After the Sharks' losing streak hit four games in a 4-2 loss to the cellar-dwelling Los Angeles Kings, defenseman Brent Burns summarized it best to reporters in L.A.
“Every loss is doomsday, and every win feels good.”
Unfortunately for the Sharks, that doesn’t make Thursday’s defeat at the hands of the Kings sting any less.
With the defeat, the Sharks matched their season-long losing streak at four games – against the second-worst team in the entire NHL, no less. San Jose even entered the third period with a 2-1 lead, having taken over the pace of play in the second stanza and hemming even the Kings' best players in their own end.
Then, the Kings scored three unanswered goals in the final 20 minutes to emerge victorious.
Meanwhile, the two Pacific Division teams bookending the Sharks in the standings – the Calgary Flames and the Vegas Golden Knights – are both on hot streaks and kept winning on Thursday while Team Teal was in L.A.
Nobody’s going to sugarcoat it – the Sharks know they have to be better.
“It’s a wake-up call for us,” center Tomas Hertl said. “We have to be ready because we have just eight games left. We saw how Calgary is playing right now, and we have to step it up.”
As if the Sharks weren’t already desperate for a win after dropping three straight contests, they got some bad news just before pregame warmups that center Logan Couture was a late scratch due to flu-like symptoms. With captain Joe Pavelski and defenseman Erik Karlsson already out, San Jose needed someone else to fill that void.
“It’s always tough when you’re missing players like that,” Hertl said. “But we have a lot of skill and we didn’t improve (on) it today.”
Coach Peter DeBoer doubled down on not making excuses for big players being out of the lineup.
“You got to win this game anyway,” he told reporters. “You’ve got to find a way. Someone’s got to step up and be a first star. You’ve got to get a great performance from somebody in a game like this and I don’t think we got that.”
With only eight games left in the regular season, San Jose needs to right the ship before embarking on a playoff run.
Getting Couture, Pavelski, and Karlsson back in the lineup healthy will certainly help. But, the Sharks' defensive effort and overall level of intensity has to be better. They’ve been outscored 19-9 over these last four games, and gone 1-for-13 on the power play. While there’s concern over this losing stretch, the Sharks have to buckle down and find a way to win immediately.
“We’ve got to find a way to win some games,” DeBoer said. “We’re a little bit beat up, but you can’t use excuses this time of year. We need some guys to find another level for us. At this time of year, you need someone to give you a first-star performance either in net or up front or somewhere to stop the bleeding. We haven’t gotten that.”