Rewind: Win over Preds caps 'a good week' for Sharks

Rewind: Win over Preds caps 'a good week' for Sharks

SAN JOSE – Perhaps the most encouraging aspect of the Sharks’ three-game sweep of their homestand is that they seemingly improved their performance with each passing victory. 

A one-goal, overtime win against Anaheim on Tuesday was followed by a two-goal triumph against Columbus on Thursday, which was followed by a three-goal conquest over Nashville on Saturday night, 4-1.

Against the Predators, the Sharks scored a pair of five-on-five goals after not having any in their last three games. The Red Wings game a week ago was an egg, but they were confident that if they repeated the type of game they threw at the Ducks and Blue Jackets, they would eventually find even strength success.

They were right.

“It's nice that the guys are starting to get rewarded for the pressure that they're putting on the other team,” coach Pete DeBoer said.

[KURZ: Instant Replay: Sharks surge past Preds for third straight win]

In the first period, Joonas Donskoi opened the scoring when the Sharks swarmed the zone following a misplay by Pekka Rinne, who came way out of his goal crease when it probably wasn’t necessary. He made it back to the blue paint eventually, but still couldn’t prevent Donskoi from whacking one through.

A power play goal by Joe Pavelski early in the second period upped the lead to 2-0, and just 17 seconds later the fourth line contributed a Tommy Wingels marker.

“Our line's had some good chances in the past few games, tonight as well,” Wingels said. “Certainly nice to get one there.”

Defensively, the Sharks surrendered just one goal in each of their three wins on the homestand. That starts with Martin Jones, who won all three games while stopping 70 of 73 shots (.959 save percentage), including 27 of 28 against the Predators.

The key save on Saturday came early in the second period and the Sharks ahead 1-0, when he rebuffed Craig Smith on a breakaway. The Pavelski and Wingels scores soon followed.

“[Smith] didn’t have a lot of time down the wing there so I knew I could be aggressive and take away a lot of the net,” Jones said.

Nashville, though, wouldn’t go away, desperately trying to break out of a rough start to the season while getting at least a modicum of revenge against the club that ended its Stanley Cup dreams in last year’s playoffs. They gave themselves a chance with a late second period goal by James Neal on a deflection, cutting the Sharks’ lead to 3-1, and came out for the third with alacrity.

The Sharks were hemmed into their own end for long stretches, and were out-attempted 29-9 in the final frame, but Nashville couldn’t get another marker. Some key shot blocks, including a spectacular effort by Brent Burns on Colton Sissons, preceded Joe Thornton’s empty net goal that put it away.

Although Nashville is struggling at just 2-5-1, few expect them to be buried in the Central Division basement forever. Their push was not shocking.

“They’re a good team,” Jones said. “In the third we were probably defending a little more than we wanted to, but we did a great job in front of the net and blocking shots.”

The Sharks’ 26 blocks was a season-high.

Pavelski said: “There's been a lot of commitment. Tonight you saw there were a lot of guys blocking shots.”

Encouragingly, the Sharks showed they could still keep up with a team that is considered fast. It was concerning when they were badly outskated in losses to the Rangers and Red Wings, especially after San Jose’s lack of swiftness was exposed by the Penguins in last June’s Stanley Cup Final.

"I never was concerned about our speed,” DeBoer said. “I think when we play our game, [when] we're on our game…I only saw one team faster than us last year, and that was Pittsburgh.”

Wingels said: "We feel we can play fast. We're confident in our ability to skate with any team in this league.”

Now 4-0 at home, the Sharks (6-3-0) will make a quick trip to play lowly Arizona on Tuesday before returning home for a couple more. They appear to be rounding into form.

“A good week,” Pavelski said.

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.