NHL Gameday: Donskoi back in as Sharks try to stay alive in Game 6

NHL Gameday: Donskoi back in as Sharks try to stay alive in Game 6

Programming note – Sharks-Oilers coverage starts today at 7:00 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live on NBC Sports California


The Oilers lead the best-of-seven series, three games to two

Game 1: Sharks 3, Oilers 2 (OT)
Game 2: Oilers 2, Sharks 0
Game 3: Oilers 1, Sharks 0
Game 4: Sharks 7, Oilers 0
Game 5: Oilers 4, Sharks 3 (OT)
Game 6: Saturday, April 22, Oilers @ Sharks (7:30 p.m.)
*Game 7: Monday, April 24, Sharks @ Oilers (TBD)

* - if necessary


***After they were obliterated in Game 4 at SAP Center, the Oilers responded with a 4-3 overtime win at home in Game 5 at Rogers Place on Thursday to put the Sharks on the brink. Edmonton outshot the Sharks 14-2 in the extra session, including David Desharnais’ winner at 18:15.

***The Sharks went 2-1 in elimination games last season, beating Nashville in the second round in Game 7 and the Penguins in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final, but losing Game 6 to Pittsburgh.

***Joonas Donskoi will be back in the lineup after he was a healthy scratch in Game 5. Timo Meier will come out.

“We went with our most experienced lineup here tonight [in an] elimination game,” Pete DeBoer said. “He’s been here before, he’s delivered for us before. He’s typically always bounced back after being sat down or demoted. I expect a big game out of him.”

Donskoi, who has one power play assist an a minus-three rating in four games, said: “I’m full of energy. Just try to bring my best game tonight and get some offensive zone time. ... I think I can be much better than I’ve been so far.”

***Since 2004, no NHL team has played more postseason games than the Sharks’ 143. The Sharks have made the playoffs in 12 of the last 13 seasons, and have been knocked out in the first round just three times in their last 11 appearances – 2009, 2012 and 2014.

***After combining for four goals and four assists in Game 4, Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture and Brent Burns all failed to get on the scoresheet in Game 5. Burns’ delay of game penalty led to Mark Letestu’s key goal late in the second period, bringing the Oilers back to within 3-2.

***Although he recorded an assist in Game 5, ending a modest two-game scoreless streak, Connor McDavid is still looking for his first even-strength point in the series.


Sharks: Marcus Sorensen. The rookie forward has been making a name for himself in the series, and now has points in back to back games after assisting on Mikkel Boedker’s goal in Game 5. The 25-year-old looks to be gaining chemistry with center Chris Tierney, making for an effective fourth line. While guys like Boedker and Joonas Donskoi have been scratched, Sorensen has remained in the lineup.

Oilers: David Desharnais. No player was more valuable to the Oilers’ Game 5 comeback than the pint-sized forward, who set up Oscar Kelfbom’s third period goal and then scored the overtime winner when he charged past Tomas Hertl. In 43 playoff games, Desharnais, acquired from Montreal just before the trade deadline, has 15 points (4g, 11a).


Patrick Marleau – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Jannik Hansen – Logan Couture – Joel Ward
Melker Karlsson – Tomas Hertl – Joonas Donskoi
Marcus Sorensen – Chris Tierney – Mikkel Boedker

Paul Martin – Brent Burns
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Brenden Dillon – David Schlemko

Martin Jones (starter)
Aaron Dell

Drake Caggiula – Connor McDavid – Leon Draisaitl
Milan Lucic – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Jordan Eberle
Patrick Maroon – Mark Letestu – Zack Kassian
Benoit Pouliot – David Desharnais – Anton Slepyshev

Oscar Klefbom – Adam Larsson
Andrej Sekera – Kris Russell
Darnell Nurse – Matt Benning

Cam Talbot (starter)
Laurent Brossoit


Sharks: None.

Oilers: Tyler Pitlick (torn ACL) is out.


The Sharks are 1-10 all-time when trailing a series three games to two. They are 6-4 all-time in Game 7s.

The Sharks’ all-time record in a Game 6 is 6-17, including 3-7 at home.


“I thought we played a pretty good game. Maybe we sat back a little in the third. I thought we did a good job limiting their chances. They had one good shot they buried. Maybe we weren’t quite on the attack as much as the first two periods.” – David Schlemko, after Game 5


Sharks not satisfied with single point, believe skid will strengthen them

Sharks not satisfied with single point, believe skid will strengthen them

Well, the Sharks certainly made it interesting. Every time the Ducks scored a goal on Friday evening, the Sharks came back and were able to tie things up. They even got the game-tying goal late in the third period that took their contest into overtime – at least, before they lost 4-3.

Perhaps at a different time of year, getting their first point in five games would feel better. Not on this night. 

The focus remains on the work to be done with just seven games left in the regular season. For Team Teal, they need to clean their game up and get back into the win column.

“It’s better than nothing, but overall, we’re just not finding ways to win games now,” Timo Meier told the media in Anaheim regarding the single point. “We’ve got to find a way to win games. It’s an important time of the year. Playoffs are really close.”

San Jose put a better effort on the ice on Friday than they did the previous evening in LA against the Kings, but the opportunistic Ducks were able to bury more of their chances,

"I don’t think we gave them very much," Peter DeBoer said. "Every chance they got, they stuck in the net, though."

DeBoer was more critical of the team a second night in a row, and rightfully so. Despite outshooting the opposition, the Sharks weren’t able to find the back of the net enough times. They allowed two goals while playing on the penalty kill and tallied 14 giveaways. Plus, outside of Meier’s power-play marker, San Jose still went one-for-five on the man advantage. Despite tying the score up three times, the Sharks couldn’t keep the Ducks from responding.

Clearly, all areas of the game need to be tweaked.

“We’ve got to find a way to get an extra save, and on (the other) end we’ve got to find a way to get another goal,” DeBoer said. “We could’ve used a power-play goal tonight -- another one.”

Perhaps the only silver lining, as Meier put it, is that the Sharks are going through this stretch now instead of once they get into the playoffs. San Jose is still trying to get some of its key players healthy and into the lineup so they can make a deep playoff run with the lines and pairs they want. The goal, at least at the moment, is to make sure this five-game skid is a lesson to learn from and not a prelude to the future.

"Get stronger as a team, get tighter as a group, and learn," Meier said. "It’s going to make us stronger going into the playoffs because there are going to be lots of ups and downs coming up. It’s going to make us stronger and we’ve got to react the right way.”

Sharks takeaways: What we learned from overtime loss to Ducks

Sharks takeaways: What we learned from overtime loss to Ducks


All the Sharks needed was a win. Just one win on Friday evening against the Ducks. Two points to salvage the road trip, stop the losing streak, and get back to hunting for first place in the division.

Not surprisingly, Team Teal made things interesting with a game that stayed tied up heading down the stretch. Unfortunately for San Jose, the Ducks were the victors in overtime 4-3.

Here are three takeaways from Friday’s game:

How did the power play look?

In a few words: nonexistent until the third. San Jose had three opportunities on the man advantage through the first 40 minutes of play and couldn’t make anything happen. They even gave up a couple breaks the other way that Dell had to stop. Had the power play converted, the Sharks might’ve been up by two or three goals after two period of play.

Timo Meier came up big with the power-play goal in the third period to tie the score up 2-2. While they couldn’t capitalize on the power-play opportunity immediately followed, Meier’s marker will hopefully open up the flood gates for the power play.

Who else stepped up?

Sharks’ bench boss Peter DeBoer didn’t mince words after Thursday’s loss to the Kings, saying that the team needed someone to step up during this stretch with injured superstars and be a hero.

“You’ve got to get a great performance from somebody in a game like this and I don’t think we got that,” DeBoer said on Thursday.

In all honesty, the whole team looked better even with the loss. The fourth line had a couple very memorable shifts, cycling low and establishing pressure. Joe Thornton’s line was clicking, which was clear from Kevin Labanc’s goal.

Gustav Nyquist was a solo standout – despite not finding the back of the net, he played a heck of a game and had some incredible looks. Of course, you can’t talk about this game without talking about Justin Braun scoring the big game-tying goal in the third frame, which was his first marker since December 2.

How did Aaron Dell do?

In all fairness, Dell gave the Sharks a chance to win for the majority of the game. No. 30 has looked good in his last couple of outings – save his relief effort against the Golden Knights earlier in the week when he had little defense to help him out – and he made a couple great saves in Anaheim as well, especially when the Ducks had a couple short-handed breakaways.

Unfortunately for Dell, he gave up the two power-play goals in the third frame. While Braun was the hero and scored the tying goal late in the third to help take the game into overtime, Dell still couldn’t hold down the fort in overtime. It doesn’t matter if he’s the backup or not – at this time of the season, playing too loose late in games isn’t good.