The San Jose Sharks couldn't complete a sweep of their six-game road trip, finally looking exhausted by the time they took on the New York Rangers and being thoroughly beat to the tune of 5-2. San Jose had previously won their last five games, all on the road, and were one of the hottest teams in the NFL going into this game. But they struggled defensively and, more accurately, on the penalty kill, once again.
Ryan McDonagh got the scoring started on the night, it came directly after the Sharks killed the Rangers power play. Ryan Callahan fed him from behind the net to the top of the point with a sensational pass, and McDonagh drilled it past Antti Niemi. Derek Stepan was fed by Brandon Dubinsky for the second goal of the night to give New York a two-goal lead.
San Jose, to their credit, didn't lay back and accept it right away. Douglas Murray fired a shot that went from post to post and Joe Pavelski was there to tap it in, getting his eighth goal of the season and continuing his points streak. Then Logan Couture would score halfway through the second period to tie it up at two-all. Couture scored from a feed across the ice, shooting from the right side into the left side of the net right past Martin Biron.
But from then on, it was all New York. Callahan received a pass on his stick in the air and backhanded it into the net just as another power play came to an end, effectively making the Sharks 0-for-3 on their first three penalty kills. Callahan would add another goal at the end of the second period, getting a deflection off of Niemi and tapping it into the mostly-empty net.
Niemie stopped 23-of-28 and didn't look good in net today, even if his defense wasn't helping him. Biron was 24-for-26 and was virtually un-harassed in front of the net as the Sharks apparently forgot how to screen the goaltender in this one. So that's 28-26 on the shots in favor of New York. The teams also had 23 hits apiece and both had 27 faceoff wins. The difference, then, occurs in the power play, where the Sharks were 0-for-3 and the Rangers were, officially, 2-for-4, though you can chalk it up as 3-for-4.
It was just a very, very bad game for the Sharks defense. They were slow to read what was going on, and where the Rangers would fight to extend and push the puck an extra inch or two to complete a setup, the Sharks just wouldn't do it, or due to the road trip, couldn't do it. After five games on the road and three games in the last four days, it's possible that it was just a matter of being exhausted, but the team's penalty kill is still very bad at this point. You can't blame the penalty kill on fatigue because it's been consistently bad all season.
Good news for the Sharks though, they now return home to the HP Pavilion for about half of November with a six-game homestand. 5-1 on the road trip isn't bad by any means, but they'll definitely need to shake off this loss.