SAN JOSE -- The Sharks keep finding new ways to lose.
Of their 25 regulation losses this season entering Wednesday night's game against the visiting Vancouver Canucks at SAP Center, precisely zero of them came in games in which San Jose held a lead going into the third period. 19 times had the Sharks taken an advantage into the second intermission, and they were 17-0-2 in those contests.
So much for that.
Where there was once a zero, there is now a one. San Jose never trailed through the first two periods Wednesday night and took a 2-1 lead into the third period behind goals from Tomas Hertl and Brent Burns. A winning recipe, right?
Within the first three minutes of the third period, Vancouver tied it up. Within the first seven minutes, the Canucks turned a one-goal deficit into a one-goal lead. Less than a minute after that, Vancouver scored the back-breaker, and the rout was on. An empty-net goal later, and the Canucks departed San Jose with a 5-2 victory.
Getting outscored in the third period is nothing new to the Sharks this season, as they've now been outscored 94-56 in the third after Wednesday's debacle. A considerable portion of that negative margin has been accrued in blowouts, though, as San Jose actually has won more than half of its games that have been decided by a single goal and two-thirds of its games that have been decided by two goals. When it comes to games decided by three-or-more goals, though -- like Wednesday night -- the Sharks have prevailed in less than one-fifth of those contests. They've also now given up 12 empty-net goals.
So, yes, the third-period numbers might be a bit inflated. Even so, that doesn't change the fact that San Jose clearly has struggled to finish games. Only twice had it come back to bite the team when leading entering the third period, and at least in each of those two hiccups, the Sharks managed to come away with a point. That wasn't the case against the Canucks, and Team Teal knew it missed a golden opportunity to gain much-needed ground in the standings.
"We didn't give them a lot 5-on-5 at all," Sharks interim coach Bob Boughner said after the loss. "We played a very good defensive game. A couple long shots go in and you find yourself in a hole a little bit. I know we produced a fair number of chances and we had some good zone time and we had some good rush play -- there's a lot of good about it. But, yeah, they found a way to go into the third, and that's where we're sitting right now."
"It was a tough one because I thought we played well enough to win," Boughner added. "I thought we did some really good things."
Sharks forward Barclay Goodrow's disappointment was both readily evident and simultaneously concise.
"It's something we'll have to get fixed soon," Goodrow said of the team's third-period issues.
The Canucks are in first place and for good reason, but on home ice with a lead entering the third period and an obvious need for points, that's a game the Sharks had to have. They blew it, and even if they do fix their third-period problems soon, it might already be too late.