BOSTON – The Sharks began Thursday allowing the second-fewest goals in the NHL thanks in large part to the play of Martin Jones and Aaron Dell, who have both been outstanding.
While the goaltenders have been steady, the Sharks are typically strong at helping them out, too. Rarely is there a loose puck sitting in the crease, or a player left alone in front to plop in a rebound, or a pass through the seam leading to an easy score.
Against the Bruins, though, that defensive intensity was lacking, particularly in front of their own net and on the penalty kill. In its first game after firing Claude Julien, Boston cruised to an easy 6-3 win over a San Jose team that has suddenly lost three in a row. They've allowed 10 goals over their last four periods and an overtime, including Tuesday's meltdown in Buffalo.
"Usually we're pretty good at picking up sticks, boxing guys out, and unfortunately tonight we weren't," said Justin Braun. "We didn't help Joner out at all, and we didn't help [Aaron Dell] out at all, either."
Jones was pulled after the first period after letting in three goals on 12 shots. The first shot he saw was a sizzler from David Backes from the high slot that squeaked through. On the second goal, after the Sharks had tied it, Patrick Marleau stood and watched as Patrice Bergeron got to the front of the net to slip in a loose puck. Late in the opening frame, it was a blast by David Pastrnak that Jones had no chance of stopping that gave Boston a 3-1 edge.
Dell came in to start the second. Was Jones replaced to try and spark the team, Pete DeBoer?
"No, [he was] not good. Like everybody else. Not good," said the coach.
"It just wasn't there tonight. It wasn't one guy. It was everybody. We were all bad, coaches included."
The penalty kill has been particularly worrisome during the Sharks' 0-1-2 skid. They have allowed five goals in their last 10 shorthanded situations, and Pastrnak took advantage twice on Thursday, getting a pair of wide open nets to shoot at.
The impressive rookie didn't miss on two nice feeds from Bergeron, while Braun failed both times to prevent the pass from getting through.
"They just know where Pastrnak is standing. [Bergeron] just snapped it over to him," Braun said. "I've got to get out a little farther and take that pass away on both of them. It's disappointing to have that happen twice. Hopefully can learn from it and take care of it going forward."
"They made some nice plays on [the power play]," Joe Pavelski said, "and they're sitting with some pretty good looks."
Although Braun's early second period goal gave the Sharks some life just a minute in, bringing them back to within 3-2, the Bruins never sagged in front of interim coach Bruce Cassidy. The Sharks expected an energized team after it changed coaches two days ago, they got it, and they simply didn't match that intensity.
Tim Schaller's goal at 13:04 of the second, another in which the Sharks weren't hard enough in front of their own net, restored Boston's two-goal cushion.
The Sharks were cooked after that.
"We knew they would have a little wake up call over there and they would come out ready to play," Pavelski said. "As players you understand that, and you've got to match the effort. That's the bottom line."
DeBoer said: "They came out with energy, but this was on us. Not to take anything away from them, they played a real solid game like we knew they would, but you've got to help yourself a little bit. We didn't tonight."