Sharks earn some much-needed good feelings in finale

Sharks earn some much-needed good feelings in finale

SAN JOSE – The Sharks’ 82nd and final game of the regular season probably ranked 82nd in terms of importance. There was little doubt that San Jose would begin next week’s Stanley Cup Playoffs on the road as the third seed in the Pacific Division, and that became official when the Oilers beat the awful Canucks.

Still, there were some positive takeaways from their 3-1 win over Calgary in which they were still without the injured Joe Thornton and Logan Couture, as well as the apparently banged up Joe Pavelski, Joel Ward, Tomas Hertl and Justin Braun.

Perhaps the biggest plus is they’ll get to enter Game 1 of the first round either in Edmonton or Anaheim next week with some good vibes. Those have been sorely lacking since the beginning of March, as the Sharks had dropped nine of 12 games in regulation before Saturday’s finale. They also snapped a nine-game losing streak against Western Conference playoff teams.

"Nice to finish with a win,” Pete DeBoer said. “I thought the guys played hard. I thought we played the right way.”

Chris Tierney, who paced the offense with one goal and one assist, said: “Guys were positive. Guys were working hard. A lot of guys came in and stepped up and played a good game.”

Among the players Tierney is referring to is Danny O’Regan, who scored his first career NHL goal in the third period on the power play, giving San Jose some insurance. Probably the best player on the AHL Barracuda this season, O’Regan played nearly 14 minutes and was 6-for-13 in the faceoff circle while centering a line with Kevin Labanc and Melker Karlsson.

Although his first NHL score probably wasn’t how he dreamed it up – he admitted afterwards he wasn’t even sure he touched the puck – getting on the scoresheet was a special moment.

“Definitely. Really exciting,” he said.

Considering Thornton and Couture are questionable for Game 1 of the playoffs, and DeBoer admitted earlier in the week that Pavelski and Patrick Marleau were playing out of position as centermen, perhaps O’Regan’s number will get called again at some point. 

Would he be ready?

“Yeah, that would be cool,” O’Regan said. “I think I still have a lot of things I need to sharpen up that I think I’ll get more comfortable with as I play more games. I just have to be ready for that opportunity if it comes, and just keep working on my game.”

The Sharks also got a strong performance from goalie Aaron Dell, who made 20 saves in recording his 11th win of the season. While San Jose’s roster features a plethora of question marks headed into next week both injury-wise and performance-wise, the backup goalie position isn’t something that will cause anyone to lose sleep.

“Deller gave us another good game, which is comforting going into the playoffs,” DeBoer said.

The game tape won’t likely be analyzed too much by the coaching staff as the Flames were sitting some regulars, as well, including top defenseman Mark Giordano. Attention will quickly turn into preparing for either the Ducks or Oilers, instead.

For at least one night, though, the Sharks’ miserable past few weeks wasn't hanging over their heads.

“We were missing a lot of important pieces tonight, but anytime you finish the regular season you want to have a little momentum,” Brenden Dillon said. “We had a tough March and a first bit of April, but we're going to build on this."

* * *

DeBoer has been especially quiet on the injury front recently, but said that the four late scratches on Saturday – Pavelski, Ward, Hertl and Braun – will likely return for the playoff opener.

"I would assume so,” said the coach, “but everybody's dealing with something day-to-day."

Thornton was spotted leaving the arena Saturday with a slight limp, carrying a brace in his hand. On Wednesday, Thornton said there was “no doubt” he would be fine for Game 1, but he also said he was possible for Thursday’s loss against the Oilers, which DeBoer later scoffed at.

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.