SAN JOSE -- The Sharks wanted to close their final stretch of games ahead of the holiday break on a high note. Their start against the Pacific Division-worst L.A. Kings likely wasn’t what they had in mind.
San Jose has historically brought its A-game when its SoCal rival comes into town. In a truly bizarre game, though, Team Teal lagged behind L.A. until the third period, and thanks to captain Joe Pavelski’s goal with 30 seconds left in regulation, the contest went into overtime.
Unfortunately for the Sharks, the Kings still came out on top, leaving the Bay Area with a 3-2 OT victory.
Here are three takeaways from the Saturday matinee at SAP Center:
What’s the deal with afternoon starts?
If you’re one of many Sharks fans who believes Team Teal hasn’t looked very sharp in afternoon contests, you’re right. According to Stats Pass, San Jose entered Saturday’s game 0-3 when playing day games. Through those games –- against the Islanders, Devils and Senators, respectively -- the Sharks were outscored 13-4.
The only difference was that all three of those games took place on the road and during a period in the season when the Sharks regularly struggled. While they entered this game coming off a loss to the Jets, it was a game the Sharks predominantly played well in after stringing together five consecutive wins. They could have jumped on the Kings, who have played dismal hockey for the duration of their 2018-19 campaign, but didn’t.
Long story short: The reason for the Sharks' struggles in afternoon starts remains a mystery.
On a positive note …
Lukas Radil came ready to play
Even before he found the back of the net in the third period, the rookie fourth-liner was having himself a good game. While he might not have popped on the stats sheet, Radil was a noticeable bright spot for San Jose through the first 40 minutes.
The Czech forward was in perfect position in front of LA’s net to redirect Timo Meier’s cross-ice pass. Much like his look-over-the-shoulder set up of Logan Couture’s goal last week, Radil tipped the puck back-handed as he skated past Jonathan Quick.
A good thing there’s one more game to play?
One constant the Sharks have shown over their stretch of games in December is how well they can play coming off a loss -- or just a less-than-stellar game, in general. Even though the Sharks were able to find the back of the net late and take the game into overtime, they likely want to jump out to a better start in their next contest.
Lucky enough for them, they'll have that opportunity in just a little over 24 hours when they host the Arizona Coyotes -- the same team they beat on the tail end of a back-to-back just a couple weeks ago.