SAN JOSE- Giveaways, giveaways, giveaways. That sums up Saturday night for the Sharks as San Jose fell to the Florida Panthers by a 5-3 final. Despite boatloads of quality chances at the offensive end, San Jose managed just two goals through the first 50 plus minutes which wasn’t nearly enough to compensate for a rather porous game defensively.
Logan Couture opened up the scoring early in the first for the Sharks when he wheeled around at the point and fired a wrist shot towards the net much like the way the Blackhawks star forward Patrick Kane likes to do. The shot changed directions slightly off a Panthers defenseman and fluttered into the top corner past Florida netminder Scott Clemensen.
The Panthers would answer back on the power-play mid-way through the period at the 7:53 mark. After Sharks netminder Thomas Greiss made a point blank save right in the crease, a rebound shot from Stephen Weiss slipped right under his glove and just inside the post.
San Jose would get the lead back a few minutes later when great work cycling around the boards and using both defenseman at the point led to a goal for the third line, their second goal in back to back games. After defenseman Colin White pinched in along the left side, the puck reached Michal Handzus behind the net who centered to a wide open Jamie McGinn who made no mistake pounding it home as he crashed the crease.
In the second period though is where the defensive miscues started costing the Sharks dearly on the scoreboard. First, a terrible giveaway by White hit former Shark Marco Sturm who picked up the puck and jammed home a backhand shot through Greiss’ five-hole as the Shark netminder went for the poke-check.
Less than two minutes later, a giveaway by Brent Burns enabled Tomas Fleischmann to bag his twelfth of the season beating a sprawling Greiss at 7:15.
Towards the end of the period the Sharks would get their first power play opportunity but the ensuing man advantage showed it just wasn’t the Sharks’ night. After a dynamite chance for Pavelski in the crease, Dan Boyle gave away the puck in the neutral zone to Jack Skille who fought off Boyle on a drive to the net and muscled one home through Greiss.
Just like that, a 2-1 advantage for the Sharks had flipped into a 4-2 disadvantage in a span of 20 minutes.
Through two thirds of the final period the Panthers looked to have a victory sealed as the chances San Jose had in the first two periods weren’t existent. But a power play goal by Logan Couture with 6:21 brought the Sharks back within one and swung the momentum back in their direction.
However yet another turnover would lead to a game icing goal for the Panthers. Marc-Edouard Vlasic was the culprit this time as he lost the puck in his own end leading directly to a holding penalty on Jason Demers. Florida defenseman Dmitry Kulikov would capitalize on the ensuing man advantage essentially sealing the victory.
While Florida’s big line of Tomas Fleischmann, Stephen Weiss and Kris Versteeg continued their impressive offensive production (combined eight points on the night) the story was much more the poor play on San Jose’s end than anything else.
In large part because of the sloppy performance, trying to get anything positive out of the Sharks players was like pulling teeth.
Ryane Clowe was asked if he can take anything away from his line’s performance which potted two of San Jose’s three goals.
“No” responded Clowe. “We lost the game.”
Then there was Jamie McGinn, who has been a steady force on San Jose’s third line and scored in his second straight game against the Panthers.
“I’m glad the way I’m playing” said McGinn “but we didn’t win the game tonight. We go out there every night to win hockey games and get two points and I thought those were two critical points on the board tonight and we didn’t execute.”
As for the amount of giveaways, alternate captain Dan Boyle was visibly angry with the way his team played.
“We gave them that game, couple soft plays from us D” recalled Boyle. “It really sucks man. We pissed it away .”
Sharks head coach Todd McLellan flipped his first and third lines around multiple times as well as his top two defense pairs as consistency in execution just wasn’t there for his team.
“That is probably as poorly as I’ve seen our six D play in four years, altogether as in turnovers.” McLellan remarked. “The forwards did not create much of a fore check. So it was a full team game. So if we don’t want to work today we will find some time tomorrow to do it.”