Surging Start to Sharks' Vital Homestand Coming at the Right Time

The Sharks couldn't have asked for more from the first two games of their current six-game homestand. 

In two wins over the Edmonton Oilers and Chicago Blackhawks, San Jose scored 12 goals and allowed four. All but one of those goals-for came during five-on-five play (the outlier was an empty-netter), and in all, the Sharks scored four more five-on-five goals than on the entirety of a four-game road tip in which they won just once last week. 

San Jose has turned around its possession game, too. When adjusting for score and venue, (since the team held three-goal and five-goal leads headed into third periods against the Oilers and Blackhawks, respectively) the Sharks controlled 51.43 percent of the shot attempts and 55.08 percent of the unblocked shot attempts, according to Natural Stat Trick. 

The power play's now-11-game goalless drought remains concerning, but the first third of San Jose's six-game homestand has otherwise been impressive. It's also been necessary, considering how similar of a position the team's biggest rivals currently find themselves in. 

Call it a scheduling quirk, or divine narrative intervention, but whatever your preferred label, the Sharks and the Los Angeles Kings will play the same amount of home games over the next 11 days (four). Two points are currently what separates the two in the Pacific Division standings, and are the difference between starting the first round at home or on the road. 

While San Jose was in the midst of one of its biggest wins of the season on Thursday (by goal differential, anyway), Los Angeles scored five unanswered goals against the Columbus Blue Jackets en route to its third consecutive win. That's coincided nearly perfectly with the return of now-healthy Jeff Carter, who's scored in each of those aforementioned wins. 

Carter's return helped the Kings leapfrog the Ducks, and close in on the Sharks. Had San Jose split its last two games, Los Angeles would have been second in the Pacific. 

The Sharks instead kept pace, thanks to the near-ideal start to their homestand, and hold the Pacific's last spot for first round for home-ice advantage. A lack of it hasn't necessarily been a postseason impediment in the Peter DeBoer era, as they've only had it once over the last two postseasons, in the second round en route to the Stanley Cup Final in 2016. 

Given the disparity between San Jose's home (19-9-3) and road records (16-12-6), though, that calculus could change this spring, and make home-ice advantage vital to advancing out of the first round. Continued success on the homestand would move the Sharks closer to it, with the added bonus of keeping it further out of the Kings' reach.

Like the first two games of said homestand, they couldn't ask for much more.

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