SAN JOSE – Now, the San Jose Sharks are only one loss away from making NHL history in the most undesirable way.
For three-plus weeks, the Sharks have juggled forward lineups and defense pairs, gone from one goalie to the other, scratched some players, promoted others, moved centers and wingers up and down the lineup. Maybe they’ve burned incense a time or two.
None of it has resulted in a win. In fact, it’s only gotten worse.
Saturday, the Sharks allowed two first-period goals before they completely unraveled in what became a 10-2 loss to Erik Karlsson and the Pittsburgh Penguins before an announced sellout crowd of 17,435 at SAP Center.
Down 2-0, the Sharks allowed five even-strength goals in less than nine minutes in the second as they were sent hurtling toward their 11th straight loss, matching an NHL record to start a season.
San Jose is now 0-10-1, as it became just the fourth team in NHL history, and the third since 2005 when the shootout era began, to lose their first 11 games. They’ve also now lost nine straight in regulation time.
The 1943-44 New York Rangers lost 11 straight in regulation time to establish the record. The other franchise to lose 11 straight games to start a season was the Arizona Coyotes in both 2017 and 2021.
The Sharks, blown out by the Vancouver Canucks 10-1 on Thursday, have been outscored 55-12 this season.
The Sharks are the fourth NHL team in history to allow 10 or more goals in two or more consecutive games. The last time was in Dec. 1965, when the Boston Bruins were punished by 10-2 and 10-1 by Detroit and Chicago, respectively.
The Sharks now hope to avoid making NHL history on Tuesday when they host the Philadelphia Flyers, who own a 5-6-1 record after their loss earlier Saturday to the Los Angeles Kings.
Frankly, that appears to be a bridge too far.
Down 4-0 in the second period, Sharks coach David Quinn called a timeout to allow him team to regroup. Anthony Duclair scored his second goal of the season at the 8:34 mark to cut the deficit to three, but the Penguins scored twice in the next minute, with goals from Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang.
Asked about the winless Sharks on Friday, Penguins coach Mike Sullivan issued well-worn cliches about how San Jose is going to be “hungry” and about how there’s so much parity in the NHL that it doesn’t matter “where teams sit in the standings if you don’t bring your best on any given night, you run the risk of getting beat.”
Canucks coach Rick Tocchet said something similar on Thursday, just hours before his team flattened the Sharks.
While the Penguins had their own issues to sort through, having won just three of their first nine games, the reality is that opposing coaches know how fragile the Sharks are right now. Only once throughout the first three weeks of the season have the Sharks fallen behind in a game and recovered to take the lead.
The Sharks were hoping for a response after Thursday’s blowout loss, the most lopsided at home in the franchise’s 32-season history.
Sharks coach David Quinn after the game touched on how the departures of Karlsson and high-scoring winger Timo Meier, and San Jose’s rebuild, might be affecting his team’s commitment to winning.
“That can’t happen,” Quinn said. “I think that’s crept in a little bit with some of our players. Hopefully, this feels so freakin’ bad that they’ll never approach it that way again.”
That didn’t happen. And right now, the Sharks lack so much of everything that it’s hard to keep track of their shortcomings.
BIG CROWD: It’s not every day the Sharks get a chance to play in front of a sellout crowd like the one they did Saturday. Rarer still of late has been the Sharks’ ability to earn a win in front of those packed houses.
Such was the case against the Penguins, as the Sharks fell to 0-2-1 this season when they announced a sellout crowd of 17,435. All told, San Jose is now 0-11-4 in such situations since the start of last season.
Besides Saturday marking Karlsson’s return to San Jose, and Sidney Crosby’s 1,200th NHL game, it was also a promotional night for the Sharks, as the organization gave away a Sharks-Warriors mashup basketball jersey to everyone in attendance. As of Saturday afternoon, tickets for the game on Ticketmaster – mostly resale – were going for well over $100.
Tuesday’s home game against Philadelphia is not expected to be a sellout, with tickets, as of Saturday, going for as little as $19.