The San Jose Sharks recently traveled through the Eastern Conference, finishing with a 1-1-2 record on the road trip.
Here are three takeaways from the Sharks’ trip out east.
1. Sharks out of answers after blown leads
The Sharks appeared to be overly confident heading into KeyBank Center to start a road trip against a second-to-last Sabres team. San Jose was up 2-1 after the first period and went on to make it a 4-1 game after two periods, but allowed three unanswered goals from the Sabres, who roared back to force overtime. Evander Kane then scored his second goal of the game, the game-winning goal, to lift his team to a 4-3 victory Tuesday night.
Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer challenged Tyler Ennis’ goal, claiming it was offsides, but video review determined the goal stood. DeBoer looked upset, but recognized the silver lining.
“I felt like Dan Quinn in Super Bowl Sunday,” DeBoer told Curtis Pashelka of the San Jose Mercury News, referring to the Falcons head coach who saw his team blow a 25-point second half lead before losing to the Patriots 34-28 in overtime.
Deboer added: “It was one of those games. Thank God it wasn’t the finals, it was a game in the middle of February and we found a way to get a point.”
2. Joe Thornton scored on a goalie for the first time this season
Despite the Sharks’ 6-3 loss to the Bruins at TD Garden Thursday night, Thornton generated headlines in the hockey world. He has never been known as a scorer, scoring just three goals in the first half of the NHL season — all on an empty net.
However, the 37-year-old finally beat a goalie for the first time Thursday in his 55th game of the season. He sniped a top-shelf goal past Tuukka Rask at 12:01 of the first period. The shot was tucked just under the crossbar to tie the score 1-1 early. According to Sharks’ radio broadcaster Dan Rusanowsky, Thornton scored his first goal against a goalie since last April against the Jets and his first even-strength goal since Feb. 2, 2016, in St. Louis.
Despite a lack of goal scoring, Thornton has remained an effective passer, collecting 30 assists so far this season. He’s on pace for 50 points.
3. Sharks need to capitalize on scoring chances
Sure, the Sharks beat the Devils 4-1 at the Prudential Center Sunday afternoon, but they didn’t play the full 60 minutes. In the first period, the Sharks got 19 shots and held the Devils to just three, but they were unable to capitalize on scoring chances and bury their chances for potential goals. The Sharks trailed 1-0 after 20 minutes.
The Sharks exploded with three goals — two by Brent Burns and one by Thornton — in the second period, but taking an early lead is a crucial part of notching wins. Tomas Hertl capped off the scoring with his sixth goal of the season to seal the Sharks’ 4-1 victory over the Devils, snapping their four-game losing streak.
Also, a lack of offense cost the Sharks when they suffered a 2-1 overtime loss to the Flyers at Wells Fargo Center Saturday afternoon. The Flyers outshot the Sharks throughout the game, and neither team scored until Ivan Provorov broke through with his fifth goal of the season to give his team a 1-0 lead early in the third period. Patrick Marleau tied the score 1-1 with his 20th goal of the season, but the game headed into overtime and Wayne Simmonds scored an unassisted goal to lift the Flyers past the Sharks 2-1 just 1:04 into overtime.
The Sharks do indeed get wins on lucky bounces, however, they can’t always slack off and expect to see good results. That being said, the Sharks need to put in work by generating their own energy against teams that are trying to remain in the playoffs. Experienced veterans such as Burns, Thornton and Marleau can’t carry the team on their backs. After all, hockey is a team sport.
The Sharks host the Panthers (24-20-10) in a nationally televised game Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. PST on NBCSN.