November 23, 2014 By Paul Gackle

Defensive Miscues Cost Sharks In Shootout Loss To Coyotes

SAN JOSE — Better effort, same result.

The San Jose Sharks attempted 91 shots against the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday, but a pair of defensive miscues prevented them from picking up two points in a 4-3 shootout at SAP Center.

As a result, the Sharks are 6-9-3 in their last 18 games and stuck in fifth place in the Pacific Division standings.

“We have to win games,” head coach Todd McLellan said. “We’ve flat out won six of our last 18 games — that’s not a record that puts you in the playoffs, that’s not a record that allows you to challenge for anything.”

The Sharks generated plenty of offense, winning the shot clock battle 43-25 while attempting 43 more shots than the Coyotes. The problem, this time, was costly turnovers in the neutral and defensive zones.

After Antoine Vermette put the Coyotes ahead 1-0 in the first seven minutes of the game, the Sharks coughed up the puck in the neutral zone on a pass from Brent Burns to Patrick Marleau later in the first, leading to a 3-on-2 the other way. Burns then slid to stop Mikkel Boedker from passing the puck out front, but instead the Coyotes wingman found defenseman David Schlemko in the high slot and he beat goalie Antti Niemi on his glove side.

The Sharks battled back with two goals in the second period, but Shane Doan capitalized on a defensive zone turnover in the first minute of the third, putting the Coyotes ahead 3-2. Doan found the back of the net after Tomas Hertl fumbled a breakout pass near the blue line.

“Too many mistakes defensively,” McLellan said. “Lapses that cost us and, at the other end, if you get three, you should be able to win a game. A lot of shots on goal. A lot of shot attempts. A lot of possession. Faceoffs were good. But at the end of it, we weren’t detailed enough without the puck at certain moments in the game.”

For the sixth time in nine games, the Sharks fell behind by two goals, a tough hole to climb out of for any team.

But the Sharks fought hard, tying the game in the second with goals from Tommy Wingels and Andrew Desjardins. They tied it up again in the third on the power play when Joe Pavelski scored his team-leading ninth goal on a deflection off a Burns slap shot from the point.

The Sharks appeared to have two points in their hands in overtime with the puck on the goal line and Pavelski and Logan Couture in close hacking away during a 4-on-3 power play. But Couture whiffed on a shot attempt and then knocked the puck out of the crease with his stick.

“It looked like it was going in and, I think, [Couture] mentioned it hit his stick on the way out,” Pavelski said. “It’s the way it’s going, at times, right now.”

Once again, the Sharks earned a point after the Coyotes won the game on a Vermette goal in the shootout. But the single point isn’t a consolation, especially on a night when the Sharks completely dominated the puck-possession battle.

“When you lose it doesn’t matter,” Pavelski said. “Shootout, regular game, it’s tough.”

Defensman Brenden Dillon’s equipment arrived in time for him to suit up for his first game with the Sharks after being acquird in a trade for Jason Demers and a 2016 third-round pick on Friday.

Dillon said his teammates simplified the transition to his new squad.

“The guys are great in the room,” he said. “[Burns] is real easy to play with and was communicating, talking on the bench every play.”

The loss drops the Sharks record at SAP Center to 2-3-2 on the year, but the team still has four games remaining on a six-game homestand to flip the momentum.

“At home it’s more comfortable. We get some more practice time here. We have our home fans, so it’s a different game and we’ve got to feed off that,” Wingels said. “In our next game we’re going to have to find a way to win.”