Lose-Lose Game 5 for Sharks

By Mary Walsh

Just one win. It felt like a must-win game for the Sharks, even though the Kings were the ones on the verge of elimination. The Sharks were healthy and confident.

All the Sharks needed was one win after a tight overtime victory on the road in Los Angeles. Instead, they lost two in a row, giving a resilient Kings team more than enough confidence to push through two more wins.

Additionally, the Sharks lost Marc-Edouard Vlasic for two periods and possibly longer. Statistically, the only consolation for that would be if Jarret Stoll were suspended for taking him out. That could help the Sharks with their faceoffs anyway. If Vlasic is out for one or more games, it would not be a fair trade but it would be something.

Did the Sharks approach these last two games like they had four tries to get it right? Does this mulligan theory come into play? I doubt it. The Kings just have more urgency since their season is at death’s door. But that does not explain losing 3-0 at home, even playing with five defensemen.

The lone bright spot in Saturday’s shutout loss was a stellar performance from Alex Stalock. He faced 22 shots and stopped them all. He came in early in the second period after 3 of 19 shots got by Antti Niemi.

Still, the team in front of Stalock could not seem to help him out. He did more than his part, distributing the puck well, making the saves and even drawing a penalty. But the Sharks couldn’t score to save their lives even when they had some chances at the end of Saturday’s game.

That might be unsurprising after the amount of puck luck they had in the first two games. Their lack of composure in the rest of the game was not a matter of puck luck. The Kings’ early goals seemed to dismantle any confidence the Sharks started with. Hurried passes turned into giveaways, too-slow decisions hampered the power play. The only thing the Sharks did well were some of their penalty kills.

Two goals against should not send a team into a panic, not in a series that has featured such high scores. Letting the game get away from them like that is cause for panic. Now they go back to Los Angeles with an opponent on a roll and still fueled by desperation.

Maybe the Sharks can borrow some of that desperation before they are looking at a seventh game, tired and banged up and in no shape to dominate a next round– if they make it that far. Sharks fans can but hope.

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