ANAHEIM – The Sharks dropped their second in a row in regulation on Friday in Anaheim, as the Ducks moved into first place in the suddenly tight Pacific. What were the three biggest takeaways from the game? Here we go…
1 – Getting down early…again
The Sharks were surely aware that a good start was key against the Ducks, who have given up the fewest third period goals in the NHL (15). It didn’t happen, and Anaheim seized a 2-0 lead 15 minutes into the game. It was similar to what happened against Ottawa on Wednesday, when the Senators scored two goals in the first eight minutes and went on to a 4-2 win.
The Sharks managed to fight back and tie it with a strong second period, but they may have used up their energy tanks by the time the third period started, and the Ducks took back the momentum – and the two points.
“I think anybody in this league, let alone Anaheim in their home barn, it’s tough to come back,” Dylan DeMelo said. “We did a good job fighting back. It was just unfortunate that they got that one there with about five minutes left.”
Headed into Saturday’s game with Carolina, the Sharks are 11-4-0 when scoring first, and 4-7-1 when allowing the first goal.
2 – Labanc creating offense
Rookie Kevin Labanc was all around the puck even before his goal made it 2-2 in the second period. With three goals, he now has more than Joe Thornton, Joonas Donskoi, Mikkel Boedker, Melker Karlsson and Chris Tierney, in about half the games.
Does Labanc feel he can help fill the offensive void with so many players failing to produce?
“Everybody here can score goals. It’s just a matter of opportunities and getting the right bounces,” Labanc said.
“Some guys just don’t have the right bounces going their way. We’ve just got to stay positive. I’m doing everything that I can to do what’s right for the team and to win the game. Whether it be scoring goals, blocking shots, I’ve just got to do my job and play the right way.”
You have to think Labanc is on the cusp on staying with the Sharks for the season, and with so many players just not getting it done on the scoresheet, perhaps it’s time some of his former Barracuda teammates join him on the NHL roster.
3 – Snakebitten Pavelski
Once again, Joe Pavelski had some great chances that he couldn’t cash in on, just like against Ottawa. There’s certainly no reason to worry about Pavelski's play, but had he been able to finish his opportunities against the Senators and Ducks, the Sharks could have at least gotten a point in the standings in each.
“We had some good looks. Myself, I had a bunch. Have to start putting it in the net,” Pavelski said.
“It’s frustrating when you know a goal could change the game like that and you’re missing some good opportunities. [Have to] keep working for the next chance.”