SAN JOSE -- The Sharks once again spent a lot of time on the power play in Friday's series-tying 5-3 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 2 of the first round.
But once again, San Jose could only match Vegas' output on the man advantage, as each team finished the night with a power-play goal. This time around, the Golden Knights scored outside of 5-on-5 situations and the power play, tallying short-handed goals in the first and third periods. Each marker gave the second-year franchise a two-goal advantage, and the second short-handed tally all but clinched Game 2.
In all, the Sharks are just 2-for-13 on the power play through two games. They've given up a total of two high-danger chances on those opportunities, according to Natural Stat Trick, and both ended up in the back of their net Friday.
"It's hard to win this time of year if you don't win the special teams," Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said after the loss. "And when you go down, you give up the first three goals of the game and you lose that battle, you're playing with fire. That was disappointing."
The Sharks' eight power-play opportunities Friday included a minute of 5-on-3 time in the first period. San Jose trailed 1-0, but only managed one shot on goal.
But when Colin Miller's penalty expired, he stepped out of the box to intercept Erik Karlsson's pass intended for fellow defenseman Brent Burns, and scored on the ensuing odd-man rush the other way.
The Golden Knights capitalized again in the third period. Vegas forward Reilly Smith grabbed a loose puck after Joe Thornton's shot went wide, and threaded a pass to streaking linemate William Karlsson who only had Sharks backup goaltender Aaron Dell to beat.
Dating back to the end of the regular season, the Sharks have now allowed four short-handed goals in their last five games and six in the last 11. At least on Friday, San Jose winger Evander Kane thought the Sharks' power-play problems could be boiled down pretty easily.
"We just got out-worked," Kane said. "Plain and simple. You can't give up two short-handed goals, and expect to win in the postseason."
Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who stopped all but one of the 12 shots he faced on the penalty kill, credited his teammates for quickly getting to loose pucks and blocking shots in front of him. The Sharks attempted 27 total shots on their eight power-play opportunities, but 15 were blocked or missed the net entirely.
But San Jose was not able to consistently establish zone time in the offensive zone. Logan Couture noted that the Sharks' zone entries were "decent," but that they looked to pass one too many times, and the Golden Knights were able to clear the danger. Joe Pavelski agreed, and said the Sharks needed to get more shots through to Fleury.
"I think at times it probably wasn't direct enough," the Sharks' captain said. " ... We would get turned back and try to make the play up top, and then they would take that away and they'd be out of the zone. So, it can be a little cleaner. A little quicker. A little more direct, and go from there."
Pavelski noted Friday morning that the Sharks "can't bank on getting power plays," especially as the postseason drags on. The Sharks averaged two fewer power plays (4.5) in last year's second-round series against the Golden Knights, and over three fewer (3.25) in four regular-season matchups.
San Jose's 5-on-5 play was strong once again on Friday, but converting on the man advantage will become even more important if the opportunities aren't as abundant. The Sharks couldn't with ample chances in Game 2, and it cost them.