The Sharks played 40 minutes of solid hockey on Monday night. To win this series, they'll need to play at least 60 — maybe more. Okay, so that's pretty obvious. Other than showing up on time to the start of game two, what can San Jose to fix things up against Pittsburgh?
Glad you asked!
In my look at what the Sharks need to do to beat the Penguins, San Jose can check at least two of those off the board. Going 1/2 on the power play is at the very least a nice conversion rate and the Sharks certainly got above average goaltending. San Jose may have gotten the better of the bounces, too, though it's hard to separate Jones' great saves from the Sharks great bounces.
That leaves sticking to the defensive gameplan. I won't pretend to know the exact x's and o's of Peter DeBoer's gameplan, but I'm pretty sure allowing 41 shots didn't factor into it. So starting from the top — how can the Sharks better keep the Penguins from throwing rubber at Jones?
For starters, keeping the Sidney Crosby line off the ice while the Sharks' third line is on seems like a good strategy. Easier said than done while Pittsburgh has the last change, but too often it seemed Crosby and company got to enter the offensive zone with the third or fourth line struggling to keep up.
The third line played a poor game overall, for that matter. Chris Tierney finished with a game-worst -10 corsi differential at even strength while Joel Ward (-9) and Melker Karlsson (-8) didn't fare much better. That held true for the fourth line as well and both Justin Braun and Marc-Edouard Vlasic finished as negative possession players after the night ended.
While the defense, especially after the first period, holds most of our attention it's worth noting that the Sharks didn't hold offensive zone time very well for large stretches of the game. Roman Polak and Brenden Dillon saw lots of ice time with Thornton and company, meaning those slick drop passes from Thornton to the point decreased greatly in value. Polak provides some value to the Sharks, but his shot isn't one of those areas.
This game falls more in line with the Sharks' game one loss to the St. Louis Blues than it does to the game six loss to Nashville or game four defeat to St. Louis. It's not just one area San Jose needs to clean up but it's also not quite so bad that the Sharks need to hit the reset button entering game two.
In short, the Sharks need to better hold offensive zone pressure to keep the Penguins out of the San Jose end of the ice. Pittsburgh can roll all four lines to even greater effect than the Sharks, so preventing long shifts on defense will prove key to getting back in this series. It's only one game and San Jose didn't fold after going down 2-0 after one period. They'll be okay, so long as they show up for the duration of Wednesday's contest.