Sharks open road trip with dominant win over Flyers

Sharks open road trip with dominant win over Flyers


PHILADELPHIA -- The boos picked up steam in the second period. The "Fire Hakstol" chants became louder in the third.

When the Philadelphia Flyers' ugly 3-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks was over Tuesday night, players held a closed-door meeting, general manager Ron Hextall was insisting they're still a playoff team and coach Dave Hakstol was shaking off calls for his job.

Mired in a nine-game losing streak - its longest skid in nearly in 10 years - things are getting ugly in Philadelphia.

"Nobody said this was going to be easy," Hakstol said. "If you don't want to be in this spot, it's a choice. That's how I react to it. There are high expectations in this market."

Joe Thornton scored the go-ahead goal late in the first period, Chris Tierney and Marc-Edouard Vlasic also scored and Logan Couture had two assists for the Sharks, who kicked off a four-game trip with their second straight win.

"The toughest game is always the first one," Thornton said. "Three-hour time change, you get here late, dinner late, everything is kind of off. So this first game is huge for us."

Claude Giroux scored 48 seconds in before the Flyers were blanked the rest of the way by backup Aaron Dell, who made 22 saves.

"They can chant whatever they want. We're in this together," Giroux said of his coach. "We're all in the same boat here. It's not on him, it's on everybody."

Thanks to blown leads and overtime and shootout defeats, Flyers are 0-4-5 since their last win, Nov. 9 against Chicago. It's the longest streak since an 0-8-2 stretch in February 2008.

After a players-only meeting postgame, Hextall addressed reporters.

"If we were playing poorly, I'd be the first to say, `We're playing poorly.' I would be," he said. "We're not playing poorly. To look objectively at our team right now and to say we're playing poorly, no. Are we shooting ourselves in the foot at times? Yes, we are. Critical mistakes at critical times, yes."

San Jose was without top goaltender Martin Jones, who sustained an unspecified injury near the end of his shutout of Winnipeg on Saturday. Jones traveled and is expected to play on the trip.

After Giroux's 11th goal, Dell looked sharp. Tierney tied it from the right circle at 10:29, and then Thornton's 5-on-3 goal with 1:18 left in the first period put the Sharks ahead 2-1.

Vlasic scored with 3:56 left in the second period as the Sharks improved to 6-2-1 on the road.

"Our style is good for the road, but I think our style is good for wherever we are playing," Vlasic said.

It marked the seventh time in nine games the Flyers have blown a lead during their skid. And undisciplined play continues to be a problem.

Philadelphia took three penalties in 3 minutes late in the first period. Then while trailing 2-1, the Flyers went on the power play early in the second period, only to have it negated 9 seconds later when Jakub Voracek tripped Tomas Hertl.

On the second day of a back-to-back, backup Michal Neuvirth made 31 saves for the Flyers, who showed little energy in the third period. They had just one shot on goal until Hakstol pulled Neuvirth for an extra attacker with about 3 minutes left.

"I don't have answers for you," Giroux said.

The Sharks earned a split in the season series after losing on opening night to the Flyers 5-3 behind Wayne Simmonds' hat trick. Simmonds has scored just four goals in 24 games since.

"We get booed every once in a while," said Simmons, who took two penalties. "But when we're getting booed the whole game, it's pretty embarrassing."

NOTES: Sharks F Joonas Donskoi left in the second period with an injury. . Sharks C Melker Karlsson (upper body) returned after a four-game absence and played on the fourth line. . Flyers D Radko Gudas served the sixth game of his 10-game suspension for slashing.

The Sharks play at Florida on Friday.

The Flyers host Boston on Saturday before a three-game trip to western Canada next week.

The anatomy of Jannik Hansen's recently-broken scoring drought after nearly one year


The anatomy of Jannik Hansen's recently-broken scoring drought after nearly one year

Jannik Hansen's game-winning goal against the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday marked the first time he scored in 355 days. 

Hansen last scored on Mar. 30, 2017 against the Edmonton Oilers, his second goal with the Sharks following an in-season trade. His scoring drought, in all, lasted 44 regular season games, 50 if you include the postseason. 

How exactly does a goal-scoring drought last nearly a year? The right (wrong?) circumstances all need to come together, and that was certainly the case for Hansen for much of the last year.

For one, the Danish forward was in and out of the lineup. San Jose played 83 regular season and postseason games between Hansen's second and third goals, and he did not play in 33 of those games. Plenty of players have had rough 50-game stretches, and that's often without not playing for weeks at a time, as Hansen has done a couple of times this season. 

When Hansen did draw into the lineup this year, however, he wasn't generating offense at the same rate he had in the past. This season, Hansen's five-on-five shot rate (6.19 shots per 60 minutes), shot attempt rate (10.53 individual corsi per 60), and unblocked shot attempt rate (8.95 individual fenwick per 60) were all down from his career averages, according to Corsica Hockey. 

That decline is natural, considering Hansen turned 32 just six days ago. Those rates were not down enough, however, to expect him to fail to score in his first 39 appearances this season. Naturally, a long run of bad luck played a big role in Hansen's dry spell.

Hansen went 0-for-66 in shots over the 50 consecutive regular season and playoff games in which he did not score. He's a career 11-percent shooter, and had he shot at his career average, he would have scored seven goals during that time. That feels about right for a bottom-six forward. 

In many ways, all of these factors fed into one another. Hansen wasn't generating shots or scoring, then was scratched, then couldn't find the back of the net when he returned and was scratched again. All the while, fellow fourth-liners Marcus Sorensen (26.7 percent shooting percentage this season), Joel Ward (14.3 percent) and Barclay Goodrow (13.2 percent) were converting on their chances, forcing Peter DeBoer's hand. 

His possession play has been solid all season (50.74 percent corsi-for, per Natural Stat Trick), but the offense hasn't followed. When it does, as was the case Tuesday night, he can be an effective fourth-line forward, and the goal on Tuesday bought him more time to prove it. 

Sharks blow out Devils for season-high fifth straight win

Sharks blow out Devils for season-high fifth straight win


SAN JOSE -- Jannik Hansen scored his first goal of the season and fellow fourth-liners Eric Fehr and Barclay Goodrow also scored to help the San Jose Sharks win their season-high fifth straight game, 6-2 over the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night.

Logan Couture added his 30th goal of the season, and Joe Pavelski and Mikkel Boedker also scored to give the Sharks a four-point lead over third-place Los Angeles in the Pacific Division with one game in hand.

Brent Burns added three assists and Martin Jones made 26 saves.

The scoring barrage by San Jose spoiled Cory Schneider's return to net for the Devils. Schneider allowed four goals on 14 shots before getting pulled midway through the second period of his first start since March 8. Schneider has lost 11 starts in a row since his last win for the Devils on Dec. 27.

Taylor Hall scored his 32nd goal of the season and Blake Coleman also scored for the Devils, who lead Florida by just one point in the race for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Panthers have two games in hand.

After Hansen and Fehr scored in the first period, Goodrow chipped one in midway through the second period on a surprising night of scoring from the fourth line when he beat Schneider on a 2-on-1.

Couture then scored 40 seconds later on San Jose's first shot against Keith Kinkaid for his third career 30-goal season. Boedker added San Jose's second power-play goal of the night late in the second and the rout was on.

The Sharks got off to a fast start in their first game back from a 3-0 Canadian road trip, scoring three goals in the first period and killing 1:20 of a two-man advantage for New Jersey.

The teams traded goals to start with Fehr beating Schneider over the shoulder from a bad angle and Hall answering when he stole a bouncing puck from Justin Braunand beat Jones with a quick shot.

San Jose then scored twice in a span of less than three minutes to take the lead. Pavelski tipped in a shot from Kevin Labanc on the power play to give the Sharks the lead.

Then after Jones denied Damon Severson from in close at one end, Dylan DeMelo sent a long pass that Hansen chased down and then beat Schneider on a breakaway for his first goal since March 30, 2017.

NOTES: DeMelo has 10 assists this month. ... San Jose D Brenden Dillon has a five-game point streak. ... Devils F Miles Wood (upper body) was scratched and Jesper Bratt played in his place.


Devils: Visit Pittsburgh on Friday.

Sharks: Host Vegas on Thursday.