SAN JOSE -- It's never fun to see a winning streak come to an end. For the Sharks, it was a six-gamer that both started and ended with the Washington Capitals.
There was no complex reason why San Jose failed to dominate the defending Stanley Cup champions like they had dominated the few teams they had just faced on the road. Nobody on the team was going to point the finger or make excuses. The Sharks said it themselves -- they didn't have that jump on Thursday night.
"We've had some pretty good nights in the last month, but tonight wasn't our best," Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer said after the 5-1 loss. "We couldn't outscore our problems tonight."
Evander Kane agreed, telling NBC Sports California there wasn't too much to dissect when it came to looking at the defeat. "They out-competed us," he summarized. "We weren't good with the puck tonight, that's really all you can dissect from that. If we get back to where our compete level (was) the last little while here and manage the puck better, we'll give ourselves a better chance to win."
The Sharks looked more than ready to compete at puck drop, even getting on the scoreboard first thanks to an early goal from Kevin Labanc. But the Capitals quickly took over the pace of the game, hemming the Sharks in their own zone and tangling up the offense every chance they created. The Capitals even outshot the Sharks in the game -- something rarely seen this season from a Sharks squad currently ranked second in the league with an average 34.1 shots per game.
San Jose was within reach of tying things up when they were down just 2-1, but Washington didn't give them much room to create any momentum. After Alex Ovechkin was left open to find the back of the net and extend the Capitals' lead to 3-1, Washington all but controlled the pace for the rest of the game.
"We didn't have much pace and execution as the game went on," captain Joe Pavelski admitted, adding that, with a couple days of practice and preparation, the team should've had more jump. "There's never an explanation why you do that," he said, shaking his head. "We were prepared and there's no excuses."
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The only course of action from here on, then, is to be better for the next game -- Saturday, when the Canucks visit. The Sharks have just two more games at home before heading back on the road, and not a lot of room for hiccups with just 24 games left in the regular season.