After a disappointing loss to the West-leading Flames, the San Jose Sharks looked as if they might bounce back Tuesday night against the Vancouver Canucks. But, alas, the Sharks couldn't hold the lead in a 4-2 loss.
For much of Tuesday night, it looked like things were going the Sharks' way. They led most of the way in their season-series finale between the teams, before allowing a pair of funky goals late in the third period.
Here are three takeaways from the Sharks' ninth defeat in their last 10 games.
It was a good game for Martin Jones – until the end: When San Jose’s starting goaltender allowed the first goal 1:28 into the contest, it looked like it was going to be another uphill battle for Jones and the defense in front of him. But then Jones tightened things up, and the Canucks didn't do much to challenge him. He stood tall when he had to, however, freezing Loui Eriksson on a second-period breakaway and denying Brock Boeser later in the frame.
Those are the kinds of saves the Sharks haven’t gotten enough of this season, and they could have used them in the third period when the Canucks scored twice in 1:21. If San Jose is going to go deep into the Stanley Cup Playoffs, he needs to make more saves. The Sharks haven't gotten enough in their last 10 games, and the latter part of Tuesday’s game against the Canucks proved that point again.
On a positive note for the Sharks …
Joe Pavelski made the most of his return: It’s an understatement to say the Sharks missed their captain, and Pavelski wasted no time contributing to the cause. Even before scoring a power-play goal just 10:47 into the first period, Pavelski posted up right in front of Vancouver goaltender Thatcher Demko, in position for his signature redirect.
The Sharks probably are disappointed the nature of the loss overshadowed Pavelski's return. With another offensive weapon back in the lineup, some of San Jose’s issues breaking the puck out of its own end began to dissipate. This is one of the many things the Sharks have needed to clean up before the playoffs start, and they were able to do that against the Canucks.
Joonas Donskoi made the most of his opportunities: It’s been a rough stretch of Joonas Donskoi, who hasn’t scored since Jan. 10. Despite picking up three assists in his last six games, he still hasn’t looked as confident as he did halfway through the season when he first skated alongside Tomas Hertl and Evander Kane. But Donskoi was quick on his feet and confident in his puck-handling Tuesday, ending the game with three shots on goal.
Donskoi wasn’t the only player “auditioning” against the Canucks. With all of the Sharks' recent injuries, a couple of skaters have been given the opportunity to step up and show how they can make an impact in the postseason. One of coach Pete DeBoer’s criticisms during the Sharks' losing streak was that not enough players were stepping up and making a case for themselves. Donskoi did both Tuesday night.