Sharks

Patrick Marleau depended on Scott Hannan to prepare for Sharks return

Patrick Marleau depended on Scott Hannan to prepare for Sharks return

Patrick Marleau had a storybook beginning to his second go-around with the Sharks.

Two days after signing his contract, he scored two goals in his first game back with the franchise to help San Jose earn its first win of the season Thursday night in Chicago. The last NHL game Marleau had played in prior to that was last April, with no training camp to speak of in between.

So, when he got the call from general manager Doug Wilson, he had to snap into action. Marleau revealed following Thursday's win that there were places he had to get to, but not before getting one last tune-up in. So, naturally, he turned to an old friend for assistance, who he later credited with helping him get prepared.

NBC Sports California's Scott Hannan spent the first eight and final three seasons of his NHL career with the Sharks, all of which included Marleau as a teammate. So, when his longtime friend needed an on-ice partner, Hannan came through in the clutch.

"I think he gives me a little too much credit out there," Hannan said modestly after the Sharks' 5-4 victory. "I've skated with Patty a couple times. Once the [training] camps started, he was finding ice on his own, so it's always good to get another guy out there. 

"I was able to pass him some pucks, feed him some stuff, so I will take a little bit of credit," he continued. "We were working a lot the other day on our tipped shots -- our high tips, our low tips and coming out in the slot -- I don't know if that paid the big dividend."

A quick glance at Marleau's first goal against the Blackhawks would lead one to believe the tipping practice did pay off, as he deflected an Erik Karlsson shot past Chicago's goalkeeper from -- of course -- the slot.

"The game he had tonight was awesome," Hannan said of his former teammate. "Seeing him score two goals, to see that from a guy that I've -- I mean, we've known each other forever. So to see him have that experience out there on the ice was awesome."

As thrilled as Hannan was to have watched Marleau be so successful in his first game back with the Sharks, it's not like he didn't see it coming.

"To be honest, no, I wasn't surprised," Hannan explained. "Knowing Patty for as long as I've known him, it can almost sometimes pay dividends to miss a camp. He's a consummate professional. He kept himself in great shape. He skates so well out there, so you could throw him out there on any team and he's gonna look good. 

"I thought his timing might have been a little off," Hannan admitted, "but obviously not with the way he played tonight. He was a force out there on the backcheck, forecheck, got a couple goals ... I hope we can keep it up."

[RELATED: Sharks elated but not surprised about Marleau's debut]

Marleau has been back for one game, and suddenly, the Sharks are no longer winless. Coincidence?

"I think they play with more confidence," Hannan said of the effect Marleau has on the Sharks' locker room. "They played good in Nashville. They had some moments there and they found a way to lose, whereas tonight they found a way to win." 

San Jose will put the Marleau luck charm to the test next against the Flames in what will be his second-ever home debut as a member of the Sharks.

"On Sunday, I think they're going to be able to feed off that crowd," Hannan predicted. "Patty's going to bring a lot of energy as far as the feelings he's going to have. They have to harness those and put them in the right direction and get a win against Calgary on Sunday."

It would be unreasonable to expect Marleau to score another two goals against the Flames. But you should bring some earplugs just in case.

Sharks' struggles feel familiar on second rough East Coast road trip

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AP

Sharks' struggles feel familiar on second rough East Coast road trip

At the start of the Sharks' recent road trip earlier this week, the team felt like they were in pretty good shape. Despite losing to the Hurricanes in a shootout Thursday evening, San Jose played so well that they appeared primed to pick up a few wins.

But after being outscored 12-2 in back-to-back games against the Lightning on Saturday (7-1) and then the Panthers on Sunday (5-1), the Sharks aren't looking like the team that went 11-4-0 in the month of November. In fact, they're looking like the team that went 1-3-1 the last time they went on a long roadie out East.

Are the Sharks' struggles on this second long road trip just a coincidence, or is it history repeating itself?

"I think every trip is different, you're at different points," coach Peter DeBoer said to the media after the Sharks' loss to the Panthers. "My disappointment tonight was a little like last night. I think they scored on their first shot or their first couple of shots and then you're chasing the game right off of the bat. It's tough on the road to do that."

San Jose looked for a moment like they could trade in their bad luck during Sunday's game when Kevin Labanc scored a power-play goal in the first period to cut Florida's two-goal lead in half. But thanks to a lopsided special teams battle and Sergei Bobrovsky outplaying Martin Jones, the Sharks were handed yet another loss.

"I thought we hung in there and kept fighting, but it wasn't enough," DeBoer said. "Their goalie was better. Their special teams were better tonight than ours."

It's a disappointing trend to see from a Sharks team that was starting to turn things around after a solid November. Even after a disappointing loss to the Washington Capitals before the road trip, San Jose was able to put on quite the performance in Carolina -- despite only getting one point -- and had momentum in their favor. In both losses that ensued, that fight was hard to come by.

"I think we're a little too relaxed right now," Sharks winger Evander Kane admitted. "A couple of games where we got off to bad starts and weren't able to fight back. We didn't have much fight after we got down. That's probably the most disappointing part."

[RELATED: Simek to miss two weeks for minor knee procedure]

The Sharks might be leaving the Sunshine State behind, but their road trip isn't over just yet. They have one more stop before they can return home -- a Tuesday night meeting against the Predators in Nashville -- and one more chance to turn their luck on the road around. Even though the Predators haven't been playing well either, their home barn poses challenges for visiting teams. Given how the Sharks have played over the last couple of road games, a win won't be easy.

The Sharks have no choice but to buckle down and grind for a win.

"It sucks, but you just have to keep working to get out of this slump," Kevin Labanc said. "And make sure that we're getting out of this hole for ourselves."

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in lackluster 5-1 loss vs. Panthers

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AP

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in lackluster 5-1 loss vs. Panthers

BOX SCORE

The Sharks needed a big turnaround on Sunday afternoon after suffering a 7-1 loss at the hands of the Tampa Bay Lightning the night before, but they didn't come close.

San Jose played better on the back end of a back-to-back, but the Florida Panthers had all the answers. In the end, the Sharks dropped their fourth game in a row, this time by a score of 5-1. 

Here are three takeaways from Sunday's game:

A goalie made the difference -- again

While Martin Jones didn't get pulled from Sunday's game like he was in Team Teal's loss to the Lighting, he still provided a mixed performance. He made a few saves to take some momentum away from the Panthers' offense, but he also gave up an early power-play goal and let two shots from the blue line find the back of the net. While he didn't receive much support from the defense early on, he still needed to buckle down more later in the game when San Jose was battling to put more points on the board.

The Sharks' offense did try to make up for the damage on the scoreboard and got some really good offensive-zone time as the game went on. Unfortunately for San Jose, Sergei Bobrovsky was in fine form and had an answer for most of the best chances.

Can't blame Kane 

The NHL says they're taking hits to the head more seriously. So it's a mystery as to why Mackenzie Weeger's hit on Evander Kane at the start of the second period didn't at least draw a penalty. Although Kane only left the ice for a quick moment and then returned to the bench, you can't blame him for standing up to Weeger on his next shift to defend himself. With Kane leaving the ice afterward with 17 minutes worth of penalties, Florida created momentum from a power-play opportunity, as the Panthers scored their third goal at even strength almost immediately afterward.

Credit should go to the Sharks for not letting the incident ruin their flow. Even though the altercation led to Kane being penalized for the rest of the period, San Jose continued to build momentum in an effort to even up the score. It's just unfortunate the Sharks couldn't get at least one goal to show for that effort.

[RELATED: Sharks' Simek to miss two weeks for minor knee procedure]

Special teams still struggling 

Yes, San Jose scored a power-play goal in the first period, the team's first in more than 20 attempts on the man advantage over a nine-game span. However, the Sharks were unable to capitalize at the beginning of the third period when they got some extended power-play time and could have trimmed the deficit to one. 

San Jose's No. 1-ranked penalty kill struggled as well, surrendering two goals to the Panthers. Whatever is ailing the Sharks' special teams, they'll have to fix if they want to get back into the win column.