Sharks

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in skid-busting 4-2 win over Canucks

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Sharks takeaways: What we learned in skid-busting 4-2 win over Canucks

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE - It wasn't the cleanest game, nor was it the most dominant. And boy, did it get dicey there at the end. But heck, it was a victory all the same for the San Jose Sharks.

For the first time in the month of December, Team Teal (16-17-2) put a notch in the win column, holding on late to defeat the Vancouver Canucks 4-2.

Here are three takeaways from Saturday's game at SAP Center.

Still in search of that full 60

Perhaps San Jose's biggest issue in their last game was that they didn't put a full effort on the ice for all three periods, thus not being able to hold onto a one-goal lead with 15 minutes left in the game. While they played significantly better on Saturday against the Canucks (16-13-4), there was still some sag in their defense at points during the second and third periods -- especially late in the third period with the game on the line.

San Jose looked its best during Saturday's game when their defense played extra stingy -- pushing Vancouver's offense to the edges and not giving them enough time to get good shots off. Lucky enough for the Sharks' defense, the guy between the pipes was having a heck of a game.

On that note ...

Dell-ightful.

Maybe it was the slick black goalie pads. Or maybe he was just in the zone. Whatever the reason, Aaron Dell put on quite a solid performance in his first start of the Bob Boughner era. Dell was especially good in the second period when Vancouver made a push and pinned San Jose in their own end. His sprawling split save on a Tanner Pearson wrister toward the end of the second stanza was probably his most notable of the night.

The question now is whether Saturday's game earned Dell a second consecutive start in a row. Boughner appears open to the idea of letting both Dell and Martin Jones duke it out for starts. While Dell's shutout bid was snapped in the third period against the Canucks, he certainly made a case for himself starting another game.

The PK prevailed

Yes, the Sharks still need to tighten up for a full 60 minutes. But one area of their game that came up big was the penalty kill. And against the fourth-best power play in the league, that meant a lot for San Jose.

The kill came up huge in the second half of the third period when Kevin Labanc went to the sin bin and the Sharks were clinging to a 2-1 lead. While it is definitely preferable that the Sharks don't take penalties that late in the game when they've had trouble holding onto leads, at least they were able to get the job done.

Bob Boughner urges Sharks to 'man up' after shutout loss to Avalanche

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Bob Boughner urges Sharks to 'man up' after shutout loss to Avalanche

Just when you think the Sharks have figured things out, they drop a couple games in a row and look really bad in the process.

After beating the Blue Jackets and Stars at home last week, San Jose headed to Arizona and lost 6-3 on Tuesday night. Two days later, it got even worse for Bob Boughner's club as the Avalanche shut out the Sharks 4-0 on Thursday night.

San Jose heads to Vancouver to face the Canucks on Saturday before getting eight days off due to the NHL All-Star break.

For Boughner, it's time for his club to put up or shut up.

"I think it's crucial for us," Boughner told reporters in Colorado. "I think Vancouver, a team that's in the division and ahead of us, before we get into this break and end it off on the right note, we felt really good about ourselves and the way we were playing before this trip and things haven't gone our way for the first two games.

"I think it's time to man up. We've got too many guys that are not on the same page right now in the last two games and we're not a good enough team to do that. We proved that we can play with the best teams if we play the right way and we've got all 20 guys going and stick to the plan. But when we don't, we're average at best."

The Sharks are in danger of missing the playoffs for just the second time since the 2003-04 season, and Brenden Dillon understands every game the rest of the way is vitally important.

"Yeah, it's a division game, it's a team we're chasing and I think all these games we've got to have that playoff mindset of do-or-die mentality going in and show some desperation," Dillon told reporters. "A lot of these teams are battling, whether that's for playoff spots or home-ice or whatever it is in the divisions. But esepcially against Vancouver, a good team that's going well, so we've got to finish on a high."

[RELATED: Boughner reacts to Vegas hiring DeBoer]

After the loss to the Avs, the Sharks sit at 21-24-4 with 33 games remaining. They are nine points out of a wild-card spot, but every loss chips away at their margain for error.

If they don't turn things around in a hurry, it will be a long summer in San Jose.

Peter DeBoer will use lessons learned with Sharks to help Golden Knights

Peter DeBoer will use lessons learned with Sharks to help Golden Knights

Peter DeBoer spent four-plus seasons leading the Sharks. He coached them to Stanley Cup Final and another Western Conference Final berth.

But messages get stale and general manager Doug Wilson made the decision to relieve DeBoer of his duties in December with the Sharks sitting at 15-16-2. A month later, DeBoer now finds himself at the helm of the Sharks' archrival -- the Vegas Golden Knights. 

DeBoer was hired Wednesday, replacing Gerrard Gallant who was fired after the Golden Knights fell out of the playoff picture. 

In his first comments since being announced as head coach, DeBoer said he thinks he can take some lessons he learned in San Jose and apply them to his new club.

"The one thing I learned in San Jose is if you can walk into a locker room with good character and good people that you can find your way through the turbulent waters," DeBoer said after the Golden Knights' morning skate. "I think that's probably the case here. You got a real good group of men that care, and we'll find our way through it."

In the midst of a four-game losing streak, the Golden Knights find themselves at 24-19-6, just behind the Winnipeg Jets for the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference. Vegas entered the season with Stanley Cup aspirations. While they have underachieved to this point, DeBoer led the Sharks to a similar turnaround a few years back. 

"This is a team that the goal is to win the Stanley Cup," DeBoer said. "They are one of those teams. I feel like we've been one of those teams in San Jose the last four or five years. That's the goal. I can tell you that the year we went to the Final with San Jose, December or January we were right around .500, you know, spinning our tires a little bit. We found a way to get it going in the right direction. The list is endless of teams that are in this situation at some point or another. It's one of the things I'll talk to the players about.

"A little bit of adversity, I think is always a good thing. it's just how you deal with it." 

[RELATED: Why Sharks should go after Gallant]

DeBoer was well-liked in the Sharks' locker room and his firing left the players stunned and shocked.

Eight months ago, Gallant called DeBoer a "clown" before the Sharks and Golden Knights played a memorable Game 7 in their first-round playoff series.

Now, DeBoer will be tasked with helping Vegas do what he couldn't in San Jose. Win it all.