Shoulders slumped, Sharks goalie Martin Jones was slow in getting to his feet after the Winnipeg Jets’ first score Thursday night, a plodding Mark Scheifele pass that banked in off defender Roman Polak’s skate.
The young goalie’s posture echoed the groans of the SAP Center crowd and encapsulated the frustration of an unexpected 5-4 San Jose loss.
Tommy Wingels said:
“A playoff team should have their game in a playoff-type mentality. We’re disappointed in the loss tonight. You want to be playing your best hockey going into the playoffs, the teams that are doing that are the teams that are successful and win playoff series.”
After sweeping back-to-back road matchups against the solidified Western Conference wildcard tandem of Nashville and Minnesota, San Jose showed themselves to still be somewhat of an enigma with a disheartening defeat at the hands of the Central Division’s worst team.
The loss cemented San Jose into the third spot in the Pacific Division, guaranteeing the Anaheim Ducks home ice in their first-round matchup with the Sharks. Despite his team boasting an NHL-best road record of 28-10-3, head coach Peter Deboer criticized the missed opportunity for home ice advantage.
“If you can have home ice you want home ice. I don’t think this is a home-road thing. I think we didn’t play well tonight, and I’m sure we’ll play better on Saturday.
Patrick Marleau sent an airborne feed into a pinball machine of Jets players that ultimately spat out a go-ahead score for the Sharks earlier in the third, only to have the San Jose lead dismantled minutes later for the third time in the game.
Patrick Marleau said:
“When we play the right way, we’re pretty confident in our game, and (we have to) learn from this and move on right away. That’s what you have to do in the playoffs. Once one game’s over you scrap it and move on.
Joe Pavelski slid past Pittsburg’s Sidney Crosby into 6th on the NHL scoring leaderboard with his 37th goal of the season, a patient flip of Joe Thornton’s feed over the sprawled-out body of Winnipeg’s Ondrej Pavelec. The score came midway through the first and established a Sharks lead that lasted until Jones’ unlucky slip.
San Jose closes out the season by hosting the Arizona Coyotes Saturday before traveling to Anaheim to kick off postseason action.