Sharks

Signs point to Thornton's return for Game 3 of Sharks-Oilers

Signs point to Thornton's return for Game 3 of Sharks-Oilers

SAN JOSE – There appears to be some confusion on just who makes the final call on Joe Thornton’s playing status for Sunday’s pivotal Game 3 between the Sharks and Oilers at SAP Center.

Coach Pete DeBoer said it’s Thornton’s decision, while Thornton said it’s DeBoer’s decision. Or, maybe it’s the training staff’s decision, according to the longtime centerman.

Regardless, signs are pointing towards Thornton playing for the first time since he hurt his left knee on April 2. Thornton went through what was his normal late-season game day routine on Sunday morning, skating for about 15 minutes before most of his teammates went on the ice for the optional skate.

That was much different than on Friday in Edmonton, when Thornton stayed on the ice for over an hour with the scratched players before missing his second straight playoff game and fifth straight overall.

“After yesterday with the day off, wanted something light,” Thornton said. “Just kind of feel a little bit fresher today. Hopefully it responds good and I’ll be able to play tonight.”

DeBoer said: “He’s a game-time decision. If he’s taking warm-up that’s another step, and we’ll see how he feels when he gets out there.”

While the Sharks have missed Thornton on the ice in games one and two, they’ve likely missed his emotion on the bench, too. On Sunday morning, captain Joe Pavelski pointed to the Sharks’ compete level not being high enough in Game 2, a 2-0 loss.

“Just lost too many battles,” Pavelski said.

DeBoer had an interesting take when asked about what Thornton brings to the Sharks’ bench.

“It’s old school accountability with Joe. It’s black and white. He came up in an era and at a time and around people who weren’t worried about hurting feelings. You said what needed to be said,” DeBoer said. 

“That’s not always the case now in modern dressing rooms and with modern athletes. He’s a great resource for us, because there’s no greater pressure than peer pressure, especially from a Hall of Fame guy like that.”

Although the Sharks power play during the regular season was generally poor, finishing 25th in the NHL, it reached a nadir in Game 2 without one of the game’s best all-time passers. San Jose went 0-for-6, allowing two shorthanded goals and actually getting outshot by Edmonton, 6-5.

Five-on-five play wasn’t much better, as the Sharks managed just 11 even strength shots.

“We miss him everywhere,” DeBoer said. “I think you can’t understate his importance to our group.” 

Banged-up Sharks make no excuses for losing streak after loss to Kings

Banged-up Sharks make no excuses for losing streak after loss to Kings

After the Sharks' losing streak hit four games in a 4-2 loss to the cellar-dwelling Los Angeles Kings, defenseman Brent Burns summarized it best to reporters in L.A.

“Every loss is doomsday, and every win feels good.”

Unfortunately for the Sharks, that doesn’t make Thursday’s defeat at the hands of the Kings sting any less.

With the defeat, the Sharks matched their season-long losing streak at four games – against the second-worst team in the entire NHL, no less. San Jose even entered the third period with a 2-1 lead, having taken over the pace of play in the second stanza and hemming even the Kings' best players in their own end.

Then, the Kings scored three unanswered goals in the final 20 minutes to emerge victorious. 

Meanwhile, the two Pacific Division teams bookending the Sharks in the standings – the Calgary Flames and the Vegas Golden Knights – are both on hot streaks and kept winning on Thursday while Team Teal was in L.A.

Nobody’s going to sugarcoat it – the Sharks know they have to be better.

“It’s a wake-up call for us,” center Tomas Hertl said. “We have to be ready because we have just eight games left. We saw how Calgary is playing right now, and we have to step it up.”

As if the Sharks weren’t already desperate for a win after dropping three straight contests, they got some bad news just before pregame warmups that center Logan Couture was a late scratch due to flu-like symptoms. With captain Joe Pavelski and defenseman Erik Karlsson already out, San Jose needed someone else to fill that void. 

“It’s always tough when you’re missing players like that,” Hertl said. “But we have a lot of skill and we didn’t improve (on) it today.”

Coach Peter DeBoer doubled down on not making excuses for big players being out of the lineup.

“You got to win this game anyway,” he told reporters. “You’ve got to find a way. Someone’s got to step up and be a first star. You’ve got to get a great performance from somebody in a game like this and I don’t think we got that.”

[RELATED: Watch Ron Burgundy's funny call of Hertl's goal vs. Kings]

With only eight games left in the regular season, San Jose needs to right the ship before embarking on a playoff run.

Getting Couture, Pavelski, and Karlsson back in the lineup healthy will certainly help. But, the Sharks' defensive effort and overall level of intensity has to be better. They’ve been outscored 19-9 over these last four games, and gone 1-for-13 on the power play. While there’s concern over this losing stretch, the Sharks have to buckle down and find a way to win immediately. 

“We’ve got to find a way to win some games,” DeBoer said. “We’re a little bit beat up, but you can’t use excuses this time of year. We need some guys to find another level for us. At this time of year, you need someone to give you a first-star performance either in net or up front or somewhere to stop the bleeding. We haven’t gotten that.”

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in 4-2 loss to struggling Kings

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in 4-2 loss to struggling Kings

The Sharks didn't play their prettiest game in Thursday's season-series finale with the Los Angeles Kings. Despite holding a lead headed into the third period, San Jose’s losing streak was stretched to four games as they fell to their LA rivals 4-2.

Here are three takeaways from Thursday’s game:

The first and third periods were, as DeBoer might say, ‘fugly’

If you hadn’t watched the Sharks play all season and tuned into Thursday’s game, you were probably shocked this team is in second place in the Pacific Division. San Jose came out discombobulated, turning the puck over so much that it’s no wonder the Kings scored the first goal on the evening. It’s impressive the Sharks were able to tie the game before the first intermission, with just four shots on goal through 20 minutes.

San Jose picked up momentum in the second stanza and took over the pace of the game. But, the Kings were able to swing that momentum back in their favor. For a team that’s punched their playoff ticket already, this is a trend that can’t continue.

On Martin Jones’ performance

Not surprisingly, all eyes were on Jones after he was given the hook last game against the Vegas Golden Knights. The goaltender needed to have a rebound evening, and after giving up the first goal on the night, it didn’t look like he was going to be able to make that happen.

He did a good job buckling down after that despite, Los Angeles continuing to outshoot San Jose. He had a few nice saves, but the Sharks’ defensive lapses in the third period did him no favors.

[RELATED: Watch Ron Burgundy's funny call of Hertl's goal vs. Kings]

Something has to give

We know – the Sharks are banged-up right now. They’re missing key players and nearing the end of a long season. But at this point, following up a six-game winning streak by losing four games – and one to the lowly Kings – is cause for concern.

Whether it’s getting healthy or just getting a few lucky bounces, the Sharks need to regroup quickly. San Jose spent stretches of Thursday’s game looking lost, and couldn’t capitalize on two power-play opportunities.

If the Sharks don’t right the ship soon, their stint in the playoffs is going to be short.