When attempting to analyze the Sharks’ game these days, the single biggest question remains: Why are they so strong on the road yet still can’t find a way to consistently win at home?
The answer may boil down to one key character trait. Resiliency.
That’s what the numbers suggest, anyway.
*The Sharks have rallied from trailing after two periods six times this season and all have come on the road, the most recent being Saturday’s 3-2 shootout win in Nashville in which they trailed 2-0 after two. Those six wins are the most ever in such situations in franchise history.
*The Sharks have rallied from two-goal deficits five times this season, and, again, all have come on the road (Nov. 22 at Columbus, Dec. 17 at Toronto, Dec. 22 at L.A., March 3 at Vancouver and Saturday in Nashville). That leads the league.
*When allowing the game’s first goal, San Jose is an impressive 9-8-2 on the road. At home, it is just 2-16-2.
On Saturday in Nashville, it was two third-period goals by Tomas Hertl and a shootout conversion by Logan Couture that allowed the Sharks to post another come-from-behind win not at SAP Center.
The Sharks begin Sunday with the NHL’s best overall road record (27-10-3), and their 27 wins ties the franchise record set in 2007-08 headed into Tuesday’s road finale in Minnesota. They're 17-19-3 at home, 27th in the NHL.
“We’ve been good on the road all year. I think we’re taking some pride in wanting to finish with the best road record in the league,” coach Pete DeBoer told reporters after Saturday’s game. “It was a gritty effort. Early they had a couple seeing-eye goals. It would have been easy to chalk it up to being ‘one of those nights,’ but we didn’t. The third period was our best.”
The first of two Hertl goals just 2:19 into the third period drastically changed the tone, and the Sharks went on to outshoot the Preds 18-5 over the final period and overtime.
Despite trailing by a pair to start the final frame, DeBoer thought the Sharks’ game needed just one adjustment.
“I think we had some chances through the first two periods. We wanted to get inside a little bit more, and make it a little tougher on [goalie Carter Hutton], he said. “To get that one early in the third really got the momentum in our favor.”
James Reimer agreed, telling reporters: “I thought we were working pretty hard the first 40, we just weren’t getting inside. In the third period we came out and definitely outplayed them.”
It’s been a frequent occurrence this strange season, in which the Sharks never seem to go away when they’re not skating on their own ice. Considering they’re still likely to finish third in the Pacific Division and would start their playoff run on the road that could be a good thing.
Saturday’s game was just the latest in a long line of examples.
“I’m sure they’ve been doing it all year, but to have the confidence that you can come back from being two goals down in the last 20 is nice to see,” Reimer said. “Another good building block going into the playoffs.”