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Sharks Need Stronger Third Period

by Staff Writer / San Jose Sharks
The San Jose Sharks hit the ice at Logitech Ice on Monday in preparation of their upcoming three-game trip to Dallas, Toronto and Buffalo. Team Teal may be on their longest losing streak of the season, but every game has been tight in the third and in many cases, the Sharks controlled the outcome, just not in the way they would have liked.

“(With Detroit) we got the offense going and we scored on the power play,” said Marco Sturm. “Then they took our mistake and scored. The good part is that the mistakes are fixable.”

Fixing their own mistakes will eventually allow the Sharks that everyone expected when the season began, to start showing through.

“If we can fix our mistakes, we are going to win a lot of games,” said Sturm. “It is all in our heads right now. Everyone is trying their best, but sometimes you can try too much. You want to win and then something stupid happens. The best way to fix things is to play some and win some games. Once we turn the corner, things usually will go our way.”

The fact that every contest during the losing streak has been up for grabs in the third period shows how close the Sharks are in their battle to right their ship. In only one contest, at Colorado on Nov. 8, were they not tied or leading in the final stanza, and that game was only a one-goal deficit when the season began.

With Vancouver and Detroit, San Jose had one-goal leads in the third. Yet, none of the nine contests fell in the Sharks favor.

“It can’t be a good sign because you didn’t win any, but it is an indicator that you’re not too far off,” said Brad Stuart. “We’re just shooting ourselves in the foot. When you’re playing well, you find a way to win and good teams win a lot of one and two goal games.”

A scenario that was very common to the Sharks in 2003-04 when they claimed the Pacific Division Championship.

In addition to being in every recent contests, San Jose has outshot their opponents in eight of nine games (the exception being Calgary) and for the season, the Sharks are allowing the fewest shots against in the entire NHL.

“I think we have played better the last two games, but it is still frustrating to give up the last goal,” said Marcel Goc. “We’ve got to make sure when we’re on our blueline that we get the puck out and that we keep moving our feet on the forecheck.”

There isn’t one particular place that has been at fault for every contest, but nobody is blameless.

“I’ll take some of the blame, but this is a team sport and we have to come out of this tougher and it will make us stronger,” said Evgeni Nabokov.

Grant Stevenson has now played a game in San Jose and recorded his first career point on home ice. He is also doing what everyone does in their home city – shop. Cleveland was on the road when he received the call to the parent club.

“I only had the one suit and it wasn’t even my best suit,” said Stevenson. “Schaefer showed me where to by some jeans and T-shirts.”

Stevenson also got a taste of an extra skate at the end of practice as Wilson provided a little “conditioning” on Monday.

“I’ll take it,” said Stevenson. “I’m in the NHL. I was playing so much in Cleveland, on the power play and getting double shifted. It was pretty tiring. I’m playing so little here compared to there.”

Following Saturday’s contest, Wilson hinted at some lineup changes, but he has not set anything in stone for the upcoming Dallas contest.

“I’ll take the fifth,” said Wilson. “I’ll monitor practice.”

Speculation was that the change could come in net.

“He (Nabokov) is the first to admit that he hasn’t made the key saves, not that it’s all his fault,” said Wilson. “I don’t have the best answer to get Nabby to the top of his game. Whether it’s letting him play through it or try to (I may wait until Wednesday and go with my gut feeling. I’ll consult Wayne Thomas and see what he thinks.”

If Wilson does make a change, it would be to Nolan Schaefer as Vesa Toskala is still not ready for action.

“Vesa needs more time,” said Wilson. “When he is ready, we’ll see if he needs a game in the minors. He’s played in five games and completed three. That is not much playing time.”

San Jose’s save percentage is near the bottom of the NHL despite the lowest shots against average and the talented past of Nabokov and Toskala.

“I’m confident in our goalies and that they will play better,” said Wilson. “It is up to Nabby to get the job done.”

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