Sharks

Sharks' slide continues, drop third straight in loss to Dallas Stars

Sharks' slide continues, drop third straight in loss to Dallas Stars

BOX SCORE

DALLAS  — Kari Lehtonen made 30 saves for his 36th career shutout Monday night. And still, one of the toughest shots he faced came before the game.

"He was ready to go today, just because I hit him up high in warmups," Dallas Stars teammate Patrick Sharp said. "I was a little worried. When he made those first couple saves, I was breathing a little bit easier."

Lehtonen thought Sharp's shot helped him get in the right frame of mind before his 1-0 win over the San Jose Sharks.

"It woke me up. Woke the beast," the goalie said.

Dallas scored the only goal Lehtonen needed at 14:54 of the second period. Curtis McKenzie got his fifth on a tip-in from the slot that beat Sharks goalie Aaron Dell.

Adam Cracknell took the shot from the left point.

"Great job by (Cracknell), just holding on the puck," McKenzie said. "He must have had it for a good 10 seconds before he shot it at the net. I just found myself open in front, so I was able to get a tip-in there."

Pacific Division leader San Jose (42-23-7) lost a third straight game for only the second time this season. The Sharks have scored just two goals in those three games.

"Chances are there," coach Peter DeBoer said, "so we've just got to bear down and we've got to get one dirty or ugly around the net. We've got to get one on the power play some way. It's not all bad by any means. There's a lot of good that's going on, but right now we're cold. We're paying a price for that."

The Sharks outshot the Stars 30-20, including 12-6 in the third period.

Dallas (29-33-10) is barely alive in the playoff race with 10 games remaining.

"It's been a tough year," Lehtonen said, "so after a game like this it feels especially good. Just the way we played the whole 60 minutes. It was really cool. Guys were blocking shots and getting all the rebounds."

Dallas' other shutout this season was Lehtonen's 3-0 win Dec. 3 at Colorado.

"He found a few pucks through traffic that were big saves for us," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. "He made big saves when we needed it."

Neither team scored during the first period as they totaled 14 shots on goal, eight by the Sharks.

San Jose's Logan Couture, who has 25 goals, almost got another in the first, but Lehtonen stopped the shot with his foot.

"It was just a difficult situation when Couture has some time and I'm already down, so I have to do something tricky," Lehtonen said. "I thought he was going to shoot right away, and he was trying to go around me. That's where the long legs came to help me."

The Stars had another good chance in the second after McKenzie's goal, but Dell stopped a 3-on-1 rush. San Jose again outshot Dallas, 10-8, for an 18-14 advantage after two periods.

San Jose couldn't score even after pulling Dell with just under two minutes remaining. Dallas missed two tries at the empty net.

"It's a 1-0 game," Sharks captain Joe Pavelski said. "Feeling is, just stick with it. We can't hang our head. Just got to find a way to be a little bit better."

NOTES: Sharks C Chris Tierney was out for the first time this season, sidelined by the flu. ... Dallas C Jason Spezza did not play because of back spasms. ... Stars D Dan Hamhuis went down on the ice at the end of the second period. He was hit in the face by Couture's stick when the Sharks' center followed through on a shot from the right corner. Hamhuis returned after taking stitches during the intermission. ... The Stars were coming off a 1-3 road trip — they were outscored 17-5. ... San Jose has been shut out five times this season. ... Each team was 0 for 2 on the power play. ... Dallas C Tyler Seguin won 10 of 13 faceoffs.

UP NEXT

Sharks: Play the second of a four-game trip Wednesday at Minnesota before returning to Dallas to play on Friday.

Stars: Travel to Chicago to play on Thursday.

Something smells fishy about Sharks' early success on power play

Something smells fishy about Sharks' early success on power play

By many traditional measures, the Sharks’ power play is off to a strong start.

They’ve scored seven times on 30 opportunities, including once in Saturday’s 5-3 loss to the New York Islanders. That mark, 23.3%, would have been good enough for third in the league last season, and is nearly seven percent better than the Sharks were in 2016-17.

San Jose’s made some changes on the man advantage, and are getting a different look on their top power play unit with Tim Heed there instead of another forward. Second-year forward Kevin Labanc is playing a significant role on the second unit, operating as something of a focal point.

The puck’s found the net a lot for the Sharks on the power play, but a deeper look at the numbers reveals that success may be a house of cards.

According to Natural Stat Trick, San Jose ranks in the bottom third of the league in shots, shot attempts, and unblocked shot attempts per 60 minutes. Using those rates allow us to compare teams empirically, equalizing for the amount of time each team has spent on the power play. Those rates, by the way, are not very good.

And each of those are lower than last season, when the Sharks finished 25th in power play percentage. This season, the Sharks are converting more shots, despite attempting less.

It would be tempting to think San Jose can hang their helmets on higher shot quality, but they’ve struggled in that area, too. The Sharks finished just shy of the top ten in high danger chances per 60 minutes last season, but are in the bottom third of the league this season, according to Natural Stat Trick.

So the Sharks are shooting at a lower rate and generating chances at a lower rate than last season, when they had one of the league’s worst power plays, but are scoring at a much higher clip. They’ve converted on about 19% of their shots on the power play, almost doubling their conversion rate (10.5%) from a season ago.

If this doesn’t seem like a sustainable mix, that’s because it’s not. In a small sample size of seven games, the power play’s been good enough, but the Sharks can’t count on converting nearly a fifth of their power play opportunities if they continue to struggle generating shots and chances.

Of course, stranger things have happened in a hockey season, so it’s possible the Sharks can ride a sky-high shooting percentage all season long. Banking on that, however, would be foolhardy.

Sharks come up short in New York despite Couture's hat trick

Sharks come up short in New York despite Couture's hat trick

BOX SCORE

NEW YORK — Anders Lee had two goals and an assist to lead the New York Islanders to a 5-3 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night.

John Tavares had a goal and two assists, Josh Bailey added a goal and an assist, and Andrew Ladd also scored to help the Islanders win for the third time in four games. Thomas Greiss stopped 28 shots.

Logan Couture scored all three goals for the Sharks, completing the hat trick with 1:52 remaining to pull them within one. Aaron Dell finished with 18 saves.

Ladd's goal at 3:12 of the third period broke a 2-2 tie. Rookie Mathew Barzal created the scoring chance by taking the puck around the net and then setting up Ladd in the high slot for his second of the season.

Lee's second of the game and fifth of the season gave the Islanders a two-goal cushion with 8:13 remaining as he converted an odd-man rush.

Tavares sealed the win with an empty-netter with 55.4 seconds remaining and helped improve to 22-4-4 in their two-plus seasons at Barclays Center. Tavares points were his first since he had two goals and an assist Oct. 7 against Buffalo, ending a five-game drought.

The Sharks scored the game's opening goal at 6:26 of the second period on the power play. San Jose came away with the offensive draw and Couture scored from the slot, redirected Brent Burns' point shot past Greiss.

The lead lasted just over a minute as Nick Leddy worked his way to the back of the net and then quickly fed Lee for the tying goal.

The Islanders went ahead 58 seconds later after Joe Thornton made a costly turnover in his own end to give Bailey a point-blank chance. Bailey was able to sneak the puck with a backhander between his skates and past Dell to put New York ahead 2-1.

However, an impressive effort by Jannik Hansen to spin past Brock Nelson in the neutral zone led to a quick feed to Couture, who took a few strides and then fired a shot past Greiss to even the score once again.

NOTES: The Islanders held a special pregame ceremony to honor alumni of the organization who were in town for an Islanders Alumni Weekend. Among the players on the ice were Bobby Nystrom, Clark Gillies, Bryan Trottier and Ed Westfall. ... The Islanders scratched D Scott Mayfield, F Josh Ho-Sang and F Nikulay Kulemin. ... San Jose scratched F Joel Ward, F Barclay Goodrow and D Dylan Demelo. ... The Islanders honored Tragically Hip front man Gord Downie by playing music from the band during warmups. Downie passed away on Oct. 17 after succumbing to brain cancer.

UP NEXT

Sharks: At the New York Rangers on Monday night.

Islanders: Host Arizona on Tuesday night.