Turnovers sink Sharks in 5-3 loss to Florida


Turnovers sink Sharks in 5-3 loss to Florida

SAN JOSE It was an unpleasant Saturday night at HP Pavilion for the Sharks, as their sloppy play in the defensive zone led directly to several Florida goals in a 5-3 loss to the Panthers.

It could be an even more unpleasant Sunday originally a day off for the club, but not anymore.

Unfortunately, if we dont want to work today, well find some time tomorrow to do it, said an ornery Todd McLellan after the game.

The coach had reason to be upset after watching his club lose its third game in the last four. The Sharks took a 2-1 lead into the second period, but three separate ill-advised misplays by defensemen allowed the Panthers to take a 4-2 lead. Those goals were sandwiched between power play markers from Florida in the first and third periods, as the Sharks' penalty killing struggles continued.

Colin White, Dan Boyle and Brent Burns all had particularly egregious errors in the second period, and the Panthers capitalized on several gift giveaways from the Sharks in what has typically been their strongest period of the season.

First, it was White, who found himself alone with the puck and plenty of time to clear the zone. Instead, he inexplicably flipped it to Marco Sturm, who barreled in alone on net and slipped the puck through Thomas Greiss to tie the game at 5:37.

Less than two minutes later, Kris Versteeg intercepted Burns attempted pass to Joe Pavelski. Burns was caught out of position as Versteeg found Tomas Fleischmann cutting in alone on net, and Fleischmann managed to evade Greiss poke-check and deposit his 12th goal.

The Sharks failed to capitalize on their first power play at 16:14 of the second period, and the Panthers made them pay with another goal late in the frame. This time it was Jack Skille stripping Boyle in the neutral zone and taking it hard to the net.

Skille lost control around the crease, but the puck deflected in off of Jason Demers skate to give Florida a two-goal cushion before the break.

The amount of times that the puck was on our tape and then on theirs and I dont want to discredit their game, they played hard and are a good forechecking team but we were very sloppy, said McLellan. Thats probably as poorly as Ive seen our six defensemen play in four years, all together as a group, with turnovers. The forwards didnt create much of a forecheck, so it was a full team game.

Boyle said: I think we gave them that game. A couple soft plays from us D. Just boneheaded, stupid, soft plays giving them a couple goals. We gave that game away.

San Jose managed to cut the lead to 4-3 on Logan Coutures second goal of the night, when he blasted a one-timer past Scott Clemmensen with 6:21 remaining in regulation. Any thought of a comeback, though, was erased with Dmitry Kulikovs power play goal with 1:35 seconds remaining in regulation and Demers in the penalty box.

The Sharks entered the game with the leagues 28th ranked penalty kill, including the worst in the NHL at home. They allowed two goals on four Florida power plays, dropping their percentage at HP Pavilion to a dismal 70.7 percent.

San Jose scored first for just the eighth time this season, and held a first period lead for just the fifth time. Coutures first of the night put them ahead when his soft wrister deflected in off of Kulikovs glove just 1:16 after the opening puck drop.

Florida tied the game on a man advantage, when Stephen Weiss found a rebound in the slot and slid it along the ice back towards the net. It would have been an easy shot for Greiss to freeze, but Douglas Murray appeared to impede Greiss glove with his stick and it ended up sneaking inside the far post.

Jamie McGinns fourth goal of the year at 11:44 on a feed from Michal Handzus gave San Jose a 2-1 lead at the first intermission. The Sharks had been a perfect 7-0 when scoring first and 5-0 when leading after the opening period, but both of those streaks came to an end.
VIDEO: Jamie McGinn postgame

Greiss, starting for the first time since November 20, finished with 30 saves to drop his record to 4-4-0. The Panthers also started their backup in Clemmensen, who made 23 saves and has now won both of his starts (2-0-0).

While the defense struggled throughout the night, Couture and Ryane Clowe werent willing to let the forwards off the hook, either.

I know there were some turnovers from the d-men, but there was no forechecking from the forwards, either, said Clowe. There was no sustained effort.

Couture said: We just didnt come ready to play. Not a single guy on our team played well, top to bottom. No one had a good game and no one can look at each other and say that they played well tonight.

What makes the loss even tougher to swallow is that the Sharks were in an upbeat mood following a come-from-behind win against Montreal on Thursday night, in which Clowe tied it late and they prevailed in a shootout, 4-3.

In the midst of a four-game homestand, the Sharks wanted to keep the momentum from that game with matches against Minnesota and Dallas on the horizon next week. It didnt happen.

After the win against Montreal, you expect to come out and start to get on a roll at home, said Couture.

Instead, Sundays day-off-turned-practice could be of the variety where pucks arent necessary.

Its time for one of those days, said McLellan.

Odds and ends: The Sharks fell to 7-5-1 at home. Whites assist on McGinns goal was his first point as a Shark. White had been a scratch in five of the last six games, including the last four. He missed several days of practice and Mondays game in Los Angeles for personal reasons. Handzus has the primary assist on each of McGinns four goals. Handzus won 13 of 14 faceoffs, while the Sharks won 36 of 54 as a team (67 percent). The Sharks out hit Florida, 28-10.

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


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


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


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.


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.