Sharks

Sharks hit low point with 6-3 loss to Columbus

678192.jpg

Sharks hit low point with 6-3 loss to Columbus

BOX SCORE

COLUMBUS Now may be a good time to hit the panic button.

Four unanswered goals in the first period by the NHLs worst team paced the Columbus Blue Jackets to a comfortable 6-3 win over the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday night at Nationwide Arena.

In what has to be considered the nadir of their season, the Sharks lost their fourth straight first time for the first time this year, and are just 1-4-1 on what is turning into a nightmarish nine-game road trip.

All of us realize what were in for right now. Its pretty much square one, Joe Thornton said. Weve pretty much hit bottom now, and now well just hopefully dig our way out of it because were definitely in a race now to get into the playoffs.

It was a night to forget for the starting goaltender, too. Antti Niemi was pulled just in the first period after allowing three goals on just 11 shots, and saw his team lose for the ninth time in his last 13 starts (4-8-1).

When asked if this was the low point for the team, Niemi said: For sure, for me at least. Not getting too many points right now.

Jeff Carters hat trick in his 500th career NHL game led the way for lowly Columbus, which had its largest goal output of the season.

San Joses lead in the Pacific Division is gone. Phoenix defeated the Kings 5-4 in a shootout to draw even with the Sharks atop the division with 69 points. While the Sharks are 3-6-1 in their last 10 games, the streaking Coyotes are 8-1-1.

Thornton was unusually candid after the game regarding the team's effort.

You can talk so much, but really its up to that individual to come out and perform. Thats what why we get paid is to perform every night, Thornton said. For whatever reason, everybodys not on board. Weve got to get on board, and Im sure were going to see a lot of video tomorrow. Weve got to get some wins now.

I dont know if some guys really understand where we are at this point in the season and how the season is dwindling quickly, Todd McLellan said. Other teams are playing well. You cant just come to the rink and wear the jersey. You have to find a way to contribute. Theres been a few that havent lately, and that will be my job tomorrow.

The Blue Jackets scored three goals or less in their previous 14 games, but managed to score four in the first period alone against an unfocused and at times lethargic Sharks team that was coming off of a good effort in a 3-2 loss to Detroit on Sunday.

R.J. Umberger got it started when he was left completely alone in front of the net to deposit the rebound of a Grant Clitsome shot just 4:55 into the game. Niemi mentioned he thought he had the puck frozen under his glove and was expecting a whistle that never came.

An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty to Joe Pavelski for snowing the goaltender led to the first of two power play goals for Carter, when the Blue Jackets sniper fired it past Niemi at 6:51.

It put us on our heels and we never got it back, said Pavelski, who also gave the impression that he didnt agree with the penalty.

Rick Nash made it a 3-0 game at 15:18, skating from the boards to the slot and ending Niemis night by beating him to the glove side.

Thomas Greiss relieved Niemi and surrendered Carters second with a man advantage at 19:30 of the first. A shot by Vinny Prospal deflected off of Brent Burns stick and then Jamie McGinns skate before Carter tapped it in to make it 4-0.

San Jose made it at least somewhat interesting in the second period with a pair of goals just 26 seconds apart. Colin Whites shot off of Thorntons skate at 5:11 made it 4-1, and a Logan Couture wrist shot from the faceoff dot over Masons near shoulder brought the Sharks to within two goals.

An undisciplined penalty to Ryane Clowe at 7:37, though, essentially sealed the Sharks fate. Clowe disagreed with a cross-checking call and slammed the door to the penalty box, earning a minor for unsportsmanlike conduct on top of the original infraction. The Blue Jackets capitalized on the back-end of the double-minor when David Savards blast deflected in off of Marc-Edouard Vlasic at 10:59.

I was upset because they called a penalty. It was a bad call on the penalty so I got upset, said a visibly annoyed Clowe.

It was Columbus third power play goal of the night, and second on an avoidable penalty to Clowe, who was sent off for roughing late in the first leading to Carters second goal.

Weve got two situations to deal with, and Ill talk to Clowie about it tomorrow, but frustration seeps through a little bit there, McLellan said. He was sent a message and wasnt put back on the ice for a little while, but in the same breath he does take care of his teammates.

When mentioned that the team took some undisciplined penalties, Thornton said: They know. They cant be doing that kind of thing and it cost the team, is the bottom line tonight. Were in that game and a couple unfortunate penalties like that put you behind the eight ball, and they score.

Right now, as fragile as the team is, we cant take the undisciplined penalties.

Carter completed the hat trick at 1:26 of the third after a defensive zone breakdown by San Jose led to Nash finding Carter in the slot for another easy conversion.

It was just one of a number of defensive zone miscues for the Sharks, who surrendered six goals for the second time on this trip. San Jose lost to Tampa Bay in overtime last Thursday, 6-5.

Youve got to play with some intensity, and, fear is not the word, but youre got to be ready to go. Youve got to sense some urgency and get in there and create a little bit more, Pavelski said. We do that at times, and get our chances and we havent scored on them early enough.

With that, weve got to defend better.

Coutures second of the night, a deflection on the power play, made it 6-3 at 8:35 and capped the scoring.

The Sharks may have lost newcomer Dominic Moore. Moore did not come out for the start of the second period due to an unspecified injury, but was seen walking to the team bus after the game.

San Jose will be looking for wins in Toronto, Nashville and Minnesota before hosting Philadelphia on Feb. 28.

Odds and ends: Torrey Mitchell was a healthy scratch for the second time this season. Marc-Edouard Vlasic played with a full cage after taking a puck to the face in Detroit on Sunday. Joe Thorntons goal was his 600th point as a Shark. The Sharks finished 3-1-0 against Columbus in the season series. Steve Mason finished with 38 saves, while Greiss allowed three goals on 24 shots and took the loss.

Sharks winger Joonas Donskoi has officially arrived

donskoi-joonas-teal-ducks.jpg
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.