Before getting embarrassed by the NHL Western Conference cellar-dwelling Columbus Blue Jackets Monday, February 11, the San Jose Sharks could mitigate the significance of each of their four consecutive losses.
They were due for a loss and ran into a great goalie in Pekka Rinne when the Nashville Predators (the next visit on the docket Tuesday at 5:00 p.m. PST) took the Sharks in a shootout for the first blemish on their record.
They were due for a regulation loss, especially on the road against a good Pacific Division rival. Even then they lost in part due to an odd carom of the puck.
They finally woke up offensively even in losing at home to the best team in the league. In the next game they were better than everyone but Mike Smith, who has their number reaching four shutouts in his last six starts against San Jose.
There is nothing for this debacle. After potentially their best game of the season, they cemented their slump with a dud so bad coach Todd McLellan rattled off four ways in which his Sharks were out-done: "outworked, out-executed, out-detailed, out-goaltended—out a lot of things."
Just over 40 seconds into the game, a poor clear attempt by Dan Boyle had to be saved by Thomas Greiss. The puck bounced right to Brandon Dubinsky, whose put-back was his first goal of the season.
Past the mid-point of the second, the Sharks continued their trends of giving up the first goal of a player's NHL career and allowing scores in bunches.
After killing 35 seconds of a two-man disadvantage to reach 36 straight penalties killed, they eventually ran out of players to chase the puck in their zone. With 15 seconds left in the second penalty, James Wisniewski was alone in the slot for the goal.
Just 1:11 after that, Cody Goloubef put a shot from the point through for his first career goal. But when Patrick Marleau ended his five-game scoring drought just 13 seconds later, many had to figure the San Jose comeback was at hand. The two teams finished the second period without any more scores, and the Sharks were the rested team expected to have more gas in their third period tank.
That was not how it played out. Columbus again jumped on San Jose on the opening shift. Nikita Nikitin's first of the year just 21 seconds put the supposedly better team to their knees. But another burst of scoring finished the job.
Just over a minute into a Scott Gomez tripping penalty, Vinny Prospal came streaking down the slot where he was met with the puck he then sent past Greiss. Eight seconds later a shot went off the stick of Marc-Edouard Vlasic and past the shoulder of Greiss for the 6-1 lead. Joe Pavelski ended the power play scoring drought in the final two minutes of the game to bring the final margin.
Sometimes it is not your night. Vlasic also lost his stick on another play and that led to a scoring chance. They did not win either fight. Bounces seemed to go away from the visitors.
But the Sharks were beaten in every category by a bad team in a game they needed. They lost seven more draws yet had four more giveaways and four fewer takeaways.
Having 15 fewer possessions makes giving up 11 more shot attempts and allowing nine more to go on net understandable. But a team not possessing or shooting the puck must have the edge in hits and blocked shots, and the Sharks were two short in both.
That is insufficient effort, and that is unacceptable in a full season much less a compacted one. They have to bounce back against a better team with less rest and more travel or face having their slump match their season-opening seven game winning streak.
Examiner.com's three stars of the game:
- Dubinsky needed just 43 seconds to end any fears the Jackets may have had about an inability to beat a goalie after having 39 of 40 stopped by Devan Dubnyk Sunday.
- Nikita Nikitin had the dagger goal on the first shift of the third period plus two blocked shots.
- Steve Mason turned away a few great shots among his 25 saves (.926 save percentage) that could have kept things more interesting had they gotten by him.