SAN JOSE – Despite controlling play for most of Saturday night against Anaheim, the Sharks were unable to overcome some disturbing trends in their game that are congealing exactly one month since the season began.
Poor starts, and an even worse power play, combined to give the Sharks their seventh defeat in the last 10 games, 1-0 at SAP Center.
The first 10 minutes were ugly, as the Sharks allowed the first goal for the fifth time in their last six matches.
Despite being the more rested team after the Ducks had played Friday night at home, Anaheim had the better legs and minds at puck drop. Corey Perry’s breakaway goal at 4:56 was the sole marker, but the only reason the Ducks didn’t get more was Martin Jones making some highlight reel saves on Jakob Silfverberg and Chris Stewart.
“We were on our heels and not pushing the pace of the play, and it’s disappointing because they played last night,” Tommy Wingels said. “There’s no reason we shouldn’t have been the more ready team from puck drop.”
Pete DeBoer said: “I thought the first 10 minutes they obviously had the jump on us. We were standing around watching. I don’t know why. From that point on, I thought we played a hell of a game.”
The tide turned dramatically after Silfverberg’s interference penalty at 15:18 of the first period. The Sharks went on their first power play of the night and looked poised to tie it up. Both units kept the puck in the offensive zone, and generated five shots between the two of them.
Anton Khudobin was there to stop them all, though.
“Obviously power play didn’t click, but it’s not like we’re not establishing possession, getting in, looking dangerous, getting chances,” DeBoer said.
The Sharks didn’t look nearly as dangerous on two late advantages while in search of the equalizer, though. Andrew Cogliano’s trip of Joe Thornton at 15:15 of the third period, and Cam Fowler’s delay of game at 17:36 gifted San Jose a couple prime chances to tie the game.
Instead, they managed just two shots on goal over those four minutes, including one with Jones pulled for an extra attacker.
“Any time we had it we gave it back to them. That’s the way it’s went lately,” Joe Pavelski said. “We’ve got to get back to our spots and moving and shooting it and retrieving the puck. … We’ve got to find it. Power play has always been a strong point. It’s in this room. We can get it.”
The Sharks kept up the pressure in the game’s final minute, but Khudobin was sharp in finishing with 31 saves and preserving Anaheim’s first shutout of the year. He absorbed a Pavelski redirection with 28 seconds to go, and did the same on a hard Brent Burns wrist shot with 20 ticks left.
“I thought it slid through his glove there for a second,” Pavelski said of his tip from the slot.
Along with those late stops, Khudobin also denied Patrick Marleau on a breakaway in the third period, and got some help from the post on a Wingels blast from the top of the circle in the second.
In the end, it was those first few dreadful minutes of the game that cost the Sharks, who outshot Anaheim 20-6 over the final two periods.
“They’re a desperate team and came out and played a really good 10 minutes and got us on our heels,” DeBoer said. “We obviously know we have to be better than that. We’ll try and fix that going forward.”
Pavelski said: “Obviously we wanted a better start. We didn’t get it. But, we battled back and gave ourselves the opportunity to score. We’ve got to bury something.”