The Sharks dropped yet another home game to a non-playoff team on Thursday night, further solidifying their third place spot in the Pacific Division—a spot that isn’t looking too shabby with their home record falling to 17-19-3.
The Sharks fell to a lowly Canucks team who snapped a 9-game losing streak in the 4-2 win on Thursday. After falling behind 2-0 early in a sloppy first period, both goals coming off of turnovers by Joonas Donskoi, the Sharks mustered somewhat of a comeback with a power play goal by Patrick Marleau at the end of the second and an equalizer from the hot Logan Couture halfway through the third period.
However, San Jose was unable to sustain the momentum. Vancouver's Jannik Hansen beat Brent Burns on a 2-on-1 to regain the lead for the Canucks with five minutes left in the third period. A careless tripping penalty from Dylan DeMelo ate up the final key minutes for the Sharks and the game resulted in another disappointing home loss for San Jose.
Vancouver was able to expose the Sharks' weaknesses, namely a defense that was having trouble getting back. DeMelo, whose lack of experience has been obvious at times, isn't the most reliable. The return of Marc-Eduard Vlasic will be key for the Sharks in bolstering the blue line.
The Los Angeles Kings shut out the Calgary Flames 3-0 on Thursday, putting them back atop the Pacific Division with 97 points. Anaheim sits in second with 96 points and a game in hand. Whichever team comes out on top, it is looking almost definite that the Sharks will be heading to Southern California for game one of the playoffs, now five points behind LA and four points behind Anaheim with only four games to go. This scenario seems to be in San Jose's favor as the Sharks have the most road wins of any team in the league.
However, it's going to take a lot more than a solid road record to take down a Kings or Ducks team. The Sharks will need polished play from their more inexperienced members and consistent defense. Vlasic's return will definitely be a key piece for a playoff-ready squad. Hopefully the Sharks can put this flat play behind them and end the season on an energized note heading into the postseason.