Sharks

Sharks shut out by Smith, Coyotes

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Sharks shut out by Smith, Coyotes

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE Mike Smith and the Phoenix Coyotes had opening night fresh in their minds.

In their second visit to HP Pavilion of the season, Smith made 31 saves and the Coyotes shut out the Sharks on Saturday, 3-0. Phoenix used two goals in the first period and one in the third and then stymied the Sharks offense and power play in securing the victory.

On Oct. 8, Smith allowed six goals and the Sharks cruised to a 6-3 win that wasnt as close as the score indicates, in what was the first game for both clubs.

We remembered the first game of the season, said forward Radim Vrbata, who tallied his sixth goal in the first period. We definitely talked about it.

They did more than talk about it, as the Coyotes continually clogged up the neutral zone and employed a bend-but-not-break approach to their penalty kill after going ahead. The Sharks had the advantage in zone time for much of the second and third, but were unable to cut into the two-goal Phoenix advantage.

Were obviously asleep at the start, and bang-bang. The first period is over and were down 2-0 against a team that loves to play with the lead, said Ryane Clowe. It was uphill from there. It wasnt like the first game, was it?

San Jose had a number of opportunities to score, especially in the third period. On a power play, Joe Thornton had the puck alone in front of the net, but Smith dove to snuff out the shot at the point of contact with about 13:30 left.

Later, with about nine minutes remaining, Patrick Marleau chipped the puck ahead to a charging Joe Pavelski, who got behind the Coyotes defense. Pavelski lifted the puck high over the net.

Shortly after Pavelskis chance, Jamie McGinn took the puck strong to the blue paint and his shot from close range bounced off of Smiths pads high into the air. Torrey Mitchell had an opportunity to whack the puck into an open net, but swung and missed.

The Coyotes, who were getting outshot 12-2 in the third at that point, essentially put the game away with 7:05 left in regulation. On a complete defensive breakdown by San Jose, OSullivan and Kyle Chipchura were both in front of Thomas Greiss with no Sharks within 10 feet, and Chipchura fed OSullivan for an easy tap-in.

Todd McLellan assessed the performance, saying: I thought we were lethargic between the ears, to begin with. Some of the things that we talked about, even in the first five minutes of the game, we were in the wrong spots. That tells me that they werent there mentally, and when youre not there mentally, usually the physical part doesnt follow.

That was our game tonight. We played right into their hands.

The game was the first regulation shutout for the Coyotes in San Jose since Dec. 26, 1997, and ended their six-game losing streak at the Tank.

The Coyotes took the play to the Sharks in the first period, taking a 2-0 lead into the locker room after 20 minutes.

First, Ray Whitney gathered in a loose puck in the high slot and slid it towards the net. It went wide, but took a big bounce off of the back boards to the stick of Vrbata who beat Thomas Greiss at 14:21.

That increased that to 2-1 with less than a minute to go, when Lauri Korpikoski intercepted a Dan Boyle pass in the neutral zone. Korpikoski passed it to Raffi Torres, who found Boyd Gordon in the slot. Gordons soft shot trickled in off of Greiss right pad with just 32 seconds left in the period.

Boyle and Greiss were both eager to take the blame for that one.

Getting through the neutral zone was really bad on our part. The second goal I didnt execute my pass, said Boyle, who was on the ice for all three Coyotes goals. They come back the other way and score one of those goals that makes you scratch your head. Ill take responsibility for that one.

Greiss explained it, by saying: It hit my skate and I wasnt sure where it was. I tried to recover and just kicked it in the net. Its my fault. Its a bad goal.

Greiss made his first start since Oct. 29 in Long Island. He entered the game with an excellent 1.99 goals-against average and .928 save percentage, but took his third loss of the season by allowing three goals on 23 Coyotes shots.

He wasnt tested a lot, in fact, hardly any in the second half of the game, said McLellan. He could have had a shutout and we still would have only gotten a point.

Phoenix improved to 7-0-3 when scoring first, and a perfect 8-0-0 when leading after two periods.

They got their two goals, and they clogged up the neutral zone and their goalie played well after that, said McLellan.

The Sharks will have a complete day off on Sunday before resuming practice on Monday. The six-game homestand concludes with a game against Detroit on Thursday.

The Sharks lost for just the second time in regulation in the last 11 games (8-2-1).

We had a good run, but its done now. We have to start something new here, said Boyle.
Odds and ends: Joe Thornton had a nasty cut on his face, but when asked if it was a stick or a puck, replied he had no idea. The Sharks were 0-for-4 on the power play, and killed off all three Phoenix power plays. The Coyotes had a 33-25 advantage on faceoffs.

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

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USATSI

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

BOX SCORE

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.

UP NEXT:

Sharks: visit Las Vegas on Friday

Coyotes: host Los Angeles on Friday.

Don't blame Joakim Ryan for Brent Burns' struggles

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AP

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.