SAN JOSE – The San Jose Sharks were not officially eliminated from the NHL playoff race on Wednesday night.
But after a 4-1 loss to Anaheim Ducks, the team that finished eighth in the West Division, the question should be considered: which team can the Sharks beat right now?
The Sharks allowed a goal after a monstrous giveaway from Erik Karlsson in the first half, fell back by three goals after two periods and could only get rid of goalkeeper Anthony Stolarz when it was too late when they were swept by the ducks were to complete their homestand against the Southern California teams with a 1-4-0 record.
« It’s funny. We were up on the mountain a few weeks ago, » said Sharks trainer Bob Boughner. « And now we’re scraping the bottom of the barrel. »
« Most of it isn’t even a system. That’s how we compete against each other and we haven’t done enough of that, ”said Sharks winger Timo Meier. « We have to overtake the other team and we haven’t made it in the last two games so it starts with that. »
Ryan Getzlaf, Derek Grant and Alexander Volkov all scored goals for the Ducks. Volkov’s goal came after being left alone in front of the puck by Karlsson.
Karlsson scored 2:16 in the third half, but Stolarz finished the game with 27 saves when the Ducks beat the Sharks for the third time on the homestand by five games. The Sharks also shared a two-game series with the Los Angeles Kings last week.
SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 14: Evander Kane (9) of San Jose Sharks fails to get the puck past Anaheim Ducks goalkeeper Anthony Stolarz (41) in the third period at the SAP Center in San Jose, Calif. On Wednesday April 14, 2021. (Nhat V. Meyer / Bay Area News Group)
« I think we made it easy for him, » said the Shark Center Tomas Hertl about Stolarz. “He made some good saves, but I think we should be a lot harder on the net, film a little harder and be more hungry for the goals.
« Anaheim looked hungrier and they are playing for free. It (stinks) if you don’t score that long after a few games and it doesn’t go your way. It’s not easy, but it wasn’t good enough for us the last two games. «
Goalkeeper Josef Korenar, who made his first NHL start, stopped 17 of the first 20 shots he faced in two periods. But early on the sharks showed little urgency, could not carry out a large preliminary test and let the ducks down Break out of their zone at will.
In short, the Sharks (18-20-4) missed another golden opportunity to make up for the West Division after finishing fourth in St. Louis Blues and fifth in Arizona Coyotes Had lost Wednesday in regular time. The Sharks are perhaps even more remarkably just four points behind the Blues for the final playoff spot.
The Haie have 14 games left and it doesn’t get any easier from here.
SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 14: Anaheim Ducks’ Derek Grant (38) scores a goal against goalkeeper Josef Korenar (32) of San Jose Sharks on Wednesday April 14 at the SAP Center in San Jose, Calif. 2021. (Nhat V. Meyer / Bay Area News Group)
The Sharks will travel against the Minnesota Wild on Friday and Saturday and the Vegas Golden Knights on Monday and Wednesday.
« We’re pretty lucky with other teams right now, but I don’t think we can really focus on that, » said Sharks defender Mario Ferraro. « We just have to focus on ourselves and rebuild that trust and get this thing going again. »
« We played well against Minnesota this year, » said Boughner as the Sharks beat the Wilds 3-0 this season. « We just have to get out on the road and maybe it’s a good thing for us – to get a road win and that can turn things around. »
They stand no chance unless they can unlock their offense as they have scored two or fewer goals in four out of five games.
SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 14: Dylan Gambrell (7) of San Jose Sharks fights with Josh Manson (42) of Anaheim Ducks in the third period at the SAP Center in San Jose, Calif. On Wednesday, April 14, 2021. ( Nhat V. Meyer / Bay Area News Group)
It was the Sharks’ third consecutive loss to the Ducks on the homestand, having scored 3.14 goals in their three games against an Anaheim team this season scored only two goals per game.
« We have to find a way to be boastful and play with confidence again, » said Meier. « The way we played the last two games is unacceptable, but we have to leave those games behind and move on. »
Korenar made 10 saves in the first period, but the Haie fell 1-0 after 10 minutes.
Karlsson went back behind the Sharks net to play a puck, but under pressure from Troy Terry, he passed the puck between his own legs and tried to find Dylan Gambrell, who was being mated by Max Jones.
Terry they intercepted the pass and fed the puck in front of an open Getzlaf who tapped it past Korenar for the opening goal of the game.
« I’m sure if you ask him I would hope he’s honest, that he’s better than that, » Boughner said of Karlsson. « It is precisely in these crucial situations that we have to make better decisions with the puck. »
SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 14: Logan Couture (39) of the San Jose Sharks fights for the puck at the SAP Center in San Jose, Calif. Against Andy Welinski (45) of the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday, April 14, 2021. (Nhat V. Meyer / Bay Area News Group)