Sharks

Sharks open road trip with dominant win over Flyers

Sharks open road trip with dominant win over Flyers

BOX SCORE

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.

UP NEXT:
The Sharks play at Florida on Friday.

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

Oilers mismanagement opens window of opportunity for Sharks

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USATI

Oilers mismanagement opens window of opportunity for Sharks

The Edmonton Oilers made the postseason for the first time in a decade last season on the backs of Hart Trophy winner Connor McDavid and Vezina finalist Cam Talbot. They seemed poised for a Stanley Cup run this season, and many more in the years to come.

McDavid’s been his stellar self this season, but Talbot it’s in the midst of his worst season, after starting 73 games last year.  This, simply, is not the team that eliminated the Sharks in April.

Given their last two summers, though, their fall has been entirely predictable.

In the last two offseasons, the Oilers sacrificed skill for sandpaper. Out went former first round picks Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, and Nail Yakupov, and in came Adam Larsson, Milan Lucic, Kris Russell, and Ryan Strome.

Hall (11) and Eberle and (13) would be fourth and first, respectively, on Edmonton in goal-scoring this year, while Yakupov has more than, or as many goals as all but five Oilers.

Those moves have left Edmonton’s depth decimated, forcing them to rely on McDavid, whose scored or assisted on about 38 percent of their goals this season. With McDavid on the ice during five-on-five play, the Oilers have scored 55.77 percent of the goals, according to Corsica Hockey.

With him off of it, that drops to 46.25 percent.

After years in the league’s basement, the pressure to get rid of the Oilers’ “underachieving” top picks was strong, especially from the Edmonton media. In the pursuit of being tough to play against, though, they’ve gotten worse.

Under Todd McLellan, they’re one of the league’s best possession teams, but they don’t have nearly enough skill outside of McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Without a Vezina-level performance from a likely exhausted Talbot, they don’t have the defense necessary to mitigate his down year, despite trading away a top winger (Hall) to shore up the blueline.

McDavid’s in the third and final year of his rookie deal, meaning Edmonton’s window to surround him with high-end, highly-paid skill players was limited. The Oilers have essentially wasted one of the best team-building opportunities in recent memory, and sit eight points out of a playoff spot as of this writing.

That’s left open a window of opportunity for the Sharks, as well as the rest of the division, this season and potentially beyond. McDavid will make $12.5 million against the salary cap next season, and the Oilers already have at least $52 million in salary commitments each of the next three seasons.

A postseason run through the Pacific Division looks far less daunting without the game’s best player involved. Now, it’s up to the Sharks to take advantage.

 

Sharks lose in Vancouver for first time since 2012

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USATSI

Sharks lose in Vancouver for first time since 2012

BOX SCORE

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Sam Gagner scored at 4:34 of overtime and the Vancouver Canucks snapped a four-game losing streak with a 4-3 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Friday night.

Gagner beat Martin Jones with a nice backhand move on a breakaway for his fourth of the season after a feed from Alexander Edler. It was Gagner's first goal in nine games.

Markus Granlund scored twice and Brock Boeser also had a goal in regulation for Vancouver (15-14-4). Henrik Sedin and brother Daniel Sedin each added three assists. Jacob Markstrom made 34 saves.

Brent Burns scored two goals and Marcus Sorenson had one for San Jose (17-10-4). Martin Jones stopped 36 shots for the Sharks, who were playing their second game in two nights after Thursday's 3-2 road victory over the Calgary Flames.

San Jose had won 11 straight at Rogers Arena dating back to the Canucks' last victory on home ice over their Pacific Division rivals all the way back on Jan. 21, 2012. Vancouver was 0-9-2 over that stretch while getting outscored 41-14.

Leading 3-2 through 40 minutes, the Canucks nearly restored their two-goal lead four minutes into the third, but Jones stretched to make a great pad save on Thomas Vanek.

The Sharks mustered only one shot through the first 13 minutes of the final period, but got the equalizer with 5:49 left in regulation when Burns' point shot went off the skate of Canucks defenseman Alex Biega in front and beat Markstrom for his second of the night, sixth of the season and fifth in five games.

Coming off Wednesday's embarrassing 7-1 loss at home to Nashville, the Canucks stormed out of the gate against the Sharks and led 2-1 after the first period before Boeser stretched the lead to two.

The NHL's rookie scoring leader ripped a shot over Jones' shoulder on the power play at 11:56 of the second for his 17th, moments after slicing through the Sharks' defense and ringing a shot off the post.

San Jose got that one back with 1:44 left in the period when former Canucks forward Jannik Hansen started a sequence that ended with Sorenson netting his first past Markstrom.

Already minus five regulars, including two-thirds of their top line with Bo Horvat (broken foot) and Sven Baertschi (broken jaw) out long-term, the Canucks announced Friday morning that shutdown defenseman Christopher Tanev will miss two to three weeks with a groin strain.

Granlund, who came in with one goal in his last 12 games, opened the scoring 44 seconds in on the power play. Daniel Sedin redirected a slap pass in the slot from Henrik Sedin right to Granlund at the side of the net, and he beat Jones between the legs for his fifth.

Vancouver could have easily been up by two or three moments later as the Canucks led 10-0 in shots after just five minutes.

San Jose, which came in 7 for 21 on the power play over its last four games to climb from tied for 24th overall to tied for 11th, tested Markstrom five times on its first man-advantage opportunity before finally breaking through after Vancouver took another penalty.

The Sharks won an offensive-zone faceoff back to Burns, who snapped his fifth past Markstrom at 10:45.

Markstrom stopped San Jose's Chris Tierney on a short-handed breakaway later in the period before Granlund scored his second of the night seconds after the penalty expired. Daniel Sedin's initial shot fell at the top of the crease to Henrik Sedin, who tapped it over for Granlund to put into a wide-open net at 14:27.

NOTES: Canucks center Brandon Sutter and defenseman Erik Gudbranson remain sidelined with upper-body injuries. Vancouver is also without wing Derek Dorsett, who ended his playing career late last month due to spinal problems. ... San Jose forward Joel Ward got an assist on Burns' second goal of the night for his 300th career point in his 700th NHL game.

UP NEXT

Sharks: Monday night at Edmonton.

Canucks: Sunday at home against Calgary.