Sharks

Sharks

SAN JOSE -- The Sharks' power play is a big topic of discussion right now, and not for the reasons the team wants.

San Jose is 1-for-36 on the man advantage in their last 15 games. Through the first 36 games of the 2019-20 season, the Sharks have gone 16-for-108 -- a lousy 14.8-percent success rating, good for 27th overall in the NHL. 

And in Tuesday night's contest against the division-leading Arizona Coyotes at SAP Center, they were down 3-2 with less than a minute left to play and were gifted with a 6-on-3 opportunity that they could have used to force overtime. 

They did not. To put it simply, that effort on the rare three-man advantage summed up how much the Sharks' power play needs to improve.

"It's been a problem and we've got to fix it," interim head coach Bob Boughner said after the 3-2 loss, pinpointing the power play as the main factor in Tuesday's game. "We're at home. We've got to get some momentum off of our power play and we're not getting that right now. It's something we've got to look at."

In all fairness, the Sharks played pretty well for the majority of the third period, shutting down the Coyotes' power play with less than five minutes to go in a 2-2 game. Even after Oliver Ekman-Larsson put the Desert Dogs on top 3-2 with less than three minutes to go in regulation, the Sharks caught a break when Ilya Lyubushkin got penalized for playing without a helmet and Brad Richardson got dinged for cross-checking -- all within the last minute of the third frame. San Jose then pulled netminder Aaron Dell for the extra skater.

 

But even with a three-skater advantage, the Sharks didn't generate any decent chances. The puck was bobbled and the Coyotes had no trouble getting in shooting lanes and blocking shots.

"Wasn't good enough, obviously," Logan Couture said of the six-on-three in the last seconds of the game. "We've got to do a better job of at least getting a shot on net there.

"That's been the case for the majority of the year. There are plays to be made and we didn't make them. We had our shots blocked too many times. I had a few blocked. We've got to find a way to get it through and get an ugly one right now."

The captain is right. Even an ugly power play goal could make a positive impact. As Tomas Hertl aptly pointed out, that power play was easily the difference in Tuesday's loss.

"If we score on the power play, maybe we win the game," Hertl said. "I think we need to start to play more simple. Get a shot through, crash the net, get some rebounds."

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The Sharks don't play again until Saturday night, which means they have a couple of extra days of practice. There's no doubt the power play is going to be a focal point, especially after it couldn't break through at an important point in Tuesday's game.

"It's something that, hopefully, we can learn from and get better at moving forward," Erik Karlsson said. "Being the players that we are we have to, in moments like that, make some reads and make decisions out there to create something for each other. We failed to do that in a critical moment of the game."