Bob Boughner

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in 2-1 overtime loss vs. Senators

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in 2-1 overtime loss vs. Senators

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In a game that began with an unusual 4 p.m. puck drop, the Sharks took a while to get going and ultimately lost their second straight game, falling 2-1 in overtime to the Ottawa Senators at SAP Center on Saturday. After both sides scored in the first period, neither found the back of the net again until former Shark Chris Tierney scored the game-winner for Ottawa in the extra period.

Aaron Dell was saddled with the loss in net for San Jose, but the result likely would have been worse without a strong performance from the Sharks' backup goaltender, which included a stop of Tierney on a penalty shot late in the second period. Ultimately, though, Tierney got the last laugh, and San Jose is left to wonder where the momentum that was built up over the first three games of the current homestand has gone.

With the loss, the Sharks (29-24-5) were swept in the season series by the Senators (25-32-12) after losing 5-2 in Ottawa back on Oct. 27.

Here are three takeaways from San Jose's second consecutive one-goal defeat:

Staying hot

Evander Kane kept his recent hot streak going on Saturday, and so did the Sharks' power play.

It all happened simultaneously late in the first period when Kane batted a puck out of the air into Ottawa's net for San Jose's only goal of the contest. It came 19 seconds after Senators forward Bobby Ryan went to the penalty box for goaltender interference and eight seconds before the end of the opening frame.

Assisted by Timo Meier and Brent Burns, Kane's goal marked his fourth in the last four games, and brought his season total to 25. Additionally, it was his 13th power-play goal of the season, pulling him into a tie with Washington's Alex Ovechkin for the fourth-most in the league.

With Kane's first-period tally, the Sharks have now scored a power-play goal in each of their last three games, dating back to Tuesday's win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. In the game before that, Meier found the back of the net seven seconds after a Pittsburgh Penguins' penalty had expired.

After struggling for most of the season, San Jose appears to be finding a groove with the man advantage. Better late than never, right?

Dell's turn

Dell got the start in net against the Senators, his first on the Sharks' current homestand after Martin Jones started the first four games. Having not played since a 4-2 loss in Philadelphia on Feb. 25, it marked Dell's longest stretch between starts since early December.

Even with the relatively long layoff, though, Dell didn't appear to show any rust. He was a steady presence in net throughout Saturday's game, stopping multiple breakaways, including a crucial penalty shot just before the second intermission. In total, he stopped 36 of the 38 shots he faced, and he didn't have much of a chance on the two that got by him.

Jones earned his four consecutive starts through arguably his strongest stretch of play this season. It wasn't necessarily the result of anything Dell did wrong or poorly, and with Saturday's staunch performance, one would imagine he won't have to wait as long between starts next time around.

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Mixing and matching

With rookie standout Mario Ferraro ruled out for both of San Jose's games over the weekend, interim coach Bob Boughner had to get creative with the Sharks' defensive pairs against the Senators. 21-year-old rookie Nikola Knyzhov made his NHL debut in Ferraro's place after being called up from the Barracuda earlier in the day.

Knyzhov was paired with trade deadline acquisition Brandon Davidson on San Jose's third pair, and the rookie definitely had a couple of "Welcome to the NHL" moments. With some new faces on the blue line, interim coach Bob Boughner relied on Brent Burns even more than usual.

It was evident from the start, as Burns played more than half of the first period -- 12:50 to be exact -- which is the most ice time any NHL skater has had in the opening period in the last three seasons, according to Sportradar. Radim Simek was the only other Sharks defenseman to skate even half that long in the first period, and he barely qualified with 6:26 of ice time.

Burns' heavy load eased up as the game went on, but he still finished the contest with a game-high 31:35 of ice time, the most he has played in any game this season. One day before his 35th birthday, Burns showed again that few players in the NHL can measure up to his incredible stamina.

Joe Thornton, Sharks help Selena Urban live out her Make-A-Wish dream

Joe Thornton, Sharks help Selena Urban live out her Make-A-Wish dream

The Sharks might be in the midst of a tough season, but it pales in comparison to what Selena Urban has been through.

Urban, 16, is a renal transplant patient and a lifelong fan of the Sharks. Her dream has always been to meet the team, and thanks to the Sharks Foundation and Make-A-Wish Bay Area, San Jose was able to make it happen Friday.

Urban's special day, which featured countless ear-to-ear smiles and an ample amount of happy tears, began with a superstar greeting from the Sharks' front office. Soon after, she made her way out to the ice at SAP Center, where San Jose was positioned for its team photo. To cross to slippery surface, she got an assist from -- who else -- Joe Thornton.

After the photo and sharing a hug with her favorite player, Urban stuck around to get a front-row seat for the Sharks' limited practice. Given how many players stopped by to visit with her, she clearly was popular.

While she sat on the Sharks' bench, interim coach Bob Boughner came over to give her a big surprise. When San Jose hears its starting lineup Saturday night before taking on the Ottawa Senators, it will be Urban announcing the five skaters to the locker room.

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The shock and awe didn't stop there, though. After practice was over, Urban reconvened with Thornton, who had not one, but two more surprises for her.

First, he unveiled some snazzy new socks that featured Urban's graduation photo all over them. Thornton plans to wear them as part of his pregame outfit Saturday, and Urban should be able to get plenty of glimpses at them.

Why? Because Thornton is going to pick her up Saturday and drive her to the game.

The first day of Urban's dream experience concluded with a ride on the Zamboni. Saturday, though, the fun will start right back up again.

Sharks' Evander Kane reveals what caused his recent production spike

Sharks' Evander Kane reveals what caused his recent production spike

SAN JOSE -- Evander Kane’s worst stretch of the season was followed by an excellent one. The talented forward recorded six points in the first three games of this Sharks homestand, with three goals and three assists, including on Logan Couture’s decisive overtime score against New Jersey.

It should come as no shock the Sharks won each time. Kane’s points streak ended during Thursday’s 3-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild at SAP Center, but he still generated opportunities that didn’t find the net. That included a late third-period laser beam that would’ve tied it, if not for a glove save.

Kane’s recent quality could constitute an about-face. Kane served a three-game suspension for a hit seemingly unworthy of such punishment and was benched by interim head coach Bob Boughner at Madison Square Garden in his return to action.

He was generating chances after that, but couldn’t find the net during a miserable, winless Sharks road trip where Brenden Dillon, Patrick Marleau and Barclay Goodrow all were traded before the deadline.

Then Kane came home and got red hot. The 28-year oldwas quick to caution against links between riding pine and this points surge. Getting benched didn’t inspire better play. There was something larger at play, a team-wide mentality shift that led to better performances following an awful East Coast swing.

“I think it’s easy to look at that as a turning point for me. Honestly, it really wasn’t,” Kane said Thursday morning, before the Sharks lost to Minnesota. “Do I agree with what transpired in New York? No. But there’s no disputing that we didn’t win a game on that trip. That was rough.

“That was the important realization, that we had to alter our attitudes and our mindset as an entire group or it would be a long ride to the finish. I think we came back stronger. We obviously didn’t have a great start against New Jersey, but we finished well and that was huge. When you play top teams, you have to bring it or you’re going to get a-- kicked. Showing well against Pittsburgh and Toronto illustrated that we were playing the right way, and we have to continue doing that.”

Thursday’s loss wasn’t a setback in that regard. While there were moments of lackluster play, the Sharks worked hard through the final buzzer but couldn’t secure an equalizer despite a 20-3 shot advantage in the third period.

Kane has played well on this homestand. So has Joe Thornton, and captain Logan Couture upon return from injury. Brent Burns was the Sharks' player of the month. Goalkeeper Martin Jones has picked it up of late -- he’d certainly like another shot at Thursday’s first Wild goal -- as the veteran stars try to finish strong while working with several young prospects.

“When your top players are going well the team usually has success,” Kane said. “I think we’ve been through a lot this year. We were so used to [fired head coach Pete DeBoer and Steve Spott and other departed assistants] being here, and I think there was a lengthy adjustment period to this new group here and them kind of figuring it out a little bit. I think, as players we’ve kind of had enough and have taken it upon ourselves to push to have a strong finish.

“I mean, like I’ve said, we’re still the San Jose Sharks. We are still a top team. We didn’t have the year we wanted but we want to use these last [15] games to remind ourselves of that as well and build some confidence going into next season.”

Kane is driven to push for goals, and despite a lackluster season for the team and some individual lowlights -- including two three-game suspensions -- the forward is just six goals from 30. That’s his career-high, which can be matched before the season’s out.

“It’s always nice to reach that number,” Kane said. “There aren’t many guys who get to 30, but that’s not the ultimate goal. If I get to 30, then I want to get to 40. I just want to keep scoring and helping my team win. We’ve had problems scoring this year for whatever reason. Our [2.6] goals per game average is relatively low. Last year, it was the opposite [at 3.50]. It has been a little different, and that has been a reason why we haven’t been winning games. I’m trying to score as much as I can because that helps the team win.”

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Kane is capable of helping the Sharks surge. He was awesome in November, with eight points in seven games to start the month and 12 over the 30-day span. The Sharks were 11-4 during their best stretch of the season, but couldn’t sustain such play over a long haul.

Another run like that probably won’t produce an identical record considering all the injuries and trades that have transpired since, but Kane hopes to finish the string on a high note individually and as part of the Sharks collective.

“It’s definitely nice to put the puck in the net consistently,” Kane said. “The more you play like this the better you feel. When you’re getting touches and assists and getting involved on scoring chances that goes a long way. It builds positive momentum you feel like you can sustain. Ultimately though, it’s all about finishing. I look back at that road trip and feel like I could’ve had six goals.

"I had great chances in the Islanders game. I had a few breakaways against the Rangers where I didn’t find the net. But if you continue to generate chances good things will come from it. You can’t get frustrated. You have to keep working and keep pushing to create. I feel like I have been creating for the last six or seven games. Now the puck’s starting go in. That’s a good thing.”