SAN JOSE It was an unpleasant Saturday night at HP Pavilion for the Sharks, as their sloppy play in the defensive zone led directly to several Florida goals in a 5-3 loss to the Panthers.
It could be an even more unpleasant Sunday originally a day off for the club, but not anymore.
Unfortunately, if we dont want to work today, well find some time tomorrow to do it, said an ornery Todd McLellan after the game.
The coach had reason to be upset after watching his club lose its third game in the last four. The Sharks took a 2-1 lead into the second period, but three separate ill-advised misplays by defensemen allowed the Panthers to take a 4-2 lead. Those goals were sandwiched between power play markers from Florida in the first and third periods, as the Sharks' penalty killing struggles continued.
Colin White, Dan Boyle and Brent Burns all had particularly egregious errors in the second period, and the Panthers capitalized on several gift giveaways from the Sharks in what has typically been their strongest period of the season.
First, it was White, who found himself alone with the puck and plenty of time to clear the zone. Instead, he inexplicably flipped it to Marco Sturm, who barreled in alone on net and slipped the puck through Thomas Greiss to tie the game at 5:37.
Less than two minutes later, Kris Versteeg intercepted Burns attempted pass to Joe Pavelski. Burns was caught out of position as Versteeg found Tomas Fleischmann cutting in alone on net, and Fleischmann managed to evade Greiss poke-check and deposit his 12th goal.
The Sharks failed to capitalize on their first power play at 16:14 of the second period, and the Panthers made them pay with another goal late in the frame. This time it was Jack Skille stripping Boyle in the neutral zone and taking it hard to the net.
Skille lost control around the crease, but the puck deflected in off of Jason Demers skate to give Florida a two-goal cushion before the break.
The amount of times that the puck was on our tape and then on theirs and I dont want to discredit their game, they played hard and are a good forechecking team but we were very sloppy, said McLellan. Thats probably as poorly as Ive seen our six defensemen play in four years, all together as a group, with turnovers. The forwards didnt create much of a forecheck, so it was a full team game.
Boyle said: I think we gave them that game. A couple soft plays from us D. Just boneheaded, stupid, soft plays giving them a couple goals. We gave that game away.
San Jose managed to cut the lead to 4-3 on Logan Coutures second goal of the night, when he blasted a one-timer past Scott Clemmensen with 6:21 remaining in regulation. Any thought of a comeback, though, was erased with Dmitry Kulikovs power play goal with 1:35 seconds remaining in regulation and Demers in the penalty box.
The Sharks entered the game with the leagues 28th ranked penalty kill, including the worst in the NHL at home. They allowed two goals on four Florida power plays, dropping their percentage at HP Pavilion to a dismal 70.7 percent.
San Jose scored first for just the eighth time this season, and held a first period lead for just the fifth time. Coutures first of the night put them ahead when his soft wrister deflected in off of Kulikovs glove just 1:16 after the opening puck drop.
Florida tied the game on a man advantage, when Stephen Weiss found a rebound in the slot and slid it along the ice back towards the net. It would have been an easy shot for Greiss to freeze, but Douglas Murray appeared to impede Greiss glove with his stick and it ended up sneaking inside the far post.
Jamie McGinns fourth goal of the year at 11:44 on a feed from Michal Handzus gave San Jose a 2-1 lead at the first intermission. The Sharks had been a perfect 7-0 when scoring first and 5-0 when leading after the opening period, but both of those streaks came to an end.
VIDEO: Jamie McGinn postgame
Greiss, starting for the first time since November 20, finished with 30 saves to drop his record to 4-4-0. The Panthers also started their backup in Clemmensen, who made 23 saves and has now won both of his starts (2-0-0).
While the defense struggled throughout the night, Couture and Ryane Clowe werent willing to let the forwards off the hook, either.
I know there were some turnovers from the d-men, but there was no forechecking from the forwards, either, said Clowe. There was no sustained effort.
Couture said: We just didnt come ready to play. Not a single guy on our team played well, top to bottom. No one had a good game and no one can look at each other and say that they played well tonight.
What makes the loss even tougher to swallow is that the Sharks were in an upbeat mood following a come-from-behind win against Montreal on Thursday night, in which Clowe tied it late and they prevailed in a shootout, 4-3.
In the midst of a four-game homestand, the Sharks wanted to keep the momentum from that game with matches against Minnesota and Dallas on the horizon next week. It didnt happen.
After the win against Montreal, you expect to come out and start to get on a roll at home, said Couture.
Instead, Sundays day-off-turned-practice could be of the variety where pucks arent necessary.
Its time for one of those days, said McLellan.
Odds and ends: The Sharks fell to 7-5-1 at home. Whites assist on McGinns goal was his first point as a Shark. White had been a scratch in five of the last six games, including the last four. He missed several days of practice and Mondays game in Los Angeles for personal reasons. Handzus has the primary assist on each of McGinns four goals. Handzus won 13 of 14 faceoffs, while the Sharks won 36 of 54 as a team (67 percent). The Sharks out hit Florida, 28-10.