The Sharks' result was better in Thursday's season-opening win than in Saturday's 5-3 loss to the Arizona Coyotes, but coach Bob Boughner said he saw improvement in their underlying performance.
"I thought we had better structure and played better as a team today than we did in the first game," Boughner told reporters Saturday in a video conference call. "We're looking for that timely goal. I think it took a little wind out of the sails on their third goal, but structurally and detail-wise, I thought we were better.
"We spent a lot more time in their end in the [offensive zone]. We played a little faster, I thought. [The Coyotes] got a little bit of puck tonight. They were the better team the first game. I thought we played a lot harder and a lot more structured this game."
San Jose generated more (and allowed fewer) 5-on-5 shot attempts, scoring chances and high-danger chances Saturday than Thursday, according to Natural Stat Trick. The full-strength finishing, however, didn't carry over, as the Sharks scored on just one of their 25 5-on-5 shots.
The Sharks' goaltending didn't carry over, either.
Martin Jones, arguably the Sharks' best player Thursday, allowed five goals Saturday, including four on the 21 5-on-5 shots he faced. The 5-on-5 goals were scored an average of 28.75 feet away from Jones' crease, but Boughner believed there was little his goaltender could do on most of the goals he allowed.
"They got a bounce early, they got a high-tip goal ... and one where [Jones] couldn't see it, they came across his eyes," Boughner said. "It was just the timing of it all. I think that we had more breakdowns [Thursday] and he came up with a big save, and tonight they were on the right side of things."
Jones probably would like the first and fifth goals he allowed back, the former a wobbling backhand from Phil Kessel in the first period and the latter batted in by Clayton Keller in the third after Jones failed to punch away a rebound.
In all, Jones faced nine fewer high-danger shots Saturday at 5-on-5 (4) than he did Thursday (13), according to Natural Stat Trick. He also allowed more goals (three) on low- and medium-danger shots than Thursday (zero), against a higher share of those shots.
Jones' second start ended early, with Devan Dubnyk replacing him in the third period. Boughner said he told the Jones the move was "strictly" intended to get Dubnyk playing tie.
"We're gonna need both goalies on the road here, and I just wanted him to see some real action," Boughner said, acknowledging the Sharks' lack of exhibition games ahead of the shortened season.
By Natural Stat Trick's count, Jones has allowed five 5-on-5 goals on 5.15 expected goals against through two games. His start is befitting of a 1-1-0 record, much like the team in front of him.
After hanging on for a shootout win Thursday following an extended offseason and an abbreviated training camp, Saturday's loss served as a reminder that the Sharks remain a work in progress.