SAN JOSE – Sharks coach David Quinn has mostly been patient with his team through the first quarter of the season, even as they’ve experienced all kinds of growing pains in adjusting to a new regime.
That patience has pretty much run out at this point, as Quinn blasted the Sharks’ effort and compete level Saturday night after a 2-1 loss to the New York Rangers at SAP Center.
Thanks to an array of turnovers and a mostly unwillingness to battle, which was perhaps the most disheartening aspect of Saturday’s loss to Quinn, the Sharks managed just four shots on net in the third period. including none in the first 11 minutes.
It all added up to the Sharks’ seventh-straight loss on home ice, as their overall record fell to 6-11-3.
“I thought we sucked in the third period,” Quinn said. “They beat us to every loose puck, they out-battled us, they out-competed us. I thought our puck management wasn’t great all night but we were at least hanging around in the first two periods.”
Goalie James Reimer did what he could Saturday to help the Sharks earn their second win at home this season, making 39 straight saves to start the game before Julien Gauthier scored at the 13:57 mark of the third period.
On the play, Ryan Carpenter won a faceoff against Steven Lorentz deep in the Sharks’ zone before the puck went back to Jacob Trouba, whose shot was tipped by Gauthier past Reimer, who finished with 41 saves.
Quinn was bothered by Evgeny Svechnikov not skating out to the point to get in the way of Trouba’s shot, perhaps partly emblematic of the Sharks’ lack of battle against the Rangers.
“We give them a faceoff goal where guys don’t want to block a shot,” Quinn said. “We don’t want to block a shot, we don’t get coverage and a guy gets a tip that should be covered, and it wasn’t.”
Erik Karlsson, who leads all NHL defensemen with 29 points, was held off the scoresheet for just the fifth time in the last 18 games.
While the Sharks have struggled to win a lot of games even when Karlsson has produced points, they’re now 1-6-0 when he doesn’t.
“Somebody else has got to step up,” Sharks center Nico Sturm said. “(Karlsson’s) not going to have two or three points every night.”
Logan Couture scored with 16.1 seconds left in regulation time to help the Sharks avoid their first shutout of the season. He also had another shot on goal with six seconds to go.
It was mostly just window-dressing at that point, as it was plain to see from Quinn’s perspective that the hungrier team won – which was something he hadn’t witnessed a lot of recently.
“One of the reasons they looked as fast as they did is we didn’t compete hard enough,” Quinn said. “We didn’t win enough battles and didn’t get into people, which hasn’t been the case. Just disappointing the way the game unfolded.”
Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin, last season’s Vezina Trophy winner as the NHL’s best goalie, was forced to make just 22 saves for his ninth win in 14 games this season.
Quinn was asked why the Sharks created so few scoring chances, although the answer seemed obvious.
“Turnovers. Just didn’t play hard enough,” he said. “Not enough oomph in our game, and no f-you in our battles. We were soft.”
In other words, all of the good vibes the Sharks had built up after they beat the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday for their third straight win have now evaporated.
The Sharks, now 1-6-3 at SAP Center this season, close out a three-game homestand on Monday against the Ottawa Senators.
“It was a step back tonight,” Quinn said. “(Over) 82 games, you’re going to have nights off. OK, let’s see how we respond. That’s the key. We stunk. We sucked. It hasn’t happened in a long time. So let’s see how we respond on Monday.”
Reimer’s game was a needed response after he allowed six goals on 20 shots to the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday. Still, the Sharks are now 0-4-3 at home since a 4-3 overtime victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Oct. 27.
“I was grateful for the chance to get back in there,” Reimer said. “That’s a really good hockey team over there and we stayed right with them.”