After enduring a discouraging four-game road trip, the Sharks returned to the SAP Center to host the Panthers Wednesday before heading to Arizona to take on the Coyotes Saturday.
Here are three takeaways from the Sharks’ 6-5 overtime loss to the Panthers Wednesday night.
1. Capitalize on shots
The Sharks had plenty of shots, but were unable to shoot the puck into the net. In the first period, the Sharks outshot the Panthers 10-6, but were down 3-2. In the second period, the Sharks held the Panthers to just three shots, but were stuck in a 3-3 deadlock. In the third period, shots were 35-20 in favor of San Jose. They managed to force overtime after Joe Pavelski broke through with two late goals to tie the score 5-5. However, the Panthers escaped with a 6-5 overtime win when Jonathan Huberdeau scored the game-winning goal. Simply put, shot generation means nothing if a team can’t capitalize on shots.
2. Take advantage of power plays
The Sharks went 0-for-4 on the power play in Wednesday’s game. They have a reason to feel ashamed of themselves because this is unacceptable. Their penalty killing percentage remains pretty high at 81.46 percent. However, the power play is a weakness of the Sharks, who possess a 16.85 power play percentage, having scored on just 31 of 184 power play opportunities. I think it’s obvious the Sharks would like to take advantage of power plays, but their veteran power play unit of Pavelski, Logan Couture, Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Brent Burns doesn’t seem to click. Perhaps a couple of fresh new faces such as Kevin Labanc and Tomas Hertl could do the trick.
3. Grab an early lead and never look back
The Panthers grabbed an early lead in the first period on Jussi Jokinen’s virtual lay-up on a two-on-one. Although the Sharks went on to cut the deficit to one on two goals from Burns and Joel Ward, the Panthers’ offense overwhelmed them. The Panthers’ top line of Huberdeau, Aleksander Barkov and Jaromir Jagr looked lethal. They applied pressure on the Sharks throughout the game. It’s the NHL. It’s not a good idea to undereastimate the power of a team who trails in the standings. The Panthers are just three points shy of the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. Grabbing an early lead and running away with it is a crucial item on the Sharks’ to-do list.
The Sharks have a much-needed two days off before visiting the Coyotes at Gila River Arena Saturday. The game is expected to start at 6:00 p.m. MST on CSCA and FSAZ.