Sharks

Sharks' PK sputters again in loss to rival Golden Knights

Sharks
Cody Glass takes shot vs. Sharks

SAN JOSE -- The Sharks (5-7-1) started a pair of worrisome streaks on Saturday.

San Jose lost its second straight game, a 3-1 defeat to the rival Vegas Golden Knights (9-2-1) at SAP Center, while also allowing three power-play goals for the second consecutive contest.

The Sharks controlled 5-on-5 play for stretches against the West Division-leading Golden Knights, scoring their only goal at full strength and generating more shots (21-16, per Natural Stat Trick) and expected goals (1.52-1.44). But San Jose once again came up short when short-handed, killing off just 2-of-5 penalties.

"We won the 5-on-5 game," coach Bob Boughner said in a postgame video conference. "I liked our 5-on-5 game. Obviously I'd like to score more than one, but on the other hand we didn't give them anything on 5-on-5 when it came to any goals. Their power play was the difference."

Jonathan Marchessault scored the Golden Knights' first goal on the man advantage, batting the puck out of midair after two of his previous shot attempts were blocked. Mark Stone put Vegas up 2-0 with its second power-play goal, back-handing a loose puck past Martin Jones as the Knights converged on the Sharks' crease.

Tomas Hertl gave the Sharks life in the second period, cutting into the Golden Knights' lead with San Jose's first home goal in nearly a year. Chandler Stephenson put the game out of reach in the third period with Vegas' third power play goal, when Alex Tuch's cross-ice pass redirected off Stephenson's left skate.

 

Vegas' precise passing pulled San Jose out of position on each of the first two goals. The Sharks' penalty kill prides itself on puck pressure, but defenseman Brent Burns said the support off the puck wasn't there Saturday, or in Thursday's 6-3 loss to the Los Angeles Kings.

"I think it's looked a little too easy for them the last couple games," Burns said. "It's usually not the first guy, it's the second and third guy that have to be on the same page and pressuring. [We need] first guy pushing that guy into a mistake, and the second and third guy are already going. I think that's where we've been really successful in the past, and we just got to get back to being disruptive, and reading off each other and ... being more on the same page of what we're trying to accomplish there with pressures."

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The Sharks killed off an NHL-leading 85.7 percent of their penalties last season, but they ended Saturday with a 76.9 percent clip. The latter mark ranked 21st in the league before the completion of Saturday night's games.

Through 13 games, the Sharks have allowed a lower rate of expected goals and high-danger chances than they did on the penalty kill last season, according to Natural Stat Trick. But after ranking second in 4-on-5 save percentage last season (.901), the Sharks ended Saturday's loss 20th in that category (.853).

The Sharks have been below average controlling 5-on-5 shot quantity and quality this season, making special teams all the more important while trying to remain competitive in a loaded division. San Jose failed to score on the man advantage for the eighth time in the last 10 games, but its short-handed play is just as big of a concern right now.

"Anytime you give up three on the PK in back-to-back games, obviously you've got to work on it," captain Logan Couture said. "I thought each goal was different. ... We knew they were going to shoot pucks and get three, four guys to the net. We didn't do a good enough job of picking up sticks and men as they went to the net."