The Sharks (3-4-0) didn't place the blame at the skates of their goaltenders following San Jose's most lopsided loss of the shortened season.
Coach Bob Boughner said starter Martin Jones and backup Devan Dubnyk were "left out to dry multiple times" in the Sharks' 7-3 loss to the Colorado Avalanche (4-4-0) on Tuesday at Ball Arena.
"You can't allow seam plays and pucks [to] go through the slot area side-to-side," Boughner told reporters in a postgame video conference. "I don't blame our goalies, and ... they both didn't have a lot of help."
The Sharks were badly out-possessed by the Stanley Cup-contending Avalanche, ceding a 46-28 advantage in 5-on-5 shot attempts, according to Natural Stat Trick. That included a 24-12 deficit in the first period, as San Jose also was outshot 16-9 in all situations as Colorado raced out to a 3-1 lead after 20 minutes.
Jones was pulled after the Avalanche went up 5-1 just 5:48 into the second period, and not even four minutes after failing to stop Valeri Nichushkin's short-handed breakaway following a John Leonard turnover. By Natural Stat Trick's estimation, Jones stopped just two of the five high-danger shots he faced in all situations (.400 save percentage), his worst performance against such shots this season.
Both Dubnyk and Jones allowed more goals than expected based on the quality of chances they faced (1.35 and 1.27 expected goals against, respectively, according to Natural Stat Trick), but they also faced more combined shots (42) than Philip Grubauer, their counterpart in the Avalanche net (30).
"I think that once they started rolling, we got a little passive and we gave them a little bit too much room and we started doubting ourselves a bit," defenseman Erik Karlsson said. "And that's probably why the game ran away from us against a good team like this."
The Sharks actually matched the Avalanche in 5-on-5 high-danger chances (five) in the first period, but San Jose generated just six more over the ensuing two periods amid a parade to the penalty box. Boughner said Nichushkin's goal was, essentially, a two-goal swing with the Sharks unable to capitalize on the man advantage and cut the Avalanche lead to 3-2.
Boughner hasn't yet decided on a starter for Thursday's rematch against the Avalanche, but he will after re-watching the game. Boughner said it was the kind of loss the Sharks will need to "throw away and forget about" after making adjustments.
With another game against Colorado so soon, San Jose has little other choice.
"When you get spanked like that, you wanna get right back at it," Sharks captain Logan Couture said. "I think everyone's probably wishing we could play tomorrow so we could get right back at it. But it's going to sting for tonight for sure. We'll go over the video, and learn from it and be ready for the next one."
The Sharks have split each of their two-game stretches against their opponents so far. If that's going to happen again, they'll need to be better in front of whichever goalie takes the net Thursday.