With Thornton hurt, Sharks say slumping Marleau ‘has to find a way to produce’

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With his club mired in one of its worst stretches of the season, San Jose head coach Todd McLellan is prodding the longest-tenured Shark to pick up the pace.

Patrick Marleau — pointless in nine games, with just one goal in his last 17 — has been asked to start producing with more regularity, especially with co-leading scorer Joe Thornton (upper body) shelved.

“There’s two ways of dealing with it. There’s getting down and wallowing in it, or pushing forward and being direct and finding a way to get it done,” McLellan said, per the San Jose Mercury News. “I think Patty will take the second approach. He has in the past.

“But there’s no doubt that for us to have success, especially with some of the injuries, that he has to find a way to produce.”

The Sharks are 1-3-1 in their last five, mitigated by the fact they went 5-0-0 in the five games prior. Still, their latest issues go beyond their record; San Jose’s offense has fallen off a cliff lately, with just nine goals and a power play that’s gone two for its last 22.

For Marleau, putting pucks in the net has become a problem. The seven-time 30-goal scorer is on pace for just 15 this year and his .18 goals-per-game average is his lowest since breaking into the NHL as an 18-year-old in ’97-98.

Now 35, Marleau admitted the slump is starting to get at him — but also said the opportunities to score were there.

“I’ve been getting tons of chances, and it’s frustrating that they haven’t been going in,” he explained. “One thing that I’ve learned over the years is that you just have to keep working for that next opportunity, and sometimes they just go in a ton at once.”