Marcus Sorensen

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in streak-snapping 4-3 loss to Sabres

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in streak-snapping 4-3 loss to Sabres

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SAN JOSE - The Sharks' first standoff of the season against the Sabres was a fast-paced and tight-checking fete that saved most of its drama for the last 20 minutes of play.

But even with a couple of third-period goals to keep things interesting, Team Teal couldn't quite pull this one off against the visiting Buffalo squad and dropped the final game of their homestand 4-3.

Here are three takeaways from Saturday's game:

Going to the net

The Sharks might have been better on the defensive side of their game, particularly in their own end. But they struggled throughout Saturday's contest with getting in front of Buffalo's net and generating good shots. In fact, San Jose only tallied one shot on goal through nearly 13 minutes in the second period.

You do have to give San Jose's offense credit for turning it up in the latter part of the game, though. After Casey Mittelstadt's bizarre goal gave the Sabres a 2-1 lead, the Sharks turned things up and notch. They not only got more o-zone time but had a much better net-front presence. It's no wonder they were able to knot the score back up twice in the third period -- even if they weren't able to score the tie-breaking goal and get the win.

Going in for the kill

One of the biggest tests for the Sharks in Saturday's game was to stay out of the penalty box, given they were going up against one of the best power plays in the league. So, naturally, it was a bit of a nail-biter when San Jose got into a little penalty trouble in the second period.

San Jose did succeed in silencing Buffalo's power play, even if it wasn't very pretty. While Martin Jones wasn't quite as sharp on Saturday as he has been as of late, the team in front of him did a good job of halting the Sabres on the man advantage.

[RELATED: Marleau reflects on Sharks return]

The kid was all right

Noah Gregor didn't score a goal on Saturday night -- even though his new teammates tried to set him up for one. The 21-year-old forward did, however, have a good showing in his NHL debut, displaying a ton of speed as if he was already completely accustomed to the pace of a big-league game.

Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer said on Saturday morning that he would prefer it if one of San Jose's young players would seize the opportunity to be a regular on the team's fourth line with Dylan Gambrell and Melker Karlsson. Gregor only has one game under his belt, but he is already making a good case to stick around for a while.

How Sharks' Marcus Sorensen, Radim Simek are progressing from injuries

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How Sharks' Marcus Sorensen, Radim Simek are progressing from injuries

The Sharks haven't lost since adding Patrick Marleau to their lineup last Thursday, and they could get another boost on the wing Wednesday. 

Marcus Sorensen fully participated in Tuesday's practice, skating with Joe Thornton and Barclay Goodrow on San Jose's third line, according to reporters in attendance. Sorensen could play Wednesday night against the surging Carolina Hurricanes. 

Sorensen missed the Sharks' last three games with an upper-body injury. The Swedish winger left San Jose's Oct. 5 loss to the Anaheim Ducks in the second period after crashing into the end boards. 

The 27-year-old scored a career-high 30 points (17 goals, 13 assists) last season, primarily playing alongside veteran center Joe Thornton on the Sharks' third line. The pair played fewer than 250 5-on-5 minutes without one another, and San Jose outscored opponents 36-30 with the two on the ice, according to Natural Stat Trick. 

The Sharks have only scored 13 goals in six games this season, so Sorensen's return -- on top of Marleau's integration into the lineup -- should help San Jose's offense. The team also entered Tuesday tied for fifth in goals against (22), but it might be a little longer before they receive a corresponding boost on the blue line. 

[RELATED: Marleau thanks Sharks fans for such a warm welcome back]

Defenseman Radim Simek, who remains on injured reserve and has yet to return to the Sharks lineup after undergoing knee surgery in March, skated after practice with fellow injured blue-liner Dalton Prout on Tuesday. General manager Doug Wilson told reporters via a team spokesperson that Simek has not experienced a setback, but is not practicing with the team in order to focus on the areas he needs to address in his rehab. It's possible Simek rejoins the team ahead of their five-game road trip beginning in Buffalo against the Sabres on Oct. 22.

The Sharks compiled a 29-9-3 record with Simek in the lineup last season, and San Jose allowed lower rates of shot attempts, shots and chances with the Czech defenseman on the ice at 5-on-5 than when he wasn't. Including the playoffs and the start of this season, the Sharks are just 15-21-1 in Simek's absence. 

Sharks hope for offensive boost vs. Predators in Evander Kane's return

Sharks hope for offensive boost vs. Predators in Evander Kane's return

The Sharks may already have three regular-season contests under their belt, but the team's starting lineup will have a slightly different look on Tuesday as winger Evander Kane returns to game action. And, needless to say, San Jose hopes that Kane's return to the lineup will be part of the jumpstart it needs to get win No. 1 on the season.

Kane was suspended for the first three games of the regular season after a debacle in the Sharks' preseason finale against the Vegas Golden Knights. While San Jose no doubt missed Kane's grit and physicality in the first week of the season, the team is also hoping he can offer a much-needed boost to a struggling offense, which has only scored three goals in as many games.

As head coach Peter DeBoer told Curtis Pashelka of the San Jose Mercury News on Monday, he also wants to see how having Kane back in the lineup affects the Sharks defensively, given the team has allowed 12 goals through the first three games.

"He’s a very good NHL player, helps offensively for us, but he’s also a reliable guy,” DeBoer explained. “He knows how to play both ends of the rink. Right now, through three games, we’re doing a lot of teaching. The way we want to play as a five-man unit is if one guy is out of place, then things break down.” 

It doesn't hurt that Kane has also played well against the Predators in the past. The gritty winger has 13 points (3 goals, 10 assists) and is a plus-3 through 18 career games against the tough Nashville squad. 

Unfortunately, even with Kane's return, San Jose will still be short one of its starting left wings for Tuesday night's contest. Marcus Sorensen is now out of the lineup and considered day-to-day after he collided hard into the boards during Saturday's game against the Anaheim Ducks and has to go through concussion protocol.

The Sharks have yet to put their expected starting roster on the ice -- in addition to being without Kane for three games, San Jose was without Erik Karlsson for the season opener in Las Vegas and have been shuffling its defensive pairings due to injuries. 

Nevertheless, the Sharks don't have room to dwell on who isn't in their lineup Tuesday. They need to get into the win column for the first time this season. At least having a veteran like Kane back in a lineup featuring a handful of young players still learning the ropes should help. 

[RELATED: What we learned as Sharks fall to 0-3-0 with loss to Ducks]

"We’ve got some young players that are learning the systems, and that takes some time," DeBoer continued on Monday. "We’re dealing with a little bit of that. But dealing with a veteran guy that knows what he’s doing out there and where he’s supposed to be is important.” 

The Sharks are 36-29-2-6 all-time through 73 regular-season meetings versus the Predators. They have a 14-19-1-2 record all-time at Bridgestone Arena.