What began with a matinee defeat in Brooklyn, ended with a matinee defeat in Newark, where the San Jose Sharks closed out their East Coast road trip on a sour note with a 3-2 loss at the hands of the New Jersey Devils.
Much like they did in New York against the Rangers, the Sharks were in control of the game through the first two periods, maintaining possession of the puck and out-shooting the Devils 29-18 in all situations.
In the first period, the Sharks did everything but score as they maintained a Corsi-for percentage of 60 percent along with generating 16 shots-for and eight scoring chances in all situations, but Keith Kinkaid was able to keep them off the score sheet. Kinkaid’s counterpart in Martin Jones showed no rust despite having two games off. Jones came up with a crucial save in the first period, denying Nico Hischier in a 2-on-1.
The second period was a mirror of the first as the Sharks again controlled the possession of the puck with CF% of 57 percent while putting up 16 shots and ten scoring chances. Unlike in the first, the Sharks were able to breakthrough Kinkaid — Joe Pavelski scored the first goal of the game along with a career achievement:
After scoring the games first goal and giving the Sharks a 1-0 lead, Pavelski picked up his 700th career point. Furthermore, he’s only the fifth player in National Hockey League history to be drafted 200th or later to reach 700 points.
The Sharks lead lasted only a few minutes as the Devils went on to tie the game, taking advantage of a 5-on-3 power play that led to a Kyle Palmieri goal.
In the final minutes of the second period, the Sharks were able to regain the lead thanks to a Logan Couture accidental pass to Timo Meier. It looked as though the Sharks would end the road trip on a high note since they were controlling the puck, out-shooting the Devils, and generating most of the scoring chances.
However, like their loss to the New York Rangers on Thursday, the Sharks wound up getting out-shot in the third period 18 to 10, along with Devils possessing the puck 57 percent of the time. It resulted in the Sharks giving up two goals in the first seven minutes of the third.
Even though the Sharks were down by a goal, their performance didn’t take a dip, as they continued by generating ten scoring chances in the third period, but as the season has shown, the bounces of the puck aren’t in the Sharks favor.
Furthermore, it didn’t help that the power play continues to struggle and be the Achilles heel of the team so far this season. The power play has struggled to start the season as it’s at 11 percent — not exactly what the Sharks want to see, and these issues reared their ugly head against the Devils. They were unable to convert on two occasions, and with the talent, in their lineup, it’s becoming increasingly frustrating.
The Sharks were also hurt by the number of penalties called on them, another situation that in this game just felt incredibly unlucky, like a delay of game penalty for the puck going over the glass. While the Devils only scored one power play goal, the Sharks took eight penalties in total (counting Karlsson’s high sticking double minor as two) compared to the three taken by the Devils. That changes that pace of play and forces the Sharks into a defensive game more than they’d like.
Although it feels like the sky is falling, it’s early, and there were some positives to take from their loss to the Devils. For one, the Sharks continue to drive possession, and this game was no different which led to them generating 29 shots in the first two periods.
Eventually, the puck will start finding the back of the net, as they’re second in the league and shots-for with 231 and third in the league in scoring chances with 196. So far, these numbers aren’t translating to better performance but they will, hopefully.