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Back-To-Back Shootout Losses Say Different Things About Sharks

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Credit: Hockey Shots/Dean Tait

Same result, different feeling.

On Tuesday night, the San Jose Sharks lost a 6-5 shootout to the Anaheim Ducks. On Thursday night, the Sharks lost a 4-3 shootout to the Florida Panthers.

But it was night and day in the locker room after both defeats.

The unspoken difference was in the opponent, and what it said about the Sharks.

A “loose” first period, to use captain Logan Couture’s description, put the Sharks behind the eight-ball against the then 2-6-1 Ducks.

“[Two] and six,” Quinn remarked of Anaheim’s record, “probably had something to do with it.”

What did losing to the Ducks say?

This was the Sharks that started the season 0-5-0, splashing around in the pool with another bad team. The Sharks thought themselves better – and they weren’t.

“Frustrating.”

That’s how Timo Meier described the loss. Matt Benning echoed the sentiment.

Against the Panthers, the Sharks roared back from a 2-0 deficit in the third period to take a brief lead. Those three third period goals actually doubled San Jose’s final frame output this season.

This time, Benning was “proud of the group to bounce back like we did against a good team.”

“That’s the way we got to play,” Nico Sturm said of that third period. “It doesn’t matter if we’re playing a team in first place or a team in last place.”

It’s not the same Florida team, but this was last year’s President’s Trophy winner. You can argue that save for the Luke Kunin major that led to an Aleksander Barkov power play goal, that the Sharks outplayed the Panthers at 5-on-5.

Per Natural Stat Trick, San Jose outchanced Florida in the high-danger areas 16-13 at 5-on-5. Per SPORTLOGiQ, the Sharks edged the Panthers 13-12 in Slot Shots at Even Strength in regulation.

So what did taking the Panthers to OT say about the Sharks?

It said that the Sharks, 3-3-2 in their last eight games, can still be more than what most pundits, including yours truly, say.

“I think guys are continually gaining confidence,” Quinn offered. “Even though we’re losing shootouts and tight games and giving up goals late. But I think there’s a belief in there that okay, if we clean this up, we’re gonna win these games.”

The 2022-23 Sharks’ story isn’t written yet, even though they’ve already been written off. And the truth is, the season is young.

But the wins have to come, and they have to start coming soon. They have to be better than the recent 3-3-2 Sharks, and certainly better than the start of the season’s 0-5-0 squad.

“We’ve come a long way since the start of the season,” Erik Karlsson, who posted his first-ever hat trick against Anaheim and added another goal versus Florida, noted.

But Quinn hopes the Sharks aren’t done getting better: “There’s another level for us to get to. Our level of confidence continues to improve, but again, 3-8-2, we’ve got to find ways to win, right? We’re almost there, but almost doesn’t cut it.”

Next up for the San Jose Sharks is a re-match with the Ducks this Saturday. Can San Jose show Anaheim another level?

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