The Sharks have struggled late in periods all season, but Sunday's 5-4 overtime loss to the Washington Capitals represented a new historic low.
Logan Couture's empty-net goal gave San Jose a 4-2 lead with a minute remaining in regulation, but Washington scored three unanswered -- including the winner in 3-on-3 overtime -- to come back. Only five NHL regular-season games since the 1979-80 season have included an empty-net goal by a losing team, and Couture's tally was far and away the latest during that time, as Hockey Reference noted in their "Stathead" newsletter Monday.
That wasn't the only history made Sunday. The Capitals managed to match a feat the Sharks had accomplished nearly 16 years prior, becoming the seventh team in NHL history to come back to win after trailing by multiple goals in the final minute of regulation.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) January 5, 2020
The Sharks ended Sunday with 42 points, sitting seven points back of the Calgary Flames for the final wild-card spot. San Jose would need to jump four teams, as well as Calgary, in order to grab the Western Conference's final playoff berth. That'll make Sunday's loss sting, but the destination wasn't necessarily as big of a hit as the journey.
By beating the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday and losing in overtime Sunday, the Sharks grabbed three of four possible points. Considering San Jose's struggles this season, that seems like a reasonable baseline on a back-to-back against teams three points back of the Eastern Conference's last wild-card spot (Columbus) and leading the NHL (Washington), respectively.
The Sharks surely would've preferred picking up all four possible points, though, and losing in any way to the Capitals would have been tough to swallow. Sunday's collapse just happened to leave a historically bad aftertaste.