Sharks

Slow start: Jones allows four goals, Sharks fall to Flyers in season opener

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AP

Slow start: Jones allows four goals, Sharks fall to Flyers in season opener

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE -- Wayne Simmonds scored his second power-play goal to break a tie with 10:33 remaining and completed an opening-night hat trick with an empty-netter as the Philadelphia Flyers beat the San Jose Sharks 5-3 on Wednesday.

Claude Giroux and Jordan Weal also scored to get the Flyers off to a good start after missing the playoffs last season. Jakub Voracek and Shayne Gostisbehere each had three assists for Philadelphia.

Brian Elliott made 32 saves in his first game with the Flyers after signing a $5.5 million, two-year contract this summer.

Kevin Labanc became the first San Jose player to score two goals in the opening period of the season but also was called for three minor penalties that all led to goals for the Flyers. Logan Couture also scored for the Sharks, who had won seven straight openers.

Martin Jones made 26 saves in San Jose's first game without Patrick Marleau since April 7, 2009. Marleau, the franchise's career leading scorer, left as a free agent to sign with Toronto in July.

The Sharks were searching for ways to replace Marleau's 27 goals and Labanc delivered with his two. But his penalties hurt the cause, including a tripping call in the offensive zone that set up the game-winner.

Just 6 seconds after Labanc went into the box, Simmonds tipped Voracek's point shot past Jones to make it 4-3. Simmonds then sealed it with his empty-net goal in the final minute.

Simmonds also scored on the power play in the second period after another Labanc penalty to give the Flyers the lead, but San Jose tied it early in the third when Couture's pass deflected off Andrew MacDonald's skate and past Elliott for the equalizer.

Jones got off to a rough start for the Sharks, giving the puck away to Voracek on a clearing attempt. That led to Giroux's goal to open the scoring. Jones also got caught too deep in net when Weal scored on a rush on the power play to make it 2-0.

Labanc showed why coach Peter DeBoer put him on the top line with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski by scoring twice in the final three minutes of the period. He batted a rebound in midair past Elliott for his first goal and then scored on a wrister from the top of the circle on the power play to tie it in the final minute of the first.

NOTES: Brent Burns assisted on Couture's goal for his 500th career point. ... The last Sharks player to score twice in an opener was Tommy Wingels in 2014 against Los Angeles.

UP NEXT

Flyers: Visit the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday.

Sharks: Host the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday.

Sharks open road trip with win thanks to Donskoi's late heroics

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USATSI

Sharks open road trip with win thanks to Donskoi's late heroics

BOX SCORE

CALGARY -- Joonas Donskoi scored the game-winner late in third period and had an assist to lead the San Jose Sharks to a 3-2 victory over the Calgary Flames on Thursday night.

Justin Braun began the sequence by knocking Johnny Gaudreau off the puck in the Sharks end, beginning a 3-on-2 rush.

Eventually, Joe Thornton got a shot on net that Mike Smith stopped but the rebound was loose between his legs and was tapped in by Donskoi.

Chris Tierney and Timo Meier also had a goal and an assist each to round out the scoring for San Jose (17-10-3).

Michael Frolik and Gaudreau scored for Calgary (16-13-3).

Trailing 2-1, the Flames tied it at 7:39 of the third period when Garnet Hathaway neatly set up Gaudreau on a 2-on-1 for his 13th goal.

It came after coach Glen Gulutzan had shaken up Calgary's lines late in the second in an attempt to spark the offense, moving Gaudreau off the top unit and onto a line with Hathaway and rookie Mark Jankowski.

The Sharks had taken their first lead halfway through the second period on the power play.

Off a face-off win in the Flames end, the Sharks worked the puck back to Kevin Labanc. His long wrist shot was stopped by Smith, but Tierney whacked in the rebound.

Tierney's eighth goal moves him into second place on the team behind Logan Couture. In his fourth NHL season, the 23-year-old is closing in on his career high of 11 set last year.

Power plays were a key story line in the game with the Sharks going 1 for 3 while Calgary could not generate anything in going 0 for 3. That included squandering a 37-second two-man advantage early in the second period.

San Jose tied it when the line of Tierney, Donskoi and Meier combined on a nice goal.

Calgary opened the scoring 4:42 into the first period on a giveaway by Sharks defenseman Tim Heed.

Aaron Dell made 32 stops to improve to 6-3-1.

Smith, who had 26 saves, falls to 13-10-3.

Notes: It was the first of four meetings between the teams this season. ... Kris Versteeg (hip) missed his 10th game. ... Jaromir Jagr (lower body) is back skating but is still day-to-day. He's missed the last five games. ... Donskoi (lower body) returned after missing six games. ... The Flames have led after one period only four times, the fewest in the league.

UP NEXT:

Sharks: Are at Vancouver on Friday.

Flames: Host Nashville on Saturday.

Melker Karlsson's scoring masks deeper problem

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USATSI

Melker Karlsson's scoring masks deeper problem

In the Sharks’ bid to find consistent offensive production, Melker Karlsson is the latest winger to skate alongside Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton. He’ll get another look there in San Jose’s tilt with the Calgary Flames on Thursday, the first of a three-game road trip through western Canada.

It’s not his first Joe-deo. The trio has played over 700 five-on-five minutes together dating back to Karlsson’s rookie season in 2014-15, per Corsica Hockey. 

Familiarity hasn’t necessarily bred success, however. Of the 23 lines that have played at least 100 minutes together since 2014-15, Karlsson-Thornton-Pavelski ranks 13th in goals per 60 minutes (2.5). 

If you only look at head coach Peter DeBoer’s tenure, the line is 12th, but out of 18 combinations that spent 100 minutes together (2.15). That’s, at least in part, because the trio doesn’t generate a lot of shots together.

Their 26.86 shots per 60 is the fifth-worst rate among those same lines. In fact, Karlsson’s skated on four of the five-worst lines by that metric. 

The 27-year-old has legitimate finishing talent, converting on at least 10 percent of his shots in each of his four NHL seasons. The problem is that he doesn’t shoot all that much. 

He’s shooting at an individual rate of 5.69 shots per 60 minutes during five-on-five play, which represents an improvement over last season (5.42). Should that hold, it’ll be the first time he’s shot at a higher rate than the previous season. 

A few more pucks are getting on net, but Karlsson is actually attempting less shots (10.24 individual corsi-for per 60) than he did last season (10.34). That’s the third straight season of year-over-year decline. 

Despite that, Karlsson’s scored two goals in his last three games, and has five on the season. Now, he’s on pace for a career-high in goals, on the back of a career-high 17.2 percent shooting percentage. 

His ability to convert on limited opportunities masks just that: Karlsson doesn’t generate a whole lot of opportunities. He’s shown himself to be a good enough shooter to mitigate his lack of shot generation, so long as he’s not mired in a slump. 

An injection of finishing ability may be what the top line needs, and Karlsson’s hard-working, puck-retrieving style seems like an on-paper fit alongside Thornton and Pavelski’s respective skillsets. But as long as the trio struggles to generate shots, it’s not a given that they’ll be able to make the most of limited chances.