Welcome to 2014, pretty much the same as 2013, 2012 and 2011 for the San Jose Sharks when it comes to coughing up third-period leads.
Tonight, in Chicago, the Sharks took a 1-0 lead into the third period, and within four minutes, they were down, 2-1.
San Jose's defensive collapses are well known, and maybe there's no shame in blowing this lead tonight to the defending Stanley Cup champions on the road, but most Sharks fans know better.
(Luckily, San Jose tied the score later in the third on a Brent Burns tally and won in the overtime shootout behind Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski, but again, this isn't the way to win games when you could do it an easier way ... right?)
The 3-2 "win" tonight bumps San Jose up to 27-10-6 on the season, as the team moves into the second half of the year (both in terms of calendar year and games played, of course). But just imagine how much better the Sharks would be if they played third-period defense like their lives depended on it.
San Jose has given up just 21 goals in the first 20 minutes of games this season, which ranks them second-best overall in the National Hockey League. But the Sharks also have given up 42 goals in the final 20 minutes of matchups this year, which buries them as the 11th-worst squad there.
No way a team is winning the Cup when they give up twice as many goals in the third as they do in the first.
And it really is that simple -- and perhaps it has been for many seasons now -- for San Jose. If they could just stop the puck in the third, they'd probably be Cup winners by now.
But in the meantime, they'll have to settle for just being good enough to get a third-period lead and rarely good enough to actually keep it in regulation. Winning shootouts is nice right now, and the Sharks' six shootout wins is top in the Western Conference, but there's none of that nonsense in the playoffs.