Sharks

Sharks takeaways: What we learned as skid hits three in loss to Ducks

Sharks takeaways: What we learned as skid hits three in loss to Ducks

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When Sharks captain Logan Couture tied Saturday night’s game against the Anaheim Ducks, there was a glimmer of hope that San Jose's fortunes had turned around. 

But the Sharks' excitement was short-lived. Their woes continued with a 3-1 loss to the Ducks at Honda Center.

Here are three takeaways from the Sharks' third loss in as many games this season.

That darn start

The Sharks, once again, gave up the first goal within the game's first five-or-so minutes, and they trailed headed into the first intermission for the third consecutive game.

Despite getting good offensive zone time and some solid saves from goaltender Aaron Dell after his turnover led to the Ducks' first goal, the Sharks' first period still didn't have enough punch. Well, unless you count when defenseman Brenden Dillon dropped the gloves with Ducks forward Nicolas Deslauriers.

To make matters worse, the Sharks still aren't rallying enough after the opposition finds the back of the net -- no matter what point of the game they're playing in. They broke through in the second period thanks to Couture's goal, but they got pinned in their own zone shortly after Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf gave his team a 2-1 lead.

Too many turnovers

Although the Sharks had some solid zone time throughout, they had trouble holding onto the puck. Turnovers really cost San Jose, beginning with Dell's first-period mishap that ended up on the stick of Ducks goal-scorer Michael Del Zotto.

The turnovers weren't just limited to even strength, either. The Sharks are drawing penalties and getting opportunities on the man advantage, but man, they're not converting. At least San Jose didn't give up a short-handed goal for a third game in a row.

[RELATED: Ex-Shark Marleau reportedly confident he'll find new team]

Are there any silver linings?

It's hard to find anything positive when the Sharks haven't started this slowly in a quarter-century.

Sure, you could look at some of the really good work San Jose did in its own zone and the advantage on the shot clock. Or the fact that new players like Mario Ferraro, Danil Yurtaikin and Jonny Brodzinksi did some good things.

But at the end of the night, the Sharks are winless. They haven't solved any of the problems that emerged in the season opener. Something major must change, or this team will be in big trouble.

Dylan Gambrell's improved play aiding Sharks' quest for four-line game

Dylan Gambrell's improved play aiding Sharks' quest for four-line game

SAN JOSE - One of the biggest criticisms of the Sharks at this early point in the season has been that its younger players hadn't stepped up yet.

That changed on Sunday evening in San Jose's 3-1 win over the Calgary Flames. 

Sure, San Jose's young stars Timo Meier, Tomas Hertl, and Kevin Labanc all found the net in the victory. But when Hertl and captain Logan Couture addressed the media postgame, independent of each other, both pointed to newcomer Dylan Gambrell's emergence over the last few games as a key factor in the Sharks' recent success.

Gambrell's positive production as fourth-line center is giving San Jose more offensive depth. While the Sharks' forward attack is still a work in progress, the 23-year-old forward is evolving into the pivotal player the team needs.

"He's been given an opportunity and these last two games he's really shown what he's been capable of," Couture said. "When we have that line playing well and the other three rolling over, we're a tough team to beat."

Head coach Peter DeBoer agreed with the assessment of his captain.

"For him, that's all about competing," DeBoer said of Gambrell. "Sticking his nose in there and competing. His skill and speed will take over and he's starting to do that here regularly."

There was a spotlight on Gambrell heading into training camp after he signed a two-year contract following a season in which he bounced between the AHL and NHL. But the University of Denver product didn't readily establish his game when he was plugged into the top six through the preseason and, like the majority of the Sharks, struggled out of the gate in the first few games of the regular season. 

After penciling back onto the fourth line, Gambrell's game visibly changed. 

"I think he saw that he was close to being sent back. That's the reality of it," DeBoer admitted. "He wasn't as effective (in training camp) as he is now. And maybe that's on us. Maybe we asked him to do too much. We played him on the wing on the top two lines and maybe it was too much for him."

Back at the center position on that fourth line, however, the speedy forward has been on an upward trend. He's been more effective in the faceoff circle and more aggressive on the puck, which gives San Jose depth down the middle that they, frankly, have been missing since last season.

"He had a little tough start but now he's playing a really hard game and this is what we need," Hertl said. "Good on faceoffs, strong on the puck."

Continuing that higher level of compete can make the Sharks' quest to establish a four-line game a bit smoother. As San Jose has encountered through the first six games of the season, the Western Conference is stacked with teams that can get production out of any line they roll out onto the ice. While the Sharks' offense is still in the process of getting healthy -- Marcus Sorensen is still sidelined -- the team needs to get its four-line game in place if they're going to completing recover from their rough start to the season.

[RELATED: Sharks fans give Marleau standing ovation]

"In this league, you need four lines," Hertl summarized. "It's not about just one line. Every night you need four lines plus your goalie."

If Gambrell can continue this upward trend, the Sharks have a better chance of achieving that goal.

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in San Jose's 3-1 win over Flames

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in San Jose's 3-1 win over Flames

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SAN JOSE -- Good play doesn't always carry over from one game to another. But after finishing strong and getting their first win of the season Thursday night, the Sharks hoped to build on that performance three days later when the Calgary Flames came to town.

Team Teal did just that, jumping out to an early lead and never giving it up, as they extinguished the Flames 3-1, tallying their second straight win of the season.

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

Captain clutch

When Logan Couture's teammates described him during the preseason as a captain who would "lead by example," they really weren't kidding. No. 39 was one of the best players on the ice Sunday night -- not because he scored big goals but because he set them up and let his speed set the tone for the rest of the team.

San Jose's offense got two big jolts in the first 40 minutes, and both times it was from a goal that Couture set up. The second was most impressive, as he snagged the puck from Calgary forward Mikael Backland on a Sharks penalty kill and maneuvered up the ice to set up Tomas Hertl for San Jose's first short-handed goal of the season.

Jones stood tall

When San Jose's defense got a little loosey-goosey in the second period, goalie Martin Jones kept the Sharks in the game. Not only did Jones keep the Flames off the board during the first seven minutes of the opening period, but he also stopped a few breakaway attempts that could've erased San Jose's lead.

Needless, to say, Jones had his best outing of the season by far. With San Jose's defense still ironing out some kinks and cleaning up its 60-minute game, it was exactly the kind of confident performance this team needed.

The power of playing with the lead

It's pretty incredible how much momentum a team can get just from taking an early lead. Once Timo Meier found the back of the net and gave the Sharks their first first-period lead of the season, they had all the momentum in their favor for the rest of the frame.

The Sharks just need to make sure they don't let their defense regularly take its foot off the gas, as it did during Sunday's game. They might have had the benefit of getting a good performance out of Jones and playing against a tired Flames team, but that kind of play won't cut it against tougher teams. 

[RELATED: Sharks fans give Marleau standing ovation]

Getting into turnover trouble could doom them this coming week when the Eastern Conference-leading Carolina Hurricanes come to town.