If there’s one lesson the Sharks can take from their Saturday night contest against the Vegas Golden Knights, it’s that they can’t let a team taking an early lead get them down.
In a general sense, that doesn’t sound so tough. It’s not as if San Jose hasn’t rallied back from a deficit before. But after Vegas scored the opening goal on a bounce, 14 seconds into Saturday’s game, the Sharks had trouble getting out of their own zone and exited the first 20 minutes of play in a 4-0 hole.
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“There’s no excuse for getting run out of the building in the first period there,” Evander Kane told the media after Saturday’s loss. “We have to have a better start. We have to stop the bleeding after that first goal.”
Brenden Dillon agreed.
“Even if something like that goes wrong in the first shift, to not let it snowball. To stop it right there -- to answer back.”
Harnessing that ability to answer back as quickly as possible can go a long way for Team Teal as their current road trip continues with back-to-back games on the East Coast.
Their first challenge will come up right away in Buffalo as they try to snap the Sabres’ nine-game winning streak. Buffalo is currently 11-0-2 when scoring the first goal on the evening and 10-0-2 when leading after the first frame.
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San Jose’s next opponent, the Maple Leafs, hold a similar challenge. Toronto is currently undefeated when they score the first marker 10-0-0. Plus, they can win without putting as many shots on net – opponents are outshooting the Leafs 786-766 but still coming up short on the scoreboard.
The Sharks do have the advantage of already seeing both the Sabres and Leafs through this early part of the season. Buffalo let their emotions get the better of them when they visited San Jose back on October 18 in a fight-heavy match that led to a 5-1 victory for the Sharks. Toronto visited SAP Center just two weeks ago for a back-and-forth contest that the visiting Leafs eventually won 5-3.
But regardless of how those games shaped up, San Jose has to be ready to battle from the drop of the puck in these two up-coming contests. Being aggressive right from the start can help them avoid the fate that was handed to them by the Golden Knights.
“It’s a good lesson at this time of year I guess,” Joe Pavelski said of getting behind on Saturday night. “We just have to be better in that situation.”