Sharks

Sharks back in eighth with 3-0 win over Stars

719624.jpg

Sharks back in eighth with 3-0 win over Stars

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE Joe Pavelski scored twice and the Sharks moved back into playoff position with a 3-0 win over the Dallas Stars at HP Pavilion on Saturday night.

San Jose (40-29-10, 90 points) sits in eighth place in the Western Conference, one ahead of ninth place Dallas (42-32-5, 89 points). The teams meet again at American Airlines Arena on Tuesday.

The Sharks trail the Los Angeles Kings and Phoenix Coyotes by one point, after both clubs won earlier Saturday night. All four Pacific Division teams vying for the three final playoff spots have three games remaining.

RELATED: Conference standings

It didnt take long for the Sharks to jump on the road-weary Stars, who entered the game 1-10-2 in the second of back-to-back games and arrived in San Jose late after a 5-2 loss in Vancouver on Friday.

Joe Thornton set up Pavelski in the high slot, and Pavelskis one-timer cleanly beat Kari Lehtonen at the 58-second mark to make it 1-0. Pavelski reached the 30-goal mark for the first time in his career.

It didnt take long for him to get it to 31, when he deflected a shot by Marc-Edouard Vlasic midway through the second period to give the Sharks a 3-0 lead. The goal moved Pavelski into the team lead, surpassing Logan Couture.

Pavelski has seven goals in his last nine games.

A power play goal put San Jose ahead by two at the first intermission. Marty Havlat made it happen, controlling the puck along the boards and patiently waiting for something to develop. He eventually found Jason Demers on the other side of the ice, sending a saucer pass to the defenseman for a redirection at 18:38.

That goal came with Stars agitator Steve Ott in the box for interfering with Justin Braun at 16:50, much to the approval of the sellout crowd.

The Sharks nearly scored earlier on that same power play, but Patrick Marleau rang one off of the crossbar with about 2:20 left in the period.

The Sharks much-maligned penalty-kill unit came up big with San Jose ahead 2-0. Torrey Mitchell was whistled for hooking at 6:11, but a nice play in the defensive zone by Dominic Moore led to a clear. Daniel Winnik chased after the puck and held it along the boards behind the Stars zone, and the crowd grew to a crescendo as the Sharks easily killed off the penalty.

San Jose had three power plays in the first period alone, after getting just one each in losses to Anaheim and Phoenix. The Sharks were shorthanded just once total in those two games, not taking a single penalty in the 3-1 loss to the Ducks on Wednesday.

The nastiness thats typically prevalent during Sharks-Stars games was also in full effect, despite the Stars looking downright sloppy and tired for long stretches. Andrew Desjardins and Jake Dowell fought at 12:42 of the second, while Mitchell and Ryan Garbutt dropped the gloves midway through the third.

Ott was handed a 10-minute misconduct at 9:55 of the third period for arguing with the officials over a slashing penalty to Adam Burish that gave the Sharks more than a minute of five-on-three time they were unable to cash in on.

The Sharks finished 1-for-6 on the power play and killed off all three Stars advantages.

Antti Niemi finished with 22 saves to record his sixth shutout.

Odds and ends: Joe Pavelski became the ninth Sharks player all-time to reach 30 goals in a season. Of Pavelskis 31 goals this season, 13 are in the first period, including five in the first two minutes. Jason Demers marker was the first on the power play by a Sharks defenseman in 18 games, since Brent Burns scored at Minnesota on Feb. 26. Joe Thornton is now tied for third in the NHL in assists with 58.

Time is now for Sharks to experiment with new lines

sharks_usatsi.jpg
USATSI

Time is now for Sharks to experiment with new lines

The San Jose Sharks were shut out for the first time this season on Thursday night, but it sure didn't feel like it.

You’d be forgiven, albeit mistaken, if you didn't think the loss was their first goose egg of the season. San Jose’s been one of the lowest-scoring teams in the league this year, and has scored two or fewer goals in all but two of their six games in November.

The Sharks controlled play, but their raw possession numbers were misleading: Through the first two periods, San Jose was outshot 23-18, and poured it on in the third looking for the game-tying goal.

In order to break out of his team’s extended slump, head coach Peter DeBoer appeared to throw his lines in the proverbial blender. The changes weren't very significant, though, as DeBoer worked mostly around the edges.

Joe Thornton remained with Joe Pavelski, while Melker Karlsson and Timo Meier rotated in on their wing. Joonas Donskoi swapped in with Logan Couture and Tomas Hertl, and on and on.

The core pair of each line remained intact, while DeBoer swapped complimentary wingers. Subtle changes, unsurprisingly, didn't lead to drastically different results.

He’s been amenable to bigger changes at times, briefly breaking up longtime linemates Thornton and Pavelski last Sunday against Los Angeles. The bottom six, especially the fourth line, has mostly been a revolving door.

That's a start, but far from enough. 

As long as the Sharks struggle to score, similarly significant changes are in order.

DeBoer shouldn't want to sacrifice the team’s defensive dominance, or its strong possession game. But, the Sharks haven't scored enough through 17 games to justify using the same forward combinations. 

In Thornton and Pavelski’s case, those struggles date back to last season. For just about everyone else, the sample size is getting increasingly more significant as the season approaches the quarter pole.

The Sharks bench boss expressed a willingness to mix up his power play units earlier this week, and needs to do the same at even strength. It's time to try Pavelski on Couture's wing, Meier on Thornton's, or any number of permutations.

Tweaking around the edges hasn't made much of a difference, so far more comprehensive adjustments are not only welcome, but necessary. Of course, DeBoer may not find the perfect lineup solutions.

At this point, though, it's worth a shot. It's hard to imagine the Sharks scoring any less than they have so far this season, and the Sharks need to explore if any line changes can provide a remedy.

Luongo picks up a career first in Panthers win over Sharks

luongo_hertl_ap.jpg
AP

Luongo picks up a career first in Panthers win over Sharks

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE — Roberto Luongo made 35 saves for his 74th career shutout and the Florida Panthers blanked the San Jose Sharks 2-0 Thursday night on goals by Colton Sceviour and Nick Bjugstad.

Florida coach Bob Boughner won in his return to San Jose. He served as an assistant coach for the Sharks the last two years.

Luongo earned his first shutout of the season and first in 32 games against San Jose.

Martin Jones was nearly as good for the Sharks. He stopped 26 shots, but that wasn't enough to keep the Panthers from winning for the seventh time in their last eight trips to San Jose.

Sharks defenseman Tim Heed had a goal disallowed on a coach's challenge a little less than five minutes into the second period. Replays showed he came into contact with the puck just behind the blue line, making the play offside.

San Jose had another goal overturned after a replay review. Brent Burns took a hard shot that Luongo nearly caught but couldn't handle and it bounced along his pads. Marc-Edouard Vlasic was one of three Sharks trying to poke at the puck and he used his stick to push both the puck and Luongo's pad into the net.

Sceviour scored a minute into the second after digging out the puck along the boards behind the net. He skated around the cage and poked a shot that hit Jones' pads. He took a second shot that got over the goalie's pads and went in.

Sceviour has four points in six games since returning from injury. He had two points in his first six games this season.

The Panthers, who have won three of four, added an insurance goal with less than eight minutes remaining. Radim Vrbata intercepted a pass in the Sharks zone and played it to Jamie McGinn, who got Jones to commit before dishing to Bjugstad for the score.

NOTES: Panthers C Michael Haley received a warm ovation from Sharks fans. He played in San Jose the last couple of years. ... Sharks D Paul Martin missed his 15th game with a lower-body injury, though he has been skating pain-free for the past two weeks. ... Florida center Vincent Trocheck has 12 points in his last 10 games. ... The Sharks have not scored on their past 15 power plays.

UP NEXT

Panthers: At the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday.

Sharks: Host the Boston Bruins on Saturday.