The Sharks beat the Blue Jackets 3-2 and outshot Columbus 38-28 — the latter numbers look much more impressive than the former and a whole lot better than the shot counts at even strength.
At 5v5 play San Jose outshot Columbus just 25-24 and needed to hang on for dear life to escape Nationwide Arena with a victory on Saturday evening. That’s not how things were looking at the end of the first period as the Sharks led 2-0 and had really controlled the proceedings.
Credit to the Blue Jackets and Sergei Bobrovsky for clamping things down defensively, but the Sharks let opportunities to blow the game open slip through their fins on Saturday and against a better team it might come back to bite them. The Sharks went just 1-5 on the power play, the only goal came with Columbus’ net empty with time winding down.
In terms of goal scoring, the power play was not very good at all; but there are benefits to being on the man-advantage beyond the obvious, and those helped the Sharks win this game. San Jose put 11 shots on goal with the extra man out, averaging 66 shots on goal per 60 minutes — that’s quite good, turns out.
Last year, the team that put the most shots on goal per 60 while on the power play, the Los Angeles Kings, notched 58.36 shots on goal per 60. For reference, San Jose finished ninth in the league with 53.34 per 60. So the Sharks generated plenty of offense while on the man-advantage, they just didn’t score.
How do I work this around to being an okay thing for San Jose? Relentless optimism. Okay, just kidding. Nearly 10 minutes on the power play tonight meant the Sharks had less time to defend the Blue Jackets’ admittedly tepid attack.
Drawing penalties is a skill, something that seems to be lost on NHL fans at times, and the Sharks are darn good at it. Even when the goals don’t come, there’s never a bad time to send your opponent to the box.
The Sharks universally failed on the other side of the special teams equation. Two of the three goals San Jose has allowed this season have come while killing a penalty. Their penalty kill percentage is a putrid 33 percent (1-3) and beyond the teeny sample size, they just haven’t looked all that good dating back to last season.
I don’t have it in me to be concerned about the Sharks’ power play — the penalty kill? Well, we’ll give it time.