The Sharks' dream start quickly turned into a nightmare in Monday's 6-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild at SAP Center.
Defenseman Brent Burns opened the scoring just 45 seconds into the game, adding to his growing highlight reel against his former team with an incredible individual effort. The Wild (9-6-0) erased the Sharks' 1-0 lead, and took one themselves, in an 11-second span beginning just over seven minutes after Burns scored for San Jose (7-8-2).
But the rout really was on just 3:36 into the second period, when stay-at-home defenseman Ian Cole gave the Wild a 3-1 lead with a goal off the rush.
"Their third one, I think, was a little bit of a back-breaker for us," Sharks coach Bob Boughner told reporters in a postgame video conference. "Their defenseman, we were above him all the way back and we let him go at the last second. It was a 3-on-3 situation coming across our line, it wasn't necessarily a breakdown. Their D jumped down, and we over-skated the puck a little bit, didn't stop our feet in the middle of the ice in the D-zone and it's in the back of our net."
Although the Sharks trailed after 20 minutes, they had an edge in quality 5-on-5 chances. San Jose had 10 scoring chances to Minnesota's eight, as well as six high-danger chances compared to the Wild's two, according to Natural Stat Trick.
The Sharks had better looks at 5-on-5 than the Wild in the second period, but Minnesota buried its chances while San Jose -- outside of Logan Couture scoring his 10th of the season -- did not.
Monday's second period was more of the same from the Sharks, who've now been outscored 28-14 in middle frames this season. San Jose has allowed the third-most goals, and only the Nashville Predators have a worse second-period goal-differential (minus-18) than the Sharks (minus-14).
The Sharks, unsurprisingly, now are 1-7-0 when trailing after two periods.
"In a 2-1 game, you're still feeling good, you're still generating chances. Now 3-1, it's a two-goal lead, and now you've gotta hope to get a bounce, get some good fortune and keep generating chances."
A season after finishing last in the Western Conference and during an extended stretch without defenseman Erik Karlsson, the Sharks lack the firepower and finishing -- they're 25th in shooting percentage (8.2 percent) -- to successfully chase games on any kind of a regular basis.
With each of their next seven games against the West Division's presumptive favorites in the Colorado Avalanche, St. Louis Blues and Vegas Golden Knights, the Sharks can't afford to lack solutions to their second-period play for very long.