SAN JOSE – The Sharks fought back from a two-goal deficit in the third period, only to see rookie Matthew Tkachuk score with less than five minutes remaining in a 3-2 loss to the Calgary Flames on Thursday. Here are three takeaways from the disappointing performance…
1 – Slow start
The way the Sharks began this game was startling, considering how well they had been playing at home lately, and that they were coming off of a loss to a poor Arizona team and should have been anxious to get back in the win column. Instead, they had an incredible lack of urgency both at five-on-five and on their three early power plays. One stat that stood out after the first 20 minutes was that San Jose had just one single hit by Joel Ward.
"We want to be a heavy hard team, and when we're not playing physical and not getting in on the forecheck, I think that indicates for sure when we're not on our game,” Brenden Dillon said. “It's just one of those stats, but at the same time it's indicative of the way we're playing.”
2 – Line shuffling provides a spark
Pete DeBoer has been forced to alter his lines mid-game more often than he’d probably like to this season. On Thursday, though, it seemed to pay off. Melker Karlsson has been slowly working his way up the lineup, and took some shifts later on in the game on the top line left wing in place of Mikkel Boedker. He eventually scored the tying goal on a line with Chris Tierney and Patrick Marleau, and the Sharks were just much more effective as a team, too.
“We didn’t come out with the energy we wanted, and [the Flames] got energy from that, so I think it was good that they changed [the lines] up a little bit,” Karlsson said after the game.
Karlsson could be in line for more ice time as one of the team’s more effective forwards of late. We'll keep an eye on what DeBoer does with his lines for Saturday’s game against Pittsburgh.
3 – Memorable night for Tkachuk
The sixth overall pick from the 2016 draft, Tkachuk only found out on Thursday morning that he would be playing in his 10th game of the season, making him likely to stay with the Flames all year rather than return to his junior club. Not only did he score twice, he got involved physically, too, cross-checking Dillon in the corner at one point and mixing it up with Brent Burns in front of the net before Burns shoved him to the ice.
Tkachuk got the last laugh, though, taking advantage of Burns’ bad read on the game-winner.
“I woke up this morning, not expecting I was playing. I got the news I was playing and I got fired up pretty quickly,” Tkachuk told the Calgary Herald. “I was running on adrenalin, for sure.”