It is the job of a sports reporter to find words to describe how a team plays, and whether or not they deserve the fate that is handed to them once time expires. It is becoming increasingly harder to find words to describe what is happening with the San Jose Sharks.
Saturday night’s 4-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators followed a similar pattern to many of Team Teal’s recent tilts. They had a strong first frame, overcame the opposition tying the game up and killed off some dicey penalties. But, in following the same blueprint as Thursday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings and others before it, the Sharks couldn’t overcome late goals and will have to skate away without a single point to show for their early game efforts.
San Jose went winless at home for the month of February, something that hasn’t occurred since 1995.
“I don’t know if it’s a killer instinct we lack,” Tommy Wingels said. ‘We don’t know how to play with a lead right now, I don’t know what it is.”
Joe Pavelski agreed: “We got the lead, we were going alright, and then we didn’t have it. It’s going to take everybody to win. We know what we want to do and what we want to accomplish out there.”
This inability to do what they want has seeped in. “(The frustration) gets higher every game when you don’t have success,” Todd McLellan said.
The loss makes the Sharks’ few successes seem like a faint dream. Wingels put the Sharks on the board in the first stanza with an up-close-and-personal chip shot over rookie Andrew Hammonds’ outstretched skate, giving San Jose a 1-0 advantage.
In the second period, with the score knotted up 1-1 due to a power play goal by Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson and Colin Greening in the bin for smashing Wingels into the boards at the start of a line shift, Patrick Marleau punched the puck to the back of the net for a power play goal of his own — his second power play goal in as many games.
But taking penalties at bad times hit the Sharks hard and took away their momentum. Just after killing a penalty and getting back to even strength, Mark Stone went five hole on Antti Niemi to tie the game back up 2-2 in the third period — not quite as freaky of a goal as the equalizer Pavel Datsyuk notched a couple nights before, but it had a similar effect on Team Teal.
The Sens jumped on the Sharks with a power play goal awarded to Mike Hoffman off a rebound, putting Ottawa ahead 3-2, and Hoffman buried the empty netter to hand the Sharks yet another loss.
“It was evident that we were better than the last two periods against Detroit. But that’s not good enough. We still have players that have to give a lot more,” said McLellan.
Wanting players that “give a lot more” certainly makes the looming trade deadline on Monday, and the day and a half leading up to it, that much more interesting.
— San Jose’s loss to Ottawa makes it back-to-back losses in regulation when leading after two periods in each for the first time in franchise history.
— With the win Saturday in San Jose, the Senators defeated the Kings, Ducks and Sharks in the same road trip for the first time in franchise history.
— Sharks are 8-13-3 vs. the Eastern Conference this season, 3-7-1 vs. the Atlantic Division.