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Despite losing 2-1, the Sharks didn’t play an abysmal game against the struggling Blue Jackets on Saturday night at Nationwide Arena.
They outshot Columbus 37-28, including a 72-39 advantage in shot attempts. Antti Niemi was able to put together his second strong effort in as many games, too, including a number of good saves in the third period to keep his team within striking distance.
The problem was that the determination and performance they found in an impressive 2-1 win in Tampa Bay on Thursday wasn’t duplicated. They couldn’t take advantage of a team that was playing its second game in as many nights, and had won just once in its last 10 games.
While they might not have to hang their heads after the loss, the Sharks shouldn’t exactly be delighted about what transpired, either.
“On the road, getting these guys back-to-back, we’re trying to build off a win,” Joe Pavelski said. “It’s just one of those things, we’ve got to find a way to win, and it’s got to start soon.
“This little bit of a see-saw here, win one, lose one – it gets old.”
A few aspects of the game were reflective of the Sharks’ not being as buttoned up as they could have been.
One was the faceoff circle. The Sharks ended up winning 41 percent of the draws by the time the game was over, which isn’t an egregious number, but through two periods they had won just 12 of 37 (32 percent).
The other was the power play.
Although the Sharks had been 0-for-5 in their last two games coming into Columbus, they had been generating chances while on a man advantage.
Not so against the Blue Jackets, especially late in regulation. When the Sharks had a chance to bear down and tie the game on a four-minute power play with just five minutes to go, they had only one prime opportunity, when Marc-Edouard Vlasic appeared to have some net to shoot at before Sergei Bobrovsky shifted to his right to gobble up the rubber with about a minute to go.
Vlasic’s attempt was just the Sharks’ third shot on goal on the extended power play, the first two being slappers from long range by Jason Demers that were easily handled by the former Vezina winner.
Pavelski said: “We need a big play there and we didn’t get it. Didn’t get the momentum that we could have, just creating shots and getting it back. … We’ve got the guys to do it, so it’s got to be done.”
Todd McLellan said he would review the game tape to determine whether the Sharks got in front of the goaltender’s eyes enough (spoiler alert – they didn’t), but added: “Bobrovsky fought through a lot of stuff tonight.”
The head coach weighed the pros and cons from the game, which saw his club fall to a middling 9-8-2 on the year, and 2-3-0 on a seven-game road trip.
“As far as stringing games together, there is some frustration there, but the fact that for the most part we had a very competitive night was a positive out of a loss,” he said.