Sharks Earn Point in Loss to Bruins, Head Into Bye Week in a ‘Good Spot’
SAN JOSE — Coaches rarely express pride in their teams following midseason losses, but after the Sharks found a way to grind out a single point on the eve of their upcoming bye week, head coach Peter DeBoer decided to switch up the script.
With a five-day layoff before their next game, DeBoer wanted the Sharks (35-18-7) to close out the weekend on a high note, so they could enter the union-mandated bye week with a cushion in the Pacific Division standings. By knocking off the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday and picking up a point in a 2-1 overtime loss to the Boston Bruins at the SAP Center on Sunday, the Sharks can relax during their time off knowing they gave themselves a five-point lead over both the Anaheim Ducks and the Edmonton Oilers.
“I’m really proud of our group,” DeBoer said. “Considering the travel, playing as late as we did last year, the number of guys that we had at the World Cup, this has been a grind, and I thought we put our heads down.”
“It was an important push into this break.”
The Sharks earned just one point because Bruins forward Brad Marchand converted a breakaway opportunity at 2:36 of overtime after Torey Krug sent him off to the races by flipping the puck into the neutral zone after a faceoff win in his own end.
Marchand’s goal clinched the Sharks fifth-consecutive overtime loss, all of which have come in the month of February.
Regardless, DeBoer said he isn’t discouraged by the Sharks recent overtime performances because they’ve only lost two of their last 17 games in regulation dating back to Jan. 16.
The Sharks are 7-7 in games that extend beyond the third period this season.
“The points are critical, they’re valuable. I don’t read a lot into them (overtime losses), we’ve won our share,” he said. “When those things go against you, they kind of go in bunches, and I think they go the other way the same way. I concentrate on the effort, and I thought we got better as the game went on.”
“It was a gutsy effort because your focus with a five-day break can easily go in different directions.”
Patrick Marleau tied the game at 1-1 with 2:23 left in the second, tossing the puck into a yawning net for his 502nd career goal after Krug blocked a Brent Burns point shot that trickled out to him in the left circle.
The Bruins opened the scoring at 11:05 of the first when Ryan Spooner fired in the rebound of a Jimmy Hayes shot that bounced off the end boards from in close, capitalizing on a Sharks defensive breakdown on the rush.
Goalie Martin Jones gave the Sharks a chance to earn the single point in overtime by making 26 saves on 28 shots, including a post-to-post glove save on Frank Vatrano in the first and a left-pad stop on Spooner from the doorstep late in the third.
DeBoer cut his bench down to three lines in the third, sitting rookie Nikolay Goldobin, who was playing in his second NHL game of the season, Mikkel Boedker and Micheal Haley.
“We thought we could ride the big guys a little bit more with the five-day break starting right after the game,” DeBoer said.
The break is coming at a good time for the Sharks who played deep into the spring last season before losing several key players in training camp to the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.
With the Christmas break in December and the All-Star break in January, the schedule is breaking up nicely for a squad that relies heavily on players over the age of 30.
“We’ve put in a lot of hard work to be where we’re at,” Marleau said. “It’s a good spot heading into the break.”
The question now is whether the break with take the first-place Sharks out of their rhythm heading into the stretch run in March. With the Bruins win on Sunday, NHL teams are now 4-12-4 on the season when coming out of bye weeks.
The Sharks will return to action against the Vancouver Canucks in Canada on Saturday.
“You just have to rely on your group,” DeBoer said. “I’m confident our group will come back and be ready to play. I don’t know what other people are doing, but those statistics, I don’t put a lot of stock in them. I’m sure there’s somethings there, but I’d like to think that we can get around that.”