In the final two games of their five-game road trip, the Sharks were dominant through two periods of play before losing the lead and losing by one goal. While Thursday’s loss to the New York Rangers came in overtime and Sunday’s 3-2 loss to the New Jersey Devils in regulation, Joe Pavelski said those two games had a lot in common.
In fact, all of their losses thus far have had similarities.
“This game felt exactly like a couple other ones we’ve lost so far,” the Sharks’ captain told the media on Sunday. “They’re right there for us. A few chances, power play opportunities, all those certain situations.”
It’s not like those chances aren’t coming in bulk for San Jose. The Sharks created plenty scoring chances over the course of their five-game roadie, notching 40-plus shots in back-to-back tilts on Tuesday and Thursday, and getting their chances on special teams.
But through six games so far this season, San Jose isn’t cashing in on those opportunities enough.
“We expect to win these,” Pavelski said of the road trip. “That’s why they’re frustrating.”
Special teams have been the topic du jour since the very start of the season. While the lack of production on the power play continues to grab headlines, the Sharks’ penalty kill got more attention after the team racked up eight penalties on Sunday. They were rung up twice on delay-of-game calls, and three times for high-sticking – including a double-minor on Erik Karlsson late in the third period.
While New Jersey only scored one goal on the man advantage, spending so much time on the kill clearly took some of the wind out of San Jose’s sails.
“You’re not going to win on the road, or at home, taking eight minutes in high-sticking and four for shooting pucks over the glass,” coach Peter DeBoer commented after the game. “That’s twelve minutes in penalties that we’re playing short, at the end of a road trip, taxing our guys.
“We beat ourselves with the penalties. Just can’t do that.”
When the Sharks aren’t skating in and out of the penalty box, they still aren’t finding the back of the net on the man advantage either.
“We’re not scoring enough, that’s the bottom line,” DeBoer continued. “And we’re not getting enough saves too. It’s a bad combination.”
San Jose has a couple of days to turn that combination around before they face their next opponent. With the early road trip in the rearview mirror, the Sharks return home to work out the kinks and remedy their early season woes before they host the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday evening.
“Thankfully it’s only six games [into the season] where this is happening,” Logan Couture said. “We have a couple days here to regroup and get ready for Thursday.”