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San Jose Sharks forward Joe Pavelski (8) battles Anaheim Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler (4) for the puck during the second period of their game on Monday, Nov. 20, 2017, in San Jose, Calif. (Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group)


SAN JOSE — Joonas Donskoi scored two goals, the power play came to life and Brent Burns finally found the back of the net, albeit in a shootout.

But the Sharks (10-8-1) offensive struggles continued, despite a whopping 42 shots on goal, as the Anaheim Ducks (10-7-3) spoiled their third period charge by winning in the ninth round of the shootout.
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Here’s what we learned in the Sharks 3-2 shootout loss at SAP Center Monday night.

1. Joe Pavelski denies that the Sharks have scoring issues.

Pavelski still isn’t convinced that scoring is a major issue for the Sharks.

The Sharks captain scowled at a reporter who asked about the team’s scoring woes two weeks ago, saying that while the media is “panicking” about the team’s lack of offense, he isn’t. Pavelski doubled down on his statement after the Sharks 2-1 loss to the Florida Panthers last week, pointing out that the team had won six of its last seven games despite its low goal total.
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But the Sharks inability to get the puck across the line is starting to catch up with them at the season’s quarter pole. The squad scored just two goals in regulation Monday, the sixth time in seven games that it has failed to reach the three-goal mark.

As a result, they’ve lost three-consecutive games (0-2-1) on home ice, two of which came against non-playoff teams.

After 19 games, the Sharks rank 29th in goals per game (2.42), 31st in five-on-five offense (26 goals) and 28th on the power play (15.3 percent).
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Regardless, the Sharks captain isn’t changing his stance on the issue.

“The losses are unacceptable — no doubt,” he said before adding: “I believe it’s going to come.”

What is holding the captain’s faith together as the team struggles to score night after night?

Pavelski believes the power play, which has been ranked in the NHL’s bottom third over the last 101 games, will eventually start to produce. He also thinks the puck will start to go in if the team continues to generate a high volume of shots.

The Sharks currently rank eighth in shots per game (33.5), fourth in shot attempts percentage (52.6 percent) and 30th in shooting percentage (5.5 percent). In addition, Brent Burns, who leads all defensemen in shots on goal, is 0-for-82 on the season. The puck will start to bounce his way eventually.

“If we can keep putting up 39 shots…I like our chances,” Pavelski said.

2. The Sharks find their top line.

The Sharks found their top line Monday, and no, they didn’t close the revolving door on Pavelski and Joe Thornton’s left wing.

With Melker Karlsson on the shelf, Joonas Donskoi made his return to Logan Couture’s right wing, reigniting the chemistry they developed during the Sharks run to the Stanley Cup Final. Throw Tomas Hertl into the mix and the Sharks have unearthed a line combination with a legitimate one-two-three punch.

“Him and Melker are similar in the fact that they both get in on the forecheck and they’re tenacious on the puck,” Couture said, referring to Donskoi. “I think Donny’s got — I don’t say this to take anything away from Melker — a little more puck skills, more creativity offensively. And he made some great looks.”

One of those looks came at 3:31 of the first period when Donskoi got the Sharks on the board. He started the play by stripping the puck from Dennis Rasmussen near the blue line, and after Couture got it back over to him, he beat Reto Berra with a nifty move through the five hole.

In the second, he used his stickhandling skills to draw a hooking penalty, and in the third, he set up Hertl with a quality-scoring chance in the high slot.

Donskoi surpassed his 2016-17 goal total in the third, scoring the game-tying goal on the power play, his seventh tally of the year.

“Great to have him back. We missed him last year,” head coach Pete DeBoer said. “Nice to have him back in town.”

3. The power play wakes up after DeBoer reshuffles the deck.

With two new units, the Sharks produced their most dangerous two-minute power play in three weeks when they generated five shots on goal in the second period. In the third, they snapped a six-game scoreless drought with the man advantage, recording their first power play goal in 24 tries.

For a second-consecutive game, the Sharks split the Fab Four into two groups, sending out one unit with Couture, Donskoi, Hertl, Danny O’Regan and Brent Burns and another with Pavelski, Thornton, Mikkel Boedker, Tim Heed and Kevin Labanc.

Couture said the shake up changed the Sharks mindset with the extra man.

“It’s just mentality and getting back to working harder,” he said. “Sometimes you need change, and I think the power play got to a point where it definitely needed it.”

O’Regan, who was playing in just his fifth NHL game, got the nod with the first unit in the third, setting up Donskoi’s goal off a rebound by using his shiftiness to create a shot on goal.

“Danny’s been creative on the power play,” Couture said. “He’s come in and done a good job. I feel comfortable playing with him. He stepped into a spot where he did well in the American League and it’s translated to the NHL.”

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The New York Islanders were embarrassed Friday night in Dallas. They were on the short end of a 5-0 score. They had only 14 shots on goal all game. And afterward they got called out by their coach, former Blue Doug Weight.

Saturday night, they took out their frustration on the Blues with three goals and 12 shots in the first period alone. The Blues, mind you, entered the game having allowed only six first-period goals through their first 17 games — a league low.

But things were different this night, a 5-2 Islanders victory before 18,761 at Scottrade Center, leaving coach Mike Yeo understandably upset about the team’s slow start.

“That’s three games in a row now,” he said, referring to sluggish first periods by his team. “We got away with it for two, so we’ve been playing with fire. Our start tonight, you look at our urgency with the puck and our urgency to defend.”

Or lack thereof.

When this campaign started, the Blues didn’t let a string of offseason and preseason injuries slow them down. Or seven road games in their first nine contests. With Saturday’s game against the Islanders, the Blues completed a stretch of seven home games in nine contests . Home or away, injured or healthy, the Blues kept winning. Almost every time out.

Alas, Saturday wasn’t one of those nights. Their historic start hit a bump against the Islanders (9-6-2). At 13-4-1, the Blues still lead the Western Conference with 27 points and remain one point behind Tampa Bay for the top overall spot in the NHL. They now head out on a three-game trip to western Canada starting Monday in Calgary.

With the possible exception of a 5-2 loss to Florida in Game 5, the Blues’ first loss of the season, they hadn’t experienced a game like this. And the Blues were a tired team against the Panthers, playing their third road game in four days.

If any team should’ve been tired Saturday, it would be the Islanders, who were playing back-to-back after their debacle in Dallas. But it was the Blues who were outscored and outhustled.

“A little bit of adversity to show what kind of character we’re going to have here,” defenseman Colton Parayko said. “Go on the road, out west, I think it’s going to be a good challenge for us to bounce back and come back together as a team.”

Islanders star John Tavares got the Blues’ uncharacteristic night started early in the proceedings, emerging from behind Jake Allen’s net, patiently waiting for the Blues’ defense to commit, and then burying his 13th goal of the season at the 3:21 mark.

It marked the fourth time in the past five games that the opposing team had scored first on the Blues, so no big deal, right?

It became a bigger deal midway through the period when Casey Cizikas outmuscled Vince Dunn for a rebound in front of Allen to score on a backhand for a 2-0 Islanders lead.

And then a really big deal at the 13:18 mark when the Islanders counterattacked after a sequence in which the Blues had a couple of excellent chances on New York goalie Thomas Greiss. The end result was a perfectly executed 2-on-1 rush by the Islanders with Jordan Eberle squeezing one inside the post on Allen’s glove side.

“They came out hard, they made some good plays,” said forward Brayden Schenn, who scored the first Blues goal. “I think scoring in the first five minutes gave them some energy, some life. We would have liked a better start.”

It marked the first time all season the Blues trailed 3-0 in the opening period, and only the third time all year they had given up as many as three goals in any period. The Blues haven’t trailed much all season, and the only previous time they trailed by as many as three goals came in their first loss of the season — that defeat Oct. 12.

Things got no better early in the second period. Joshua Ho-Sang made it 4-0 at the 3:35 mark, a goal that ended Allen’s night. Again, only against Florida had the Blues trailed by as many as four goals this season — a 5-1 deficit in the third period of that game.

“He’s been playing so well for us all season,” Parayko said. “It’s kind of tough to lay an egg for him like that, but it’s over now for everyone. We just have to make sure we come out in the next game and do our game.”