Outwork, outsmart, and outskill.
Those are three ways to beat the other team in hockey.
That’s what I wrote about after the San Jose Sharks’ 5-4 shootout loss to the Anaheim Ducks last Saturday night, specifically how the Sharks hurt themselves with not smart hockey.
Of course, there’s a fourth way to win at the sport, and that’s to outgoaltend your opponent.
That’s what didn’t happen in the Sharks’ 5-3 loss to the St. Louis Blues.
“I’m sure he’d like to have one or two of those back,” head coach David Quinn said of Kaapo Kahkonen’s 28 saves on 32 shots performance.
The first and fourth goals allowed by Kahkonen stand out in that regard.
This isn’t to put the loss all on Kahkonen. Quinn pointed out that the Finn made “big saves”, and he did.
But the San Jose Sharks, a team that comes into a lot of games outskilled, and recently, not necessarily getting outsmarted, but perhaps more accurately, outsmarting themselves, just can’t afford to be outgoaltended too.
That’s what happened last night, and like I said, not just on Kahkonen, that’s what happened last Saturday when Anthony Stolarz outdueled James Reimer.
Of course, the San Jose Sharks aren’t doing their goaltenders any favors.
For the league-worst 10th time this season, they allowed a non-empty net goal with two minutes or less left in a period.
This was at the end of the second period, tied at two apiece. This wasn’t on Kahkonen – Kevin Labanc had two attempts to get the puck out during an extended Blues shift and failed to do so.
“We didn’t go north with [the puck],” Logan Couture said of the Sharks getting pinned in their zone. “Comes with learning to win in the league. We’re making mistakes that, in my opinion, we shouldn’t be. When you’re in a rut, you always try and do as much as you can to try to help the team. You’re trying to do more when really, you just need to do a little bit less.”
It’s a momentum killer, surrendering these end-of-period goals. Underscoring that, right behind the Sharks in this ignominious category are the Ottawa Senators with nine goals given up, and the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks with eight.
Three of these four squads are among the worst teams in the NHL.
We’ll see quickly if the Sharks can change these errant behaviors. They take on the Dallas Stars tonight in a back-to-back.
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