The home-ice curse is looking like less and less of a fluke in San Jose.
Fresh off a decisive victory, retooled with forward Logan Couture, and hosting a Winnipeg Jets team that had lost six straight on the road, the Sharks looked ready to refresh a standard of consistency at The Tank.
Then Saturday night happened.
For the fifth time this season, the Sharks first back-to-back home win eluded them Saturday night as a 4-1 loss to Winnipeg spoiled another chance for a follow-up home win.
Goalie Martin Jones said:
“It hasn’t been one thing. We just haven’t seemed to be able to put everybody together at home. We’ve had different guys step up and play well, but we need everybody for 60 minutes to win games in the league.”
The Jets have been a very stoppable force away from Winnipeg, winning just six of their first 20 road games. San Jose proved though, at home, they are an even more movable object. The 4-1 loss entrenched the Sharks even further into their role as the NHL’s worst team on its own ice with a 5-11-1 home record.
Winnipeg coasted through the second and third periods after securing what is becoming the hallmark of an ugly Sharks’ home loss — an early lead for the visitors.
“It’s tough to come back in this league spotting teams a couple goals right off the bat. We just need to find a way to come out with a little bit more jump.”
The Sharks have trailed their opponents at the end of the first period in eight of their 11 home losses and given up the first score in all 11.
Head Coach Pete DeBoer said:
“We’re in no position to show up and play a game like that. We have a big standings board in the room, we know where we’re at. Unacceptable and we have to get it fixed.”
Exactly what needs fixing is up in the air. The Sharks were simply sloppy and out-hustled by a Winnipeg squad that played with desperation, according to DeBoer, who showed no remorse for any coaching tactics.
Right Wing Joel Ward said:
“The process is there it’s just a matter of execution. Everything’s in place with the coaching staff. We as players have to execute better as a whole.”
There’s one fix the team can agree upon, one that has been echoed in front of TVs across the Bay Area by even the most casual onlookers: The Sharks need to shoot more and pass less.
Defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic said:
“We passed on a lot of opportunities tonight where guys could’ve scored or created another shot off of it. Normally when you shoot the puck it comes in three or four shots, so we got to do that.”
Brent Burns scored the only goal against Winnipeg with a meteoric slap shot from the point, a testament to the benefit that shooting first and looking for the pass second can net.
The Sharks have a five-day break to prepare for a pair of games against Detroit and Toronto in which they’ll attempt to start leveling out their sub-par home record.