Sharks

Sharks 'not panicking' despite four-game losing skid

Sharks 'not panicking' despite four-game losing skid

PHILADELPHIA – For the first time this season, the Sharks have lost four games in a row. On Saturday at Wells Fargo Center, Wayne Simmonds’ breakaway score pushed a desperate Flyers team over San Jose, 2-1.

But because this is the NHL, that losing streak doesn’t feel quite as miserable to them as it could. Three of the four losses have come past regulation, so the Sharks have managed to collect three loser points out of eight available. Only Thursday’s defeat in Boston was a convincing one.

“We’ve lost three games in overtime or shootouts. Those are coin flips,” Pete DeBoer said. “I don’t feel we’re in a rut, no. No.”

The first period against the Flyers was one of the worst the Sharks have played all season. 

They had a power play goal overturned on a marginal goalie interference call, but otherwise were buried in their defensive end most of the time. Philadelphia, which came in having lost three in a row and is competing for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, had 34 shot attempts to just seven for San Jose. The Flyers won 13 of 20 faceoffs, too.

“We knew they would push. This is a team that can’t have a higher desperation level for where they’re at and with the number of games left,” DeBoer said. “They’ve got a full house, and it’s a tough place to play.”

The Sharks improved over the second and third, though. Ivan Provorov’s third period goal was answered three minutes later by Patrick Marleau on the power play.

Still, the Sharks would not have gotten a point were it not for goalie Aaron Dell. The backup made a number of remarkable saves, among them gloving a Simmonds chance in the first, and denying Sean Couturier with about a minute left in regulation with his left pad.

“It just kind of popped out, I managed to see it, and he kind of just banged at it,” Dell said of the late save. “[Couturier] just kind of jammed it into my pad.”

Pavelski said: “Deller played really good for us. Made a lot of big saves.”

The Sharks were without center Logan Couture, who was a late scratch with an upper body injury that DeBoer indicated wasn’t serious. That meant Kevin Labanc, who wasn’t expected to play, got in after his brief stint with the AHL Barracuda. 

The 21-year-old was arguably the Sharks’ most effective forward, registering a team-high five shots as well as setting up Marleau’s goal. The overturned goal would have been his, too, as he was the last Sharks player to touch the puck before Chris VandeVelde directed it in by accident.

“I thought it should have been a good goal, but it is what it is,” said Labanc, who did not allow Michal Neuvirth to "do his job" before the puck crossed the line, according to the league. “You just have got to play hockey, stick to your structure [of] what Pete puts up on the board, and just keep playing hard.”

Labanc nearly won it for the Sharks in overtime, but his shot on a two-on-one was stopped by Neuvirth just seconds before Simmonds gave the Flyers the win.

The Sharks will try to salvage at least one win on their four-game road trip on Sunday afternoon in New Jersey. Don’t expect any drastic changes to their approach, despite the four-game skid.

“Maybe [we’re in] a little bit of a funk,” Joe Pavelski said. “Not panicking by any means, because they have been games that feel winnable. But, we’ve got better hockey, I think.”

'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.
 

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in 7-3 home loss to Golden Knights

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in 7-3 home loss to Golden Knights

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE -- Monday’s Sharks-Golden Knights showdown was billed as a hard-hitting matchup and boy, it didn’t disappoint. Unfortunately, things did not swing in the home team’s favor and San Jose dropped their third game of the season against Vegas, 7-3.

Here are three takeaways from Monday’s game:

The Sharks struggled without Joe Pavelski

San Jose was without their captain for the first time this season, as was sidelined with an undisclosed injury. With their top goal-scorer out, the Sharks needed all their skaters to step up to the challenge and make up for his absence. While they scored three good-looking goals -- two of those markers coming from Logan Couture -- and made a really nice push late in the game, not enough of their grade-A chances found the back of the net.

The Sharks also got into a lot of penalty trouble. Vegas is the type of team that is really good at making their opponents pay for making little mistakes, and they were able to wear San Jose down by sending them to the penalty box six times in the first two periods alone.

The Knights survived without Marc-Andre Fleury

San Jose had an opportunity to jump on Vegas with their star netminder out of the lineup. Fleury has unmistakably been the Knights’ best player all season, and a big reason why the Sharks got shut out in their first trip to T-Mobile Arena earlier this season. But backup goaltender Malcolm Subban stood his ground and was able to minimize the damage San Jose tried to create.

Subban also had a lot of help in front of him. Vegas was very good creating barriers around him and clogging up the lanes, making even the Sharks’ best efforts moot. 

Was this an accurate playoff preview?

Not exactly. Remember, both teams are missing key players because of injury. So Monday’s game probably wasn’t the best example of how these teams could matchup up if they end up playing each other in Round 1.

That being said, we got a pretty darn good look at how contentious a playoff series between these two teams would be. The Golden Knights have quickly become one of the Sharks’ biggest rivals, and all games between the two teams have gotten vicious. (Heck, Micheal Haley tried to pull Ryan Reaves off the bench to fight, for pete’s sake.) If these two teams meet up in the postseason -- a time when the refs typically let more hits slide -- it could end up being a blood bath.