Buffalo Sabres

What Sharks like about way they are playing despite loss to Sabres

What Sharks like about way they are playing despite loss to Sabres

SAN JOSE - Saturday night's Sharks-Sabres matchup ended up being an entertaining one for sure, with a lot of the action taking place in the final 20 minutes of the game.

And even though San Jose lost 4-3 and had their three-game winning-streak snapped, they still believe that their overall game is headed in the right direction. 

"When I look at seven or eight games that we've played, that's probably one of the better 60-minute efforts we've got," Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer said afterward. "I think we're getting better. I can tell you, I like where our game's at now a lot better than I did two weeks ago."

Captain Logan Couture agreed, although he wanted to see a different result in Saturday's contest.

"I thought we played well, we could've done some things better," Couture said, giving the opposition the credit they deserve. "They're a very good team. It's no fluke over there that they have their record. They're playing very good hockey. We had an opportunity to beat them, just one more mistake on our end tonight."

One of the biggest problems San Jose ran into was penalty trouble in the second period. Sure, the penalty kill remains dominant and was able to keep Buffalo's potent power play from finding the back of the net. In fact, San Jose's special teams overall played a huge factor in them keeping the game close. But as Couture explained, being down a skater for too long can have a negative effect on a team's even-strength game -- even one with as good of a PK as San Jose has right now.

"It's tough to get in a rhythm," Couture explained. "There were so many penalties. For our line, especially, I think we only had two even-strength shifts in the second."

But the Sharks are happy with how they pushed back late in the game to keep things close. After the Sabres jumped out to a 2-1 lead at the end of the second period, the Sharks began creating more chances in their own end to keep the visitors from running away with the game. They traded tallies with Buffalo thanks to two big goals from Tomas Hertl and Marcus Sorensen. Even after Zemgus Girgensons buried the Sabres' fourth goal on the evening, San Jose continued to press and get looks in front of the net as the final few minutes of play expired.

"I liked our resiliency," DeBoer said. "I thought we battled all night."

[RELATED: Marleau reflects on Sharks return]

The Sharks will get another crack at the Sabres this upcoming Tuesday as they kick off an East Coast swing in Buffalo. San Jose might not be very happy with the mistakes they made on Saturday night, but they can at least see that their overall game his trending in the right direction.

"We still had a couple of bad mistakes, but we have to learn from it and be better," Hertl said. "It's kind of a tough loss but we have to bounce back. We (play) against them in the next game so we have to be ready for them."

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in streak-snapping 4-3 loss to Sabres

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in streak-snapping 4-3 loss to Sabres

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE - The Sharks' first standoff of the season against the Sabres was a fast-paced and tight-checking fete that saved most of its drama for the last 20 minutes of play.

But even with a couple of third-period goals to keep things interesting, Team Teal couldn't quite pull this one off against the visiting Buffalo squad and dropped the final game of their homestand 4-3.

Here are three takeaways from Saturday's game:

Going to the net

The Sharks might have been better on the defensive side of their game, particularly in their own end. But they struggled throughout Saturday's contest with getting in front of Buffalo's net and generating good shots. In fact, San Jose only tallied one shot on goal through nearly 13 minutes in the second period.

You do have to give San Jose's offense credit for turning it up in the latter part of the game, though. After Casey Mittelstadt's bizarre goal gave the Sabres a 2-1 lead, the Sharks turned things up and notch. They not only got more o-zone time but had a much better net-front presence. It's no wonder they were able to knot the score back up twice in the third period -- even if they weren't able to score the tie-breaking goal and get the win.

Going in for the kill

One of the biggest tests for the Sharks in Saturday's game was to stay out of the penalty box, given they were going up against one of the best power plays in the league. So, naturally, it was a bit of a nail-biter when San Jose got into a little penalty trouble in the second period.

San Jose did succeed in silencing Buffalo's power play, even if it wasn't very pretty. While Martin Jones wasn't quite as sharp on Saturday as he has been as of late, the team in front of him did a good job of halting the Sabres on the man advantage.

[RELATED: Marleau reflects on Sharks return]

The kid was all right

Noah Gregor didn't score a goal on Saturday night -- even though his new teammates tried to set him up for one. The 21-year-old forward did, however, have a good showing in his NHL debut, displaying a ton of speed as if he was already completely accustomed to the pace of a big-league game.

Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer said on Saturday morning that he would prefer it if one of San Jose's young players would seize the opportunity to be a regular on the team's fourth line with Dylan Gambrell and Melker Karlsson. Gregor only has one game under his belt, but he is already making a good case to stick around for a while.

Can prospect Noah Gregor end Sharks' revolving door of depth forwards?

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AP

Can prospect Noah Gregor end Sharks' revolving door of depth forwards?

SAN JOSE -- Another game, another new look to the Sharks' bottom-six forwards.

San Jose recalled forward Noah Gregor from the Barracuda on Saturday ahead of the Sharks' game against the Eastern Conference-leading Buffalo Sabres. Gregor is expected to pencil into the Sharks lineup with Lean Bergmann getting reassigned to the AHL in his place and Lukas Radil out sick.

Injury and illness often necessitate lineup changes, but Sharks coach Peter DeBoer isn't a big fan of constantly rotating his forwards. 

The Sharks have given young players the chance to make the big club since the start of training camp. Bergmann and recently reassigned forward Danil Yurtaykin made their NHL debuts in October, but DeBoer is ready for someone to truly seize a role so his lineup doesn't change on a nightly basis. 

"I don't want to rotate anyone out," DeBoer admitted Saturday. "I would love for somebody to grab these jobs and us [to] go with the same lineup."

You can understand why he feels that way. DeBoer has mentioned before that the Sharks have had more personnel turnover this season than any other he has coached in San Jose. He has also noted that integrating young players into the NHL isn't an overnight process.

Nevertheless, DeBoer doesn't want this to be the norm. The Sharks spent almost all of last season trying to find a fourth-line combination that would stick, and they're still looking for one. 

Now, the coach wants one of San Jose's young hopefuls to seize the opportunity and lock down a regular role.

"I think every time we put someone in that's my thinking. 'Hopefully, this guy can grab this job' and we don't have to rotate people in and out," DeBoer said.

Gregor is the latest Sharks prospect to get a chance. With three points (one goal, two assists) in three AHL games with this season, DeBoer seems hopeful Gregor inserts himself at the NHL level.

"The reports for the first few games was that he was one of their better players," DeBoer said. "He was a guy who was close to staying at the beginning [of the season]. He went down and handled it the right way, and [he's] getting the opportunity here now."

[RELATED: Marleau reflects on return to Sharks during ride to SAP Center]

Although the speedy 21-year-old has played center with the Barracuda this season, Gregor will pencil in on the wing on the Sharks' fourth line. Dylan Gambrell has started to establish himself as San Jose's fourth-line pivot over the last few games.

DeBoer and the Sharks hope Gregor can do the same as a winger.