SAN JOSE – The Sharks have had to rally through a tough schedule all season. On some nights, despite going into a game with the right mindset, fatigue can still creep in.
Thursday's 4-2 loss to the Florida Panthers was one of those nights.
“It hit us tonight,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer summarized. “Five games in eight nights and a back-to-back to Minnesota and Winnipeg and back, I think it caught up to us a little bit.”
Mix a busy schedule against tough teams with plenty of penalty trouble Thursday night, and the odds weren't in the Sharks' favor.
“You have to give them credit too, they played hard.” DeBoer said. “We’ve found a way, a lot of times this year, to win these games when our energy was down. But tonight wasn’t one of those nights.”
Kevin Labanc agreed: “We’ve had plenty of games like that and we found a way to win. We just weren’t really smart, I think.”
The smarts Labanc was referring to were in relation to San Jose’s penalty trouble. The Panthers entered Thursday with the NHL's second-best power play, so staying out of the box was imperative.
While the Sharks did do an excellent job killing off a Logan Couture double minor halfway through the second period playing for a long stretch shorthanded took the wind out of San Jose’s sails. When the team was penalized for having too many men on the ice at the end of that frame, Florida forward Mike Hoffman found the back of the net on the ensuing power play to give the Panthers a lead they wouldn't relinquish.
“They’ve got a good power play, they made us pay,” Couture said. “We were sloppy all night though. Penalties, turnovers, everything.”
Joe Pavelski mentioned that one area where the Sharks have been successful as of late has been in third periods. Despite being down, San Jose went into the final 20 minutes with the idea they could turn things around. San Jose did put on a bit of pressure in the game's final minutes, but couldn’t cut into that two-goal hole.
“We go out with the mindset ‘if we win the period here, we win the game,’” the captain said. “We didn’t jump on it.”
The Sharks will have to rest up and refill the gas tank. They have tough competition in the Nashville Predators and the Vegas Golden Knights coming into town on the homestand, and they simply need to have more energy than they did against the Panthers.
“I’m sure the energy level looked like it was low,” Couture admitted. “We’ve got to find a way to play better than that.”