Instant Replay: Sharks fall victim to Predators, lose at home

Instant Replay: Sharks fall victim to Predators, lose at home


SAN JOSE – James Neal’s second period goal gave the Predators their first lead of the afternoon, and they held on in a tight-checking game at SAP Center on Saturday against the Sharks, 3-1.

The Sharks had some good chances early in the second to take the lead with the score tied 1-1, but Melker Karlsson missed the net on a wrister from the slot in the first minute, and Jannik Hansen couldn’t corral a Joe Pavelski feed on a rush shortly after that.

Nashville outskated the Sharks the rest of the frame, taking its first lead at 10:08 on Neal’s goal. Colin Wilson stripped Dylan DeMelo deep in the Sharks’ defensive zone before setting up Neal for his 19th score.

San Jose’s power play had an opportunity to tie it after Neal went off on a slashing minor at 17:30 of the third period, but instead it was Viktor Arvidsson tapping in a P.K. Subban clear after Martin Jones was pulled to make it a six-on-four.

The Sharks lost in regulation for just the second time in the last 11 games (7-2-3). They are 1-1 on their season-long six-game homestand.

Capping off a three-game California swing, Nashville snapped a four-game losing streak (1-2-2) and remains in third place in the Central Division.

The Sharks got on the board first on Paul Martin’s fourth goal. Joe Thornton pulled an offensive zone draw back to the point, and Martin’s shot skidded inside the far post with Hansen setting a screen on Juuse Saros at 6:18.

Nashville tied it about six minutes later, when a floater from Roman Josi deflected off of Justin Braun’s shin to Ryan Johansen, who whizzed in a wrist shot from close range through Jones at 12:10.

The Sharks and Predators entered the game as the two highest-scoring teams in the league by their defensemen. Martin’s goal was the Sharks’ 44th from the blue line, while Nashville has a combined 38.

The Sharks are 6-8-3 in their last 17 regular season meetings with Nashville, although they won the previous meeting on Oct. 29 at home, 4-1. The teams face off for the third and final time in exactly two weeks at Bridgestone Arena.

Special teams

The Predators had given up six power play goals in just 11 chances during their four-game skid, but shut down San Jose’s four tries, after the Sharks had scored twice with a man advantage on Thursday against Washington.

San Jose is 7-for-7 on the PK in its last two games, after allowing one power play goal-against in its previous four before that.

In goal

Jones started for the third time in the last five games, and figures to get Sunday off against Dallas in the second of a back-to-back. He made 22 saves.

Saros, a 21-year-old fourth round draft pick in 2013, was making his first career start against the Sharks. It was his third start in the last eight games, and he improved to 8-6-3 on the season with 25 saves.


Nashville trade deadline acquisition P.A. Parenteau made his debut after he was acquired on March 1 from New Jersey. He had been dealing with a finger injury. Defenseman Ryan Ellis, who had missed two of the last three with a lower body injury, also played.

Defenseman David Schlemko missed his fourth straight game with a lower body injury.

Up next

Three of the Sharks’ final 15 games of the regular season will be against the Stars, including Sunday night in the second half of a rare back-to-back at home. The Sharks visit Dallas twice on the same road trip later this month, on March 20 and 24.


Jones set for big workload down the stretch


Jones set for big workload down the stretch

Sharks goaltender Martin Jones is on pace for the lightest overall workload of his career as a starter. After starting 65 games in his first two seasons in San Jose, Jones can only play a maximum of 62 if he appears in each of the team's 12 remaining games. 

Yet simultaneously, he is also on pace for the largest stretch-run workload of his career. Jones will make his 10th straight start, and 51st overall, Friday night in Calgary. 

Friday will also mark his eighth consecutive start since the trade deadline. Over the last two seasons, Jones made 13 and 14 starts, respectively, from the deadline onwards. 

It's easy to envision Jones far surpassing that workload. Entering Mar. 16 each of the last two years, the Sharks held, respectively, 10-point and 18-point leads over the West's ninth-place team, the closest among the squads on the outside looking in at the postseason. As a result, James Reimer and Aaron Dell spelled Jones for eight and seven starts, respectively, to keep him rested ahead of the postseason. 

This year, San Jose's only three points clear of the ninth-place Anaheim Ducks. There's also only one back-to-back remaining on the post-deadline schedule, compared to five in 2016-17 and two in 2015-16, and 10 of the next 12 games are against teams within four points of a playoff spot. 

Taking all of that into consideration, Jones should pretty easily exceed the mark of 14 post-trade deadline starts he set last season and ultimately start more than 60 games for the third consecutive season, barring injury. 

Should the Sharks clinch a playoff spot, it will be fair to wonder what kind of effect Jones' stretch-run starts will have on his postseason performance. Jones posted a .923 save percentage in San Jose's run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2016, and a .935 save percentage in the first round last year after receiving a good amount of time off. 

But the Sharks have to get there first, and it's understandable they will rely on Jones in order to do so. The recently-extended Aaron Dell remains one of the league's better backups, but has come a bit back down to earth this season (.914 save percentage) after earning the role last year (.931). 

Jones, for his part, has handled the increased workload well so far, winning five of nine games and posting a .922 save percentage. How well handles his 10th consecutive start, and any that follow, will have a profound impact on the Sharks' hopes of making the playoffs. 

Potential Donskoi injury the latest in Sharks season full of significant hurdles

Potential Donskoi injury the latest in Sharks season full of significant hurdles

Wednesday night’s overtime win over the Edmonton Oilers mirrored the arc of the Sharks’ season. At the risk of sounding like a beloved corporate cousin, it had everything. 

It was a game that, much like this season, required San Jose to overcome increasingly difficult hurdles. The Sharks fell behind early, then again, then again, only to overcome each successive deficit and win the game in overtime. 

Mix in a failed challenge, timely goaltending, special teams success, a scene-stealing performance from a member of the team’s young core (Tomas Hertl), and you have a winning recipe featuring recurrent ingredients from the season to-date. Of course, that winning recipe has the added potential of a sour aftertaste, as the Sharks saw yet another top-six forward leave the game with a familiar injury. 

This time, it was Joonas Donskoi, who left the game with just under seven minutes remaining in the third period nursing his left shoulder. Donskoi, who suffered two separated shoulders last season, did not return to the game, and head coach Peter DeBoer did not offer an update on his status postgame. 

The timing of Donskoi’s injury is far from ideal for San Jose. Not only is the Finnish forward on pace for his highest-scoring NHL season, but the Sharks are far more productive with him on the ice than when he’s not. 

When Donskoi’s not on the rink, the Sharks attempt 49.15 percent of the five-on-five shots, compared to 55.15 percent when he is on the rink, according to Natural Stat Trick. That relative difference (6.36 percent) is the league’s 17th-best mark among skaters, and is essentially the gap between the Boston Bruins (third in five-on-five corsi-for percentage) and New York Islanders’ (27th) respective puck possession prowess. 

Plus, the Sharks score an additional 0.82 five-on-five goals per 60 minutes when Donskoi’s on the ice this season, which is the best mark on the team behind Evander Kane. In all, San Jose’s just 4-2-2 with Donskoi out of the lineup this season, and 17-11-7 over the last three. 

To make matters worse, the Sharks are just three points clear of missing the postseason entirely with 12 games remaining, and Joe Thornton has yet to return to the ice after injuring his right MCL in late January. San Jose’s had enough depth to mitigate Thornton’s injury, especially following the acquisition of Kane, but can it handle another key injury?

They will not need to answer that question if Donskoi doesn’t miss significant time, and the Sharks have overcome most of the hurdles in their way this season. But if he does, or isn’t himself when he comes back, the Sharks undoubtedly will have another one to clear.