4 Takeaways From Sharks’ Shutout Loss to Rangers

When the San Jose Sharks consider the most difficult tasks they faced this season, scoring goals against the New York Rangers will be at the top of the list.

For the second time this year, the Rangers shut out the Sharks, this time by a tally of 3-0 at SAP Center on Jan. 13. San Jose played well most of the way and once again received solid goaltending. But as the saying goes, you can’t win if you can’t score, and it was another rough night for the offense against New York.

Shesterkin Dominates Sharks Again

Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin returned from the COVID-19 protocol list just in time to face the Sharks, and that was unfortunate for San Jose as he once again shut them down and shut them out.

Shesterkin handled the Sharks 1-0 on Dec. 3 at Madison Square Garden, earning 19 saves before leaving the game with a lower-body injury in the third period. It was more of the same at the SAP Center.

He was terrific in the net with 35 saves, and the Sharks worked hard and had plenty of quality looks. But in a total of 115 minutes of playing time, they never solved the Russian netminder.

Tomas Hertl
San Jose Sharks center Tomas Hertl (Photo Credit: Andy Martin Jr)

The Sharks did everything but score in the second period. Andrew Cogliano had a chance for the Sharks to score in the second period when Tomas Hertl fed him on a breakaway, but Shesterkin came up big again to deny the goal. Hertl had his own opportunity soon after, but the net came off its mooring before the puck went in and a review backed up the call on the ice.

The best opportunity was with 2:47 left in the second when the Sharks had a two-on-one break with Hertl and Timo Meier. But Meier swatted the puck off the post. It was a frustrating night. The good news is that the Sharks won’t have to see him again during the regular season.

San Jose Hurt by Another Shorthanded Goal

The turning point of the game was the Rangers’ first goal, and the Sharks gave up another short-hander.

They went on a power play and had four forwards and defenseman Brent Burns on the ice. The Rangers were able to drive into the San Jose zone and Chris Kreider beat Sharks goalie Adin Hill for a 1-0 lead 10:35 into the opening period.

It was the sixth shorty against the Sharks in 2021-22, they surrendered two against Detroit on Jan. 4 during a major penalty.

Related: 4 Takeaways From Sharks’ Stunning OT Win Against Detroit

“We know our special teams have to be better,” Sharks forward Timo Meier said. “As a power play, you want to be out there to score goals and not allow them. Next game we’re going to work harder to score them.”

What should be a good thing – a power play – becomes a bad thing and kills any momentum a team may have going. The Sharks have to find a way to protect the puck better on their power plays.

Hill Stays Consistent

Hill was tagged with the loss, but the coaching staff has got to like what they’ve seen from him over the past four games.

During that span, he has allowed just two goals a game and won three. The third goal by the Rangers was an empty netter by Kreider. Hill had 26 saves for a .933 save percentage.

Adin Hill San Jose Sharks
Adin Hill, San Jose Sharks (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

With James Reimer still out with an injury, Hill has done a fine job. He’s not lighting the world on fire, but he’s keeping the games close and giving the Sharks a chance to win.

“He’s definitely giving us a chance every night,” Sharks coach Bob Boughner said. “We’ve asked him to give us a chance to win every night and I think he’s done that. Poised, calm. We need to get some offense for him.”

Balcers, Bonino Return to Lineup

The banged-up Sharks received some good news as Rudolfs Balcers and Nick Bonino returned to the lineup.

Balcers played on the first line with Hertl and Meier and had two shots in 17:05 after missing 13 games with a lower-body injury. Bonino didn’t show any signs of jet lag when he entered the game despite little time to prepare after a cross-country flight.

Bonino, who had been in COVID-19 protocols in Philadelphia, flew to San Jose on the morning of the Rangers matchup and centered the third line between Cogliano and Matt Nieto. He had not played since Jan. 6 in Buffalo, missing two games. He was on the ice for 15:10 and had four shots on goal and a blocked shot to his credit.

San Jose is a bit healthier, but still has a ton of injury issues.

Reimer (lower body), Jacob Middleton (upper body), Kevin Labanc (upper body), Nikolai Knyzhov (upper body), Jonah Gadjovich (upper body) all remain on the injured reserve list, and Alexander Barabanov just went into COVID-19 protocols.

It’s going to be tough to continue to play consistent hockey if they don’t get some of these players back soon.

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