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Slow start sinks Sharks against Flames

San Jose improved over the course of the game, but the team said their slow start ensured a second straight loss.

NHL: Calgary Flames at San Jose Sharks Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

SAN JOSE — For the second straight game, the Sharks trailed by two goals entering the third period last night against the Calgary Flames. Unlike the third period in Arizona on Tuesday, the Sharks were able to overcome the deficit, and tied the game with just over ten minutes remaining in regulation.

While the route was different, the destination ultimately remained the same. The Sharks once against lost 3-2 to a division rival, as Matthew Tkachuk clinched Calgary’s victory with just 4:21 remaining in regulation, and buried a backdoor feed from Michael Frolik. It was only the Flames’ fourth shot on goal in the period.

“We didn’t give up much until we had one breakdown coming back into the zone,” Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer. “That’s not the reason we lost. We lost because of a lack of a 60 minute commitment by everybody.”

Despite drawing two power plays in the game’s first five minutes, the Sharks started sluggishly. Calgary took advantage, controlling play at even strength to the tune of an 11-7 edge in shot attempts in the opening period.

“[Our early power plays] looked like our first period in general,” DeBoer said. “We had no hits. We had zero five-on-five chances. That carried into our power play. Our entire game was off. There’s no excuse for that.”

In a move to generate more offense, Pete DeBoer changed his lines in the second period. He swapped Mikkel Boedker and Melker Karlsson on the first and third lines. The Sharks created more chances, and had more puck possession in the second period. But the Flames got on the board first, and then second, all in a span of 1:33.

The Sharks erased the Flames’ two-goal lead with a strong start to the third, as defenseman Brent Burns and forward Melker Karlsson scored 8:43 apart to tie the game at two. San Jose once again controlled play in the third, but Calgary skated away victorious thanks to Tkachuk’s late game-winner. Burns rued the Sharks’ missed opportunities to begin the game.

“That’s tough, you want to score [on] one of those [power plays] for sure,” Burns said. “We didn’t play very good at the start. Obviously the third, we came out better. But you leave a team with high-end skill around, that can happen.”

Sharks captain Joe Pavelski also said that the Sharks started the third period well. San Jose controlled play in the final frame, but just as it was in the desert two nights ago, it was too little, too late.

“Right now, we’re a goal short. We’re a shot short,” Pavelski said after the game. “[Calgary’s game-winning goal] doesn’t just come at the end of the night. It doesn’t just come on the [fourth] shot of the third period. It comes throughout the whole game.

“Guys did a good job battling back from the third, but we’ve got to be ready from the start.”

The Sharks cannot afford to start slowly with its schedule toughening up. They will host the Pittsburgh Penguins tomorrow night in the season’s second rematch of the Stanley Cup Final, with Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang both back in Pittsburgh’s lineup. After that, their next six games are all on the road, and four of their opponents on the road trip made the postseason last spring.