Sharks Finish Month Of February Without A Win On Home Ice
SAN JOSE — As the calendar turns from February to March, the San Jose Sharks are confronting a new opponent in their quest for an 11th straight appearance in the Stanley Cup playoffs: time.
The Sharks finished the month of February without a home win, going 0-6-2 in eight contests at SAP Center after falling to the Ottawa Senators 4-2 on Saturday.
“Time’s ticking away here,” forward Tommy Wingels said. “Every game we lose is two points down the drain. These are games we should win. These are games we had the opportunity, we’re in a lead and we can’t find a way to win with it. It’s frustrating.”
In many ways, the loss was a carbon copy of the Sharks defeat at the hands of the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday. They controlled the first period, jumped out to an early lead and then allowed a 2-1 advantage to slip away in the third frame.
The Senators tied the game up at 2-2 early in the third period after Melker Karlsson turned the puck over in the neutral zone and Matt Stone slipped the rebound of a Kyle Turris shot through Antti Niemi’s five hole.
Mike Hoffman gave the Senators the lead roughly four minutes later by putting home a rebound off the end boards on the power play.
Just like that, the Sharks found themselves down 3-2, which was also the final score of Thursday’s game against the Red Wings. The Senators added an empty-net goal in the game’s final two minutes.
“When you get up on teams, you’ve got to find a way to pile it on and bury them, quite frankly,” Tommy Wingels said. “Suck the life out of them when they’re down. When we’re down, we feel like that when good teams play against us. I don’t know if it’s the killer instinct we lack or we don’t know how to play with a lead right now. I don’t know what it is, but it’s frustrating.”
The Sharks opened the scoring in the first period on a goal from Tommy Wingels, and after Erik Karlsson tied it up in the second on another rebound off the end boards, Patrick Marleau scored from in close on the power play, just as he did on Thursday.
While the game looked eerily similar to Thursday’s loss, head coach Todd McLellan said his team’s level of play was higher over the last 40 minutes on Saturday.
Still, the effort wasn’t good enough and the frustration is mounting.
“It gets higher every game when you don’t have success,” McLellan said.
Despite a 3-8-2 record in the month of February, the Sharks (30-25-8) remain just two points behind the Los Angeles Kings for third place in the Pacific Division and five points behind the Minnesota Wild for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
“You look at the standings, we’ve been getting a little bit of help,” alternate captain Joe Pavelski said. “They want us to be in it. They want us to keep it right there, so that’s encouraging. But enough’s enough. When we get these chances, we’ve got to do a little bit more with them.”
With the trade deadline set to expire at noon on Monday, the Sharks could sell off several players who will be unrestricted free agents in the summer before they take the ice at SAP Center later in the day for a showdown with the Montreal Canadiens.
The Sharks could also swing a deal to bring in help, a scenario that seems unlikely considering general manager Doug Wilson’s verbal commitment to getting younger.
When asked if the Sharks need to shake things up with a personnel change before the deadline, Joe Pavelski defended his teammates.
“Next question,” Pavelski said. “We like the guys in here. Guys have done a good job. They’re all capable. It’s now doing it together.”
With every loss, the Sharks reaffirm that every player needs to battle harder, play 60 minutes of competitive hockey and find ways to get the job done. But throughout the month, nearly each game yielded the same result.
Where do the Sharks go from here?
“I can’t tell you where we take it right now, need some time to sleep on it,” McLellan said. “But to go in again and have another powwow and do all that type of stuff — that’s getting old, getting real old.”