Sharks pinpoint poor puck management after Game 4 loss to Avalanche


When it came to pinpointing the things the Sharks didn't do well in Thursday's 3-0 loss to the Colorado Avalanche, San Jose center Logan Couture had a long list.

"We turned way too many pucks over, way too many," Couture told reporters after Game 4 of the Sharks' Stanley Cup playoff second-round series. "I don't think we did enough in their zone. I don't think we generated enough off the forecheck. I don't think we forechecked those lines. The next thing you know, they're out of their end and they're coming back on our d-men."

What it all boils down to, though, is that the Sharks simply weren't at their best Thursday. They got outworked and didn't capitalize on the chances that were in front of them. All of that added up to the Avalanche getting the boost they needed in order to tie the best-of-seven series up at two games apiece.

"It's supposed to be tough," Sharks goaltender Martin Jones said. "We're disappointed, for sure. It was a good opportunity for us."

Jones himself didn't need to hang his head, considering he had one of his best outings of the postseason. He stopped 25 of the 27 shots he faced, making a highlight reel's worth of saves in the second period that kept the Avalanche from running away with the game. A pad save on Nathan MacKinnon, a sprawling dive to deny Carl Soderberg and a quick stop on Matt Nieto that prevented a short-handed goal each kept San Jose within striking distance.

Unfortunately for Jones, the team in front of him couldn't score a goal and back him up.

"He gave us a chance today, kept us in the game," defenseman Erik Karlsson said. "Unfortunately, we couldn't capitalize on the chances that we got and that's all she wrote."

"Jones can't do everything there," forward Tomas Hertl added. "A couple of turnovers in the neutral zone and we can't play like that."

The turnovers were, as both Hertl and Couture referenced, a big problem for San Jose in Game 4. While the Sharks had some good back-and-forth going with the Avalanche to start the night, San Jose's difficulty holding onto the puck resulted in long shifts in the defensive zone and additional lapses that gave Colorado the opportunity to score. Since the Avalanche thrives off of speed, turnovers allowed them to build up their momentum.

Needless to say, if the Sharks are going to regain a lead in the series with a victory in Game 5 on Saturday, they're going to have to learn from Thursday's puck management mistakes -- and adapt better than the Avs are.

"As the series goes on teams are going to change," Karlsson summarized. "They're going to change things, we're going to change things. It's all about adapting and I think they did a better job of that."

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But being the confident team that San Jose is, it isn't surprising the Sharks aren't worried about being able to turn things around.

"Today wasn't our best effort, but we're still right in it," Karlsson said. "Just couldn't find a way to score a goal or get some momentum going, and that's the way it is sometimes. We just have to learn from it and go back to San Jose and put up a better effort next game."

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