Coming off a brief -- albeit impressive -- homestand, the Sharks looked to carry their momentum into a critical three-game road trip, beginning Tuesday night against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena. Instead, that momentum has been brought to a halt, as San Jose fell 6-3 against its divisional foes.
The Sharks dug themselves a big hole, as Arizona's Phil Kessel provided his team with a 2-0 advantage five minutes into the second period with his second goal of the night. San Jose then battled back in short order, tying the game up within the next five minutes of play, but it would be mostly downhill from there.
Aaron Dell did his best in net to give the Sharks a chance, and the score likely would have been much worse if not for some of his big saves, particularly in the early going.
Here are three takeaways from the battle in the desert/
The Sharks no longer are the most penalized team in the NHL, but they're still shooting themselves in the foot too often with some of the penalties they are taking.
You don't have to look any further than Stefan Noesen's hooking penalty early in the second period to get the point. On the complete opposite end line from San Jose's own goal, the fourth-liner took a terrible hooking penalty, and it cost the Sharks big time. On the Arizona's resulting power play, San Jose's penalty-kill unit was atypically caught out of position, allowing Kessel to slide an easy goal past Dell to increase the Desert Dogs' lead to 2-0.
The Sharks have constantly relied on their top-ranked penalty kill this season, and it has been a tremendous ace in the hole for the team. But if they keep giving the opposition unnecessary advantages, it won't matter how great it is.
Dell is the guy
If it wasn't clear before, it should be by now. Aaron Dell is the Sharks' No. 1 goalie, and he has run away with the job.
Tuesday night was Dell's fourth straight start, and he has started all but one of San Jose's games since the turn of the calendar. He hadn't allowed more than two goals against in any of those starts, and while he allowed four to the Coyotes -- Arizona scored two on an empty net -- it's not as if he had a legitimate chance on any of them. In fact, Dell came up with several big saves in the opening period, without which the game likely would have gotten out of hand long before San Jose had a chance to stage a comeback attempt.
He came up with another huge save shortly after Kessel's second goal, which actually initiated a Sharks' rush up the ice and culminated in Timo Meier's game-tying goal midway through the second period. Without any of those saves, San Jose doesn't have a reason to pull Dell at the end of the game.
Meier ties it up pic.twitter.com/Q1vJR9JN5k— Sharks on NBCS (@NBCSSharks) January 15, 2020
And without Dell's recent emergence, the Sharks' goaltending situation would be looking a lot more dire at the moment.
Power play cashes in again
After the Coyotes increased their lead to 4-2 just over eight minutes into the third period, San Jose could have folded and packed it in, knowing a tough game in Denver was next on the schedule. But to the Sharks' credit, they kept battling and gave themselves a chance to get a point or two.
San Jose kept the pressure on, and Meier eventually drew a tripping penalty with just under three minutes remaining in the contest. Less than a minute later, Evander Kane scored off a nice pass from Kevin Labanc to pull the Sharks within 4-3.
They never got any closer, but Kane's power-play marker continued a positive trend for the Sharks. With Kane's goal, the San Jose is now 5-for-13 with the man-advantage over the last five games, with at least one power-play goal in all but one of those contests. Additionally, it was Kane's 10th power-play goal of the season, moving him into a tie with the Washington Capitals' Alexander Ovechkin for the third-most in the NHL.