkel Boedker, and Hertl poked in a Boedker rebound at the 11-minute mark.

Just one minute and 52 seconds later, Hertl potted another. Troy Stetcher blocked a Marc-Edouard Vlasic shot from the point, and the puck went precisely to Hertl’s tape in the circle for an easy conversion past Ryan Miller.

Shortly after that, though, Thornton got hurt. He crumpled to the ice and made his way to the bench, but fell over once he got behind the bench and struggled mightily to get up the tunnel to the dressing room. The Sharks are already without Logan Couture, who took a puck to the face on March 25 in Nashville and has not played since.

There wasn’t much action after that until late in regulation. Sven Baertschi scored with 3:53 to go in the third period to cut the Sharks’ lead in half, as his knuckle puck somehow snuck through Martin Jones off of a Vancouver faceoff win by Bo Horvat.

The Canucks pressured late with Miller pulled, but Jones denied Horvat with about half a minute to go, and Patrick Marleau scored into an empty net on a shot from deep in the Sharks’ end that trickled in with three seconds left.

The game marked the first trip back to Vancouver for longtime Canucks forward Hansen, who was acquired by the Sharks just before the trade deadline. Hansen drew an early hooking minor on Nikita Tryamkin, who prevented Hansen from making a move on a breakaway and probably should have resulted in a penalty shot.

The Sharks have won all four meetings against the Canucks in regulation. They play for the fifth and final time at SAP Center on Tuesday in the second of a home-and-home.

Vancouver lost its fourth in a row, and is just 2-9-2 in its last 13. The Sharks have won 11 straight game at Rogers Arena.

Special teams

There were just two minor penalties in the game, one to each side, and neither team capitalized on its lone power play.

San Jose is 0-for-7 on the power play over its last three games, and 12-for-18 on the penalty kill in its last seven games.

In goal

After head coach Pete DeBoer criticized him fairly bluntly after the Sharks’ 5-2 loss in Calgary on Friday, Jones responded in what was his fifth straight start with 29 saves. He improved to 5-1-0 in his career against Vancouver.

Miller allowed two goals on 24 shots.


Micheal Haley and Timo Meier came out so that Joonas Donskoi and Joel Ward could return after they were healthy scratches on Friday in Calgary. Donskoi and Ward started with Marleau before Thornton’s injury prompted the lines to be altered.

Vlasic has one point in each of the last four games (1g, 3a).

Former Sharks prospect Nikolay Goldobin was a healthy scratch for Vancouver.

Up next

After hosting the Canucks on Tuesday, the Sharks remain at home to play the Oilers on Thursday and close out the regular season with the Flames on Saturday.

How the Sharks can catch the Golden Knights and win the Pacific


How the Sharks can catch the Golden Knights and win the Pacific

About a month ago, the Sharks appeared locked into the Pacific Division's second, third, fourth, or fifth spot. At the end of trade deadline day, they were 12 points back of the division-leading Vegas Golden Knights, and only two points up on the fifth place Calgary Flames.

24 days later, thanks to an 8-2-0 record over the last 10 games (second-best in the NHL), San Jose's still in second place. Now though, those margins are eight points and 11 points, respectively. 

The latter's pretty much locked the Sharks into a playoff spot, while the former's created a path for a late run at the Pacific Division crown. Beginning Thursday night, they will play the Golden Knights twice over both team's final nine games. 

What does the path look like to the Sharks' first division title since 2011? To start, they'll have to beat the Golden Knights twice in regulation to even have a shot. 

That is the foundation of any run at the Pacific's top spot. If the Sharks win both remaining games in regulation, they'll trail the Golden Knights by four points, leaving aside results against other teams for now.

They have to win in regulation, however. A win in overtime or the shootout on Thursday would only cut the gap to seven, and a subsequent win in regulation would leave it at five. Two losses, in any situation, would create a gap of 10-12 points, which would be nearly impossible to overcome this late in the season. 

One point doesn't seem like a lot, but this late in the season, it makes a world of difference. A five-point gap means they'll need to earn six more than the Golden Knights in those other seven games, while a four-point gap means they'll need to earn five in order to pass them. 

The simplest way to five extra points, is for the Sharks to have a record that's two wins and an overtime loss better (2-0-1) than the Golden Knights in the seven games where they don't play each other. That's impossible if Vegas earns at least 10 points in those seven games, so a 5-2-0 or 4-1-2 record would ensure a division banner raising in Sin City.

Taken all together, then, the Golden Knights' 'magic number' is 10 points. Even if the Sharks win on Thursday, their path to a Pacific title remains difficult, if not improbable. 

If a season with an expansion team leading their division has taught us anything, though -- it's that improbable is not impossible.  

The anatomy of Jannik Hansen's recently-broken scoring drought after nearly one year


The anatomy of Jannik Hansen's recently-broken scoring drought after nearly one year

Jannik Hansen's game-winning goal against the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday marked the first time he scored in 355 days. 

Hansen last scored on Mar. 30, 2017 against the Edmonton Oilers, his second goal with the Sharks following an in-season trade. His scoring drought, in all, lasted 44 regular season games, 50 if you include the postseason. 

How exactly does a goal-scoring drought last nearly a year? The right (wrong?) circumstances all need to come together, and that was certainly the case for Hansen for much of the last year.

For one, the Danish forward was in and out of the lineup. San Jose played 83 regular season and postseason games between Hansen's second and third goals, and he did not play in 33 of those games. Plenty of players have had rough 50-game stretches, and that's often without not playing for weeks at a time, as Hansen has done a couple of times this season. 

When Hansen did draw into the lineup this year, however, he wasn't generating offense at the same rate he had in the past. This season, Hansen's five-on-five shot rate (6.19 shots per 60 minutes), shot attempt rate (10.53 individual corsi per 60), and unblocked shot attempt rate (8.95 individual fenwick per 60) were all down from his career averages, according to Corsica Hockey. 

That decline is natural, considering Hansen turned 32 just six days ago. Those rates were not down enough, however, to expect him to fail to score in his first 39 appearances this season. Naturally, a long run of bad luck played a big role in Hansen's dry spell.

Hansen went 0-for-66 in shots over the 50 consecutive regular season and playoff games in which he did not score. He's a career 11-percent shooter, and had he shot at his career average, he would have scored seven goals during that time. That feels about right for a bottom-six forward. 

In many ways, all of these factors fed into one another. Hansen wasn't generating shots or scoring, then was scratched, then couldn't find the back of the net when he returned and was scratched again. All the while, fellow fourth-liners Marcus Sorensen (26.7 percent shooting percentage this season), Joel Ward (14.3 percent) and Barclay Goodrow (13.2 percent) were converting on their chances, forcing Peter DeBoer's hand. 

His possession play has been solid all season (50.74 percent corsi-for, per Natural Stat Trick), but the offense hasn't followed. When it does, as was the case Tuesday night, he can be an effective fourth-line forward, and the goal on Tuesday bought him more time to prove it.