Sharks

Sharks takeaways: What we learned from 4-3 loss to Stars

Sharks takeaways: What we learned from 4-3 loss to Stars

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The Sharks' Thursday night meeting with the Stars was expected to be tough, but nobody expected how absolutely relentless the pace would be. 

Dallas broke a second-period tie after capitalizing on San Jose’s defensive mishaps and notching two quick goals. Joe Pavelski brought the Sharks within one goal before the second intermission, and Evander Kane got off the schneid when he tied the game in the third frame.

Unfortunately for Team Teal, the Stars snatched back the lead when Devin Shore’s shot took a weird angle past Martin Jones and gave Dallas the 4-3 decision.

Here are three takeaways from Thursday’s game in Texas:

Martin Jones made some of his best saves of the season

The final score of the game -- particularly the two quick goals by Dallas in the second period -- were really unfortunate, given how stellar Jones looked. He made the high-quality saves that many Sharks fans grew accustomed to over the last few seasons.

Jones was particularly dominant when the pace of the game reached ridiculous heights. In a game that speedy, there is a higher chance of making mistakes -- which we saw when the defense got tripped up and Dallas was able to notch two quick goals in the second.

Jones really buckled down after that, as the offense in front of him brought the game to a tie, and he continued to give the Sharks a chance to get back in the game after the Stars took the 4-3 lead by stopping breakaways by Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin.

Erik Karlsson is a man on a mission

This marked the second game in a row that the award-winning defenseman was all over the puck. Sure, that’s partly because he’s logging ridiculous minutes every game. But it’s also because he’s launching the puck at the net every chance he gets. At the halfway point of the third period, he led all Sharks with six shots.

There’s been so much discussion regarding how long it has taken for EK65 to adjust to his new team. Although he hasn’t found the back of the net yet, it’s clear the confidence level in his game is reaching new heights. Fear not, fans -- he will find the back of the net. 

Milestone game

You really can’t talk about this game without talking about all the milestones that members of Team Teal reached.

Of course, the big talk of the night was that it was Joe Thornton’s 1,500th career NHL game. As if that wasn’t enough, he notched the secondary assist on Pavelski’s second-period goal to come within one apple of tying Mario Lemieux on the NHL’s all-time assists list. Thornton was so close to notching his 400th goal as well -- if Sharks arch nemesis Anton Khudobin hadn’t been there to make snatch away history.

Brent Burns got in on the action as well with the primary assist on that same goal. Setting up Pavelski earned Burns his 400th career assist.

Why Peter DeBoer is confident Sharks can fill Joe Pavelski's scoring void

Why Peter DeBoer is confident Sharks can fill Joe Pavelski's scoring void

Joe Pavelski led the Sharks with 38 goals last season. That's 38 goals that now reside with the Dallas Stars.

It's not as if San Jose lacked for goal scoring this past year, having ranked second in the league with an average of 3.52 goals per game during the regular season. However, no Sharks player found the back of the net more often than Pavelski, meaning that if the Sharks are going to maintain or even surpass that offensive output next season, they're going to have to find those 38 goals elsewhere.

San Jose head coach Peter DeBoer touched on that very subject in a recent interview with NHL.com's Mike Zeisberger, in which he insisted that Pavelski's character will be tougher to replace than his goal-scoring.

"Look, it's hard to replace Pav's 38 goals," DeBoer conceded. "We scored a lot of goals last year and if we score a little bit less I don't think it will kill us. At least I hope it doesn't. The goals are one thing, but it's the leadership, the presence, the message that he would convey in the dressing room when times were tough. Those are the things that are harder to replace than his goals."

Part of the reason DeBoer is confident his team can adequately fill Pavelski's scoring void is due to the continued progression he's expecting from young players already on the roster.

"We've got to continue to hope that guys like Timo Meier can build on the season he had last year," DeBoer said. "Kevin Labanc too. I think Doug [Wilson] has done a great job of setting us up with young players in the pipeline we feel can create some offense."

Additionally, after Erik Karlsson was banged up throughout much of his debut season with the Sharks, DeBoer is hopeful the former Norris Trophy winner can have an even greater offensive impact moving forward after signing an eight-year contract in the offseason.

"When we had the opportunity to acquire Erik Karlsson last summer there was no hesitation in anyone's opinion to go forward on the possibility of doing that," DeBoer insisted. "Those are generational-type players and they rarely become available, if at all. It was a no-brainer to trade for him and it was a no-brainer to sign him. 

[RELATED: Why DeBoer credits Thornton for Sharks' historic power play]

"He's going to be a huge part of what we're doing going forward," DeBoer continued. "You take out Pavelski but you add Karlsson and some young guys. … The game might change in how we create and how we do things but I think he's going to have a big impact. The two months he was healthy he controlled a lot of the games we played. We just need to get him healthy so he can have a full healthy year to get into rhythm."

The Sharks are going to feel Pavelski's departure in more ways than one. Yes, his 355 goals rank second all-time in franchise history, but he brought so much more to the table than simply the ability to put the biscuit in the basket. However, if Karlsson, Meier, Labanc and others can combine to fill his resulting scoring void, Pavelski's absence won't be nearly as noticeable.

Red Wings hilariously troll Logan Couture on Pavel Datsyuk's birthday

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AP

Red Wings hilariously troll Logan Couture on Pavel Datsyuk's birthday

Pavel Datsyuk's birthday might not be a day that Sharks center Logan Couture circles on his calendar every year, but he was reminded Saturday.

In honor of "The Magic Man" turning 41, the Detroit Red Wings' Twitter account posted a GIF of Couture falling victim to Datsyukian dangle. Couture, understandably, was none too pleased. 

To make matters worse -- or at least more ironic -- for Couture, the GIF in question came on his 24th birthday. The Sharks hosted Datsyuk's Red Wings on March 28, 2013, back in Detroit's last season in the Western Conference and just two years after San Jose eliminated the Winged Wheel in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs for the second straight season.

The Red Wings were in the Western Conference for the first four years of Couture's career, and he played more regular-season and playoff games against Detroit (24) during that span than any team other than the Los Angeles Kings (30). Couture credited those matchups for helping him develop in a piece for The Players' Tribune in 2015, and called Datsyuk's deke "an example that my teammates will probably never let me live down." 

"Thankfully, I’m far from the only one to be victimized by Pavel," Couture wrote at the time. "He has the best hands in the NHL. One little trick he likes to do is stick-handle between a player’s tripod — between their feet and stick. He’ll even use the net as a prop to make you look dumb."

[RELATED: Why DeBoer credits Thornton for Sharks' historic Game 7 power play]

Datsyuk retired from the NHL three years ago to return to his native Russia, and signed with hometown Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg of the KHL this summer. There were rumors of him considering an NHL return, but Couture won't have to worry about Datsyuk's stickhandling much moving forward. 

Well, at least until the next time someone digs up the clip.