Sharks

Rejuvenated Clowe benefits from time away

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Rejuvenated Clowe benefits from time away

SAN JOSE Theres no doubt the Sharks missed Ryane Clowe when he sat out for six games with a facial fracture from Jan. 17 until the end of the month. In the first five games Clowe was unavailable, the Sharks managed just eight goals before exploding for six against the lowly Columbus Blue Jackets on Jan. 31 in a dominant 6-0 win.

Clowe returned against Dallas on Feb. 2, and scored his 10th goal in San Joses 5-2 win. On Saturday in Phoenix, he registered an assist on each of the Sharks three goals in a 5-3 loss to the Coyotes.

It was Clowes first three-point game of the season.

While the wildly competitive forward never wants to miss time, and is still wearing a shield to protect his face, his two-week break to recover could benefit him for the stretch run. The Sharks have 32 games left in just 59 days, beginning tonight against Calgary, and are going to need a healthy Clowe if they want to challenge for the top spot in the Western Conference -- something that is still well within their reach.

He admitted as much after Tuesdays practice at Sharks Ice.

Im kind of feeling it right now, the fact that I did have that rest. I was kind of worried that jumping right back in Id be kind of behind the eight ball or a little tired, but I actually think it helped me, Clowe said. I think before the All-Star break and heading into the second half, I knew I could take my game to another level. I needed to. Its only two games, but I definitely feel pretty good right now.

Its always easy to say that after the fact, and well say that now. His two-week break, thats great, he should be a little more refreshed than most of the players, Todd McLellan said. But, nobody sets out for that. We would have preferred to have him in the lineup and him manage himself, so that the energy level stays high.

Clowes offensive numbers are solid, with 30 points in 44 games played, and although hell likely never be a 40-goal scorer or 100-point guy, Clowe is able to create space for his teammates with his intimidating style and physical nature. It was evident that was missing from the Sharks when he was out.

Hes also as important player in the Sharks locker room as anyone on the team.

Hes a pretty passionate guy, and it rubs off on a lot of others, McLellan said. Sometimes it gets the better of him and he gets a little frustrated, but hes a big man with good vision, can protect pucks, hes not afraid of anything and will go into hard areas to play.

When Clowie is involved hes making other people better, and I think thats a sign of a real good player.

Like most players that rarely come out of the lineup, seeing the game from a different perspective is also something Clowe may be able to profit from.

You think, why didnt you make that play? or how did you not see that, with so much time? Then you get down in the dressing room and walk out on the bench, and its like, man, this is fast. Am I going to be able to jump back into this right away? Its kind of intimidating down there. Everything is slow up top, he said.

Thats the biggest difference. You realize watching that in certain areas at certain times you might have a bit more time than you actually think.

Clowe was part of a power play goal in the second period on a newly put together unit, recording a secondary helper. McLellan has moved Joe Pavelski to the point on the first unit, meaning Clowe is now taking shifts on a man advantage with Brent Burns, Justin Braun, Jamie McGinn and Michal Handzus.

The top unit will obviously get the majority of the power play time, but Clowe likes his unit and thinks they bring a different element that all of that speed and skill on the other one.

I think right now, those guys have got a lot more motion going on and were a little bit more meat and potatoes, he said. With the goal we scored the last game, I think thats sort of how were going to find ways. Were not going to have the minute and a half to work with, so were going to have to get pucks to the net quick.

Its a different look to have Burnsie back there, and I like being on the power play with Burnsie and the element of a big shot. I like to use the point, and I think Jamie McGinn and Zeus are really good at getting to the net. I like our unit.

When asked if he doesnt mind standing in front of the crease awaiting a big shot from the point that could be coming directly towards him, Clowe reminded everyone again of just how aggressive and competitive he is.

Youre got to man up and get in the goalies eyes. Guys do it around the league, so theres no excuse, he said.

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.