Sharks

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

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USATSI

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

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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.

All-Star Tomas Hertl doing best to keep Sharks' spirits up through struggles

All-Star Tomas Hertl doing best to keep Sharks' spirits up through struggles

Sharks forward Tomas Hertl is all set for his debut at NHL All-Star Weekend in St. Louis.
 
“A huge accomplishment, it will be a big honor for me,” Hertl -- who is taking the place of injured San Jose captain Logan Couture -- recently said.
 
While he is on pace for a good statistical season, it's nothing like last year when Hertl potted 35 goals and 74 points.
 
This time around, the fun-loving forward is on a Sharks club that’s looking like a longshot to qualify for the playoffs.
 
“I still try to be positive, the smiley guy, the funny guy,” Hertl explained.
 
He also acknowledged those smiles and uplifting moments have been few and far between this season, but they are still significantly better than the alternative.
 
“It’s the only way I think to help it,” Hertl stated. “It gets too much in your head. Everybody will be in a bad mood. I try my best to bring it every day, a good mood in the locker room.”
 
There are widespread assessments as to what's at the root of the Sharks' struggles this season. For Hertl, it’s the defensive failures that bleed over into trying to create too much.
 
“When we start cheating, we just can’t do it,” Hertl said. “Maybe on other teams, they have different players. On our team, it has to start with defense.
 
“I think we’ve proven it over the last lot of years. There’s always the stat of ‘two-or-fewer’ goals, we always win those games. We know that and we've always been the team that’s tough against.”

[RELATED: Key storylines to watch through remainder of Sharks' season]
 
While Hertl’s second NHL season saw San Jose’s rare miss of the postseason, he has never been with the club in a year like this where things already look so bleak entering the All-Star break.
 
“We have to step it up, and just play together," he said. "Because only the team together can win the games.”

Doug Wilson's job is safe despite Sharks' disappointing season, owner says

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AP

Doug Wilson's job is safe despite Sharks' disappointing season, owner says

This season hasn't gone as the Sharks had planned.

After starting out 15-16-2, the Sharks elected to fire head coach Peter DeBoer, much to the shock of players and staff. They promoted Bob Boughner to interim head coach. While the change appeared to initially spark the Sharks, their play has since tapered off since as they enter the All-Star break at 21-25-4 after three straight blowout losses.

With the losses mounting, some have wondered if general manager Doug Wilson's job could be in jeopardy. That is not the case. 

"While we are all very disappointed in the team's performance thus far this season, Doug has a long history of leading our team to success," majority owner Hasso Plattner said in a statement Thursday while announcing changes to the Sharks' business operations. "The last time we failed to meet our winning standards in the 2014-15 season, we were able to quickly rebound and re-establish a winning culture for the next several years. I am supportive of Doug's plan to get our team back on track."

The Sharks have to exit the All-Star break on fire if they want to make a run at a postseason berth. If they limp out of the gate, it will be time for them to focus on the future and how to quickly rebuild the team for a playoff return next season.

[RELATED: Key storylines to focus on during remainder of Sharks season]

Whatever happens, the ship still is Wilson's to guide.