The San Jose Sharks had a perfectly good chance to finally end their long winless streak. They played well much of the game, received a big performance from captain Logan Couture, and earned a point. But once again, the Sharks couldn’t quite nail down a victory.
At first glance, San Jose’s 4-3 shootout loss to the Anaheim Ducks doesn’t look too bad on a quick one-game road trip. The Sharks headed down state to take on a division rival with a better record, and at least they got something out of the trip. The problem is that this result has become all too common during a frustrating seven-game winless streak, and they don’t seem any closer to solving the problem.
Sharks Need to Remember How to Win
It needs to be noted that they have played some very good hockey during this unfortunate streak, and most of the game have been competitive. Sure there have been stinkers, such as the 3-0 defeat to Edmonton and the listless 4-1 loss to Vancouver. Both those games were at home. And they have picked up four points during the seven game. They have also fallen farther off the pace in the chase for a Western Conference postseason berth, and while it might not be time to panic, it’s certainly a great moment to be deeply concerned.
The old saying that “winning begets winning” is true, and it’s been 28 days since the Sharks have celebrated a victory. The caveat there is that they did have a 12-day break during that span, but it’s still a really long time since you went back to a happy locker room after a game.
The opportunities were there against the Ducks. The Sharks outshot Anaheim 43-29, but couldn’t convert on some choice chances. “You’ve got to finish,” San Jose head coach Bob Boughner said. “We had plenty of chances to finish and we didn’t, whether it’s a breakaway, whether it’s a 2-on-1, whether it’s a back door, 3-on-1. You’ve got to finish on some of those.”
Finishing just one of those chances in regulation would have done the job. Instead, the Sharks continue to search for the next win.
Burns, Couture Lead the Way
The veteran leaders of the Sharks did everything they could to beat the Sharks, and that’s a good sign. Captain Logan Couture and Brent Burns combined for five points and more than 53 minutes.
Couture had two goals and scored the game tying goal in the first period, an important moment for a team struggling to score early in games. Off a draw, Burns fired a shot on the Anaheim net, and Couture collected the fat rebound to tie the game at 1-1 at 7:10. He put this team up 3-2 on a power play in the second period on another assist from Burns, who launched a shot from the point at Ducks netminder Anthony Stolarz. Couture cruised in and scored on a backhander for his 17th goal of the season.
Burns put on an ironman effort. The veteran defenseman played a game-high 30:25, almost six minutes more than any other player, and had a strong three-point game.
He had the primary assists on both of Couture’s goals, and gave San Jose a 2-1 lead in the first period with a booming one-timer, which Stolarz never seemed to pick up. It was Burns’ fifth goal.
Ryan Dzingel Added off Waivers
San Jose picked up forward Ryan Dzingel on waivers on Monday, and put him right to work. He played on the second line with Couture and Rudolfs Balcers, collecting two shots and a hit in 16:05 on the ice.
Dzingel has played for five NHL teams in seven years, primarily with the Ottawa Senators. His best season was 2018-19, when he had 26 goals combined with Ottawa and Columbus. He was officially on three teams in two days as he was traded by Arizona on a multi-player deal with Arizona, waived by the Coyotes and claimed by the Sharks.
He will likely get a chance to unpack his suitcase now, and has what amounts to a two-month audition with San Jose to see if he can impress the team brass.
Gregor’s Scoring Struggles Continue
Noah Gregor has only two goals this season, but it not because he’s been bashful about shooting the puck, especially in the last two games. He was very busy against the Ducks with six shots and a couple of very good chances. He has 10 shots on goal in the last two goals.
But he has nothing to show for it, when is frustrating for the 23-year-old player. Coaches just need to keep encouraging him. Gregor is a talented guy and he’ll start to find the back of the net.
Interestingly, Gregor’s last goal was in the Sharks’ last win, so maybe he and the rest of the team can get hot together.
Scott Linesburgh has been a sports writer for 35 years, and has spent more than 15 years as a pro hockey beat writer. He has covered some of the biggest sporting events, including the Super Bowl and Indianapolis 500. A native of Long Island, N.Y. who grew up as an Islander fan, Scott cover the San Jose Sharks for THW, and is always looking for the stories beyond the box scores.