SAN JOSE -- Jumping out to an early lead doesn't always guarantee a team will win, but that's been the theme for the Sharks through the first couple of weeks of the regular season.
And after scoring the first goal of a game for the first time this season against the Flames -- and going on to win, no less -- San Jose is looking to establish that early-game presence more often.
"It was nice to score first for once and feel good," Logan Couture said without hesitation Sunday night after the Sharks skated away with a 3-1 victory over Calgary. "We built off the third period in the Chicago game (last Thursday) which is what we really wanted to do."
Kevin Labanc agreed. "That was a big lead for us and we've got to start every game like that. That's got to be our focus."
Per Hockey-Reference, San Jose went 31-8-5 during the 2018-19 season when they scored the first goal, and outscored opponents 102-85 in first periods according to Statspass. The Sharks then averaged 22:41 minutes of lead time per game last year, per MoreHockeyStats.com, en route to winning 46 games and coming in second place in the Pacific Division.
While history doesn't always repeat itself, it's evident the Sharks have a better chance of winning if they can get on the scoreboard first, instead of battling back from behind. As the first five games of this season have shown, rallying out of an early hole can be challenging -- and resulted in four straight losses to begin the campaign.
"We've been talking about the last five games about coming (from) behind," Tomas Hertl said. "It costs you a lot of energy and it's hard."
This isn't to say San Jose can't win a game coming from behind. Per MoreHockeyStats.com, the Sharks won 20 regular-season games last year in which they didn't score first. But with the new season comes new challenges, and as of late, San Jose is giving up too many breakaways and prime chances. With wrinkles in the Sharks' defense still being ironed out, they should be looking to get on the scoreboard first as frequently as possible.
"I still think we could be a little bit better," Hertl said after Sunday's win. "This was one of our better games but we have to work."
Surely, the Sharks want that work to carry over into their next game -- a Wednesday night matchup against the Hurricanes. In addition to being tied for second place in the Eastern Conference, Carolina is 4-0-0 this season when scoring the first goal.
San Jose has the advantage of getting practice time in before Wednesday's game, whereas the Hurricanes will be playing the tail end of a back-to-back -- just like the Flames were the last time the Sharks took the ice.
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If the Sharks can score the first goal again on Wednesday, they'll greatly improve their chances of notching a three-game win streak.