By Mary Walsh
AP photo Carolina Hurricanes John Michael Liles (26) pass puck by the San Jose Sharks Melker Karlsson (68) in the first period of Friday’s game
The San Jose Sharks ended a three-game winning streak with a 5-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday. Like the Sharks, the Hurricanes played the night before. Where the Sharks won their Thursday game in a shootout, the Hurricanes lost 4-2 in Ottawa. Friday, the Hurricanes bested the Sharks in every area of the game, in faceoffs, hits, shots, shot attempts as well as scoring.
Sharks coach Pete DeBoer described it as a well-deserved loss:
They took the game over, you know, we didn’t have an answer. We pretty much got what we deserved I think tonight. I think we lost too many of the tough areas: the faceoffs, special teams. When you lose three or four significant areas in the game, you’re not going to win. They deserved the win and we deserved what we got.
The Hurricanes are this season’s least penalized NHL team so the fact that the Sharks did not have a power play in the game is not very surprising. The Hurricanes got two goals from Jeff Skinner, and goals from Chris Terry, Joakim Nordstrom and Jordan Staal. Cam Ward made 22 saves on 24 shots for the Hurricanes. Sharks goals were scored by Brent Burns and Tomas Hertl. Martin Jones made 32 saves on 36 shots for the Sharks.
The loss left the Sharks’ position in the standings unchanged from the night before, except for the loss of a game in hand over the Kings and the Ducks. The Sharks are still in third place in the Pacific Division, three points behind the Kings and one behind the Ducks.
After the game, Sharks captain Joe Pavelski addressed the question of whether the Sharks’ tough schedule on this road trip had something to do with the loss:
They were in a similar situation, coming back last night. We weren’t very good all night. I was awful. That’s one of the worst games I’ve had in a while. There were a few plays out there, a lot of plays I’d like to have back… You never let that affect you though, three games in four nights. You’ve got to manufacture your game.
Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer had a similar take on the game: “It’s one of those games. We’ve been consistently good for a long time, and you’re going to have those once in a while. It’s how we respond to it. I think we just have to throw it away and get ready for the next one.”
For the third game in a row, the Sharks gave up the first goal. This time it was a curious shot that bounced high off Chris Terry’s stick and over Martin Jones’ head. Assists went to Noah Hanifin and Riley Nash.
The Sharks got it back near the end of the period, when a nice pass from Joel Ward found Brent Burns high in the slot. It was Burns’ 19th goal of the season and his first in 19 games. Assists went to Ward and Matt Nieto.
The teams ended the period tied in shots was well as goals with eight each.
Early in the second period, the teams played four on four while Melker Karlsson and Eric Staal sat in the box for and embellishment respectively. Neither team scored.
The first power play went to Carolina in the second period, a delay of game penalty to Tomas Hertl after he swept the puck out of play during a frantic scramble in front of the Sharks’ net. Carolina had three shots during the power play and the Sharks cleared the puck out twice, though not until the final half minute of the penalty.
Carolina took the lead back at 12:25 of the second. Joakim Nordstrom crossed the blue line without any pressure and his shot from high in the slot blew by Jones as if unseen. The Sharks had three skaters back but none got in Nordstrom’s way. Assists went to Jordan Staal and Bret Pesce.
Instead of tying the game up again before the period ended, the Sharks finished the period on the penalty kill. Mike Brown took issue with a hit on Marc-Edouard Vlasic and three penalties resulted: Brown for holding Jordan Staal, Staal for roughing against Mike Brown and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty to Brown.
The Sharks were badly outshot in the second period, 18-4. They were also losing in the shot attempts category 42-21 and the faceoff circle 21-6. It was hardly surprising that they were behind 2-1 on the scoreboard.
The Sharks started the third period with most of the Brown penalty still to kill. Before the first minute elapsed, Carolina seemed to score but the official called it back for incidental contact with the goaltender. Eric Staal seemed to hook Martin Jones under the pad and pulled him to the right while Jones was trying to reach to his left. Carolina challenged the call and the play was reviewed and the call was overturned.
The power play goal went to Jeff Skinner with assists to Eric Staal and Kris Versteeg.
10:38 into the third period, the Sharks cut the lead to 3-2. Patrick Marleau stole the puck from Carolina goaltender Cam Ward behind the net and passed it quickly to the front of the net. Tomas Hertl was there to tap it in. It was Hertl’s 12th goal of the season and Marleau’s 20th assist.
With just under five minutes remaining, Carolina took back their two goal lead when Jaccob Slavin’s shot bounced off a skate to Skinner in the slot. An empty netter from Jordan Staal sealed the deal at 17:35.
The Sharks next play in St. Louis against the Blues on Monday.
Forward Mike Brown was in the lineup for the first time since January 24, as Tommy Wingels was injured early in Thursday’s game in Sunrise. Melker Karlsson took the open spot on the third line with Joonas Donskoi and Logan Couture, and Brown took Karlsson’s spot on the fourth line with Chris Tierney and Dainius Zubrus. Brown had one hit and three blocked shots in the game. The top two lines remained as they have been, with Hertl, Thornton and Pavelski on the top line and Marleau, Ward and Nieto on the second line.
Sharks defenseman Brenden Dillon missed his fourth game. Matt Tennyson has played in his stead with Dylan Demelo on the blue line. Tennyson finished Friday’s game with a -1 rating , a blocked shot and a hit.