Sharks collapse in 4-1 loss to Ottawa


Sharks collapse in 4-1 loss to Ottawa


SAN JOSE A turnover in the offensive zone, leading an odd man rush. Continued failures on the power play. An off night for goaltender Antti Niemi.

Those were the key components in a 4-1 Sharks loss to the Ottawa Senators on Thursday night at HP Pavilion, in San Joses final home game before the All-Star break.

Ottawa scored twice in the second period to break a 1-1 tie.

It started with an errant pass from Joe Pavelski, who was underneath the Senators net after a Sharks rush. Pavelski tried getting the puck back to the top of the zone to Tommy Wingels, but instead it bounced around and ended up on the stick of Kyle Turris, who charged the other way on a three-on-two.

Turris fed Erik Karlsson for a one-timer from the circle at 4:30, as the NHLs leading scorer among defenseman buried his seventh goal of the season, putting the Senators ahead to stay.

The backbreaker was that turnover in the second for that outnumbered rush, and obviously we never recovered from there, Todd McLellan said.

Its not as if the Sharks didnt have their chances to recover, though. In fact, San Jose had a pair of power plays shortly after Karlssons goal, but the floundering unit couldnt generate the equalizer.

Instead, the Senators increased their lead to 3-1 with a power play goal of their own. Jamie McGinn was sent to the box for kneeing Jason Spezza, and Colin Greening scored his first of two goals when he corralled a shot off of the back boards by Filip Kuba. Greening had time to turn around, walk towards the net and fire it past Niemi at 14:50.

The Sharks are now just 10-for-82 with a man advantage since Nov. 26 (12.2 percent).

Our power play needs to start going here soon, said Logan Couture, who was a game-low -3. You can say you get as many chances as you want, but its about results. This is a results league, and we need to score some goals when we get those chances.

The turning point has to be the second goal, a turnover in the offensive zone for an outnumbered rush. Probably the second turning point is the power play not producing, and theirs coming out and getting a bit of softie, McLellan said.

Greenings second goal put it away when his wrist shot from the high slot beat Niemi, who had an off night, midway through the third period.

I think Nemo would probably assess himself very fairly, and say that he wasnt on. He made some saves early in the game, but as the game wore and we needed a couple from him, he didnt have them. He had one of those nights, McLellan said.

When asked after the game if he could have stopped a few of the pucks that got by him, Niemi agreed and went into detail about what he could have done differently on each of the four Senators goals.

Yeah, for sure. The first one, get over there and get the left skate on the ice and stop that. Second one, get a better push to the pass. Third one, maybe stay a little more far off the net. Maybe the last one, be a little bit more patient.

It wasnt just Niemi, though, according to the coach.

I thought there was a few of our other high end players, too, that didnt have very good nights, and they have to right now when were short staffed.

San Jose scored two or fewer goals in four of its last five games (3-2-0).

The Sharks and Senators entered the game as two of the most sizzling teams in hockey. Ottawa improved 10-1-1 in its last 12 games, while the Sharks fell to 7-2-1 in their last 10.

Ottawa won for the first time in San Jose since Oct. 18, 2003, ending a five-game skid.

Jason Demers, who missed practice on Wednesday, sat out in place of Colin White despite being available, McLellan said. White had missed the previous nine games with a lower body injury and was activated from injured reserve earlier in the day. To free up a roster spot for White, Ryane Clowe was placed on I.R. with a facial fracture. Andrew Desjardins, meanwhile, returned from a two-game absence after getting hit in the head against Columbus last Saturday.

San Jose may have lost another player, too, as Wingels left the game in the third period. No immediate update was available.

The Sharks embark on a three-game road trip through Canada leading up to the NHL All-Star break on Jan. 25. It begins in Vancouver on Saturday afternoon before stops in Edmonton and Calgary.

The Sharks came flying out of the gate. They were rewarded with a goal by the fourth line, as Desjardins gathered the puck around the boards and fed Brad Winchester for a wrist shot past Craig Anderson at 3:10 of the first period.

San Jose outplayed the Senators for most of the first, but a lapse in their own zone resulted in the tying goal by Turris. Sergei Gonchar drove past Patrick Marleau and found Turris with a backhanded pass through the slot, and the Ottawa newcomer lifted in his fourth goal of the year midway through.

Did McLellan think his team deserved better after the first 20 minutes?

Probably, he said. We went in and looked at the chances for and against like we always do. We didnt give up much in the first, and were tied.

I thought we had a really good first period, we just didnt capitalize, and it just went a little bit downhill from there, Dan Boyle said. Missed opportunities on our part, and them capitalizing on theirs is my feeling right now.

There were a few dangerous looking hits in what was a physical game. In the first period, Ottawas Jared Cowen laid into Justin Braun with a shoulder to the head, which was caught by the referee and nullified an Ottawa power play. In the second, Winchester appeared to inadvertently collide in the neutral zone with Zack Smith, shaking up the Senators forward.

Shortly after Turris tied the game in the first period, Jamie McGinn hit Chris Phillips in the corner, and the door to the home entrance came flying open. McGinn tumbled off of the playing surface, and was lucky to be okay.

Odds and ends: The Sharks outshot the Senators, 37-21. Ottawa won the faceoff battle, 34-28. The game marked the first matchup between Todd McLellan and Sens head coach Paul MacLean, as both were assistants together in Detroit for three seasons. Its MacLeans first year as head coach of the Senators. Ottawa finished 1-for-4 on the power play.

Time is now for Sharks to experiment with new lines


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 picks up a career first in Panthers win over Sharks


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.


Panthers: At the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday.

Sharks: Host the Boston Bruins on Saturday.