Sharks

Sharks take step back with 3-1 loss to Ducks

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Sharks take step back with 3-1 loss to Ducks

BOX SCORE

ANAHEIM Teemu Selanne broke a tie game in the third period and the Anaheim Ducks beat the San Jose Sharks for the fifth time in six tries on Wednesday night at Honda Center, 3-1.A blast from Luca Sbisa was tipped by the 41-year-old forward past Antti Niemi at 5:22.For Selanne, it was his 50th career goal against San Jose the most of any opponent in franchise history. He nearly got another one, too, but was stopped on a breakaway by Niemi with about five minutes left.The loss was a costly one for the Sharks (39-28-10, 88 points). Dallas and Los Angeles both won their games in Edmonton and Calgary, respectively, moving the Sharks back into the eighth spot in the Western Conference. San Jose is one point ahead of the Phoenix Coyotes, whom they meet on Thursday night at Jobing.com Arena.The Stars took over the Pacific Division lead with 89 points, while the Kings own the tiebreaker with San Jose by virtue of one more regulationovertime win. All four teams competing for the final three spots have played 77 games.The teams traded goals less than a minute in the second period to make it 1-1 after 40 minutes.Anaheim struck first. Bobby Ryan charged through the slot through TJ Galiardi and Dan Boyle before converting on a pass from Devante Smith-Pelly at 9:22.San Jose responded thanks to a giveaway by defenseman Francois Beauchemin. Logan Couture gained control of the puck behind the net and quickly found Ryane Clowe in front before goaltender Jonas Hiller could get back into position after leaving the crease. Clowe took advantage of the open net by lifting in his 15th goal at 10:14.Hiller made the save of the game with about five minutes left, robbing Pavelski from the slot with a quick glove.All of Anaheims five wins this season against the Sharks came in regulation, meaning San Jose recorded just two of a possible 12 points against its Pacific Division rival.The Sharks had a couple of great opportunities to take a first period lead when Justin Braun drew a trip on Lubomir Visnovsky at the nine-minute mark. Boyle missed a wide-open net, though, and Pavelskis shot from the circle went wide shortly after.Earlier, Pavelski hit the cross bar about seven minutes into the game when he was left alone in front of Hiller.The teams traded more chances in the second when it was still scoreless. Niemi left a juicy rebound in the slot on a shot by Andrew Cogliano that looked like an easy goal for Selanne, but Joe Thornton managed to keep it out when the shot from Selanne deflected harmlessly off of the Sharks captains left skate six minutes in.Galiardi, playing after missing the last six games with a back injury, fired high on a breakaway about half a minute later.Douglas Murray left the game after the first period and his status was not immediately known.Corey Perry was awarded a goal with 8.9 seconds left when the referee ruled that Boyle intentionally pushed the net off of its moorings with Perry looking at an open net with Niemi pulled for an extra attacker.

Sharks headed in right direction, road trip to reveal who they really are

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USATSI

Sharks headed in right direction, road trip to reveal who they really are

The difference between a 2-3-0 start and a 1-4-0 start is bigger than two standings points.

The former is far from ideal, but if you squint hard enough, there's enough wiggle room to improve. There's still time with the latter, too, but the margin for error is much thinner moving forward.

The Sharks experienced that difference firsthand after Tuesday’s 5-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens. It's not an ideal record, but they’ve managed to salvage a poor start. 

There are still some flaws, to be sure. The power play isn't just the Kevin Labanc show after the top unit scored all three power play goals Tuesday, but is still carrying a disproportionate offensive load. The penalty kill’s scoreless streak came to an end, but they were called into action six times.

Despite all that, Tuesday's win was San Jose’s best effort this season. Brent Burns, Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski, and Joe Thornton all had multi-point games for the first time this year. Martin Jones had another strong game, and appears to have shaken off his slow start.

In short, San Jose’s game is headed in the right direction. It needs to be, with a five-game road trip beginning on Friday. 

Now comes the hard part.

It's on the road where we’ll get our best sense of who this team really is. Peter DeBoer won’t have the benefit of last change, and won't be able to dictate matchups. 

Under these circumstances, we’ll begin to really see if Joakim Ryan is ready for a top-four role, whether Kevin Labanc is a viable first-line winger, and how the rest of the young reinforcements stack up. They will have less time off, too, as all but one game occurs after one day (or less) of rest and travel. That missed practice time isn't ideal for any team, let alone one still trying to work out the kinks.

Fortunately, the competition is forgiving, at least on paper. Other than the Devils, none of the Sharks’ four other road trip opponents have winning records as of this writing. The topsy turvy nature of the standings, though, show how little “on paper” means this early in the season.

We’ll know a lot more about who these San Jose Sharks are by the time their road trip ends. Their record still won't tell the whole story, but by then, they'll have played about an eighth of the season. 

And by then, we’ll have a much better idea of how good this team really is.

Sharks' offense comes alive, leads charge in win over Canadiens

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AP

Sharks' offense comes alive, leads charge in win over Canadiens

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE — Logan Couture credited a teammate for scoring his second goal. He took credit for the first one.

Couture scored a pair of goals and the San Jose Sharks extended their dominance of the Montreal Canadiens with a 5-2 victory on Tuesday night.

Joe Pavelski and Tomas Hertl also scored for the Sharks, who have won the past 11 home games against the Canadiens, a streak that dates to Nov. 23, 1999.

On a power play late in the third period, rookie Tim Heed took a shot off a face-off that bounced free in front of the net. Pavelski couldn't get his stick on it but managed to kick it across the net for Couture, who found a huge opening.

"That was pretty special," Couture said. "I don't know if he knew I was there but he kept his balance and kicked it over."

Couture opened the scoring 3:30 into the first period, grabbing a rebound off the back board, skating across the front of the net to get Price to commit and then firing into an open net.

Jonathan Drouin and Shea Weber scored for the Canadiens, who are winless since an opening night victory at the Buffalo Sabres.

"It's a very poor start from our team, from myself, from a lot of individuals," Canadiens' Max Pacioretty said. "It's a good time to look in the mirror and see what we're made of because a lot of people are probably doubting this team right now."

Martin Jones stopped 28 of 30 shots for the Sharks, who finish their season-opening homestand with a 2-3 record.

"The biggest thing is finding that energy for the whole game," Jones said. "We started OK and then we got better as the night went on."

Carey Price, who stopped 31 of 35 shots, fell to 2-7-1 in 10 games against the Sharks.

The Canadiens responded 36 seconds later when Drouin picked up a pass from Artturi Lehkonen close in and fired it over Jones' left shoulder and into the net.

Pavelski gave the Sharks the lead for good when he redirected Kevin Labanc's shot just under a minute into the second period. The shot hit Weber's left shin pad and bounced into the net.

"There were a lot of good things out there," Pavelski said. "We didn't have the homestand we wanted but we can leave on a positive note to take on the road."

Hertl padded the lead midway through the second on a power play. Standing on the right side of the net, he was trying to control a pass from Joe Thornton but the puck fluttered off his stick and got behind Price.

"I'll take it any way I can get it," Hertl said. "There are times I've had great shots that just bounced off the post."

Weber's power-play goal two minutes later kicked off Jones' skates for the score.

The Sharks needed five seconds to score on a power play late in the second period. Tim Heed shot on goal and it bounced off Pavelski's skate. Couture picked it up and found a huge opening.

NOTES: After allowing three power play goals over their first five penalty kills, the Sharks killed off 14 straight until Weber scored in the second period. ... Couture recorded his 24th career multi-goal game. ... Sharks D Tim Heed recorded his first NHL point with an assist on Couture's power-play goal. ... Brendan Gallagher needs one assist for 100 with the Canadiens.

UP NEXT:

Canadiens: plays at the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday in their second back-to-back of the season.

Sharks: open a five-game road trip on the east coast with a game at the New Jersey Devils on Friday.