SAP CENTER — Despite dominating in shots on goal in regulation, the Sharks were thwarted in the shootout for the second straight game, losing 4-3 to the Coyotes Saturday night.
Photos by Trevor Will/SFBay
The Sharks are struggling after an NHL-record 16 of their first 21 games of the season on the road. Consecutive home losses and four losses in their last five games leave them barely above .500 at 10-9-4.
Joe Pavelski voiced his disappointment rather bluntly:
“To have the record we have at home is unacceptable. We can’t really make excuses …we have to find a way to win at home. If we’re not going to clean up on the road, we’ve got to clean up at home.”
Along the same lines, Todd McLellan said:
“It doesn’t matter where we play – we have to win games. We’ve won six of our last 18 games – that’s not a record that will get you in the playoffs or challenge for anything, so we’re concerned.”
Sure, the Sharks could easily be 2-0 on this homestand — they lost in a shootout to the Panthers on Thursday — but as Pavelski described, a shootout loss is still a loss:
“When you lose, it doesn’t matter – shootout, regular game – it’s tough. It’s a different feeling when we win.”
Doan scored 52 seconds into the third period to give the Coyotes a 3-2 lead after a pass by Brent Burns for Tomas Hertl went awry, leading to a loose puck finding Doan right in front of the net for the goal.
But midway through the period on the power play, Pavelski tipped home a slap shot by Burns to tie the game back up. It was Pavelski’s 200th goal of his career.
The Sharks were sluggish right out of the gate, playing a poor defensive first period. Antoine Vermette made them pay with a power play goal early in the period from point-blank range thanks to a nifty backhand pass by Shane Doan.
The Sharks’ defense broke down on the play, as Burns’ sliding attempt to stop Boedker was unsuccessful, leaving Schlemko wide open in a dangerous area. If not for a couple of big saves late in the period by Niemi, the Sharks would have headed into the dressing room down even more.
Said forward Tommy Wingels:
“Bounces are gonna happen both ways in a game and they seemed to capitalize on a couple of ours…our sloppiness. It is kind of how our game is going right now. We need to earn those bounces for us on the positive side and it seems like more of them are going against us right now. That’s a lack of execution and sloppiness and we need to turn that around.”
Down 2-0, the Sharks recovered in the second in a big way, dominating possession and the shot clock and managing two goals to tie the game up.
Wingels ignited the team and the home crowd with a shorthanded goal four minutes into the period, scoring off a feed by Mirco Mueller on a 3-on-1 rush after a stellar takeaway in the neutral zone by Barclay Goodrow.
Wingels’ goal woke up the Sharks, who played with a spring in their step the rest of the period. They tied it with less than three minutes remaining when Andrew Desjardins knocked in a big rebound given up by Coyotes’ goaltender Devan Dubnyk on a shot by Tyler Kennedy.
McLellan lauded the bottom two lines for stepping up with two goals:
“I thought we got tremendous energy from our third and fourth lines tonight. [Goodrow] made a good play on [Desjardin’s] goal and really gave us a boost on a night where some of our top players didn’t have their energy and didn’t have their details.”
Wingels’ shorthanded goal in the second period was the Sharks’ first shorthanded tally of the season. … Pavelski has 20 goals and 39 points in his career against the Coyotes. … The Sharks acquired defenseman Brendon Dillon from the Stars on Friday for Jason Demers and a third round pick in 2016. Dillon was paired with Burns on defense tonight. Two of Burns’ miscues directly led to Coyotes’ goals. … Forward Adam Burish was placed on waivers before the game. … Coming into today, Joe Thornton had 71 points in 66 games against the Coyotes. … The Sharks are struggling on 5-on-5 this season, allowing 41 goals by opponents even strength while scoring just 36 coming into tonight. … The Sharks outshot the Coyotes 43-25…The Sharks are now 2-4-2 at home this season, rather uncharacteristic for a team that has been so dominant at “The Tank” in recent years. … Tonight’s attendance was 17,297, falling short of a sellout for the second consecutive home game.