NHL Gameday: Sharks, Preds meet for first time since playoffs

NHL Gameday: Sharks, Preds meet for first time since playoffs

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


Sharks: 5-3-0, 10 points, 2nd Pacific Division
Predators: 2-4-1, 5 points, 7th Central Division


***The Sharks will be trying to wrap up a perfect homestand after beating the Ducks and Blue Jackets earlier this week. They are 3-0 on home ice overall, after going just 18-20-3 at SAP Center last season. The last time they swept a homestand of at least three games was Dec. 9-20, 2014 (5-0-0).

Joe Thornton said: “It’s a good start. It’s really early on, but it’s nice the way we’ve been playing at home."

The Predators, meanwhile, have struggled through California and find themselves in last place in the Central. They got spanked by the Ducks on Wednesday, 6-1, and dropped an overtime decision to the Kings on Thursday, 3-2. Tonight is the fourth of a five-game road trip.

***Although it’s a rematch of last season’s second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Preds made one major transaction in the offseason, acquiring P.K. Subban for Shea Weber.

How does that change Nashville, Pete DeBoer?

“Shea Weber was a beast to play against physically and defensively also added some offense. He was a hard guy. P.K. brings some other things to the table that no one else really in the league does [other than] a handful of guys – Brent Burns, [Erik] Karlsson. 

“Their defense has always been a key part of their offense, and that doesn’t change much more with P.K. there than it did with Weber, but he’s obviously a guy we have to be aware of.”

***San Jose has been getting plenty of pucks to the net, ranking fourth in the league in shots with 32.0. They haven’t scored a five-on-five goal, though, since the second period of their game in Pittsburgh on Oct. 20.

The Sharks lead the league in shots against, allowing just 24.9 per game.

DeBoer said: “The end of the [five-game road trip] was a little bit of a wake up call to our group that our attention to details and our compete level have to both be there every night. That’s what made us successful last year. I think the guys have dialed that in the last few games.”

Nashville isn't exactly lighting it up either with just seven even strength goals, tied for last in the league.


Sharks: Joonas Donskoi. The second-year forward scored his first goal of the season on the power play Thursday. Although he has just three points (1g, 2a), Donskoi’s shot-attempt percentage is the best among Sharks forwards (61.54), suggesting he's on the path to picking up his scoring pace shortly.

Predators: P.K. Subban. The new Preds defenseman has five points so far (2g, 3a), four of which have come on the power play. He scored Nashville’s first goal of the season on Oct. 14 against Chicago, and has at least one point in four of seven games.


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

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

Martin Jones (confirmed starter)
Aaron Dell

Viktor Arvidsson – Ryan Johansen – James Neal
Filip Forsberg – Mike Ribeiro – Kevin Fiala
Colin Wilson – Mike Fisher – Craig Smith
Calle Jarnkrok – Colton Sissons – Austin Watson

Roman Josi – P.K. Subban
Mattias Ekholm – Ryan Ellis
Matt Irwin – Yannick Weber

Pekka Rinne
Marek Mazanec


Sharks: None.

Predators: Miikka Salomaki (upper body), Anthony Bitetto (upper body) and Cody Bass (upper body) are out.


“For whatever reason we’ve been putting good shots towards the net, we’ve been getting good opportunities, but whether it’s a post or a big save or an overturned call like [Thursday] night, we’re not able to put up six or seven goals right now. But, I think our team defense has been fantastic.” – Brenden Dillon

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.