Sharks

Sharks searching for answers after 'lifeless' performance against Jets

sharkssidebarap.jpg
AP

Sharks searching for answers after 'lifeless' performance against Jets

SAN JOSE -- It's probably safe to say that Wednesday's game against the Jets wasn't representative of how the Sharks have been playing as of late. That explains why it felt like a letdown.

Despite jumping out to a 1-0 lead halfway through the first period, San Jose had trouble matching Winnipeg's energy for the bulk of the game. Even with a couple of confident spurts, the Sharks just didn't have the same jump that they've had throughout their successful November stretch.

Nobody on Team Teal is going to make excuses, even after a 5-1 loss. But with a packed schedule and the team still making up for the fact that it's missing Tomas Hertl up front, one wonders if the cumulative effect is taking its toll.

"We've got a lot of hockey left to play here over the next two to three weeks so I really hope it's not fatigue," head coach Peter DeBoer said of San Jose's performance. "But if it is, we've got to rebound because you get what you earn in this league usually, and we didn't do enough to win a game tonight."

"We just weren't good enough," Logan Couture said of Wednesday's effort. "I think the power play sucked the life out of us and we didn't have any emotion in the game. We weren't hard enough in the first period, started off with the lead but I didn't think we had our best tonight."

The power play certainly was an issue for San Jose as it went 0-for-5 with the man advantage against the Jets. Since the Sharks have been playing so well at even strength as of late, the lack of power-play scoring hasn't seemed like as big of an issue. But on Wednesday, none of the Sharks weapons -- at five-on-five or on special teams -- were working properly.

"I think 'lifeless' was the best word across the board," DeBoer summarized. "Five-on-five, power play, penalty kill."

It didn't help matters that Winnipeg goaltender Connor Hellebuyck put on another amazing performance for the second time in San Jose this season. It wasn't quite the 51-save effort he posted on Nov. 1, but he still held the Sharks to a single goal and had more than enough offense in front of him for support.

"Hellebuyck always plays well in here," DeBoer said. "If we get a goal early or maybe not playing from behind all night -- but he didn't give us the opportunity to get engaged in the game that way and we didn't have a response."

With Wednesday's game kicking off a stretch of three games in four nights, the Sharks don't have time to dwell on their second loss to the Jets or the fact that they had trouble creating energy at any part of the game. All that matters now is getting back to what has made them successful throughout the month of November: finding different ways to win games.

"I don't have an answer to why we didn't have as much energy as we needed to tonight, and even on the nights you don't, these are the nights when you're winning that your goalie steals you a game, your power play wins you a game," DeBoer said. "We didn't have anything going tonight."

Sharks continue to suffer from lack of scoring, abundance of penalties

sharkssidebarusatsi.jpg
USATSI

Sharks continue to suffer from lack of scoring, abundance of penalties

Evander Kane called it "interesting." Head coach Peter DeBoer called it "messy." No matter what word you choose, everyone can agree that the Sharks' 3-1 loss to the Predators on Tuesday got downright ugly.

San Jose had what was probably its best defensive game of the month in Nashville, being stingy and not giving the opposing Preds a lot of room to work. But with a scoreless tie after two periods, tempers began to fly, and what followed was a tsunami of penalties that ultimately determined the Sharks' fate.

The Sharks felt like they were in this one. But a plethora of penalties late in the second period and early in the third changed that. A whopping 39 penalty minutes later, San Jose had dropped the fourth and final game of its road trip. 

"We're still taking too many penalties," DeBoer told reporters after the loss. "I thought we pressed really hard in the second, didn't give them anything. I thought we deserved to be up going into the third and we didn't get rewarded for the work in the second. And they're at home, I thought they pushed hard. Pushed us back early in the third, got us on our heels a little bit. Really, when you get into a game like that, whoever scores first is probably going to win."

San Jose actually went on the penalty kill just 47 seconds into the game when Barclay Goodrow went to the box for slashing. But the real wave of penalties came late in the second period after Goodrow and Calle Jarnkrok received matching minors. Tempers were unhinged from that point on -- heck even the officials were fired up, as the microphone caught one using explicit language while reprimanding Nashville's Roman Josi. 

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

The biggest tussle, however, took place in the final seconds of the second period when Dan Hamhuis cross-checked Kane and then Auston Watson jumped in as the third man in. Though Kane was defending himself, the officials tagged him with 19 penalty minutes, essentially taking him out of the remainder of the contest. 

"I don't understand the 19 minutes and how that was made up," Kane remarked when asked about the scuffle. "There was a lot of that all night going back and forth."

"Tough for him to sit for that long," DeBoer said in Kane's defense. "Hamhuis started the whole thing and then Watson comes in and grabs him and we end up with the short end of it. But it's a messy situation, I'm not going to second guess the call."

Regardless of how many penalties the Sharks racked up, they still needed to find a way to score more goals. They only found the back of the net once Tuesday, and only scored once in each of their previous two games. Despite doing some good work in the offensive zone, San Jose isn't going to reap the rewards without scoring goals to make up for its mistakes.

"You've got to find a way to win and we've got to find a way to score," DeBoer summarized. "I think that's the story of the trip."

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in contentious 3-1 loss to Predators

sharkstakeawaysusatsi.jpg
USATSI

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in contentious 3-1 loss to Predators

BOX SCORE

It wasn't full of offensive firepower, but what Tuesday's game between the Sharks and Predators lacked in goals, it made up for with flying fists.

Unfortunately, despite the fiery matchup and an entertaining “hot mic” moment, San Jose still couldn’t find a way to turn its fortunes around. The Sharks concluded their battle at Bridgestone Arena with a 3-1 loss, ending their road trip without a single win.

Here are three takeaways from Tuesday's game:

A plethora of penalties

With the game scoreless through the first two periods, the two sides became visibly agitated with one another. But rather than take out their frustrations out on the scoreboard, they took it out on each other. By the end of second stanza, the Sharks led the charge with 31 penalty minutes to Nashville’s 29.

While the Preds were the ones with multiple players simultaneously in the sin bin, it was Sharks winger Evander Kane who racked up a staggering 19 penalty minutes resulting from a tussle with Nashville's Auston Watson. Being without the power forward for almost the entire third period visibly took its toll on San Jose, which continued its dance in and out of the box into the third frame.

The PK was overworked 

San Jose's league-leading penalty kill wasn't its normal self last weekend, but it looked strong and sturdy Tuesday night in Nashville. It was a good thing, too, considering how many times the Sharks found themselves shorthanded, particularly early on.

Unfortunately, the abundance of penalties eventually wore San Jose’s PK down and Nashville was able to find the back of the net on a power play with less than 10 minutes left to play. It's been said before, but clearly it needs to be said again: The Sharks need to clean their game up and give the penalty kill a break so they don’t burn out.

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

A better goalie matchup 

One of San Jose's biggest problems over the course of the road trip was that Martin Jones was outplayed by the netminder on the other end of the ice. That was not the case Tuesday night in Nashville, as Jones and Juuse Saros traded off making big saves up until Nick Bonino put the Predators up 1-0 in the third frame.

Jones had a particularly nice sprawling save on a four-minute penalty kill in the first period, which could have put the Sharks in a 1-0 hole pretty quickly. Perhaps the standard is too low for a team of San Jose's talent level, but after the rough weekend the Sharks had, they deserve credit for getting out of the first period with a scoreless tie. Avoiding an early deficit clearly gave San Jose a boost of energy, which persisted throughout the game. Well, at least until all of the fights started.