It's hard to take any positives out of being shut out. It's even harder given how well the Sharks played for the first half of Tuesday nights Game 4 in Las Vegas. But that's where the Sharks found themselves after the 5-0 shutout -- frustrated and unable to find the back of the net.
Following the loss, Peter DeBoer talked to the press in Sin City about Vegas' netminder Marc-Andre Fleury and his ability to befuddle San Jose's offense.
"You have to give Fleury credit, he frustrated us," the Sharks' head coach said. "We have to find a way to solve Fleury."
Most of the talk around this first-round series has revolved around players like Ryan Reaves getting under San Jose's skin -- about how the extracurriculars have frustrated the Sharks and worked them up emotionally. But those emotions can also be the product of going up against a netminder on a hot streak. As Sharks pre-and-post game analyst Curtis Brown explained, the situation is a little more nuanced than that.
"I don't think emotionally a goalie's play rattles you," Brown said at NBC Sports California's studios in San Francisco following the loss. "Specifically, you get maybe too emotional maybe not getting rewarded for good play, and their goalie has a hand in that."
Which makes sense, especially when you consider how the Vegas' red hot starting netminder entered the current best-of-seven series. While Fleury has played San Jose well during his tenure with the Knights, he entered the series on a bit of a skid. After missing nearly a month with an undisclosed injury, the 34-year-old goaltender dropped the last two starts of the regular season, giving up four goals in each contest.
That same Fleury showed up in goal for Vegas in Game 1 less than a week ago, looking visibly off his game and frustrated in his own right as the Sharks scored five goals against him.
But ever since the first period of Game 2 -- when the Sharks rallied out of a 3-0 hole to take a 3-3 tie into the first intermission -- San Jose has had trouble matching Vegas' firepower and has been outscore 13-3. That isn't solely because of the goalie, explained Brown, who knows plenty about facing adversity from his 13-year career in the NHL, three seasons of which were spent wearing a Sharks' sweater.
"As a player, you go out doing what you think you have to do individually and as a group," Brown summarized."Whatever they're doing, they're not getting results for it."
Which seemed to be a general message from the Sharks to the press out in Vegas on Tuesday evening -- they aren't going to win games if they don't score any goals. If they're going to make it out of Thursday's Game 5 matchup with their playoff hopes still intact, they'll have to find a solution to beating Fleury.
"You've got to give him some credit, he's made some good saves," captain Joe Pavelski said. "(There've been) some posts, some pucks popping out the other side. But next game that can't happen. Bottom line."
As hard as it may be to see positives coming out of a 5-0 loss, the Sharks admitted they liked their effort and pressure in the first portion of Tuesday's game. If they're going to pull out a victory on in Game 5, that's all they can focus on and control.
"There's no other answer than to just continue to do the good things that you're doing," Brown concluded.