SAN JOSE -- Another night, another game where the Sharks ran into difficulties against a struggling team. And this time around, there wasn’t an exciting game-tying goal in the final seconds of regulation to keep their hopes of a win alive.
San Jose didn’t play one of its peppier games Thursday evening. Kevin Labanc put the Sharks up 1-0 on the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets in the first period. But the Blue Jackets found the back of the net before the first 20 minutes expired, and then added two unanswered goals in the second period.
The Sharks picked up the pace in the final frame after both the forward lines and defensive pairs were mixed and matched, but they were unable to get the puck past Columbus netminder Sergei Bobrovsky. The backbreaker came with a 1:01 minutes left in the game when an Erik Karlsson turnover led to a short-handed empty net goal for the visitors, and the Sharks subsequently fell 4-1.
Here are three takeaways from Thursday’s loss.
This probably wasn’t the start Peter DeBoer had in mind
After Tuesday night's shootout loss, the Sharks’ bench boss said he was looking for the team to play at the same level as the desperate teams coming into their building. But even after scoring the first goal on the evening, the Sharks' energy level never really picked up.
They had a couple of good shifts in the third period, like when the combination of Joonas Donskoi, Logan Couture, and Timo Meier peppered Bobrovsky with chances. But the CBJ netminder halted that flurry and the couple that followed.
And if you’re looking at that line combination and scratching your head …
Expect there to be even more line jumbling
This was the second game in a row DeBoer rearranged his lines in the middle of a game in order to generate more offense. We saw a whole slew of different combinations Thursday, and with how the team played on Thursday, it won’t be a surprise if the mixing and matching continues.
DeBoer did, however, reunite the Meier-Couture-Hertl line for the final 10 minutes. The trio has been leading San Jose’s offensive charge through the first month of the season, and there has been general curiosity as to why they were broken up. Nevertheless, nobody should be surprised if the lines get a facelift after Thursday night’s performance.
On a more positive note …
Joe Thornton is starting to look like his old self
If there can be any silver lining from Thursday’s tilt, it’s that No. 19 is starting to gain momentum post-injury. Before Labanc got the Sharks on the board in the first period, Thornton flashed some of his vintage brilliance. A few minutes into the period, he had a quick behind-the-net feed to Joe Pavelski that looked like it could’ve put San Jose on the board early.
He didn’t look quite as energetic in the second frame, although that’s to be expected from a player who has been sidelined with injury and missed so many games. It is encouraging, however, that he’s starting to create opportunities.