Before last night’s game started, the San Jose Sharks were at a disadvantage. According to Corsica, no player on the Sharks was helping the team control a greater share of 5-on-5 shots or expected goals relative to his teammates than Erik Karlsson. The Sharks will be without Karlsson through the All-Star break, as coach Pete DeBoer and the rest of the coaching staff felt it prudent to shut the defenseman down to avoid further aggravation to his injury.
Early in the game, Florida capitalized at the Sharks’ suddenly diminished ability to control the neutral zone. After an opening 10 minutes during which the Sharks failed to register an even-strength shot on goal, a turnover in the neutral zone went awry. The Panthers spent just two passes setting up defender Aaron Ekblad for a top-corner wrist shot on which goaltender Martin Jones had no chance.
Though a slow start put the Sharks in an early hole, the team seemed to pull itself together toward the end of the first period.
The Sharks seemed to find a burst of energy halfway through the period that found another peak in the frame’s dying moments.
DeBoer’s new shutdown pair struggled through the first period, and the team’s new-look fourth line also found it difficult to maintain any shot advantage.
The late-period push continued into the second period, when San Jose forwards Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski found themselves digging the puck out of the corner before sending a pass to Brent Burns. Couture deflected Burns’ shot past Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo for the tying goal. The tie did not hold long. After both Burns and a Sharks forward pinched, inducing an odd-man rush for Florida that turned into their second goal.
San Jose continued to push back through the heat of the second period. After a long offensive zone possession by Timo Meier, Joe Pavelski, Joe Thornton, Tim Heed and Joakim Ryan, Meier appeared to have slid a puck past Luongo after a pass from Thornton in the corner. Referees blew the “no goal” call immediately. They subsequently overturned the call after further discussion and again labeled the play a good goal after Panthers’ coach Bob Boughner’s challenge for goaltender interference. Even by Meier’s standards, it was an ugly goal.
First-period trends continued into the second, as the team’s shutdown defense pair and fourth line struggled their way through the first two frames.
No matter, as the hockey gods made sure to make life difficult for the swarming Sharks. Only a few minutes into the third period, Evander Kane tried dangling into the zone around a Panther when his stick caught the defender in the lip, issuing blood from the cut. Florida scored not once on the ensuing four-minute power play, but they added a second goal after Radim Simek fell while trying to clear the puck out of the defensive zone.
Another ill-timed pinch by Brent Burns sent the Panthers in on another odd-man rush a few minutes later. Joakim Ryan misplayed the two-on-one slightly, and Florida turned the opportunity into a three-goal lead. A late, silly Evander Kane penalty put the Sharks under the spell of Florida’s power play once again. A few quick passes and the Panthers turned a three-goal lead into a four-goal lead and sent the visitors to the dressing room.
The frustration of a difficult road trip seemed to get the better of the Sharks this game, especially after giving up two quick power play goals against the run of play.
For the most part, San Jose did enough to win the game. They out-chanced Florida, even after adjusting for the score. However, the Sharks took just 42 percent of all 5-on-5 shots during the third period after adjusting for the score and venue (Natural Stat Trick), so it was clear they were not doing as much as they could have after surrendering the lead.
- Justin Braun and Brenden Dillon were on the ice for 11:45 together at 5-on-5. During those 11 minutes, the Sharks took eight shots and allowed 12 (40 percent), generated one scoring chance and gave up four (20 percent) and allowed one goal (Natural Stat Trick).
- According to the Evolving-Wild expected goals formula, Martin Jones’ save percentage on unblocked shots was 11.7 percent below what was expected of him and he allowed 3.4 goals more than expected. It is unfair to pin everything on him, but he did not help his cause.
- Tim Heed and Joakim Ryan had by far their best game as a duo, helping the Sharks collect 63.5 percent of 5-on-5 score- and venue-adjusted shots, along with 86.7 percent of all 5-on-5 expected goals (Natural Stat Trick).
- San Jose played pretty poorly against Arizona, but they were arguably the better team against Tampa Bay and Florida. That fact should be comforting because, despite the six-goals-against-per-game rough stretch, the team has generally looked pretty good.