This wasn’t a game the Sharks should’ve lost. It most definitely wasn’t a game they should’ve lost 4-0.
Tonight’s line-up was as close to the opening night roster as the Sharks have been all preseason. That extra NHL experience meant that some things did go okay - the Sharks had the edge on faceoffs and they out-shot the Coyotes 32-21. Joe Thornton seems to be back on track, and only four forwards had more ice time than he did tonight.
But some of the past issues of this roster haven’t quite gotten fixed.
The Sharks were 0-4 on the power play, while allowing the Coyotes to capitalize on one of their three power play opportunities. That’s a concern left over from last season and it doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon.
Joonas Donskoi started out the night strong, but a collision with Nick Cousins in the second resulted in a game misconduct. That shortened the Sharks’ bench for the rest of the game, leaving a roster just now playing together for the first time this season in a position of having to shuffle lines to accommodate.
That may have been a factor in the Sharks’ inability to bounce back.
On defense, Dylan DeMelo sat in the pressbox and Tim Heed played nearly 21 minutes. Heed showed flashes of brilliance, but the defense just wasn’t there tonight. Justin Braun played sloppy in a game where the Sharks needed shut-down defense. The Coyotes’ top line of Max Domi - Derek Stepan - Clayton Keller was unstoppable, with Stepan earning two goals, both assisted by Keller and Domi. Brendan Perlini scored twice for Arizona, as well.
It’s not great to lose in a match up where the Sharks had their NHL roster on the ice, but that’s not to say it sets the tone for the season. The line combinations tonight were new, especially on the power play and after Donskoi’s ejection, so there’s still room to grow and build chemistry.
The final preseason game is tomorrow night against the Vegas Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena.
Update: The initial version of this post mistakenly attributed Perlini’s goals to Keller. This has been corrected.