Devan Dubnyk held out as long as he could in the Sharks' 3-0 loss to the Colorado Avalanche at Ball Arena on Thursday night.
The goaltender stopped 35 of the 38 shots he faced, keeping San Jose (3-5-0) within striking distance of Colorado (5-3-0) through two periods and change. Dubnyk denied each of the 12 shots he faced in the second, finally relenting just shy of 10 minutes into the third, when Nazem Kadri opened the scoring for the Avalanche.
Kadri assisted on Andre Burakovsky's goal that doubled the Avalanche's lead not even two minutes later, and the Sharks had no answer in what coach Bob Boughner said was their "worst" offensive performance of the season.
"He gave us a chance to win," Boughner said of Dubnyk. "For all intents and purposes, it was a 2-0 game until the end [when Colorado scored on the power play], we just couldn't produce offense for him."
The Sharks made changes to their power play ahead of Thursday's loss, but the man advantage was far from the only aspect of San Jose's offense that dried up in Denver. San Jose scored three 5-on-5 goals in each of the last two games prior to the shutout loss.
Although the Sharks attempted 44 5-on-5 shots, only 16 made it on net, matching a season low. According to Natural Stat Trick, only four of those shots were considered high-danger.
A middle-of-the-pack team in 5-on-5 shot quantity, the Sharks -- as of this writing -- are in the bottom half of the NHL in shot-quality metrics. The latter represents a step back from last season, as San Jose currently is generating nearly three fewer high-danger chances per hour than last season.
"I think the last couple of games we have for sure not really shot enough," center Tomas Hertl said. "I think we have to get more -- especially with our big guys -- get more to the net. And when [defensemen shoot], we have nobody really in front and make it very easy on the goalies. ... We barely have 20 shots every game now, and I think we can do way more than that and just be better in [the offensive zone]."
The Sharks aren't scheduled to play another game until next Monday, as their condensed 56-game schedule offers an early respite. It could be even longer for San Jose, as its next opponent -- the Vegas Golden Knights -- had Thursday's game postponed after the NHL announced a player and a coach were placed on the league's COVID-19 protocol list.
With the time off, the Sharks should have ample time to determine what ailed their offense Thursday. It simply could've been fatigue, as Boughner noted the team has been away from home for over a month after Santa Clara County's ban on contact sports, implemented to help limit the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, forced the Sharks to relocate to Scottsdale, Ariz. for training camp.
"I think this is our 34th or 35th day on the road," Boughner said. "It looks like a team that's been on the road for 35 days."
No matter the solution, the Sharks can ill-afford to waste a strong goaltending performance like Dubnyk's Thursday moving forward. San Jose's woes were legion last season, but poor play in net proved as costly as any aspect of the Sharks' game over the course of the season.
Dubnyk told reporters in his press conference he has gained confidence in each of his three starts this season, and he hopes to string a few consecutive starts together by using Thursday as a springboard. If he's going to reach that goal, he's going to need more goal support from the skaters in front of him.