No, the start to Monday’s meetup between the Sharks and the Florida Panthers wasn’t the most thrilling hockey ever played. But boy, did things get heated in the end.
San Jose settled in after going down 1-0, and took over the pace of the game in the second period But a lackluster start to the third frame did them in yet again, and their frustration boiled over in a big way as the Sharks dropped their third straight, 6-2.
Here are three takeaways from Monday’s game:
What’s going on in the third period?
Certain aspects of San Jose’s game against Florida mirrored the contest against Tampa Bay just a couple days prior, namely how the third periods of both games got away from the Sharks. It made for a disappointing scene on Monday against the subpar Panthers, particularly because San Jose fought from behind to tie the game up 2-2 in the second period.
One of the problems plaguing the Sharks as of late has been that their penalty kill hasn’t been the shutdown force it was earlier in the season. Both the Lightning and the Panthers were able to capitalize on San Jose’s late-game mistakes by putting them in the penalty box, and scoring on the power play.
You can’t hang all your hope on one player, but …
It has really shown over the last few games how much the Sharks need their defensive corps healthy down the stretch. Their blue-line depth has been tested through the month of January with injuries to Justin Braun, Radim Simek, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, and now Erik Karlsson. While other players stepped up to help San Jose en route to a seven-game winning streak, it has become evident through the last few losses they could really use their top defensemen healthy sooner rather than later.
It doesn’t help the Sharks’ all-around team defense – which had improved greatly through December and the first half of January – hasn’t been quite as tight since San Jose defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins about a week ago. This is an area the whole team has to tighten back up, no matter who’s in the lineup.
On a positive note …
About darn time for Timo Time
You really have to hand it to Timo Meier for hanging in there through a frustrating goal drought. While he was visibly showing frustration in his last couple of contests, he continued to grind and create chances.
He looked primed for breakthrough on Monday night on a line with Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski – a line that created some of the Sharks’ best chances on the evening. The line cycled and cycled again trying to create chances in the second period, before Meier finally poked in his first goal in 17 games. Of course, that goal was also initially waved off and then challenged, creating even more drama. Lucky for Meier, the goal withstood both and the 22-year-old finally got off the schneid.