Rewind: Sharks showing more balanced offense, beat Flames 4-1

Rewind: Sharks showing more balanced offense, beat Flames 4-1

SAN JOSE – After grinding out a difficult yet successful road trip in which they played four games in a six-night span, the Sharks were well aware that they might be getting the Flames on Tuesday night with their opponents’ tanks a little drained.

Calgary had competed in Arizona the night before, beating the Coyotes before flying to San Jose immediately afterwards to get ready for the second of a back-to-back.

After a first period in which the Sharks outplayed Calgary yet it remained a scoreless affair, they exploded for four unanswered goals in the second period to take control of their division rival in a 4-1 win.

“We knew they played last night, so I think we just got stronger as the game went on and you could just see we kind of wore them down,” said Joe Thornton, who had a pair of assists in his 1400th career game.

Last year, though, it was the Sharks that never looked all that energized in the first game back at home after a multiple-game road trip. In a stat that’s been mentioned several times, they were just 1-8-1 in such situations, with the lone win a shootout over Edmonton.

Joe Pavelski has heard that number before, giving an ever-so-slight scowl to one reporter who asked about it after Tuesday’s game. It’s still a worthy topic, though, as San Jose is now 3-0 this season when getting back in their own building after being away, outscoring the opposition 10-2 in wins over the Ducks, Devils and now Flames.

“Part of it is our confidence at home right now,” Pavelski said. “That goes a long way, I think anyone knows that.”

Perhaps its time to give some partial credit the Sharks’ sleep doctors, too. On two of the three occasions, the Sharks have stayed over in a Midwest city rather than charter home immediately after the game, as is customary. They spent Sunday night in Chicago after losing to the Blackhawks, flying back to San Jose on Monday morning. 

DeBoer has mentioned previously that the Sharks’ awful home record last year was part of the reason they changed the protocol for this year. It is helping?

“I think that's part of it,” he said. “The other part of it is an attention to detail from our group. We've got to make sure that we're ready for these games right after a long road trip.”

The Sharks are also slowly but surely getting a more balanced offensive attack. 

Joonas Donskoi was the leader on the scoresheet on Tuesday, getting his first goal in 23 games in the second period and then quickly adding another less than two minutes later. Linemate Timo Meier continues to get chances after his first NHL goal on Friday in Montreal, Mikkel Boedker seems to be improving on a nightly basis and was all over the puck on Tuesday, while Chris Tierney and Melker Karlsson both scored on the recent trip. 

San Jose looks like it may have something going with its top three scoring lines lately.

“I liked our line combinations tonight. I thought all the lines looked pretty dangerous,” DeBoer said.

Donskoi, who has been energized since he was a healthy scratch last Wednesday in Ottawa, was pleased to finally contribute.

“That's a long time ago since I scored the last time. I didn't even remember how good it feels,” he said, referring to his previous score on Oct. 29. “So, it was great to get those goals.”

The win was also the Sharks’ 20th of the season, as they became just the second Western Conference team to reach that mark. They are back along in first place in the Pacific, and have a five-point gap on the Flames, who will likely be in the mix for a playoff spot themselves.

They’ll try and close out their pre-Christmas schedule with a win against the upstart Oilers on Friday. They’ll have the added benefit of sleeping in their own beds for the next three nights, too.

“Our division is so tight right now, every game is a four-point game,” Thornton said. “We got one more before Christmas, so get some confidence after tonight and win that next one, and have a nice break.”

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. 

Sharks blow out Devils for season-high fifth straight win

Sharks blow out Devils for season-high fifth straight win


SAN JOSE -- Jannik Hansen scored his first goal of the season and fellow fourth-liners Eric Fehr and Barclay Goodrow also scored to help the San Jose Sharks win their season-high fifth straight game, 6-2 over the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night.

Logan Couture added his 30th goal of the season, and Joe Pavelski and Mikkel Boedker also scored to give the Sharks a four-point lead over third-place Los Angeles in the Pacific Division with one game in hand.

Brent Burns added three assists and Martin Jones made 26 saves.

The scoring barrage by San Jose spoiled Cory Schneider's return to net for the Devils. Schneider allowed four goals on 14 shots before getting pulled midway through the second period of his first start since March 8. Schneider has lost 11 starts in a row since his last win for the Devils on Dec. 27.

Taylor Hall scored his 32nd goal of the season and Blake Coleman also scored for the Devils, who lead Florida by just one point in the race for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Panthers have two games in hand.

After Hansen and Fehr scored in the first period, Goodrow chipped one in midway through the second period on a surprising night of scoring from the fourth line when he beat Schneider on a 2-on-1.

Couture then scored 40 seconds later on San Jose's first shot against Keith Kinkaid for his third career 30-goal season. Boedker added San Jose's second power-play goal of the night late in the second and the rout was on.

The Sharks got off to a fast start in their first game back from a 3-0 Canadian road trip, scoring three goals in the first period and killing 1:20 of a two-man advantage for New Jersey.

The teams traded goals to start with Fehr beating Schneider over the shoulder from a bad angle and Hall answering when he stole a bouncing puck from Justin Braunand beat Jones with a quick shot.

San Jose then scored twice in a span of less than three minutes to take the lead. Pavelski tipped in a shot from Kevin Labanc on the power play to give the Sharks the lead.

Then after Jones denied Damon Severson from in close at one end, Dylan DeMelo sent a long pass that Hansen chased down and then beat Schneider on a breakaway for his first goal since March 30, 2017.

NOTES: DeMelo has 10 assists this month. ... San Jose D Brenden Dillon has a five-game point streak. ... Devils F Miles Wood (upper body) was scratched and Jesper Bratt played in his place.


Devils: Visit Pittsburgh on Friday.

Sharks: Host Vegas on Thursday.