Sharks

Rewind: Sharks work hard, get the bounces this time in 4-0 win

Rewind: Sharks work hard, get the bounces this time in 4-0 win

SAN JOSE – More often than not, the team that gets the fortuitous bounces is the one that is working harder and smarter.

That wasn’t the case for the Sharks in Arizona on Saturday, when they fired 45 shots on goal and controlled play for long portions, yet lost in overtime. 

Against the Devils at home on Monday the work ethic and focus were there again. So, too, were the bounces this time, and the result was the Sharks’ most lopsided win of the season, 4-0.

“That third period we played in Arizona really kind of led us into this game,” Joe Pavelski said. “It’s good to see the guys get rewarded.” 

On the Sharks’ first goal, a wide shot by Jacob Josefson took a strange hop off of the boards all the way out to Chris Tierney in the neutral zone, and Tierney eventually whizzed the puck past Keith Kinkaid on a two-on-one. 

The Sharks’ third goal on the power play was aided by a Joe Thornton pass that deflected off of Andy Greene’s skate right to Logan Couture’s tape. The fourth score was credited to Brent Burns, but really it was Kyle Quincey, who had the puck bounce off each of his skates before he inadvertently swiped it over the line.

“The good news is we scored some goals,” Pete DeBoer said. “We scored some five-on-five goals, we got a power play goal. We deserved a bounce, and we got one. So, that should build some confidence. It's been a while [since a decisive win], and it's a nice feeling. We haven't had it very often lately."

In search of offense – the Sharks entered the game just 26th in the NHL in goals-per game at 2.28 – DeBoer was forced to shuffle his lines for what felt like the hundredth time. Tomas Hertl’s absence also plays a role.

If you’re a winger on the San Jose roster, you’ve probably spent some time on the Pavelski-Joe Thornton line this season. The latest guy in that position is Patrick Marleau, who showed some jump in the third period in Arizona on Saturday after skating on the third line for just about the entire season.

Marleau played “his best game of the year” on Monday, according to DeBoer, and was particularly good in the first period. He set up Pavelski for a brilliant chance, came flying up the wing on another in which he got a dangerous shot on goal, and was finally rewarded by getting to the front of the net and depositing his own rebound off of the post to make it 2-0 early.

“Pete put him with us in the third period in Phoenix and he looked so powerful,” Thornton said. “Tonight, he was so powerful again. Hopefully he sticks with me and Pav, because he played great again tonight.”

Marleau said: “It's good playing with those guys. The one thing they do is they work hard, and you know you’ve got to pull your weight when you're with them."

The Sharks also seem to be putting last year’s home struggles behind them, improving to 5-2 at SAP Center in what was the first of five straight (and eight of 10 overall) in their own building.

The first game back after a multiple-game road trip was a bugaboo for them last season when they went a pathetic 1-8-1, beating only the Oilers in a shootout. They’re now 2-0 in such situations this year.

“I was concerned coming back off a two-week road trip in the first game back,” DeBoer said. “I wondered how our energy levels would be, and we were good right from the drop of the puck. Good on the guys and their preparation, and it was a good win for us.”

Marleau said: “We haven't been home that much this [year]. It's nice to come back and play in front of our own fans, and get the two points."

Sharks clinch spot in NHL playoffs, thanks to Avalanche win over Wild

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USATSI

Sharks clinch spot in NHL playoffs, thanks to Avalanche win over Wild

For the fourth consecutive season, Peter DeBoer has guided the Sharks to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Thanks to the Colorado Avalanche's 3-1 win over the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night, the Sharks became the second team in the Western Conference to secure a playoff spot. The Calgary Flames (45-21-7), whom the Sharks (43-22-8) trail by three points for first place in the Pacific Division, were the first. 

The Sharks lost to the Vegas Golden Knights in the second round last year. If the playoffs started today, second-seeded San Jose would match up with third-seeded Vegas in the first round.

[RELATED: 'Concerned' Sharks can't look too far in future after loss to Vegas]

DeBoer took over as Sharks coach in 2015 after the franchise ended a 10-year run of making the playoffs. The Sharks made it to the Stanley Cup Final in his first season, but they haven't advanced past the second round since.

The franchise also seeks its first Pacific Division crown since the 2010-11 season. A division banner would be the first of DeBoer's career as an NHL head coach.

'Concerned' Sharks can't look too far into future after loss to Vegas

'Concerned' Sharks can't look too far into future after loss to Vegas

SAN JOSE – Monday night’s contest between the Sharks and Golden Knights was billed as a potential playoff preview. So naturally, when San Jose lost 7-3, there were questions as to how concerned the team was about possibly having to play Vegas in the first round.

But the team was adamant they shouldn’t be looking too far into the future. They believe they need to stay focused on the games at hand, and fix the things that led them to drop three contests in a row – not on who they may play in the postseason.

“You can’t think about that,” Justin Braun said. “You can’t be worried about what you’re doing three weeks from now. You need to get points now.”

Bench boss Peter DeBoer agreed, telling the media afterward that no matchup is necessarily more ideal than another. 

“I don’t think there’s going to be an easy match,” DeBoer admitted. “I don’t think anyone wants to play (Arizona) the way they’re playing now or Dallas or whoever ends up in there. It doesn’t matter once you get in. Everybody you play is going to be a very good and a very good test. So we’re just going to try and win as many games as we can and whoever we get we’ll show up and be ready to play.”

Winning games now means cleaning a few things up on San Jose’s end. They haven’t been happy with how they’ve played in their last three contests, from not having enough energy on one night to making too many mistakes the next.

“I’m concerned, we haven’t played well,” Logan Couture said. “We’re giving up too many chances, too many goals. We’re giving up odd-man rushes. Every time we give them an opportunity like that they’re going to put it in the back of our net.”

Which was primarily the story of Monday’s game against the Golden Knights. The Sharks made too many small mistakes, from turning pucks over in the neutral zone to making too many trips to the penalty box. Couture went so far as to say the Sharks “handed them goals tonight.”

“Some lessons learned tonight that you can’t chase the game, or if you do get behind in a game against that team you’ve got to handle it with a little more composure," DeBoer said. "We knew that, but we shot ourselves in the foot.”

The only thing left to do now is take what went wrong against Vegas and turn it around – particularly on San Jose’s upcoming two-game road trip against the Kings and Ducks down in Southern California.

“It doesn’t matter what happened in the past, you’ve got to keep rolling forward,” Braun said.