Sharks hope to add to Wings' road woes


Sharks hope to add to Wings' road woes

SAN JOSE Add Detroit to the list of Western Conference clubs that has struggled with a long road trip.

The Red Wings, who have seen their season end the last two years at the hands of the Sharks, will visit HP Pavilion on Saturday night looking to end a three-game losing streak, all in regulation and all away from the Motor City. Overall, the Winged Wheel has lost five of its last six (1-5-0), and has scored just seven goals in the five losses.

The Red Wings (44-24-3, 91 points) were shut out in Anaheim on Wednesday night, 4-0, and practiced in San Jose on Friday after a day off in the Bay Area yesterday. As reported earlier, Detroit will get a key piece back when Pavel Datsyuk returns to a club thats desperately seeking more offense.

NEWS: Wings' Datsyuk set to return vs. Sharks

It will be much-needed. Just another offensive weapon that we need, Todd Bertuzzi said.

The burly winger also talked about his teams rivalry with San Jose (35-25-10, 80 points). The Red Wings lost the first two games of the season series before claiming a 3-2 win at Joe Louis Arena on Feb. 19, when the Sharks were in the midst of a wretched trip themselves in which they finished with just two wins in nine games.

The games against them are always important and always big games, and all that. To be honest though, at the point we are right now, it doesnt matter who we face. We need these two points and weve got to get ourselves back to playing the way we know how, Bertuzzi said.

For the Sharks, theyre not focused on the Red Wings losing streak. Theyre just trying to secure back-to-back wins for the first time since Feb. 2, and hopefully get back into the top eight in the process.

We didnt play in them. It may motivate them more, they may be hungrier, I dont know. I just know that we need to get ourselves on a streak and they stand in the way of that, Todd McLellan said. Weve got to come out and be ready to play our best.

Dominic Moore said: Theyve been an elite team in the league for a long time. Its a good test for us to work on our game, and work on those details.

The Sharks are still in ninth place heading into Friday nights action, but the club has secured five of a six possible points in its last three games, and has at least one point in five of six overall. Things seem to be trending upward despite the fact San Jose has scored just 13 goals in the last nine games.

That 2-1-3 mark comes on the heels of a stretch in which San Jose went just 4-10-1 in a stunning decline for the team that has been in the Western Conference finals for the last two years.

Whats improved?

I think were a little bit more together in terms of our support around the ice. Id say thats true in all zones, but for the most part on the breakouts and in the defensive zone, said Moore, who was acquired by the team in late February in the middle of its slide. Having five guys in the picture and supporting each other, thats a huge thing.

Antti Niemi, who will make his 10th straight start on Saturday, said: I think we give less and create more. Thats huge. We gave up one in the first yesterday and we cant open up our game, we still have to defend. Were shooting a lot, so were going to score.

Kronwall expects nothing less than a hard-fought battle between two teams in desperate need of a win.

I think we match up very well against each other. Its always high intensity, playoff-type games. It should be a good matchup, and both teams are looking to get back on track here, he said.

Like the Sharks, the Red Wings remain focused on their own game.

Im just worried about our team. Im not concerned about what theyre doing. Weve got our own issues, Bertuzzi said.

Jones strong in goal, contains Coyotes to snap Sharks' three-game skid


Jones strong in goal, contains Coyotes to snap Sharks' three-game skid


GLENDALE, Ariz. — Logan Couture scored another goal for San Jose but was happier to see the Sharks' top line get untracked.

"We've got to get those guys going to help us offensively," Couture said of teammates Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski and Timo Meier after the Sharks' 3-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes on Wednesday night. "We need them to produce."

Thornton opened the scoring for the Sharks, with Pavelski adding an assist, the pair's first points since November 8, a span of five games.

"I think with Timo with us last game it brought us a lot of energy and a lot of chances," said Thornton, who scored his first goal since October 26. "Me and Pavs really like playing with him."

Joel Ward added an empty-net goal with 47.8 to play for the Sharks, who snapped a three-game losing streak.

"We got enough offense to win," said Sharks coach Peter DeBoer. "That's all that matters. I thought we played a good road game. I don't care how it looks."

Brendan Perlini scored with 7:37 to go, ruining Sharks goalie Martin Jones' bid for his second shutout of the season. The Coyotes saw their season-high three-game winning streak snapped and lost for the eighth time in nine home games (1-7-1).

Jones finished with 26 saves.

"We defended really well," said Jones, who was tested seriously only twice in the first two periods. "The first 10 minutes they had a lot of jump and were buzzing around our zone, but after that not as much."

Coyotes goalie Antti Raanta left at 14:37 of the first period with an upper-body injury. Couture had collided with Raanta more than four minutes earlier, earning an interference penalty. Raanta skated to the bench during a stoppage in play and retreated to the locker room.

Scott Wedgewood took Raanta's place and was in net for only five seconds before the Sharks broke through. Wedgewood stopped Brent Burns' long shot from the top of the right circle even after it deflected off San Jose right wing Timo Meier. But the rebound kicked to the bottom of the right circle, where Thornton swept in and beat the goalie with a quick wrist shot.

"He (coach Rick Tocchet) looked at me and said go," Wedgewood. "I was like, alright. That's the tough part. Then shot, top, goal. That was tough."

San Jose made it 2-0 at 4:56 of the second, taking advantage of Arizona's inability to clear the zone while the Sharks were on a line change.

Justin Braun fought three Coyotes for the puck along the right boards before Joonas Donskoi swooped in, skated to the goal line then sent a pass across to Couture. Couture deked Wedgewood to the ice with a forehand fake, then scored on the backhand.

Perlini cut the lead to 2-1 when he redirected Derek Stepan's shot from the top of the right circle past Jones.

"We had some costly mistakes," Perlini said. "We got back within a goal but there were too many mistakes."

NOTES: Thornton has 22 goals and 83 points in 82 career games against Arizona. ... The Coyotes, who had played seven of their past eight on the road, opened a three-game homestand. ... Raanta made eight saves before leaving and has stopped 98 of the past 105 shots he's faced. ... Couture's goal was his first in five games.


Sharks: visit Las Vegas on Friday

Coyotes: host Los Angeles on Friday.

Don't blame Joakim Ryan for Brent Burns' struggles


Don't blame Joakim Ryan for Brent Burns' struggles

Over the last three years, Brent Burns played with only one defensive partner more in a single season than he has with Joakim Ryan in 2017-18.

That partner, of course, is Paul Martin, who’s missed all but two games this season due to complications from offseason ankle surgery. Martin is set to miss yet more time after experiencing a setback in his recovery, although the injury is not related to his ailing ankle, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

Martin’s absence, combined with the fact that Burns has gone 20 games without a goal this season, has naturally led to questions about whether their separation is causing Burns to struggle.

That’s not the case.

Burns is actually playing a bit better alongside Ryan than he was with Martin. In just over 257 minutes together at even strength, the Sharks have controlled 55.74 percent of the shot attempts with Burns and Ryan on the ice, according to Corsica Hockey, up from Burns and Martin’s 52.13 percent mark together.

The Sharks are attempting more shots than their opponents when Burns and Ryan play, they’re doing so at a higher rate. With Burns and Ryan on the ice, the Sharks are attempting nearly nine more shots per 60 minutes than when Burns and Martin together, and just over two more shots per 60 minutes are hitting the net.

As we’ve written about previously, Burns’ scoring struggles date back to the stretch run last season, when he was playing alongside Martin. It wasn’t Martin’s fault then, just as it’s not Ryan’s fault now.

The puck simply isn’t going in. Through 20 games this season, Burns has 82 shots on goal and zero goals. Through 20 games in his Norris Trophy-winning campaign, Burns had 83 shots on goal and seven goals.

It’s not like Burns was super lucky then, either, as his 8.3 percent shooting percentage through 20 games last season was only one percent higher than his career average. Shooting at a zero percent clip after 20 games is, clearly, the outlier.

Together, Burns and Ryan have been more unlucky than anything else. When the two skate during five-on-five play, the Sharks are scoring on only 3.45 percent of their shots, much lower than the 8.26 percent San Jose scored on when Martin and Burns played together.

At 32 years old, it would be a stretch to expect Burns to match or exceed his heights from a season ago, but it would be an even bigger one to expect him to struggle much longer alongside Ryan. 

They've done everything right, they just haven't scored.