Sharks takeaways: What we learned in 3-2 win over desperate Jets


Sharks takeaways: What we learned in 3-2 win over desperate Jets


The Sharks gave defenseman Brent Burns the best gift he could've asked for in his 1,100th NHL game. Other than a pair of antelope, that is. 

San Jose came back to beat the Winnipeg Jets 3-2 on Friday night, thanks to a pair of quick third-period goals from Melker Karlsson and Timo Meier. The Sharks turned a one-goal deficit into a one-goal lead in just under 90 seconds, opening their two-game road trip with a well-earned victory over a team desperately pushing for a playoff spot. The Jets nearly forced overtime, but Kyle Connor hit the post with just under 20 seconds remaining in regulation.

Here are three takeaways from the Sharks' third straight road win.

Sticking with it

The Sharks entered the third period with a 24-14 advantage on the shot clock and nothing to show for it. Then, the third period happened. 

Karlsson and Meier scored 1:29 apart early in the final frame, all while the Jets couldn't sustain any offense. Winnipeg didn't attempt a third-period shot until San Jose goaltender Aaron Dell stopped Patrik Laine's wrister 8:17 in.

The Sharks will welcome that change of pace, despite the Jets' late flurry as they pushed for a tying goal. San Jose has given up a higher share of 5-on-5 shots and quality chances under interim coach Bob Boughner than predecessor Peter DeBoer, but the Sharks had massive edges in both areas Friday and that set up their third-period comeback. 

Penalty kill nearly a killer again

Connor's between-the-legs beauty nearly swung the game. He evened things up with a stunning power-play goal, and Blake Wheeler gave the Jets a 2-1 lead soon after.

Connor's goal was just enough to briefly get the Jets back in the game, and the Sharks continued an ugly trend, too. San Jose has now allowed 10 power-play goals in the last 11 games, killing off just 22 of their 33 penalties. 

The penalty kill bounced back by keeping the Jets off the board in the third period, but a downward slide down the stretch could spell trouble. Dominant 5-on-5 efforts like Friday's more than makeup for short-handed struggles, but San Jose's penalty kill needs to start pulling its weight.

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A long time coming

Marcus Sorensen's first goal in over two months was befitting of a long wait. The Swedish-born forward first needed to poke a loose puck past Jets netminder Connor Hellebuyck in the first period, then wait for the results of a coach's challenge and then rely on the scorekeeper crediting him with his sixth goal of the season after briefly giving it to Sharks rookie Alexander True.

Sorensen managed just two assists over his previous 25 games before scoring Friday. He found strong chemistry with new linemates True and Dylan Gambrell early, and the trio pinned Winnipeg in its own end during their limited looks with one another. 

The Sharks entered Friday with the fourth-fewest goals scored this season (145), and Sorensen's struggles after scoring a career-high 17 in 2018-19 have played a role. He won't reach that this season, but Sorensen's play alongside True and Gambrell bodes well for the Swede improving the rest of the way.

Sharks' Mario Ferraro reveals lesson learned in whirlwind rookie year

Sharks' Mario Ferraro reveals lesson learned in whirlwind rookie year

Mario Ferraro has surpassed the wildest of expectations in his rookie season with the Sharks, and it hasn't exactly been an uneventful one.

Since making the jump straight from college to the pros, the 21-year-old defenseman has witnessed a mid-season coaching change, the acquisition and eventual trading of a franchise legend, a seemingly endless string of serious injuries to roster cornerstones and -- oh yeah -- an indefinite pause of the NHL season due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Not exactly your average rookie year.

Technically, Ferraro's rookie season hasn't come to an end -- at least not yet. Commissioner Gary Bettman said Tuesday that there currently is too much uncertainty for the league to be able to determine when the season might be able to resume, though he hopes to "know more by the end of April." In any case, even if San Jose was able to play out its remaining games, there are only 12 left. Considering the Sharks fell to the absolute bottom of the NHL standings right before the season was paused, an additional playoff run is entirely out of the question.

So, for all intents and purposes, we can't really consider Ferraro a rookie anymore. He has 61 career NHL games under his belt, so, really, that has been the case for a while.

Ferraro flew back to Toronto shortly before the Bay Area's shelter-in-place orders went into effect, and has been doing his best to stay in shape while living at his parents' house. In a recent discussion with NBC Sports California's Brodie Brazil, he described an important lesson that was crucial to his development as a rookie.

"I think one small thing that's actually not small at all when you really look at it," Ferraro said, "is just preparation and that mentality of staying even-keel the whole year. What I mean by that is not getting too high on the highs or too low on the lows. You have so many games and so many important games that if you have a good game one night, you better forget about it because you gotta do the same thing the next night. Or, vice versa, if you play poorly, you really gotta forget about it and bounce back strong.

"And it's not just from game to game -- it's from shift to shift. You're playing in a league that has really fast players, strong players. You can get exposed, and it's going to happen. People are going to make mistakes. I'm a defenseman, so I feel like you're more bound to make mistakes ... they're more glaringly obvious. From a mental perspective, you really have to learn to just kind of say, OK, it happened. Move on. Let's get back to my game and play hard."

While Ferraro is correct that no player is exempt from making mistakes, he didn't have too many glaring errors throughout his first season in the NHL -- or at least, he did a good job covering them up. He earned the trust of the coaching staff and was rewarded with additional opportunities, which he proved capable of handling. Over the last eight games before the season was paused, Ferraro averaged over 20 minutes of ice time per night.

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In terms of mentors on the team, Ferraro specifically mentioned fellow defenseman Brent Burns as someone who has been tremendously helpful to him. And like seemingly everyone else in that locker room, Ferraro is a big fan of Joe Thornton. But ultimately, it has been a team effort in supporting Ferraro throughout his rookie year. It takes a village, after all.

"Nobody's counted out on this team," Ferraro explained. "They're all great guys. They've all taught me a ton this year, and we're really close. It has been a good learning curve for me."

While we're all focused on flattening the curve, it has long been evident that -- as a rookie -- Ferraro's wasn't very steep.

Gary Bettman says NHL examining 'all options' for coronavirus restart


Gary Bettman says NHL examining 'all options' for coronavirus restart

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said Tuesday there is too much uncertainty for the league to determine a target date to return amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and that they hope to "know more by the end of April."

“From an NHL standpoint, we’re viewing all of our options," Bettman told NBC Sports' Mike Tirico on "Lunch Talk Live" on Tuesday (via Pro Hockey Talk). "We want to be ready to go as soon as we get a green light -- and the green light may not be crystal clear because there may still be some places in the [U.S. and Canada] where we can’t play and others places where you can.

"We’re looking at all options. Nothing’s been ruled in, nothing’s been ruled out. And it’s largely going to be determined what we do by how much time there is because we have next season to focus on as well.”

The NHL suspended its season on March 12, a day after the NBA did the same following Utah Jazz big man Rudy Gobert's positive coronavirus test. Eight NHL players -- three on the Colorado Avalanche and five on the Ottawa Senators -- have tested positive.

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Bettman said reports of the NHL looking into playing the remainder of its season at neutral sites -- including North Dakota, according to Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman -- reflected how "extraordinarily competitive" the teams were as they tried to ensure a fair finish to the regular season. The commissioner said the "best thing" for the NHL would be to finish the season as they normally do, but Bettman said the league understands that might not be possible.

"[That’s] why we’re considering every conceivable alternative to deal with whatever the eventuality is," Bettman said. "Again, it doesn’t even pay to speculate because nobody in any of the sports knows enough now to make those profound decisions.”