Saturday’s 2-1 loss to the Nashville Predators was an exciting effort by San Jose and, had it not been for an incredible night by Pekka Rinne, it would likely have been a victory. The Sharks 43 shots on net seemed to come from all the right ways, with traffic and from in close, but Rinne was on fire and the Sharks had to simply tip their hat when the evening was complete.
“The effort was better, I think everybody can see that from the bench, lockerroom, coaching staff, and probably the fans as well,” Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan said. “It’s a step in the right direction. This is one of those games when you’re cruising along, when you’re at or near first place, you say you know what? We probably deserve a better fate, but when you’ve lost some games here in a row, these are games that you have to win and the two points got away from us.”
Still, there was no doubt McLellan saw some of the fire he’s been looking for.
“At least we can look each other in the eye and say we showed up and played hard,” McLellan said. “If we put some more games like that together, we’ll win our share. We can’t have another effort like we did against Buffalo.”
That is not to say the loss still didn’t sting in the room.
“A loss is a loss,” Dan Boyle
said. “It’s frustrating, at home, the first game of the second half. It’s a tough one. We had a lot of good looks and he played really well. I can’t explain why the scoring has been down this year and five-on-five. We have to work for our goals and they are not coming easy.”
Boyle said the key is to keep performing as the club did on Saturday and to stick together.
“We’ve put some losses together and it’s upsetting,” Boyle said. “The last thing we need is for this hockey team to feel sorry for itself. It’s very important that we stay together and not go why us, why me? We have to find a way.”
The Sharks were the victims of some unfortunate bounces on the night, including one where the game-winner went in off the stick of Jason Demers
. Demers has the right mindset as he was preventing a Nashville player from reaching the puck first at close range, but the puck did not move as intended.
“It’s a tough loss to take,” Demers said. “I think we played a good enough game to win. We did a lot of good things. I put the puck in the net on the last one so that (wasn’t a play you wanted). It just went off my stick the wrong way into the net. I went to put it in the corner and put it the wrong way. One mistake like that cost us the game.”
Nashville’s first goal was not quite as quirky, but Dan Boyle
was given trouble by the puck and ended up on the ice.
“Let’s just not feel sorry for ourselves and hopefully we can get one of those bounces they got tonight,” Boyle said. “All night the puck was bouncing. It was a (unlucky) bounce. I’m not trying to feel sorry for myself (referring to the puck not working for him on Nashville’s goal).”
Last year in the postseason when Boyle was in a similar situation to Demers, the team rallied around him in the next contest and turned a potentially devastating loss into a long playoff run.
“I have seen that happen before and I have seen players rally around a teammate and I have seen us come out with a heck of an effort the next night,” McLellan said. “Let’s see if we can to that again.”
“You’ve got to move past it,” Demers.
was able to end a Sharks goalless streak that had extended for close to two games and sent the crowd into a frenzy when the tied the contest.
“Clowe made a great play and I waited for Jammer to get up in the play to create a question in the goalie’s mind if I was going to pass or I was going to shoot,” Couture said. “I picked a spot and was able so shoot it. I’d go goalless to trade it in for a win right now.”
Then Couture almost tied the contest in the waning seconds of regulation. With Antti Niemi
pulled for an extra attacker, the puck found him and he let it fly toward the net.
“I think it was the crossbar,” Couture said of the last second sound. “I didn’t see the shot and almost raised my hands because I thought for sure it was in. I heard bar. The puck went up in the air and I didn’t see it, so I was looking for the red light to go on. I saw it drop around the circle, so it was frustrating.”
The Sharks players know they want to once again make HP Pavilion one of the most feared buildings in the NHL.
“You lose a game and it feels awful. You lose three in a row at home, in this building, one of the toughest buildings for teams to come in and play, it’s just not right,” Couture said. “The fans are loud and it’s intimidating for them when we score. It’s embarrassing to lose three in a row at home.”
Couture, with 19, continues to lead all NHL rookies in goals scored at the halfway point of the 2010-2011 season.
San Jose tied a season best with their 43 shots in the game.
The Sharks had zero penalties called against them on the evening.
NASHVILLE HEAD COACH BARRY TROTZ
“Our goaltender stole this one for us. We battled pretty hard. But we were looking like a pretty tired hockey team. We’re missing a lot of people. Guys are really pushing hard.”
“We got through the first and I thought that was real key for us. And in the second they really came at us hard. I thought ‘Pecks’ (Rinne) was obviously outstanding all game. He was tracking the puck and his hands were great. And they had a lot of shots.”
“We did a pretty good job mostly from the outside. WE gave up some really prime chances in the second, but then I thought we settled in pretty well. Rinne was great. He was the difference really.”
San Jose has a quick turnaround as they head to Anaheim for a 5 p.m. Sunday contest that will be available on CSN California, 98.5 KFOX and www.sjsharks.com.