SAN JOSE -- More often than not, the NHL team who scores the first goal has a greater chance of winning a hockey game.
Things may become worrisome when finding the back of the net first doesn't regularly result in keeping the lead. And for the Sharks, that worry could be manifesting.
San Jose has now scored the first goal in 11 games on their young 13-game season, according to @SharksStats. They have a 6-4-1 record during that span, with a 2-1-1 line at home.
Two of those losses – one in a shootout, one in regulation – occurred just this past week. And in both losses, the Sharks scored the first goal but couldn't hold onto the lead.
"We're getting leads but we're giving them up right away," forward Logan Couture said bluntly after the Sharks lost Thursday night's game in that exact manner.
Against both the New York Rangers on Tuesday and the Columbus Blue Jackets two days later, the Sharks opened up scoring in the first frame. Then both opposing teams notched the equalizer before that first period expired. Columbus was able to tie the game up 1-1 in a little less than four minutes. The Rangers on Tuesday night were able to tie things up in just 59 seconds.
Couture expanded on his comments on Friday, explaining that the Sharks don't necessarily need to stop the tying goal from happening. What they should be doing is building on that first goal.
"The next five, ten minutes we need to play more in their end," he said. "We've been on our heels a little bit after we score and giving them the chance to get back into games."
This isn't to say San Jose hasn't put in the effort to tilt the ice back in their favor before the final buzzer. On Tuesday against New York, Tomas Hertl tied the game up with 1.8 seconds left to send the contest into overtime. On Thursday against Columbus, the Sharks put 25 shots on goal in the third period alone, the third most in a third period in Sharks' franchise history.
After pointing that stat out, Couture is trying to pinpoint if the Sharks are experience a second-period lull.
"It's tough to say," Couture said. "I think we've given up some leads in the third period, so that's not something we want to continue. We've had stretches through games where it's not necessarily the first, second, or third. I just think we've had stretches where we've been good and stretch where we haven't been."
It goes back to the need to match the opposing team's desperation – something coach Peter DeBoer has been talking about all week. Does having a desperate team come into the building change how the Sharks go about keeping their foot on the gas after getting an early lead?
"I think every team in the NHL is desperate for points," Couture said. "I think we need to be more desperate than them. We need to be the more desperate team on more nights."