Sharks aim to get on track and solve recent slump vs. Sabres

( – For most teams, hosting the lowly Buffalo Sabres would
present an excellent opportunity to halt a losing streak. The slumping San
Jose Sharks, however, are not one of those teams.

San Jose hopes to halt a three-game slide when it welcomes the 1-7 Sabres for
a Saturday matinee, but it will have to do so by snapping a lengthy drought
against Buffalo.

The Sharks have dropped six straight in this series, and last posted a win
over the Sabres on Jan. 23, 2010, when San Jose recorded a 5-2 home triumph.
Buffalo has won three in a row at the Shark Tank since then and has claimed
four of the past five encounters in Northern California.

San Jose began 2014-15 with a 3-0 record but has just one win since, going
1-3-1 over that stretch. The club is currently stuck in an 0-3-0 slide after
consecutive regulation setbacks versus the New York Rangers, Boston and

The Sharks have surrendered 14 goals over their past three games, and fell 5-4
to the visiting Blue Jackets on Thursday. San Jose held a 4-3 advantage after
Logan Couture tallied 8:23 into the third period, but Nick Foligno evened
things for Columbus over three minutes later. Mark Letestu scored the game-
winning deflection goal with just 20.7 seconds remaining in regulation.

Antti Niemi turned aside just 23-of-28 shots in the setback, while Joe
Pavelski scored two goals in the setback.

After the loss, head coach Todd McLellan complained about his team’s defensive

“You give up five, you’re not winning,” said McLellan. “Our defensive play
right now is killing us.”

The Sharks last dropped four in a row in the regular season during an 0-3-1
slide from Dec. 5-8. Of course, San Jose suffered a more infamous 0-4 slide in
last spring’s postseason when it dropped four straight to Los Angeles in the
opening round to become only the fourth team in NHL history to blow a 3-0 lead
in the playoffs.

McLellan kept his job after the postseason collapse, but he could be on the
hot seat should things get worse for the Sharks in the early part of 2014-15.

Even with their poor recent history against the Sabres, however, the Sharks
should be able to end their slide today. Buffalo has dropped four straight in
regulation since posting its one win of the season in Carolina on Oct. 14, and
Ted Nolan’s club has been outscored by a combined 11-1 margin during its
current skid.

The Sabres were shut out for the third time in four games Thursday in Los
Angeles, as Jonathan Quick made 29 stops to anchor the Kings’ 2-0 victory.

Nolan, who earlier in the season compared his rebuilding club to a “pee-wee
team” following a 5-1 loss to Anaheim on Oct. 13, did his best to put a
positive spin on Thursday’s loss.

“Our last couple of games, our effort has been a lot better,” Nolan said.

Jhonas Enroth made 37 saves in the setback and could get the call again today.
Enroth won his only outing versus San Jose, while backup Michal Neuvirth is
0-3 with a 3.37 GAA in his career against the Sharks.

The Sabres are playing the third part of a four-game road trip Saturday and
will head east to close the swing in Tuesday’s encounter with Toronto.