Sharks

NHL Gameday: Sharks host top team, goals figure to be hard to come by

NHL Gameday: Sharks host top team, goals figure to be hard to come by

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

WHERE THEY STAND

Sharks: 14-9-1, 29 points, 1st Pacific Division
Canadiens: 16-5-2, 34 points, 1st Atlantic Division

PREGAME NEWS AND NOTES

***It’s a battle of first place teams at SAP Center, as the Sharks lead the Pacific Division and the Canadiens are atop the overall league standings. The Sharks are in the midst of playing eight of 10 at home, and bring a 5-1-0 mark in their last six games into tonight.

The Sharks will wrap up a stretch of 10 games in 18 days before they get a chance to rest before Wednesday’s home game with Ottawa.

“It’s been a lot of hockey. It will be nice to get a couple days after this to relax and recover a little bit,” Joe Thornton said. “We know we don’t play for another five days, so to get this win would be huge for us.”

Montreal is playing the third of a five-game road trip. It began with a 2-1 overtime win in Detroit last Saturday, and was followed by a 2-1 loss in Anaheim on Tuesday.

***The undisputed best goalie in the world will be in net for Montreal, as Carey Price (13-2-1, 1.68 GAA, .947 SP) will face the Sharks for the first time since March 21, 2015. He’s 2-4-1 in his career against San Jose, with a 2.70 GAA and .924 SP.

Goals figure to be hard to come by. The Sharks lead the league with just 2.08 goals allowed per game, while Montreal is third (2.13).

“We have to be prepared to win 2-1 here tonight,” Pete DeBoer said. “That has to be the mindset. If we can get more than that, we’ll take it.”

Martin Jones will go for the Sharks. In his last 10 games, he’s 7-2-1 with a 1.50 GAA and .942 SP with a pair of shutouts. 

***Tommy Wingels, who has missed the last three games with a lower body injury, will be a game-time decision. If he doesn’t play, expect Micheal Haley to remain in on the fourth line.

KEEP AN EYE ON...

Sharks: Logan Couture. The Sharks’ center is heating up, and has at least one point in six of the Sharks’ last eight games (6g, 2a). He’s tied with Brent Burns for the team lead in goals with nine, and led the way in San Jose’s 4-1 win on Wednesday night in Los Angeles with two goals and one assist.

Canadiens: Shea Weber. The defenseman has had an immediate impact in his first season in Montreal, with 18 points (8g, 10a) and an NHL-best plus-18 rating. Arguably the frontrunner for the Norris Trophy, Weber will be seeing the Sharks for the first time since his miserable performance in Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals with Nashville.

PROBABLE LINES

Sharks
Patrick Marleau – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Kevin Labanc – Logan Couture – Joel Ward
Mikkel Boedker – Chris Tierney – Joonas Donskoi
Melker Karlsson – Ryan Carpenter – Tommy Wingels

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

Martin Jones (starter)
Aaron Dell

Canadiens
Paul Byron – Alex Galchenyuk – Alex Radulov
Max Pacioretty – Tomas Plekanec – Brendan Gallagher
Artturi Lehkonen – David Desharnais – Andrew Shaw
Torrey Mitchell – Phillip Danault – Brian Flynn

Alexei Emelin – Shea Weber
Andrei Markov – Jeff Petry
Mark Barberio – Greg Pateryn

Carey Price (starter)
Al Montoya

INJURIES

Sharks: Tommy Wingels (lower body) is questionable. Tomas Hertl (right knee sprain) is out.

Canadiens: Nathan Beaulieu (neck) and Charles Hudon (fractured sternum) are out.

QUOTEABLE

“I’m biased but I think [our defense corps] is one of the top back ends in the league. They do a great job moving the puck, play well defensively, and I’m sure it’s tough for other teams to score on us.” – Logan Couture

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.