The honeymoon period didn't last long. After winning their first ever Stanley Cup Final game on Saturday, the Sharks were all but run out of their own building through the first two periods on Monday in what can charitably called a disheartening 3-1 defeat.
San Jose put on one hell of a push late in the third period, outshooting the Penguins 12-7 and getting the better of scoring chances 11-3, but Melker Karlsson's goal was the only tally the Sharks got.
Down 3-1 in the series, the Sharks need something close to a miracle to win the Stanley Cup. Hell, they ought to look for divine intervention to take this series to six games. While the shot totals stayed relatively even throughout the game, the Penguins look to be the superior team.
So what do the Sharks do now, with their backs against the wall? In truth, they will likely do much of what they've done to this point. Playing with desperation may be romantic, but trying hard has never been the problem. Say what you will about their energy or grit or stick-to-it-iveness, but the Sharks have lost three out of four games because the Penguins appear to be the better team.
Sprinkle in the Tomas Hertl news we received just before puck drop and things look awfully dour in San Jose. There's no sugarcoating it, the Sharks are in serious trouble. They were in trouble before Hertl was injured and without one of their best forwards, San Jose just can't compete with Pittsburgh's speed — not consistently, anyway.
Roman Polak and Brenden Dillon have been mostly terrible (but were on the ice for the Sharks' only goal! So! Positives!) and the fourth line hasn't been much better. I'm not saying this to drag these players through the mud — one of the great failings of hockey fan culture is that we choose to savagely attack the losers instead of praising the winners.
The Penguins' roster is absolutely loaded and firing on all cylinders right now. Sidney Crosby has controlled play, Phil Kessel has been explosive and Evgeni Malkin, despite only scoring once this series, has been every bit as dangerous as advertised. The Sharks forward depth doesn't compare and the bottom defensive pairing has been bad enough to negate the added value of their strong top four.
Barring a sudden improvement in play or the Sharks buying a barrel of horseshoes, San Jose's season will be over shortly.