Saturday, December 16, 2017

Sharks Report: Couture Injured, but Sharks Come Back from Brink Again

The Sharks managed to pluck a point after a shaky start against the Vancouver Canucks on Friday Rogers Arena. That's the good news. The bad news is that they lost in overtime thanks to a Sam Gagner roof job and they may have lost their leading scorer and best player for some time, as Logan Couture was knocked out of the game after taking a hit from Alexander Burmistrov at 5:12 of the third period.

A couple of notes before we get into bullets:

-- The Sharks have battled back fron deficits of two or more goals to earn points three times in their last five. This team has heart.
-- The Sharks remain in third the Pacific, dropping to 17-10-4 with the OT loss.
-- The Sharks have now scored 85 goals, ranking them 27th in the NHL.
-- The Sharks have allowed just 75 goals, tied with Tampa for the lowest in the NHL.
-- At 53.17%, the Sharks have the NHL's third-highest 5-on-5 Corsi Percentage.

1. No word on Couture Yet

Let's start with the very bad news: Logan Couture was hit in the face by an Alexander Burmistrov shoulder on a third period play that resulted in an interference call on the Russian. The puck went past the two skaters in the corner and Burmistrov elected to throw a hit as Couture went to step around him to track the puck. Couture immediately went down and looked kind of stunned before getting some help to get off the ice and down the tunnel to do the dressing room.

At the moment, we are in the dark about the severity of the injury. It could be a concussion or it could be some follow-up damage to Couture's face, which was reconstructed last season after he took a puck to the face in March. Either way it's not good for the Sharks. Couture has been the go-to guy in San Jose this season. He has put up 15 goals and 11 assists for 26 points in 31 games for the Sharks, which includes three game-winners and 10 power play points.

After the game there was no report coming from head coach Peter DeBoer and Couture was not made available for comment, so it's wait and see. The Sharks next play on Monday in Edmonton.

2. Sharks Sleepwalk Through First Period

The Sharks possess one of the most stingy defenses in the NHL, but casual fans wouldn't have guessed that was the case early on Friday in Vancouver. Goalie Martin Jones was peppered by 22 shots in the first stanza, and according to Natural Stat Trick he faced 18 scoring chances at all phases, 11 of which were deemed to be high danger. That does not sound like an exxageration. And while the Sharks tilted the ice in periods two and three to climb back into this game, Jones was huge in net throughout, making several highlight reel saves, including one against Thomas Vanek with the Canucks leading 3-2 in the third that might be the biggest single reason that the Sharks were able to steal a point in this game.

Here it is:

Over at the Athletic Kevin Kurz points out some of Jones' struggles of late--he has allowed four or more goals in his last five starts--but don't let the numbers fool you. He was probably the biggest reason the Sharks didn't get blown out in this one.

Look closely at all four of the Canucks goals and you can see that Jones pretty much had no chance on any of them. Maybe Brock Boeser's PP goal was one he could have stopped, but Boeser is a major league sniper that was left all alone by the Sharks PK unit--not a good idea.

PS... Jones is still stuck on 99 career wins.

3. Burns is getting on track

Brent Burns chipped in with his second multi-goal game in the Sharks' last three contests, and that's a great sign for San Jose's struggling offense. He scored one on the power play and tied the game in the third with a seeing-eye goal from the point. From a possession standpoint Burns was solid with a Corsi % of 60.53 at 5-on-5. He led the Sharks in shot attempts with eight.

Burns now has 13 points in his last 12 games an leads all NHL defenseman in points since Nov. 22.

Speaking of Burns, this fan had a milestone night in Vancouver:
4. Sorensen Gets First Goal of Season

Here's a goal that will buy Marcus Sorensen a few more games in the NHL at the very least. The Swede, who has provided a ton of energy since his most recent callup, was rewarded on Friday. He scored the goal that brought the Sharks within a goal, and if you watch the replay ever so slowly you'll see that Sorensen made a heck of a play getting this puck from skate to stick. The goal was looked at as a potential kick-in but Sorensen made this play clean.

Sorensen had three shot attempts and two high danger opportunities in 11:22 of 5-on-5 time for the Sharks last night.

5. Donskoi Gets Time on Top Line

Peter DeBoer and his blender were in full effect last night as Joonas Donskoi was moved from the third to the second to the first line over the course of last night's game. That meant that Melker Karlsson was moved down and Kevin Labanc was moved all around. Honestly, it gets pretty hard to track at times, but DeBoer has a good feel for the game and who may or may not be able to provide the offense on a given night.

Labanc started the night with Chris Tierney and Timo Meier and that line was pretty solid from a possession standpoint. But Labanc just cannot snap out of his funk. He has now gone 22 games without a goal, not scoring since October 14. Seems like now would be a good time for Danny O'Regan to step in and have a shot. Labanc has seemed like a threat when he's been on the ice, and he led the Shark in Corsi Rel at 5-on-5 last night at 16.69%, but what can you say? No goals in 22 games is pretty hard to get excited about.

Chris Tierney continues to look really impressive with and without the puck for the Sharks. He ranked fourth in Corsi Rel at 5-on-5 last night at 6.92.

Donskoi did not register a shot last night, but still made his presence felt in his usual, puck-houndy way.



MILESTONE: Joel Ward's 300th point
Ward was also a plus-2 last night.