Programming note: Flames-Sharks coverage starts Wednesday at 7 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet California
SAN JOSE – Offensively, the Sharks finally broke out of their funk of seven straight games scoring two or fewer goals.
Defensively, simple plays that good teams execute on a regular basis are still coming back to bite them in the behind.
Despite outshooting Arizona 43-25, including 91 shot attempts to 48, the Sharks lost 4-3 in a shootout to a rival that is now threatening to overtake them in the Pacific Division standings. The Coyotes (9-10-2, 20 points) have played two fewer games than San Jose (10-9-4, 24 points), which still sits in fifth place in the division but is fading fast.
[INSTANT REPLAY: Sharks fall to Coyotes in shootout]
A homestand that was supposed to get the Sharks going in the right direction after some miserable efforts on the road has yet to produce the desired results. San Jose has lost both games, including a shootout to Florida on Thursday, and is just 2-3-2 at SAP Center.
“To have the record at home that we have now is unacceptable,” Joe Pavelski said. “Can’t really make excuses. Come back from a long trip, you’ve got to find a way to win at home, especially if you’re not going to clean up on the road. You’ve got to clean up at home.”
Coach Todd McLellan pointed out that his team has won just six of its last 18 games (6-10-2).
“That’s not a record that puts you in the playoffs, and that’s not a record that allows you to challenge for anything,” he said. “We’re concerned. That’s pretty obvious.”
All three goals against the Coyotes could be pinned on San Jose mistakes.
Two came in the first period. Arizona took advantage of an unnecessary Tomas Hertl interference minor deep in the Sharks’ offensive zone, as Antoine Vermette tallied on the power play.
The Coyotes went up 2-0 when Brent Burns’ pass to Patrick Marleau was misplayed by the struggling veteran. On the ensuing odd-man rush the other way, Mikkel Boedker waited for an overly aggressive Burns to slide out of position before finding an open David Schlemko.
The Sharks fought back to tie it at 2-2, but in the third period Burns’ pass up the wall went off of Hertl’s stick inside the blue line for a turnover. Shane Doan made it 3-2 seconds later.
“The [second Arizona goal] was a turnover in the neutral zone. They transitioned the other way,” McLellan said. “The third one was a breakout play. The pass wasn’t perfect, but it’s probably something we can handle.”
The Sharks did manage to get a third goal themselves on Pavelski’s deflection of a Burns slapper, but then couldn’t take advantage of a power play in overtime. Pavelski nearly won it after a few good looks by the top unit, but misplays by Logan Couture and Tommy Wingels – whose shorthanded goal in the second period put the Sharks on the board – allowed the Coyotes to force the shootout, where Vermette won it.
Wingels said: “Bounces are going to happen both ways in a game. They seem to capitalize on a couple of ours, our sloppiness. That’s kind of how our game is going right now. We need to earn those bounces for us on the positive side. It seems like more of them are going against us right now. That’s a lack of execution and sloppiness. We’re going to have to turn it around.”
“It’s still about managing the game in certain areas when the game is tied,” Pavelski said. “It’s about making that simple play. We’ve got to learn that lesson over and over, but it’s got to stay with us here one of these times.”