Sharks-Ducks: What to watch for


Sharks-Ducks: What to watch for

Anaheim (9-19-6) vs. Sharks (19-10-3)
at 7 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet California

SAN JOSE The two-day Christmas break could probably have come at a better time for the Sharks.

The team was on a roll after winning its fourth straight game on Friday night, extending the Sharks point streak to six consecutive games (4-0-2). The Sharks, along with every other team in the league, had Saturday and Sunday completely off from hockey.

Theyll try to recapture that momentum tonight at home against the Anaheim Ducks after a 2-1 shootout win over the Los Angeles Kings on Friday.

Its just about re-establishing our game and the intensity level. Thats the big one, we dont want to waste minutes and want to have a good start, said Joe Pavelski. Just get right back into the flow of things.

The players know these two days are coming up, and as soon as youre done that last game they turn everything off -- which they should. Theyve earned the right to do that, said Todd McLellan. Then, you have to think about all the goodies over Christmas that everybody seems to consume.

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"Physically, it will take a little while for them to adjust, I believe. Most players will tell you one day off is fine, but two days off it takes a little bit longer to get the engine going.

One advantage the Sharks should have over the Ducks is that they didnt have to fly in on the morning of a game, as Anaheim did today -- a rarity for NHL road teams, which are typically required to be in the cities in which they are playing the night before the game.

Other than the two-day break, its just another normal game day for the Sharks. The same can't be said for Anaheim.

Its always nice because you can have a typical game day. You dont have to travel and play on the same day, said Pavelski.

Patrick Marleau said: Im glad Im not the team flying, but I think were all pretty much in the same boat. Everybodys had two days off coming in, and you have to get back in that mindset right away of a hard hockey game.

McLellan, though, pointed out some advantages to being the road team tonight.

Id maybe prefer to be on the road. I think theres too many distractions at home right now, said the coach. Everybody goes home to the Christmas tree again, and there are still toys to be put together and leftovers to finish off. Being on the road and being in a hotel away from everything is sometimes a nice thing.

Still a perfect homestand: The Sharks will try and remain perfect on their six-game stretch at HP Pavilion after winning the first four. San Jose has won three one-goal games over Colorado, Edmonton and Los Angeles in a shootout, as well as a convincing 7-2 victory against a bad Tampa Bay team.

How have they been able to do it?

Were had some pretty good games, I think. Good starts, which were kind of a problem early in the season, said Dan Boyle. Were finding ways to win. Whether it was Tampa, winning 7-2, or grinding it out until the very last second in the L.A. win the other night.

The four-game winning streak comes after the team returned from a 0-1-2 road trip. McLellan saw signs of improvement even then, despite the losses.

We played well enough to win those games, but didnt. Its the old saying that youre coming out of it, but still losing, he said. Weve carried that over here to the homestand.

It cant end now because of a break. It feels like a long time ago since we played, but we have to continue on. Were in no position to give ourselves permission for an extended vacation.

Rivals reunited: The Ducks have just nine wins this season, but two of those came over the Sharks in October. Jonas Hiller shut them out in the Sharks second game of the season, 1-0, on Oct. 14 at Honda Center and won 3-2 at HP Pavilion just three nights later.

That may have been the high point of their season, though. Since that win at HP Pavilion, the Ducks have won just five games and replaced head coach Randy Carlyle with Bruce Boudreau. They also bring a 0-9-4 losing streak on the road into tonights matchup, having not won away from home since Oct. 27 in Minnesota.

Although its been months since theyve seen Anaheim, the Sharks remember those early matchups against their in-state rivals.

It was a little while back, but I just remember that we lost. At the end of the day thats what we all remember, said Boyle. Although theyre struggling in the standings, they seem to get up and get ready to play us all the time so we have to be ready.

McLellan isnt worrying as much about what adjustments the Ducks have made since their coaching change, as he is his own club after the two-day layoff.

Systematically Im sure there are some minor changes that theyve been able to implement that well have to watch out for, but this is probably a game and Im sure Boudreau will tell you this, too you just have to try and establish your own game for at least the first 20 minutes and worry about the other team after that.

Roster update: Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi will make his 14th start in the last 15 games, and will be backed up by Thomas Greiss. Antero Niittymaki will not dress.

In his last 17 stars, Niemi is 11-4-2 with a 1.98 goals-against average and .930 save percentage. In six career games against Anaheim, hes 3-3-0 with a 2.19 GAA and .905 SP.

Jonas Hiller is expected to start for the Ducks. In 14 career regular season games against the Sharks, Hiller is 5-8-0 with a 2.21 GAA and .933 SP.

Sharks defensemen Jim Vandermeer (hand) and Douglas Murray (hand) remain on injured reserve.

Odds and ends: The Ducks are 2-6-2 under Bruce Boudreau. The Sharks lead the NHL in shots per game with 34.5. The Sharks are tied with St. Louis for fewest goals allowed 5-on-5 (42). San Jose has killed off nine of the last 10 power plays against. The Ducks are 1-14-2 when their opponent scores first.

Sharks exorcise MSG demons, take down Rangers


Sharks exorcise MSG demons, take down Rangers


NEW YORK — Logan Couture had a goal and an assist, Martin Jones stopped xx shots and the San Jose Sharks beat the struggling New York Rangers 4-1 on Monday night.

Tim Heed, Joonas Donskoi and Melker Karlsson also scored to help the Sharks win for the third time in four games. Jones got his fourth straight win after losing his first two starts.

Mika Zibanejad scored and Henrik Lundqvist finished with 20 saves for the Rangers, who fell to 2-6-2 on the season. New York finished 0 for 6 on the power play and is 3 for 25 over the last six games.

With the Sharks leading 3-0 after two periods, Couture took the puck away from Lundqvist behind the goal and sent it to Karlsson, who put it in for his second of the season at 2:51 of the third. Couture got his 200th career assist on the play.

San Jose turned the puck over in its defensive zone and Zibanejad snapped a shot into the top right corner to spoil Jones' shutout bid at 4:23 of the final period.

Donskoi increased the Sharks' lead to 3-0 with 38 seconds left in the second as he skated into the right circle and beat Lundqvist glove-side inside the right post.

The Rangers controlled the play for most of the first period while outshooting the Sharks 16-8, but trailed 2-0 after 20 minutes.

Couture, who had his second career hat trick in a loss at the New York Islanders on Saturday night, got San Jose on the scoreboard 1:56 into the game. With Jones pulled for an extra skater on a delayed penalty, Brent Burns sent pass from the right circle up top to Couture, who fired a slap shot from straightaway past Lundqvist.

Jones had two nice saves on back-to-back attempts in close by Pavel Buchnevich with a little more than nine minutes left in the first.

Heed doubled the Sharks' lead with 7:15 left as he brought the puck up the right side and sent a bad-angle shot from near the goal line along the boards. The puck trickled through Lundqvist's pads for the 26-year-old's first career goal in his seventh NHL game.

The Rangers had a two-man advantage for 25 seconds late in the opening period, but Jones stoppedZibanejad's shot from top of the left circle, and Rick Nash missed with an attempt in close.

NOTES: Couture has six goals and three assists in his last four games. ... The Sharks are 30 for 31 on the penalty kill in seven games since giving up three power-play goals in the season- opener against Philadelphia. ... The teams conclude the season series Jan. 25 at San Jose. ... Rangers D Kevin Shattenkirk played in his 500th career regular season game. ... New York F Rick Nash played in his 999th game. ... D Marc Staal played in his 699th game — all with the Rangers — and passed Mark Messier and Steve Vickers for sole possession of 12th place on the franchise list. ... New York has given up 15 goals in the first period this season.


Sharks: At Boston on Thursday night in the fifth of a six-game trip that concludes at Buffalo on Saturday.

Rangers: Host Arizona on Thursday night in the finale of a season-high six-game homestand.

The world’s most famous arena is a house of horrors for Sharks


The world’s most famous arena is a house of horrors for Sharks

Whenever the NHL's schedule comes out, a trip to Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers is usually a highlight. A matchup against one of the league's biggest teams, in the country's biggest city, in a historic venue? That's a date worth circling.

If the San Jose Sharks circle it, it’s for entirely different reasons.

Throughout the entirety of the franchise’s 26-season existence, the Garden has been anything but welcoming. The Sharks have traveled to the world’s most famous arena 17 times, and have only skated off with a win four times. They didn’t even win a game there until October 19, 1999, in San Jose’s eighth appearance in the building.

Madison Square Garden has been “King” Henrik Lundqvist’s castle against the Sharks. The king in the castle is also the moat surrounding it: In four career appearances against San Jose at home, Lundqvist has only allowed four goals.

The Sharks haven’t been able to solve his squires, either, losing games to two of his most recent back-ups: Martin Biron, now on television, and Antti Raanta, now in Arizona. Lundqvist will likely start on Monday night, but if he doesn’t, this is probably the one instance where San Jose wouldn’t want to face Ondrej Pavelec, even though he’s never managed to eclipse a .920 save percentage in a season.

That’s because the team’s most recent appearances at the Garden have been among their worst. The Sharks have been shut out twice in their last four visits to Manhattan, and have only scored five goals over that span. They did manage to win one game, thanks to a Lundqvist-like shutout from then-goaltender Antti Niemi in 2014.  

Martin Jones, on the other hand, has been decidedly unlike Lundqvist. He’s allowed nine goals on 55 shots in two road starts against the original six franchise, good for an .837 save percentage. The skaters in front of him exactly helped Jones, either. The Sharks have played from behind in their last two trips to Madison Square Garden, failing to score first and trailing after the first two periods both times.

Those recent struggles are especially strange, given Peter DeBoer’s relative success in the building. He won big road games against the Rangers before assuming his role behind the Sharks’ bench, most notably two in the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals, when DeBoer’s Devils upset the top-seeded Rangers. Once you coach this team in that arena, though, all bets are off.

Somehow, in a month known for horror, there may be nothing scarier than the thought of the Sharks playing in Madison Square Garden.