Sharks

Sharks-Flames: What to watch for

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Sharks-Flames: What to watch for

CALGARY The Sharks (34-25-9, 77 points) opted to stay away from the Saddledome until game time on Tuesday night, when they will meet the Flames in a key battle for playoff position. San Jose arrived into Calgary late Monday night after dispatching the Edmonton Oilers on Monday, 3-2, to end a five-game losing streak.

KURZ: Back-to-back may benefit Sharks

The Flames (32-25-12, 76 points) and Sharks are side-by-side in the standings, and San Jose can move as high as seventh or fall as low as 11th based on tonights action around the league. The teams have been trending in opposite directions though, as Calgary is 4-1-1 in its last six, including a three-game winning streak.

The Sharks are 1-1-1 on their four-game road trip, and return home on Thursday to host Nashville.

Power play awakens: The Sharks had been 0-for-14 on the power play in their previous six games before going 2-for-2 against Edmonton on Monday. The six-game drought was a season high.

We were getting chances, shooting pucks, it just didnt go in for us, said Logan Couture on Monday, whose third period power play goal held up as the game-winner. It was good to get a couple tonight.

San Jose has the third best power play in the NHL with a 20.7 percent success rate.
Glencross pacing Flames offense: Curtis Glencross has scored in seven straight games for Calgary, the longest streak in the NHL this season. He put the Flames ahead to stay with a third period goal in their 4-3 win over Minnesota on Sunday.

Jarome Iginla has a four-game goal streak while Alex Tanguay has points in six straight games (2g, 8a).

The Flames are not without their injured players, though. Key forwards Blake Comeau (shoulder) and Mike Cammalleri (upper body) are questionable for the game.

Calgary has scored the first goal in 11 straight games, and is 23-0-4 when leading after two periods.

In the crease: Todd McLellan said after Mondays game in Edmonton that he hadnt yet decided on a goaltender for tonight, but it would be surprising if he didnt go with Antti Niemi in what is the teams biggest game of the season to date.

Niemi shut out the Flames his last time here, making 25 saves in a 1-0 Sharks win. Hes also a career 8-2-0 against Calgary with a 2.29 goals-against average and .911 save percentage, although he allowed four goals to the Flames on 36 shots on Feb. 8 at HP Pavilion a 4-3 Sharks loss.

Miikka Kiprusoff will start for the Flames. Hes 14-12-3 with a 2.80 GAA and .910 SP against San Jose in his career. His win against the Sharks in early February was the 300th of his NHL career.

Odds and ends: The Sharks have three goals or less in 13 straight games (3-8-2). After Nashville on Thursday, San Jose hosts Detroit on Saturday and Anaheim on Monday before visiting the Kings on Tuesday. Marty Havlat remains out for the Sharks.

Something smells fishy about Sharks' early success on power play

Something smells fishy about Sharks' early success on power play

By many traditional measures, the Sharks’ power play is off to a strong start.

They’ve scored seven times on 30 opportunities, including once in Saturday’s 5-3 loss to the New York Islanders. That mark, 23.3%, would have been good enough for third in the league last season, and is nearly seven percent better than the Sharks were in 2016-17.

San Jose’s made some changes on the man advantage, and are getting a different look on their top power play unit with Tim Heed there instead of another forward. Second-year forward Kevin Labanc is playing a significant role on the second unit, operating as something of a focal point.

The puck’s found the net a lot for the Sharks on the power play, but a deeper look at the numbers reveals that success may be a house of cards.

According to Natural Stat Trick, San Jose ranks in the bottom third of the league in shots, shot attempts, and unblocked shot attempts per 60 minutes. Using those rates allow us to compare teams empirically, equalizing for the amount of time each team has spent on the power play. Those rates, by the way, are not very good.

And each of those are lower than last season, when the Sharks finished 25th in power play percentage. This season, the Sharks are converting more shots, despite attempting less.

It would be tempting to think San Jose can hang their helmets on higher shot quality, but they’ve struggled in that area, too. The Sharks finished just shy of the top ten in high danger chances per 60 minutes last season, but are in the bottom third of the league this season, according to Natural Stat Trick.

So the Sharks are shooting at a lower rate and generating chances at a lower rate than last season, when they had one of the league’s worst power plays, but are scoring at a much higher clip. They’ve converted on about 19% of their shots on the power play, almost doubling their conversion rate (10.5%) from a season ago.

If this doesn’t seem like a sustainable mix, that’s because it’s not. In a small sample size of seven games, the power play’s been good enough, but the Sharks can’t count on converting nearly a fifth of their power play opportunities if they continue to struggle generating shots and chances.

Of course, stranger things have happened in a hockey season, so it’s possible the Sharks can ride a sky-high shooting percentage all season long. Banking on that, however, would be foolhardy.

Sharks come up short in New York despite Couture's hat trick

Sharks come up short in New York despite Couture's hat trick

BOX SCORE

NEW YORK — Anders Lee had two goals and an assist to lead the New York Islanders to a 5-3 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night.

John Tavares had a goal and two assists, Josh Bailey added a goal and an assist, and Andrew Ladd also scored to help the Islanders win for the third time in four games. Thomas Greiss stopped 28 shots.

Logan Couture scored all three goals for the Sharks, completing the hat trick with 1:52 remaining to pull them within one. Aaron Dell finished with 18 saves.

Ladd's goal at 3:12 of the third period broke a 2-2 tie. Rookie Mathew Barzal created the scoring chance by taking the puck around the net and then setting up Ladd in the high slot for his second of the season.

Lee's second of the game and fifth of the season gave the Islanders a two-goal cushion with 8:13 remaining as he converted an odd-man rush.

Tavares sealed the win with an empty-netter with 55.4 seconds remaining and helped improve to 22-4-4 in their two-plus seasons at Barclays Center. Tavares points were his first since he had two goals and an assist Oct. 7 against Buffalo, ending a five-game drought.

The Sharks scored the game's opening goal at 6:26 of the second period on the power play. San Jose came away with the offensive draw and Couture scored from the slot, redirected Brent Burns' point shot past Greiss.

The lead lasted just over a minute as Nick Leddy worked his way to the back of the net and then quickly fed Lee for the tying goal.

The Islanders went ahead 58 seconds later after Joe Thornton made a costly turnover in his own end to give Bailey a point-blank chance. Bailey was able to sneak the puck with a backhander between his skates and past Dell to put New York ahead 2-1.

However, an impressive effort by Jannik Hansen to spin past Brock Nelson in the neutral zone led to a quick feed to Couture, who took a few strides and then fired a shot past Greiss to even the score once again.

NOTES: The Islanders held a special pregame ceremony to honor alumni of the organization who were in town for an Islanders Alumni Weekend. Among the players on the ice were Bobby Nystrom, Clark Gillies, Bryan Trottier and Ed Westfall. ... The Islanders scratched D Scott Mayfield, F Josh Ho-Sang and F Nikulay Kulemin. ... San Jose scratched F Joel Ward, F Barclay Goodrow and D Dylan Demelo. ... The Islanders honored Tragically Hip front man Gord Downie by playing music from the band during warmups. Downie passed away on Oct. 17 after succumbing to brain cancer.

UP NEXT

Sharks: At the New York Rangers on Monday night.

Islanders: Host Arizona on Tuesday night.