Three takeaways: Sharks find a way vs Ducks despite getting outplayed

Three takeaways: Sharks find a way vs Ducks despite getting outplayed

It wasn’t, as they say, a Picasso, but the Sharks managed to get past the Ducks in overtime on Tuesday night, 3-2. Read on for the three biggest takeaways from San Jose’s seventh win in its last eight tries…

1 – Finding a way

It’s tough to be too critical of the Sharks’ performance despite them being outplayed by Anaheim for most of the night. After all, the team was forced to have its morning skate earlier than usual on Tuesday, and had to fly to Anaheim in the morning due to the CBA-mandated days off for Christmas. Further, the Sharks have only held one single practice in their last 16 days, so they can be forgiven a bit if the details in their game are starting to slip.

Despite all that, they managed to find a way, and they’ve been doing that often lately in games that they aren’t at their best – for example, road games in Toronto and Ottawa two weeks ago, when they utilized the shootout to claim victory. Now that it’s after Christmas, stockpiling those points will become even more important, no matter how they come. They did that against Anaheim.

After the game, coach Pete DeBoer told reporters: “It’s a tough game to play as a road team, travelling on game day. We found a way.”

Brent Burns told CSN: “It’s a tough game traveling the day of the game, coming off the break. It’s a recipe for a lot of bad things. I think we didn’t play a good game, but it shows a lot about the group. … You get the two points, it doesn’t have to be pretty.”

2 – Power outage continues

The most glaring aspect of the Sharks’ game that was off was their power play, as they went 0-for-4 and surrendered more scoring chances to the shorthanded Ducks than they themselves generated while up a man.

We wrote here yesterday that it may be time for DeBoer to shake up his top unit, and he did that in the third period when Kevin Labanc replaced Patrick Marleau. Marleau was booted from the top unit earlier this season mid-game, but returned the next game. Perhaps it’s time to give Labanc, or someone else, more time on the top unit to see if that sparks something. They’ve been off for far too long on what is now the 20th-ranked power play in the NHL (16.4 percent).

The biggest feather in the Sharks’ cap was that they managed to stay out of the penalty box, giving the hot Ducks power play just one opportunity that they didn’t capitalize on. Martin Jones was also on top of his game, which is simply becoming the new norm for the emerging goalie.

“He’s been great since he’s been here, so it’s not shocking to us,” Brent Burns told reporters about Jones. “He’s been huge every night. He kept us in that game, and that’s not a secret.”

3 – OT dominance

The Sharks improved to 4-1 in overtime this season, including two straight games. Joe Pavelski and Burns made this one happen, with Pavelski’s slick pass to the Wookiee and his subsequent move on Gibson giving the Sharks the win.

Anaheim never had the puck and didn't register a single shot on goal – and neither did the Oilers on Friday before it was Labanc that ended that one in San Jose’s favor.

“We have a lot of skill and I think they have some confidence when we get in that situation that if we give something up, [Martin] Jones is going to make a save,” DeBoer said. “We aren’t afraid to take some chances going the other way.”

Pavelski described the game-winning goal to reporters.

“[Burns] jumps up in the play, and once he gets that puck in tight, he makes a big time play.”

The anatomy of Jannik Hansen's recently-broken scoring drought


The anatomy of Jannik Hansen's recently-broken scoring drought

Jannik Hansen's game-winning goal against the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday marked the first time he scored in 355 days. 

Hansen last scored on Mar. 30, 2017 against the Edmonton Oilers, his second goal with the Sharks following an in-season trade. His scoring drought, in all, lasted 44 regular season games, 50 if you include the postseason. 

How exactly does a goal-scoring drought last nearly a year? The right (wrong?) circumstances all need to come together, and that was certainly the case for Hansen for much of the last year.

For one, the Danish forward was in and out of the lineup. San Jose played 83 regular season and postseason games between Hansen's second and third goals, and he did not play in 33 of those games. Plenty of players have had rough 50-game stretches, and that's often without not playing for weeks at a time, as Hansen has done a couple of times this season. 

When Hansen did draw into the lineup this year, however, he wasn't generating offense at the same rate he had in the past. This season, Hansen's five-on-five shot rate (6.19 shots per 60 minutes), shot attempt rate (10.53 individual corsi per 60), and unblocked shot attempt rate (8.95 individual fenwick per 60) were all down from his career averages, according to Corsica Hockey. 

That decline is natural, considering Hansen turned 32 just six days ago. Those rates were not down enough, however, to expect him to fail to score in his first 39 appearances this season. Naturally, a long run of bad luck played a big role in Hansen's dry spell.

Hansen went 0-for-66 in shots over the 50 consecutive regular season and playoff games in which he did not score. He's a career 11-percent shooter, and had he shot at his career average, he would have scored seven goals during that time. That feels about right for a bottom-six forward. 

In many ways, all of these factors fed into one another. Hansen wasn't generating shots or scoring, then was scratched, then couldn't find the back of the net when he returned and was scratched again. All the while, fellow fourth-liners Marcus Sorensen (26.7 percent shooting percentage this season), Joel Ward (14.3 percent) and Barclay Goodrow (13.2 percent) were converting on their chances, forcing Peter DeBoer's hand. 

His possession play's been solid all season (50.74 percent corsi-for, per Natural Stat Trick), but the offense hasn't followed. When it does, as was the case Tuesday night, he can be an effective fourth-line forward, and the goal on Tuesday bought him more time to prove it. 

Sharks blow out Devils for season-high fifth straight win

Sharks blow out Devils for season-high fifth straight win


SAN JOSE -- Jannik Hansen scored his first goal of the season and fellow fourth-liners Eric Fehr and Barclay Goodrow also scored to help the San Jose Sharks win their season-high fifth straight game, 6-2 over the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night.

Logan Couture added his 30th goal of the season, and Joe Pavelski and Mikkel Boedker also scored to give the Sharks a four-point lead over third-place Los Angeles in the Pacific Division with one game in hand.

Brent Burns added three assists and Martin Jones made 26 saves.

The scoring barrage by San Jose spoiled Cory Schneider's return to net for the Devils. Schneider allowed four goals on 14 shots before getting pulled midway through the second period of his first start since March 8. Schneider has lost 11 starts in a row since his last win for the Devils on Dec. 27.

Taylor Hall scored his 32nd goal of the season and Blake Coleman also scored for the Devils, who lead Florida by just one point in the race for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Panthers have two games in hand.

After Hansen and Fehr scored in the first period, Goodrow chipped one in midway through the second period on a surprising night of scoring from the fourth line when he beat Schneider on a 2-on-1.

Couture then scored 40 seconds later on San Jose's first shot against Keith Kinkaid for his third career 30-goal season. Boedker added San Jose's second power-play goal of the night late in the second and the rout was on.

The Sharks got off to a fast start in their first game back from a 3-0 Canadian road trip, scoring three goals in the first period and killing 1:20 of a two-man advantage for New Jersey.

The teams traded goals to start with Fehr beating Schneider over the shoulder from a bad angle and Hall answering when he stole a bouncing puck from Justin Braunand beat Jones with a quick shot.

San Jose then scored twice in a span of less than three minutes to take the lead. Pavelski tipped in a shot from Kevin Labanc on the power play to give the Sharks the lead.

Then after Jones denied Damon Severson from in close at one end, Dylan DeMelo sent a long pass that Hansen chased down and then beat Schneider on a breakaway for his first goal since March 30, 2017.

NOTES: DeMelo has 10 assists this month. ... San Jose D Brenden Dillon has a five-game point streak. ... Devils F Miles Wood (upper body) was scratched and Jesper Bratt played in his place.


Devils: Visit Pittsburgh on Friday.

Sharks: Host Vegas on Thursday.