Flames out to end Sharks' unbeaten home start
Last season, it took 2 1/2 months for the San Jose Sharks to earn their fifth home win.
It would take a losing streak of epic proportion at the SAP Center at San Jose for that to happen in 2016-17.
The Sharks will try to remain perfect at home Thursday night when they face the Calgary Flames, who hope to regain some scoring touch and avoid a season-worst third consecutive loss.
San Jose is the only team in the Western Conference yet to lose on home ice this season, posting a 4-0-0 record. The Sharks dropped to 2-4-0 on the road with a 3-1 loss to the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday.
“I loved our start,” said Sharks coach Peter DeBoer, whose team led 1-0 after 20 minutes. “But that's the thing we need to work most at: When we're on top of teams, instead of getting an extra goal and putting them away, we let them hang around.”
The Sharks have trailed once at home in 2016-17. San Jose allowed a goal 82 seconds into its matchup with the Los Angeles Kings on Oct. 12 before rallying for a 2-1 win.
A stout defense, led by Brent Burns and goaltender Martin Jones, has been the backbone of the team's success in San Jose. Last season, the Sharks didn't notch their fifth home win until their 15th game, beating Philadelphia on Dec. 30.
Coming off a campaign in which he set career-bests for goals (27), assists (48) and points (75), Burns hasn't slowed down in his 13th NHL season. In 10 games, the 31-year-old has 10 points (three goals, seven assists), tying him with Minnesota's Ryan Suter and Montreal's Shea Weber for the most among defensemen.
In five games against the Flames last season, Burns was the Sharks' leader with five assists and seven points. He will be looking for his fourth straight multi-point game against Calgary.
Jones has been in net for all four wins in front of the home crowd this season, allowing just four goals on 95 total shots. Overall, Jones is 4-1-0 with a 2.73 goals-against average and .920 save percentage in his career against Calgary. In his only career start against the Flames in San Jose, he surrendered two third-period goals en route to a 5-2 victory on Nov. 28, 2015.
After scoring 11 goals during a three-game winning streak from Oct. 24-28, the Flames (4-6-1) have been limited to one goal in a home loss to the Washington Capitals on Sunday and again at Chicago on Tuesday in the opener of four-game road trip. The trek includes matchups with all three California teams.
“We need to stick to our system here,” Flames forward Alex Chiasson said following a 5-1 loss to the Blackhawks. “We can't fall behind. We've got to regroup here. We're playing three teams in our division, so we're going to have to look at what we did … and fix a couple things.”
One part of the game Calgary needs to fix is special teams. The Flames are 4-for-41 with the man advantage this season, and they have surrendered at least one power-play goal in four straight games.
“We have to shoot the puck more, and we've got to execute,” Flames coach Glen Gulutzan said Tuesday. “We can't be fumbling around and think we're going to have a good power play. We've got to get a little more fluid.”
Michael Frolik scored short-handed against one of his former teams Tuesday. Frolik leads the Flames with five goals and is tied with Mikael Backlund and Johnny Gaudreau for the team lead with seven points.
Mark Giordano was the top scorer for Calgary against San Jose last season with a goal and five assists in five contests. He has failed to register a point in four straight games, and he has just one goal and four assists in 11 games so far.
If Brian Elliott gets the start in goal for Calgary, he will be looking for his third straight win in San Jose. In his only game at the “Shark Tank” last season while with the St. Louis Blues, Elliott turned away all 37 shots faced in a 1-0 victory on March 22.