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Inconsistent Sharks, lose consistently
Another 2nd period let down as Sharks wrap up road trip
12/4/2022 - By Mike Lee

The captains of inconsistency wrapped up their 4-game road trip with a deflating 6-3 loss to the worst team in the Eastern Conference in the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday night at KeyBank Center in Western New York. Playing on the tail end of back-to-back games, the only thing the Sharks were consistent with was the way in which they lost both games. San Jose carried a 2-1 lead into the 2nd period on both nights, and a flurry of penalties and mistakes turned the tables on them. Buffalo scored 3 times in the middle period to grab the lead and twice more in the final period to kick the Sharks in the teeth.

Entering the weekend, one of San Jose's strengths was their penalty killing. By the end of Sunday's game, they had surrendered 5 power play goals in a 24 hour period. With the Sabres firmly seated in the Easten Conference basement, the Sabres seemed ripe for picking. That wouldn't happen.

The question now stands at what Sharks head coach David Quinn does about it. We've all heard the repeated narrative that the tem is focused on steering away from poor decisions that have led to catastrophic goals against.

Even with all the rhetoric, this one cost San Jose because the penalty killer has suddenly sprung a leak. The league's top ranked unit allowed the Sabres to take a 1-0 lead at 9:19 after Kevin Labanc was sent off for lobbing a puck over glass. Sabres scoring leader Tage Thomson ripped a one-time chance from the left side, beating goaltender Aaron Dell for his 16th goal of the season.

Nick Bonino finally got on the score sheet less than 4 minutes later, bagging his 1st goal of the season. Luke Kunin tracked down a puck destined for the neutral zone on a clearing attempt by Buffalo. The Sharks forwarded pivoted at the blueline and sent a pass to the mid-slot where Bonino was parked. The veteran forward faced the net and lifted a shot that beat Sabres goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen to the upper right corner of the net.

Dylan Cozens was sent off for boarding Evgeny Svechnikov at 14:50 of the period to give the Sharks their first man-advantage of the game. Labanc atoned for his delay of game penalty by snapping a shot past Luukkonen from the left dot for his 5th goal of the season.

San Jose was late to answer the bell at the start of the 2nd period. Buffalo sent the puck out of their own end when Cozens led JJ Peterka with a pass up the left side. Peterka raced past Erik Karlsson then ripped a shot that hit Dell in the glove, but it popped out and into the Sharks net to tie that game at 2-2 just 16 seconds into the period.

Timo Meier took a tripping penalty 17 seconds later to put the Sabres on the power play, but San Jose's kill escaped without any further damage.

Buffalo reclaimed the lead at 4:21 on yet another Sharks turnover. San Jose coughed up the puck in the offensive zone before Henri Jokiharju fed Jeff Skinner who was steaming up the right side. As Skinner cut across the slot from right to left, Sharks defenseman Nick Cicek lost an edge and cut Dell down allowing Skinner to fire the puck into a wide open net.

Rasmus Dahlin laid out Matt Nieto with a legal open-ice hit later in the period, which prompted Sharks head coach David Quinn to call his team over to the bench at a stoppage to remind them that physicality is part of the game.

Alexander Barabanov missed teh memo on staying out of the penalty box, which he visited at 12:09 after another puck over glass penalty. The Sabres promptly converted the chance into their 2nd power play goal of the game when Jack Quinn fired a shot from the right circle right after the Sharks had changed their four penalty killers.

It was the second time in the last 24 hours that the Sharks gave up 2 or more goals in the 2nd period to blow a lead and surrendered multiple power play goals.

Quinn added his 2nd goal of the game at 11:23 of the 3rd period, firing a feed from Cozens as the duo raced up the ice. Cozens left Jaycob Megna in the dust as he raced up the right side before sliding a pass through the slot to Quinn on the opposite wing.

Oskar Lindblom recorded his 1st goal as a Shark 29 seconds later, chipping at the puck from the backhand side as he sat outside the left post. Lindblom's 3rd attempt at the shot finally slipped past Luukkonen to make it a 5-3 game.

David Quinn pulled Dell with 4:26 left in regulation in an attempt to get back into the game. That served up Alex Tuch's 12th goal of the season on the empty-net situation at 16:37.

Game Notes:

* Sharks trainer Ray Tufts worked his 2000th NHL game.

* Giving up shots is certainly an issue for the Sharks. San Jose surrendered 38 shots in the game. Buffalo had 29 shots through the first two periods. Penalties influence that, but the Sharks are just not shutting down opponents from putting pucks on net.

* Aaron Dell got his second start of the season after Kaapo Kahkonen started in Ottawa on Saturday night. Tough to blame this one on the netminder. He did have one shot hit him in the glove, but he failed to control it and it ended up in the Sharks net.

* Speaking of Sharks goaltenders, James, Reimer traveled with the Sharks on all four games of their recent trip, but remains on the injured reserve. It's not clear when Reimer will return.

* Rasmus Dahlin's hit on Matt Nieto seemed to add energy to the Sabres game. It certainly did not snap the Sharks out of their funk. The back-to-back's played a part in the Sharks flat play over the final 40 minutes, but the hit should have inspired more of a response from San Jose.


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1 2 3 T
SJ 2 0 1 3
BUF 1 3 2 6
1st period - 1, BUF, Thompson 16 (Dahlin, Cousins), 9:19, (pp). 2, SJ, Bonino 1 (Kunin, Karlsson), 13:40. 3, SJ, Labanc 5 (Benning, Nieto), 16:18, (pp).
2nd period - 4, BUF, Peterka 6 (Cozens), 0:16. 5, BUF, Skinner 12 (Jokiharju), 4:21. 6, BUF, Quinn 5 (Volofsson, Dahlin), 13:45, (pp).
3rd period - 7, BUF, Quinn 6 (Cozens), 11:23. 8, SJ, Lindblom 1 (Gadjovich, Vlasic), 11:52. 9, BUF, Tuch 12 (unassisted), 16:37, (en).
1st period - Svechnikov, SJ (hooking), 5:33; Labanc, SJ (delay of game - puck over glass), 8:39; Cozens, BUF (boarding), 14:50.
2nd period - Meier, SJ (tripping), 0:33; Barabanov, SJ (delay of game - puck over glass), 12:09.
3rd period - None.
Shots Saves
SJ - Dell 37 32
SJ - empty net 1 0
BUF - Luukkonen 29 26
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 13 6 10 29
BUF 15 13 10 38
Power Play Conversion
SJ 1 of 1
BUF 2 of 4
3 Stars of the Game
Dylan Cozens
Jack Quinn
Rasmus Dahlin
KeyBank Center - 13,655
Referees: #17 Frederick L'Ecuyer, #11 Kelly Sutherland. Linesmen: #96 David Brisebois, #68 CJ Murray.

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