The Sharks have a bad case of Deja vu.
In the first two rounds, San Jose opened with a convincing win in Game 1 only to fall flat in a Game 2 loss.
Such was the case again Monday night at SAP Center. With a chance to take a convincing two-games-to-none series lead in the Western Conference final, the Sharks fell behind early and couldn't come all the way back in a 4-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues.
Here are five takeaways:
The Sharks were within reach of the game for much of the 60 minutes, but they could get nearly nothing generated offensively during the most critical portion. During a 15-minute span between the second and third periods, San Jose went without even a single shot on goal. At this point, the Sharks only trailed 3-2 and had a late power play opportunity when Joe Pavelski drew a hooking call. But San Jose was unable to light the lamp and its fate was sealed when Oskar Sundqvist buried the fourth St. Louis goal with 3:08 left in regulation.
Couture stays hot
From the "who could have expected it?" file: San Jose's biggest push came on momentum from a penalty kill. Marcus Sorensen's bogus trip to the box for interference was fully redeemed by Logan Couture about 20 seconds after the whistle. Logan picked a pocket and went the other direction, scoring his first of two goals in a 1:58 span. That's now 47 playoff goals for Logan since his first go-around in 2010, which puts him only three behind Alexander Ovechkin's 50 markers. It's a shame that Couture's 12th and 13th goals of these playoffs weren't paired with a victory and better memories.
If you only looked at the stats, four goals allowed by Martin Jones seems like a letdown. But watching how they were scored was a better indication of how San Jose's defense let down the netminder. The Jaden Schwartz and Robert Bortuzzo goals were examples of St. Louis skaters finding soft spots, and getting open looks unmarked. This one doesn't fall on Jones, and it's now a dozen straight games he has looked noticeably sharp.
Must dictate tempo
Much will be made about the Sharks' power play, and its inability to capitalize lately. While it's true, they didn't convert or turn momentum favorably, San Jose also only drew the two penalties in the game. Compare that to the five they took versus St. Louis and it's clear the Blues were the ones who dictated how the game was played.
Sticking to the script
It's not fair to pose past-tense hypotheticals, but if the Sharks had taken Game 2, it would have been their first series lead of two games in these playoffs. All the pressure would have been on St. Louis to return to home ice needing to retaliate similarly. But in reality, nothing has been easy or comfortable for San Jose in this postseason. The Sharks faced elimination three times against Las Vegas, and alternated wins all the way to a second straight Game 7 against Colorado. Why should you expect anything different here in the Western Conference final?