SAN JOSE – The Sharks’ goose egg on Saturday against the Wild in a 2-0 loss was enough evidence that the new line combinations didn’t exactly produce the intended result. Pete DeBoer altered all four of his forward groups ahead of the meeting with Minnesota, attempting to end a five-game losing streak.
Now, the streak is six.
“Obviously no, we didn’t score,” DeBoer said, when asked if the line shuffling had the desired effect.
Still, one player that had his best game in weeks was second-year center Chris Tierney, who started the game on a line with Joonas Donskoi and Joel Ward. That wasn’t really reflected in the scoresheet, as Tierney was scoreless with a -1 rating in 13:39 of ice time, but he managed four shot attempts including two that were on net. The 22-year-old had just three attempted shots in his previous four games combined.
He also set up the Sharks’ best scoring chance of the night. In the second period, Ward sprung him with a lead pass on a two-on-one with Melker Karlsson, and Tierney just missed connecting with Karlsson, who was being pestered from behind by Mikko Koivu on a borderline hook that wasn’t called.
“It felt like our line was creating a lot of chances,” Tierney said. “It felt like the legs were good and we had opportunities, but we just didn’t execute. If one of those goes in, it might be the difference in the game.”
Regarding that odd-man rush with Karlsson, he said: “Wardo made a good play off the wall on the faceoff. I just tried to get it over to him and I didn’t really see what happened but it looked like he got tangled up there. It was close. You wish those ones went in.”
DeBoer wasn’t in much of a mood to praise anyone on the team after the game, when it was suggested to him that Tierney seemed to have good legs.
“We need production, though,” he said. “Moral victory games, ‘boy he had great legs,’ don’t cut it for guys. We need production. If you’re playing with us and you’re getting 15 or 18 minutes a night, we need production.”
Tierney has been one of the bigger disappointments this season, with just seven points (3g, 4a) and a -7 rating in 28 games. Last season, he was third on the Sharks in points-per-60 minutes at even strength with 1.98, behind only Joe Thornton and Logan Couture. This year that number is down to 1.19, including just one goal into a manned net.
Tierney, nor anyone else, was able to break through against the Wild. After the first few minutes, the Sharks had a dearth of scoring chances against a club that was playing its second game in as many nights.
“[It] was a night we need to find a way to get a goal,” DeBoer said. “One has got to go in on one of those chances we had, or a power play goal, or something. You can’t win without scoring. I thought defensively we were fine. Our goaltender was great. We’ve got to find a way to generate some offense here.”
Joe Pavelski said: “We never got to the goalie enough. It was one of those games where there really wasn’t much room out there. At the end of the night we didn’t create enough to get a couple.”