The Sharks' traveling road show made a stop in St. Paul, Minn. on Friday, but not a lot went right for San Jose (2-3-0) in the opener of a two-game set against the Minnesota Wild (4-1-0).
The power play came up empty on three man-advantages, and the Sharks' lone goal was scored by Matt Nieto on the fourth line.
After the 4-1 loss to the Wild, coach Bob Boughner chided the Sharks' inability to convert on the power play and asked for more from his top players.
"I was generally pretty happy through the first 40 minutes," Boughner told the media on a video conference call. "They had a three-minute push there in the second where they came a little bit and they got the game turned around a little bit. But I think the difference is our power play, at crucial times, needs to get us one there and Minnesota is a good penalty kill team. But we didn't generate a lot of emotion from our power play and especially when we had chances, we didn't capitalize on our chances. [Kevin Labanc] missed one here at the back door and it basically was a 2-1 game in my mind.
"[Only other thing] I would have to say is, we need more from the big guys. We got another goal from Matt Nieto on that fourth line here and we need our best players to be our best players."
Tomas Hertl leads the Sharks with three goals this season, and captain Logan Couture has two markers, but Evander Kane, Brent Burns, Timo Meier, Erik Karlsson and Labanc each only have one goal. Franchise icon Patrick Marleau assisted on Nieto's goal Friday for his first point of the young season. Marc-Edouard Vlasic has yet to register a point through five games.
Boughner is right. If the Sharks want to bounce back from a disappointing 2019-20 season and return to the playoffs this year, they need more from their most experienced players. A lot more.
It's still early in the 56-game 2021 season, but the Sharks can't afford to dig themselves a deep hole in a West division that features the Vegas Golden Knights, St. Louis Blues, Colorado Avalanche and Wild.
If the veteran leaders don't start producing at an increased clip, it could be another long season for the Sharks.