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.
Get Sharks news in your inbox. Sign up now for the free Sharks Report newsletter.
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.
Like our Sharks Facebook page for more San Jose Sharks news, commentary and conversation.
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).
For complete Sharks coverage
follow us on Flipboard.
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.”