The San Jose Sharks have the best penalty-kill unit in the NHL. They’d just like to spend less time proving it.
San Jose hopes to shorten its time in the penalty box when it visits the Ottawa Senators on Sunday evening.
The Sharks have killed all but one of the 24 power plays they’ve faced in the past six games, and they’ve eliminated 10 straight entering Sunday, raising their success rate to 92.5 percent.
“When you’re killing and you’re killing and you’re killing, you’re exerting a lot of energy in the ice, and then you’re going back out there to try and create some offense, and then you’re killing again,” Sharks forward Logan Couture said. “It’s difficult.”
If and when they go on the penalty kill Sunday, the Sharks will likely have a clear advantage against the Senators, who entered the weekend with the league’s lowest success rate on the power play at 6.1 percent.
The final goal in a 4-2 loss to the visiting New York Islanders on Friday was scored on the power play by Ottawa left wing Tyler Ennis, giving the group hope heading into Sunday.
“(The power play) is coming,” Ennis said. “It’s not where we want it right now, but we’ve got to be patient. We’re gradually getting better. We’ve just got to continue to work on it.”
Ottawa plans to have Craig Anderson in goal against San Jose after he replaced Anders Nilsson at 6:08 of the second period against the Islanders. Nilsson had allowed four goals on 16 shots.
Anderson last started on Oct. 19 at the Arizona Coyotes, allowing four goals in a 5-2 loss.
If Anderson goes the whole way, it will allow Nilsson an eight-day break. After Sunday, the Senators don’t play until Saturday at the Boston Bruins.
Of bigger concern for Ottawa has been the play of right wing Bobby Ryan, who has gone the past nine games without a goal.
Ryan, who scored 15 goals for the Senators last season, was dropped to the fourth line during practice on Saturday.
“He’s got to get pucks out of our zone and he’s got to create some offense for us,” Senators coach D.J. Smith told reporters after practice. “The guys that either produce, or are playing hard or working hard, get rewarded. That’s the way we’re going to go the rest of the way.”
One of the hotter players for the Sharks heading into the fourth game of the five-game road trip is right wing Kevin Labanc. He scored the lone goal in a 4-1 loss at the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday and has two goals and an assist in a three-game point streak.
Sharks coach Peter DeBoer would like to see more shots directed at the net overall, however.
“Traditionally, around here, we’ve been a shot-production type team. Put a lot of pressure on the other team,” he said. “We just haven’t found that four-line game yet.”
–Field Level Media