The San Jose Sharks believe they have made progress as a team since their general manager spoke to them earlier this month. Notably, they have kept their goals down and have been competitive in almost every match they have played.
Yet with such a small margin for error, the rebuilding Sharks will enter their Wednesday match against the Seattle Kraken still looking for their first away win.
On Monday, the Sharks had a goal called off due to goaltender interference and then allowed a shorthanded goal just before the second intermission. These events, along with other missed opportunities, proved too much to overcome as San Jose lost 3-1 to the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena.
Prince Harry attended the match with his wife, Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, but saw a familiar scenario unfold.
Tomas Hertl scored a power-play goal and goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood made 34 saves, but the Sharks (3-14-1) lost for the fourth time in five games and fell to 0-8-0 away from SAP Center.
“We came here ready to play and did a lot of good things early on. The turnovers hurt us a lot,” Sharks coach David Quinn said. “We had total control and we just turned the puck over too much tonight against this team. … I just didn’t do any enough to win.
In the second period, William Eklund had a goal disallowed after replay officials determined, after a challenge from the Canucks coach, that Fabian Zetterlund had interfered with Vancouver goaltender Thatcher Demko.
Less than two minutes later, defenseman Quinn Hughes scored from a sharp angle over Blackwood’s body to give the Canucks a 1-0 lead.
Then, with San Jose on the power play and losing by a goal, a blatant turnover led to a short-handed goal by Sam Lafferty less than a second before intermission.
Lafferty won the puck in the Sharks corner past Hertl, and after Teddy Blueger’s shot was denied, Lafferty scored on the rebound to give the Canucks a 2-0 lead.
“It might be a different game if we scored two or three goals in the first (period) because I thought we had some good looks, some good chances,” Hertl said. “We scored a goal that was disallowed, which is a bit difficult for our team. Of course, afterward, they score a point and the power play has to be better.
“Especially on me. I have to make a stronger play and we just can’t give up a goal with one second left.
Hertl’s goal came 48 seconds into the third period. as he converted on a pass from Calen Addison.
Canucks center JT Miller then tipped in a rebound of Brock Boeser’s shot at 7:10 of the third to make it 3-1.
On November 2, the Sharks were defeated 10–1 by the Canucks, marking their most lopsided home loss in team history. Two days later, the Sharks lost 10-2 to the Pittsburgh Penguins, prompting general manager Mike Grier to have a one-sided conversation with his players behind closed doors.
The Sharks are now 3-4-0 since the Nov. 6 game, having allowed 21 goals in that span. Not great, but better than the 5.5 goals per game they were allowing until then.
The Sharks now face a Kraken team that is 4-3-3 in its 10 games and was in the second wild card spot in the Western Conference with a 7-8-5 record.
“We are improving. We’ve come a long way in two and a half weeks,” Quinn said. “We’re getting there, we’re going to keep chipping away at it.” I really like our game.”
NOTE: Prince Harry took the ceremonial puck drop to mark the countdown to the 2025 Invictus Games. He was the second member of the royal family to attend a Canucks game, with Queen Elizabeth II taking part in a ceremonial puck drop in the game during a preseason game between the Sharks and Canucks in 2002.
Hertl and Hughes took the ceremonial puck drop Monday. More than two decades ago, Mike Ricci won the Sharks’ ceremonial opening faceoff against Canucks captain Markus Naslund.
“I remember being very nervous,” Ricci, a Sharks development coach, told the Vancouver Sun in 2012. “The guys were joking that I was going to cause some sort of scandal, like walk in on her and take everything the group. out.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
– Jonathan Becher (@jbecher) November 21, 2023