OTTAWA –- That should just about do it.
After allowing four goals in the third period on Monday at Canadian Tire Center to lose 5-2 to the Senators, the Sharks playoff odds went from remote to virtually impossible.
A seven-game road trip that began in Winnipeg with a confident group has now devolved into a funeral procession for the 2014-15 season. There are still nine games to go and three more stops on the trip, but for all intents and purposes the Sharks’ 10-year streak of making it to the postseason died in the frosty Canadian capital.
No one would say it in those words, of course, but there was a palpable sense that the players and coach are now reserved to their fate as a team.
“We’re going to keep playing and see what happens,” Joe Pavelski said. “Obviously we needed to win, probably, a few games awhile ago.”
Logan Couture was particularly sincere.
“We’re not good enough right now to compete against good teams in the NHL,” he said. “It’s disappointing. We’re a better team, I think, than what we’ve shown in the last couple months.
“Every night we go out there, we just haven’t been good enough on a consistent basis. It’s so disappointing because we believe in this room that we’ve got a good enough group of guys to make a push and to compete past the regular season. Consistently, we just don’t get the job done.”
Monday’s game turned on Mika Zibanejad’s early third period marker, tying it at 2-2. He lifted Chris Tierney’s stick to gain possession and roofed it high over Antti Niemi at 2:19. Ottawa kept pressing after that, and the game-winner by Alex Chiasson came at 12:11 on a deflection. Jean-Gabriel Pageau’s marker about a minute later gave the Senators an insurmountable two-goal cushion.
[INSTANT REPLAY: Sharks collapse in third against Senators]
Tierney, who had given the Sharks a 2-1 lead in the second period, took responsibility for giving the Senators the momentum they needed to win their 15th game in 17 tries (15-1-1).
“I knew [Zibanejad] was there and I didn’t want to get stripped,” he said. “I hesitated and tried to hold him off. … It ended up being the turning point in the game. It doesn’t feel good.”
There were plenty of other errors, of course. Couture gave the puck right to Cody Ceci in the Sharks’ defensive zone on Ottawa’s go-ahead goal by Chiasson, Joe Thornton fell down in the offensive zone leading to a rush and Pageau’s goal, and Justin Braun was called for interference in the neutral zone in the second period while trailing a three-on-one rush that could have given the visitors a 3-1 lead.
They are the kind of blunders that have plagued the Sharks all season long, and it’s why they won’t be playing past early April.
“We gave up a lot of odd-man rushes,” Pavelski said. “We had quite a few, too, so it was give-or-take, but that’s not way we really want to play.”
Braun said: “They played pretty well in the first and I thought we had a good push-back in the second. In the third, they came out and we made some mistakes.”
Logic dictates that the Sharks will have a difficult time getting emotionally geared up for their remaining games, but neither Couture nor Todd McLellan thinks the team’s dire situation should matter.
“You’re playing in the NHL, and you’ve got to go out and compete and play with pride and play for each other,” Couture said. “At the end of the day, you play for the guys in this dressing room, because we’ve been together for the whole year and guys have let each other down."
McLellan said: “Wherever it goes, we have to play hard every night, whether we're in or we're out. We have a tremendous amount of pride in our organization and with the individuals in the locker room, I can tell you that much.”