Shots and chances there, but goals lacking for Sharks


Shots and chances there, but goals lacking for Sharks

SAN JOSE – Although their record of 6-4-0 is only slightly above average, the Sharks feel they are outplaying their competition most nights.

Some stats bear that out. San Jose is third in the league in shots per game with 32.3, while allowing just 25.7, second fewest in the league. The advanced stats say that the Sharks are a league-best plus-83 in shot attempts in close games, which is much higher than the second place club, Toronto (plus-55).

Goals, though, are still lacking. The Sharks are averaging 2.5 goals per game, tied with two other teams for 20th in the NHL. Too often they've failed to capitalize on scoring chances. 

That's something the Mircosoft Excel crowd hasn't figured out how to track just yet, so we'll just have to take the head coach's word for it.

“We’re out-chancing teams almost every night,” Pete DeBoer said. “It’s just a little bit of killer instinct [that is lacking].”

There have also been some frustrating lapses. Against Pittsburgh on Oct. 20, the Sharks played what was their best period of the season to that point in the second, and followed it up with one of their worst, as they saw a 2-0 lead after two turn into a 3-2 regulation defeat.

Against the the much weaker Coyotes on Tuesday, a strong first period was followed up by a miserable middle frame – perhaps their worst 20 minutes of the season. That was all Arizona needed to score three goals, including two that were just one minute and eight seconds apart, in claiming a 3-2 victory.

“We played [a] really good first period, we had a lot of chances, and after we just stopped playing,” Tomas Hertl said. “Almost the same against Pittsburgh, we dominate the whole game and we stop playing for 10 minutes, and it’s boom, boom! That’s hockey, it can be just two minutes and you lose [the] game.”

The Sharks have outscored their opponents 9-2 in the first period, but are being outscored 22-15 in the second and third periods, combined.

DeBoer said: “I think we’ve had some really good starts, we’ve kind of dictated games early and haven’t put teams away or in a deep enough hole for that. You come out of dominant periods and you’re only up 1-0 or tied, you’ve actually given the other team some life. They can walk in and kind of reset, and realize, ‘hey, we haven’t been good, and we’re still in this game.’”

“[When] you have a team on the ropes, you try and get that second one, that third one to really put them out of the game,” Patrick Marleau said. “One little bounce here or there changes the game if [it's] close. You try to put them away as quick as possible.”

Kane leads Sharks to critical win on four-goal night

Kane leads Sharks to critical win on four-goal night


CALGARY, Alberta -- Evander Kane scored four goals to lead the San Jose Sharks past the Calgary Flames 7-4 on Friday night.

Tomas Hertl had a goal and an assist for the Sharks, who have won three straight and four of five. Kevin Lebanc and Eric Fehr also scored, and Martin Jones made 30 saves.

It was the first NHL hat trick for Kane, acquired from Buffalo just before the Feb. 26 trade deadline.

Micheal Ferland had a goal and an assist for the Flames, who are four points out of a playoff spot. Troy BrouwerMark Jankowski and Johnny Gaudreau also scored for Calgary.

Three nights after stopping all 28 shots he faced against the Oilers, Calgary goalie Mike Smith had a rough outing as he made just 14 saves before being replaced by David Rittich early in the third period. Rittich went on to stop all seven shots he faced in a relief appearance.

The Sharks opened the scoring six minutes into the first period when Kane's wrist shot beat Smith to the glove side.

The Flames pulled even at 16:42 when Brouwer chipped a pass from Curtis Lazar into the top corner behind Jones. Matt Stajan stole the puck from Sharks defenseman Brenden Dillon behind the San Jose net to get the play started.

Jankowski took a pass from linemate Garnet Hathaway and wired a shot to the top corner, glove side behind Jones to put Calgary up 2-1 at 2:10 of the second period.

Kane then redirected Dillon's point shot past Smith at 6:29 before Gaudreau cut into the slot and snapped a shot past Jones at 10:16 to put Calgary back up by a goal.

That lead lasted just 1:26 as Lebanc fired a shot from a sharp angle into the top corner past Smith to pull the Sharks into a 3-all tie.

Kane completed his hat trick at 16:32 when he swatted in his own rebound before Hertl poked the puck through Smith's legs with 1:58 remaining before the second intermission.

The Sharks added an insurance goal 62 seconds into the third when Kane redirected a pass from Joe Pavelski past Smith.

Ferland backhanded a shot past Jones to pull Calgary within two goals with 5:35 left in regulation and Rittich on the bench for an extra attacker. Fehr rounded out the scoring with an empty-net goal 1:37 later.

NOTES: Jankowski suited up for the Flames after sitting out Tuesday's 1-0 win over Edmonton. Fellow forward Kris Versteeg returned to Calgary's lineup after missing the past 49 games with a hip injury. ... Gaudreau extended his point streak to six games (three goals, five assists).


Sharks: At the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday night.

Flames: At the Vegas Golden Knights on Sunday.

Jones set for big workload down the stretch


Jones set for big workload down the stretch

Sharks goaltender Martin Jones is on pace for the lightest overall workload of his career as a starter. After starting 65 games in his first two seasons in San Jose, Jones can only play a maximum of 62 if he appears in each of the team's 12 remaining games. 

Yet simultaneously, he is also on pace for the largest stretch-run workload of his career. Jones will make his 10th straight start, and 51st overall, Friday night in Calgary. 

Friday will also mark his eighth consecutive start since the trade deadline. Over the last two seasons, Jones made 13 and 14 starts, respectively, from the deadline onwards. 

It's easy to envision Jones far surpassing that workload. Entering Mar. 16 each of the last two years, the Sharks held, respectively, 10-point and 18-point leads over the West's ninth-place team, the closest among the squads on the outside looking in at the postseason. As a result, James Reimer and Aaron Dell spelled Jones for eight and seven starts, respectively, to keep him rested ahead of the postseason. 

This year, San Jose's only three points clear of the ninth-place Anaheim Ducks. There's also only one back-to-back remaining on the post-deadline schedule, compared to five in 2016-17 and two in 2015-16, and 10 of the next 12 games are against teams within four points of a playoff spot. 

Taking all of that into consideration, Jones should pretty easily exceed the mark of 14 post-trade deadline starts he set last season and ultimately start more than 60 games for the third consecutive season, barring injury. 

Should the Sharks clinch a playoff spot, it will be fair to wonder what kind of effect Jones' stretch-run starts will have on his postseason performance. Jones posted a .923 save percentage in San Jose's run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2016, and a .935 save percentage in the first round last year after receiving a good amount of time off. 

But the Sharks have to get there first, and it's understandable they will rely on Jones in order to do so. The recently-extended Aaron Dell remains one of the league's better backups, but has come a bit back down to earth this season (.914 save percentage) after earning the role last year (.931). 

Jones, for his part, has handled the increased workload well so far, winning five of nine games and posting a .922 save percentage. How well handles his 10th consecutive start, and any that follow, will have a profound impact on the Sharks' hopes of making the playoffs.