San Jose took a 2-1 lead into the third against the visiting Phoenix Coyotes Wednesday night, but then an indescribable final stanza left Team Teal looking at a 5-4 loss.
Phoenix scored four goals in just under three minutes of action. Another dreaded five-on-three power play led to the Sharks demise as the Coyotes first goal tied it and then as San Jose gained a man back, Phoenix took the lead.
“Penalties were a part of it,” said Kyle McLaren. “After the second, we talked about having a good start to the third. Then things fell apart and snowballed.”
“We fell apart and good teams are not supposed to do that,” said Evgeni Nabokov. “It was a key game for us. They (penalties) cost us a game in L.A. and a game here.”
The first penalty that caused a five-on-three was when Nabokov was whistled for playing the puck in the no-touch zone.
“Nabby made a huge mental mistake handling the puck outside the trapezoid,” said Sharks Head Coach Ron Wilson.
McLaren’s boarding penalty was part of the run to the penalty box.
“No comment,” said McLaren.
Phoenix’s next two goals were only the result of indirect shots. The first was stopped by Nabokov and rebounded out, but it hit his skate before he could get up and bounced back across the line. The final tally was simply redirected off the stick of Mike Johnson from ten feet out to the side of the net.
“I was trying to recover and wasn’t up yet when the puck hit my skate,” said Nabokov. “When things are going wrong, they go wrong.”
San Jose did mount a furious rally and pulled within one with 10 minutes left to play.
“It was a valiant effort, but we fell short” said McLaren. “We can’t give up four goals and allow two-man advantages.”
Penalties or not, the Sharks feel they’ve lost games that they could have won due to their own mistakes.
“We’ve got to come out with a better effort,” said Captain Patrick Marleau
. “We can’t get down three goals and battle back. It is a tough loss to swallow. It shouldn’t take us being down a couple of goals to get everyone going. When we get a couple of goals, we’ve got to go after the next one. If we would play like we’re down a couple early, we wouldn’t be in the situation.”
San Jose knows they need to start making their move soon in the playoff race.
“We went on a tear before the Christmas break against the East and then when we came back against the West, we can find a way to win,” said McLaren.
The good part about an 82-game schedule is that there is always another game right around the corner. The Sharks will face off against the Colorado Avalanche Friday night.
“We have to find a way to win on Friday before the long break,” said McLaren.
Following the Avalanche contest, the Sharks will not play until January 5 against Columbus.
During the final three minutes of action, San Jose skated with an extra attacker due to a power play and then when they pulled Vesa Toskala for an extra attacker.
While on the power play, Jim Fahey appeared to keep the puck in play when he knelt down to keep the puck from leaving the zone, but he was called for a hand pass.
“It hit my knee and stick, but I guess I’ve got to make a better play,” said Fahey.
The Sharks continued their hot power play streak with another power play goal at 2:34 in the first period by Jonathan Cheechoo. The Sharks have now scored at least one power play goal in 14 of the last 18 games.
San Jose hosts the Colorado Avalanche Friday night at HP Pavilion and tickets are still available at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office and at www.ticketmaster.com. The game can be seen on FSN Bay Area and heard on 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.