Sharks

NHL Gameday: Pens hurting in Final rematch with Sharks

NHL Gameday: Pens hurting in Final rematch with Sharks

Programming note: Sharks-Penguins coverage starts today at 3:30 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live on CSN California

WHERE THEY STAND

Sharks: 3-1-0, 6 points, 3rd Pacific Division
Penguins: 2-1-1, 5 points, 2nd Metropolitan Division

NEWS AND NOTES

***The Sharks and Penguins will meet for the first time since Pittsburgh’s win in the Stanley Cup Final last June. The Penguins are, however, missing some key pieces to that series victory as Sidney Crosby, Kris Letang, Matt Murray and Conor Sheary are all out due to injury.

The Sharks are 2-1 on their current five-game road trip, which concludes on Saturday in Detroit.

“A lot of reminders for sure being back here not long ago,” Joel Ward said. “Definitely excited, a good challenge with us being on the road early again. We’ll try to notch another road win.”

***Pete DeBoer said after the Islanders game that he wasn’t sure what his emotions would be like when he walked into the rink, which is now called PPG Paints Arena. Now that he’s here, how does he feel?

“An overwhelming sense I think of pride for our group and the journey we went on,” he said. “I know we came up short, but the memories I have coming back in here are just of how our guys really emptied the tank. … They were the better team, but I was very proud of our effort. That’s the overwhelming feeling right now.”

As for Joe Thornton, he recalled that the last time the Sharks were here they won Game 5, prolonging the series.

“The last time we were here was a pretty good feeling,” Thornton said. “That’s all I remember, really.”

***Matt Nieto will return to the lineup for Micheal Haley, who played against the Islanders and helped to generate the first goal in the 3-2 win.

DeBoer stressed that Nieto wasn’t removed from the lineup due to his play, but that the Sharks are “going to rotate guys in and out” due to their improved depth.

“[Nieto] brings some more speed for us. I thought he did a good job the game before we took him out,” DeBoer said. “Hales gave us a real good game against a physical team against the Islanders, and Neets will go back in to tonight. He’s just got to do his thing.”

Nieto said: “Something they try to do is play fast, and they’ve got a lot of speedy guys in their lineup. I think if I’m moving my legs it could be effective.”

KEEP AN EYE ON

Sharks: Joe Thornton. The Sharks’ top line center broke through on Tuesday in Brooklyn, setting up the game-tying goal and game-winning goal in a 3-2 victory over the Islanders. Thornton didn’t have a very good Stanley Cup Final against the Penguins with just three assists in six games, so perhaps he has some retribution on his mind, even if he doesn't want to admit it.

Penguins: Matt Cullen. The veteran center is doing his best to help minimize the loss of Crosby, and is tied for the team lead with three points (1g, 2a). Dating back to last season, Cullen, who turns 40 on Nov. 2, has 11 goals in his past 31 games.

PROBABLE LINES

Sharks
Tomas Hertl – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Mikkel Boedker – Logan Couture – Joonas Donskoi
Patrick Marleau – Chris Tierney – Joel Ward
Matt Nieto – Tommy Wingels – Melker Karlsson

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

Martin Jones (confirmed starter)
Aaron Dell

Penguins
Chris Kunitz – Evgeni Malkin – Bryan Rust
Carl Hagelin – Nick Bonino – Phil Kessel
Scott Wilson – Matt Cullen – Patric Honqvist
Tom Sestito – Eric Fehr – Tom Kuhnhackl

Olli Maatta – Trevor Daley
Ian Cole – Justin Schultz
Derrick Pouliot – Brian Dumoulin

Marc-Andre Fleury
Mike Condon

INJURIES

Sharks: None.

Penguins: Kris Letang (upper body) and Conor Sheary (eye), Sidney Crosby (concussion) and Matt Murray (hand) are out.

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

BOX SCORE

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.