SAN JOSE -– While the Sharks’ poor home record is puzzling, considering they still own one of the best road marks in the NHL, Saturday’s stinker against the Jets has to be the most perplexing of all their 11 defeats at SAP Center this season.
If there was ever a prime situation for the club to win its second straight at home for the first time, Saturday was it. The Jets entered with just one road win in their last 13. The Sharks were rested, with two days off following a win over the Flyers on Wednesday while reaching the midway point of a five-game homestand. Another four-day break was on the horizon, so getting a victory to go into the mini-respite would allow them to feel good about themselves when practice resumes next week.
Instead, a 4-1 loss was arguably their worst performance of the season. The Sharks have again lost more games than they’ve won (18-17-2), thanks mainly to a pitiful 5-11-0 mark in a building that used to be one of the most intimidating in the NHL.
“That was an egg. I don’t have an explanation,” Pete DeBoer said. “Top to bottom, really poor effort, poor execution, sloppy, soft. Not enough adjectives to describe it.”
Joe Pavelski said: “We got out-battled, I think. A lot of little things – faceoffs, a few too many turnovers, never really got going. I think it all came down to we lost too many battles, especially in the [offensive] zone or along the walls where you get a little speed going. We didn’t do a good job there.”
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Joel Ward’s early turnover on a Sharks power play set an unenthusiastic tone. The forward gave the Jets’ Blake Wheeler a perfect pass to spring him on a two-on-one, and Drew Stafford slammed it home at 13:14 of the first period for a shorthanded score.
“I let the squad down early with a giveaway, and I think I just gave them some life at the start,” Ward said. “It just seemed like we couldn’t get the ball rolling after that.”
The Jets increased their lead to 2-0 in the second period before a Brent Burns power play marker cut the lead in half. The Sharks had a few chances on another power play later in the middle frame, but couldn’t find the equalizer.
While the Sharks remain red-hot with a man advantage, going 10-for-28 over their last seven games, their five-on-five play is still much to be desired. That’s despite having a fully healthy lineup.
“It seems like we’re waiting for power plays,” said Marc-Edouard Vlasic, who couldn’t prevent Joel Armia’s second period goal, and screened Martin Jones on a Matthieu Perreault power play score that put the Jets ahead, 3-1. “We’ve got to create more five-on-five – whatever it is, slinging pucks, [defensemen] being active, shooting more. We need to create some offense.”
DeBoer said: “The bottom line is we had four lines of, in my mind, good players dressed tonight, and good lines, and we got nothing accomplished five-on-five, really, from anybody. If that means we’re waiting around for power plays, I don’t know if that’s the answer, but it’s a critical mistake if we are.”
Martin Jones is also becoming a concern. The starting goalie is still feeling his way through his first NHL season as a number one, and just can’t find his game at SAP Center, where he’s 4-9 with a 2.93 goals-against average and .890 save percentage.
The 25-year-old was pulled for the fourth time, three of which have come at SAP Center.
“He wasn’t any better than anybody else,” DeBoer said.
Jones said: “Obviously it’s tough to come back in this league, spotting teams a couple goals right off the bat. We just need to find a way to come out with a little more jump, for sure.”