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.

Labanc, Sharks overcoming even strength scoring woes

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USATSI

Labanc, Sharks overcoming even strength scoring woes

Kevin Labanc’s first period goal in the Sharks’ Sunday win over the Ducks certainly didn’t look like it was just his fifth of the season, or only his third since opening night.

The 22-year-old, sprung in alone on a breakaway, sold Anaheim goaltender John Gibson on a fake shot with a leg kick, and snapped the puck past him into the top corner. You know a ‘goal-scorers goal’ when you see it, and you saw it 3:38 into the second period.

Labanc not only broke a 12-game, month-long goalless drought, but picked up his third point in as many games after scoring zero in his previous six. Despite his emergence as a force on the power play, all three points came during five-on-five play.

He’s generated six scoring chances in five-on-five situations in his last three games, according to Natural Stat Trick. That’s as many as Labanc accounted for in the six games preceding this run.

The same can be said about his five-on-five shot attempts (seven) and high-danger chances (two). His six shots on goal in his last three games are just one shy of also matching his five-on-five output over his six games prior.

In those categories, Labanc ranks third, third, and tied for second among Sharks forwards, as well as third in five-on-five scoring chances. He’s also tied with Mikkel Boedker for the forward-lead in five-on-five points over the last three games, despite playing only the eighth-most five-on-five minutes.

As Labanc’s broken out of an extended slump, so have the Sharks. Since returning from the bye week on Jan. 13, San Jose is fifth in five-on-five scoring rate (3.1 goals for/60 minutes), compared to 28th before their bye (1.91).

They’re also 5-1-0 during that time.

The Sharks, much like Labanc, were too reliant upon power play production prior to the NHL-mandated week off. Over half of Labanc’s points came with (at least) a man advantage, and 32 of San Jose’s 108 were scored on the power play.

Since, the second-year forward has only scored five-on-five points, while only five of the Sharks’ 23 goals were power play tallies. The power play’s still converting, but it’s not been the sole driver of San Jose’s offense.

It’s only a six-game sample, but the early five-on-five, post-bye week returns are promising for Labanc and the Sharks. The next step for both is to maintain that pace.

If Labanc and San Jose can, the Sharks may not need to shop for a top-six winger at the trade deadline after all.

Sharks dominate Ducks for two wins in two nights

Sharks dominate Ducks for two wins in two nights

BOX SCORE

ANAHEIM -- Mikkel Boedker had two goals and an assist, Joe Thornton had a goal and an assist, and the San Jose Sharks beat the Anaheim Ducks 6-2 on Sunday night.

Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Kevin Labanc and Melker Karlsson also scored for the Sharks, who have won five of six. Aaron Dell stopped 33 shots.

Rickard Rakell and Ryan Getzlaf scored for Anaheim. John Gibson stopped only 17 of 22 shots and was replaced after giving up his fifth goal. Anaheim had a four-game home winning streak snapped.

Four goals came in the third period. First, Anaheim pulled within one when Ondrej Kase stole the puck from behind the net and quickly fed Getzlaf, who fired it past Dell.

One minute later, the Sharks answered when Thornton's slap shot went in.

Boedker's second goal gave San Joe a 5-2 lead, and Karlsson's goal on goalie Ryan Miller made it a runaway.

The Ducks first found the net in the final minute of the second period, but that took a two-man advantage and a bit of luck.

Rakell was camped a few feet below the crease when he snapped a shot. San Jose's Justin Braun stuck out a stick, but it deflected the puck off the back of Dell's arm and into the net.

It was Rakell's team-high 17th goal this season.

San Jose appeared to take a commanding 3-0 lead on a power play in the second period. Boedker fired a shot from the top of the right circle that whistled past Gibson.

The Sharks took a 2-0 lead early in the second period when Anaheim's No.1 line turned the puck over. Thornton snapped it out to Labanc, who popped free for a breakaway. He beat Gibson on his short side for his fifth goal.

The Sharks took a 1-0 lead late in the first period on a nifty give-and-go when Tomas Hertl skated down the far side and sent a pass through the legs of Anaheim's Brandon Montour and right to Vlasic in front of the net.

Vlasic snapped it past Gibson for his seventh goal of the season.

UP NEXT

Sharks: Return to San Jose on Tuesday night to play the Jets.

Ducks: Remain at home to play the Rangers on Tuesday night.