Sharks

'No hiding' for Sharks as they face elimination against Oilers

'No hiding' for Sharks as they face elimination against Oilers

SAN JOSE – Every facet of their game was on point for the Sharks the last time they were at SAP Center. They’ll likely need at least a similar type of effort as that 7-0 battering they put on the Oilers in Game 4 again on Saturday in Game 6 if they’re going to keep their season alive.

They can draw on some recent elimination game experience to give them a boost, too.

During their run to the Stanley Cup Final last year, San Jose smoked the Predators in the seventh game of the second round, and fought off the Penguins in Game 5 before Pittsburgh managed to raise the Stanley Cup in Game 6.

“It’s different, there’s no doubt. There’s no hiding from [elimination],” Pete DeBoer said on Saturday morning. “You lose, you go home. … We’ve been here before, we know how to handle it, and I think we’re confident we'll show up with a real good game here tonight.”

The Sharks will surely have to be better than they were in overtime in Game 5, when the Oilers took the momentum from a late game-tying goal from Oscar Klefbom and dominated San Jose after the third intermission. David Desharnais sent the Rogers Place crowd home happy in a result that seemed in evitable the way the extra session was going, Martin Jones’ highlight reel stops aside.

Prior to that, though, San Jose played a strong road game. Even in the third period when the Oilers were pushing while down 3-2, they were kept mostly to the outside.

“I think that as much as we were maybe giving up shots, I don’t think we gave up any Grade A [chances in the third period],” Brenden Dillon said. “It’s a defenseman coming in off a change, and makes a perfect off-the-post [shot] and in.”

DeBoer pointed out that the Oilers only outshot the Sharks 8-7 in the third.

“I don’t think we gave them anything, and even on that [Klefbom goal] we had five guys back,” the coach said. “They made a good play, what are you going to do? It happens. They made a good play at the right time and converted. You can’t overthink those things.”

“We were two minutes away from playing a great road game and having a great win. To their credit, they found a way to get off the mat. We understand what happened in the overtime. We’ll make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Playing at home should give the Sharks an advantage tactically as much as emotionally. In games three and four, San Jose is able to get the Marc-Edouard Vlasic-Justin Braun pair out against the Connor McDavid line more easily due to last change. The Oilers’ leading scorer is still searching for his first even strength point in the series.

In Game 5, Braun played a game-high 34:30 while Vlasic was a close second at 33:49. As he is wont to do, Vlasic played off the extra time, saying he “took a nap yesterday” so he should be well-rested for Game 6.

“I love to play. The more I play the better I feel,” he said. “Playing against one of the best players in the world, so what’s not to like?”

Paul Martin, who has been in the playoffs every season of his 13-year NHL career, said: “I think we build off what we did at home last game, as far matchups and the way that we played. I think we can’t come in and play tentative hockey, we have to come in and play our hockey, and see what happens.”

 

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.