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Sharks' penalty kill shows teeth on road trip

The Sharks haven't allowed a power-play goal since Dec. 8.

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

To borrow a cliche, it appears the death of the Sharks' special teams prowess was greatly exaggerated. Marcus already wrote about the resurgence of San Jose's power play and now we're going to talk a little about the Sharks' phenomenal run killing penalties.

The last time the Sharks allowed a power-play goal was against the Calgary Flames on Dec. 8. Since then, San Jose has spent 36 minutes and 36 seconds down a player without giving up a goal. While the Sharks aren't exactly an elite penalty killing team, Martin Jones' rough start to the year on the penalty kill certainly impacted San Jose's slow start while shorthanded.

It appears those numbers are starting to correct themselves. Whether that's by virtue of luck or by an improvement in Jones' play, the Sharks are now the seventh-best team in the league in penalty kill percentage, just a tenth of a percentage point behind the Kings.

Jones is now eleventh in the NHL in save percentage while shorthanded (amongst goalies who have played at least 75 minutes shorthanded) — so while he's not exactly lighting the world on fire, but he's doing enough to keep the Sharks in games. As a team the Sharks are sixth in the NHL in shorthanded save percentage as the penalty kill is one of a few areas where Alex Stalock has been good this season.

San Jose has now gone seven games without allowing a shorthanded goal, and while I'd like to report they've been strong possession-wise through that stretch it appears most of the Sharks' success has come from strong goaltending. Over the past seven games the Sharks fenwick-for percentage is just 4.7 percent, the third-worst mark in the NHL. For the season, San Jose is 17th in fenwick-for percentage.

Chart don't lie. The Sharks, thanks to great play from Martin Jones, have moved into a place of respectability in terms of penalty kill percentage. While San Jose's resurgence while up a player can be chalked up to positive regression, the Sharks' penalty kill prowess is more accurately credited to goaltending. The Sharks' penalty differential has also improved this season, as it's now at a +10. San Jose's greatest strength in special teams play is how often they get to the power play — and limiting how often they're sent to the penalty kill.

The streak is great and helped the Sharks to seven out of 10 points over the last road trip, but this isn't going to be the new normal for San Jose when down a player. I'll take it.