Sharks

Sharks fall to 'soft' Rangers in road trip finale

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Sharks fall to 'soft' Rangers in road trip finale

BOX SCORE

NEW YORK, NY -- It was a bittersweet finale for the Sharks at Madison Square Garden on Monday night, as they dropped the last of their six-game road trip to the Rangers, 5-2.The Sharks go home with 10 points out of a possible 12, which several players and the coach admitted they would have taken in a heartbeat two weeks ago.But their performance against the Rangers was their worst of the trip, and it was a game that they should have won fairly easily, if you believe the captain.To be honest with you, they were probably the softest team we played against on this road trip, said Joe Thornton. We played some good teams, and I think we probably should have beat these guys, to be honest with you.RELATED: Coaches respond to Thornton's jab

Thornton was probably being a little more blunt than usual. The Sharks and Rangers wont meet again this season, and his comment isnt going to show up on any bulletin boards in the newly renovated locker room at Madison Square Garden. Regardless, the Sharks didnt seem too happy with their game against the Rangers or Saturdays on Long Island when they beat the lowly Islanders in overtime, 3-2.Well be thinking about this game and the Islanders game. We havent been nearly good enough, said Joe Pavelski, who had a goal and an assist. We were able to find a way on the Island, and this team we battled back, and then we let a few things go.Pavelski is referring to the Sharks erasing an early 2-0 deficit before they surrendered three unanswered goals to New York. He himself put San Jose on the board when he put in the rebound of a shot off of the post by Doug Murray late in the first period, and Logan Couture rocketed a one-timer past Martin Biron at 11:03 of the second to tie it at 2-2.A delay of game call on Colin White less than a minute after Coutures goal led to the first of two goals by the Rangers Ryan Callahan. New York regained momentum when the Rangers captain whacked in a perfect pass through the slot by Erik Christensen that somehow got through Murray at the 14-minute mark. It was officially an even strength goal, although White was just stepping out of the box at the time.White explained what happened on his penalty.I just swatted at it, tried to bump it by Brandon Dubinsky, and it ended up going over the glass, he said.That was the turning point, as the Sharks struggled with their penalty kill all night. They have allowed at least one power play goal in four straight games, but it was some of the penalties themselves that could have been avoided. Along with Whites, there were two others that could be considered careless: a too-many-men call at 2:17 of the first period, and a Dan Boyle high stick at 4:29 of the third. We just have to stay out of the penalty box. The penalties we were taking were just ones that are definitely avoidable, said Thornton. When your penalty kill is not going good and you take some sloppy penalties, its definitely tough to kill.Todd McLellan didnt want to pin the loss on special teams, even though the Sharks gave up essentially two power play goals and were 0-for-3 on the man advantage.Lets look at it from a whole, he said. We werent a very good team tonight. When youre not doing it five-on-five, the odds of you doing it on special teams isnt very good.Two minutes and 42 seconds after Callahan made it 3-2, Artem Anisimovs backhanded water bottle goal over the short side shoulder of Antti Niemi gave New York its two-goal lead back. I should have been further out to challenge more. I was a little bit too deep, said Niemi. Good backhander on the roof, it surprised me a little bit.The Rangers werent done, when Brad Richards fired one towards Niemi that hit the goaltender squarely in the chest. It squirted to Callahan, who tapped it in while falling to the ice at 19:12 of the second for a backbreaking goal.Im not overly pleased with what we threw out on the ice. Were a better team than that, individually and collectively, and its a little bit disappointing, said McLellan.Despite the loss, the Sharks trip as a whole has to be considered a successful one. When they left San Jose, they were just 1-3 and some of their top players were not finishing their numerous chances.They come home as winners of five out of six, with their key forwards all contributing. Pavelski is leading the way with 13 points, while riding a six-game point streak. Couture also has at least one point in six straight.Leaving San Jose the way we did, if somebody said you could come home with 10 points, wed be ecstatic with that, especially in some of the buildings and teams we played against, said McLellan.The hurdle now is that the Sharks return home on a losing note, and will face one of the best teams in the league on Thursday when the Pittsburgh Penguins visit HP Pavilion.Well have this bad taste in our mouth and well carry it with us the rest of the week, said the head coach.Odds and ends: Patrick Marleaus point-streak ended at four games. Ryane Clowe and Brandon Prust dropped the gloves for an extended bout just seven second after the opening faceoff. Neither played landed any significant blows, though. Jim Vandermeer, Benn Ferreiro and Justin Braun were scratched for San Jose. Crazy coincidence of the night: Faceoffs (29), hits (26) and missed shots (12) were all exactly even. The Rangers outshot the Sharks, though, 31-26. Biron started just his second game of the season, and the Rangers earned their first home win in three tries.

Sharks winger Joonas Donskoi has officially arrived

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AP

Sharks winger Joonas Donskoi has officially arrived

It turns out the top-six winger the Sharks needed to replace Patrick Marleau was on the roster all along.

Joonas Donskoi skated on Logan Couture’s line in Monday night’s shootout loss to the Ducks, and was San Jose’s best player. He scored the Sharks’ only two goals, and tied for the team-lead among forwards with four shots on net.

Donskoi added another goal in the ninth-round shootout, but his two goals in regulation were his sixth and seventh on the season. With those goals, he surpassed his total from an injury-riddled campaign a year ago, and stands three tallies clear as San Jose’s second-leading goal-scorer this season.

Due to Melker Karlsson’s injury, Donskoi skated with the Sharks’ leading goal-scorer, Logan Couture, and rekindled the strong chemistry the pair has shown since the Finnish winger arrived in San Jose in 2015.

Of the nine lines Couture has skated on for at least 50 minutes dating back to the beginning of the 2015-16 season, the three best in terms of puck possession have had Donskoi on his wing. Those three combinations have controlled at least 54 percent of the five-on-five shot attempts, according to Corsica Hockey.

Adding Tomas Hertl, who’s already a strong possession player, to that line bodes well for an even stronger second line moving forward. With Karlsson on the wing, the line controlled only 47.7 percent of the shot attempts, per Corsica, meaning the Sharks have been routinely out-possessed with them on the ice.

That was not the case with Donskoi in Karlsson’s place, as Donskoi posted positive possession numbers alongside Couture and Hertl on Monday, according to Natural Stat Trick. The results were there, as evidenced by the game’s opening goal, but it’s a good sign that the process was, too.

The same, frankly, can be said of Donskoi’s entire season up to this point. He likely won’t convert on over 18 percent of his shots all season, of course, but the Sharks have the puck more often than their opponents when he’s on the ice, and should continue to generate pressure, chances, and ultimately goals, even if Donskoi’s personal scoring comes down.

When Karlsson comes back, Donskoi should remain on Couture and Hertl’s line. That would allow the former to slide into a role better-suited to his game, and the latter to bolster San Jose’s top-six forward group.

Donskoi’s earned an extended look in that spot thanks to his resurgence, and subsequent emergence, this season. Thanks to him, replacing Marleau’s production suddenly seems much less daunting.

Two Donskoi goals not enough as Sharks fall to Ducks in shootout

Two Donskoi goals not enough as Sharks fall to Ducks in shootout

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Antoine Vermette beat goalie Martin Jones in the ninth round of a shootout to give the Anaheim Ducks a 3-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Monday night.

Corey Perry, Cam Fowler and Brandon Montour also scored during the tiebreaker for Anaheim.

Joonas Donskoi, Tim Heed and Brent Burns had shootout goals for the Sharks. Tomas Hertl missed his attempt in the ninth round, leaving Vermette a chance to win it.

Perry and Rickard Rakell scored in regulation for the Ducks. Reto Berra made 40 saves in his first start of the season.

Donskoi had two goals for the Sharks, including the tying score in the third period. Jones stopped 28 shots.

Donskoi helped create his own goal by knocking the puck away from a Ducks defender and getting it to Logan Couture for a give-and-go as the Sharks took a 1-0 lead 3:31 into the game.

The Ducks came back in the second period to even the score 45 seconds in. After winning a faceoff in the San Jose zone, Brandon Montour sent a sharp pass to Perry's stick. Perry settled it and fired into the net for the equalizer.

Rakell gave the Ducks a 2-1 advantage midway through the second, just as a power play ended. Perry took a shot that bounced off Jones' pads, and Rakell knocked it into the net before Jones could cover up.

The Sharks snapped an 0-for-17 streak on the power play with a goal midway through the third to tie it. Donskoi tracked down a rebound and flipped it off Berra's right pad and into the net for his second career multi-goal game.

NOTES: Ducks D Cam Fowler returned to action after missing 12 games with a knee injury. ... Sharks C Melker Karlsson missed the game with an upper-body injury. ... Sharks forward Kevin Labanc, who hasn't played much recently, started on the top line with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski. Donskoi was moved to the second line. ... Ducks G Ryan Miller missed the game with a lower-body injury. Berra made his fourth appearance this season. ... Perry has seven points in his last five games. ... Rakell has a point in seven of his past eight games, with a total of 11 during that span. ... The Sharks scored their second power-play goal in eight November games.

UP NEXT

Ducks: Host the Vegas Golden Knights on Wednesday.

Sharks: Play at the Arizona Coyotes on Wednesday.