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Rangers exploit jumbo defensive hole
SJ surrenders 6 goals in ugly loss to New York
1/25/18 - By Mike Lee -

The Sharks started the Jumbo-less period of their schedule as Joe Thornton begins his rehabilitation following knee surgery earlier in the day. San Jose got a bit of a reprieve in the schedule by having the struggling New York Rangers to cut their teeth on the new roster situation. They responded by playing a sloppy defensive game that resulted in 6 Rangers goals and a 6-5 loss at SAP Center. If Thursday night's game is an indication of things to come, the Sharks can't get Thornton back soon enough.

Knowing one of their leaders will miss multiple weeks, the injury has opened up opportunities for other players to step up and carry some of Thornton's load. Not one stepped up to pick up the defensive responsibility that is one of Thornton's unheralded strengths.

The Rangers entered play in a funk, having won only three times in their last ten games. They've been handled by the Pacific Division teams that they've squared off against on their west coast swing, but the Sharks simply put up little fight on the defensive end.

Kevin Hayes staked the Rangers to the 1-0 lead 5:45 into the game by ripping a shot from the left dot as he skated up the left wing. J.T. Miller fed Hayes who had a stride on defenseman Joakim Ryan, but elected to uncork the longer shot rather than take matters to the net. That decision worked out for Hayes, who recorded his 11th goal of the season.

The response was swift by San Jose when Barclay Goodrow countered exactly a minute later, firing a shot off Rangers goaltender Ondrej Pavelec before grabbing the rebound and slipping it home after skating to the left side of the goal mouth. Goodrow's playing time should increase with Joe Thornton's injury, and the young forward made the most of his ice time early, scoring his 4th of the season.

Logan Couture made it a 2-1 Sharks lead 4 minutes later when he elevated a shot from the left side that tucked between Pavelec and the left post. Kevin Labanc fed his centerman to earn the primary assist. Couture's attempt came from a tight angle, but he found a way to squeeze it past the Rangers netminder for this team leading 19th goal of the season.

San Joe had their chances to extend their lead, but a defensive lapse late in the period bit them when Jesper Fast poked home a Michael Grabner feed from the left side at 17:53. The Sharks defense all floated over to the right corner to cover Grabner, leaving Fast unattended in the slot for the point blank shot that resulted in the 2-2 tie.

Couture staked the Sharks to their second lead of the night 2:36 into the 2nd period when he carried a Kevin Labanc feed up the left side and firing a shot that found a seam between Pavelec and the left post.

Ryan McDonagh tied the game again 11:04 into the frame on another massive defensive lapse by San Jose. The Rangers worked the puck into the Sharks zone and somehow found themselves on a 2-on-none chance when Hayes carried the puck near the left dot, feeding McDonagh on the left side for the easy deposit past Sharks goaltender Aaron Dell.

A Timo Meier tripping penalty put the Rangers on the power play for the second time in the game, and they would cash in. Once again it was McDonagh, who ripped a shot from the blueline that found a seam off a screen in front of Dell.

San Jose finally drew a penalty when Brendan Smith was whistled for holding at 16:15. The Sharks elected an unconventional approach on the power play, by setting up in their own zone and letting the Rangers start with the puck. Surprisingly, that tact failed, when a deflection off Dell kicked out to Brady Skjei who was steaming down the slot. Skjei deposited the rebound for his 3rd goal of the season to make it a 5-3 game.

Marc-Edouard Vlasic cut the Rangers lead to a single goal with 9:09 to play, putting a shot from the left side past Pavelec. Justin Braun teamed up with his defensive partner to earn the primary assist.

J.T. Miller put a dagger in the Sharks left knee with 1:50 to play, when he put a 6th goal past Dell. The Sharks were forced to play a more offensive game late in order to score a tying goal, and that opened up an already porous defense which allowed the Rangers to push their lead back to two goals.

Tomas Hertl finally made an appearance, albeit too late. The forward scored his 14th goal of the season with 50 seconds left in regulation, but the gap was insurmountable.

Game Notes:

* Kevin Labanc led the Sharks with 3 assists on the night. The young forward had his ups and downs during the game. He finished with a +2, but was on the ice during the Skjei short handed goal.

* Melker Karlsson had a game to forget. The forward did nothing offensively, even though the Sharks scored 5 goals, and was on the ice for the Rangers first and last goals. He did not record a shot on goal and was credited with one giveaway.

* Aaron Dell has surrendered 11 goals in a 72 hour span. The Sharsk goaltender has been handed the reigns while Martin Jones rehabs his injury, and the last two showings have not been indicative of his early season play.


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1 2 3 T
NYR 2 3 1 6
SJ 2 1 2 5
1st period - 1, NYR, Hayes 11 (Miller, Zuccarello), 5:45. 2, SJ, Goodrow 4 (Burns), 6:45. 3, SJ, Couture 19 (Labanc, Ryan), 10:56. 4, NYR, Fast 8 (Grabner, Holland), 17:53.
2nd period - 5, SJ, Couture 20 (Labanc, Vlasic), 2:36. 6, NYR, McDonagh 1 (Hayes, Miller), 11:04. 7, NR, McDonagh 2 (Buchnevich), 12:16, (pp). 8, NYR, Skjei 3 (unassisted), 17:09, (sh).
3rd period - 9, SJ, Vlasic 8 (Braun, Tierney), 10:51. 10, NYR, Milller 11 (Zuccarello, Skjei), 18:10. 11, SJ, Hertl 14 (Labanc, Burns), 19:10.
1st period - Dillon, SJ (hooking), 12:40.
2nd period - Meier, SJ (tripping), 11:23; Smih, NYR (holding), 16:15; Demelo, SJ (holding), 18:49.
3rd period - None.
Shots Saves
NYR - Pavelec 28 23
SJ - Dell 29 23
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
NYR 12 11 6 29
SJ 7 7 14 28
Power Play Conversion
NYR 1 of 3
SJ 0 of 1
3 Stars of the Game
J.T. Miller
Kevin Labanc
Ryan McDonagh
SAP Center - 17,477
Referees: Watson, Schlenker. Linesmen: Knorr, Wheler.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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