Sharks cough up third period lead in loss to Golden Knights

Curtis Pashelka, The Mercury News on

Published in Hockey

Vegas has shown that its hot start wasn't a fluke.

Since beating the Sharks in November, the Golden Knights have gone 21-8-3 and entered Thursday 10 points up on San Jose for first place in the Pacific Division. The Sharks have since gone 17-8-7, and by the time Thursday's game started, were in a second place tie with Calgary.

"They've done a tremendous job," Sharks center Logan Couture said Thursday morning. "They come at you in waves. Pretty remarkable season for them so far."

So is the Pacific Division title still in reach for San Jose?

Priority No. 1 for the Sharks would be to stay in one of the top three spots in the Pacific to ensure a spot in the postseason. But a regulation time win for the Sharks on Thursday would have cut the Vegas' lead to eight with two more games to go between the two franchises over the final two months.

It's a longshot, but as the Sharks found out first hand last season, anything is possible. San Jose had a nine-point lead in the Pacific with 13 games to go in the regular season, but went 4-9 from that point forward to finish third behind Anaheim and Edmonton.

"You're always trying to hunt down teams ahead of you," Sharks coach Pete DeBoer said. "That's always the focus. We don't want to think about the teams behind us, we're still trying to concentrate on the teams ahead of us and know that if that's our mindset, the rest will take care of itself."

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--Jamie Baker announced Thursday he is taking a step back from his duties as a Sharks broadcaster to solely focus on his personal well-being.

In a statement released by the Sharks, Baker wrote, "As many of you are aware, I recently took some time away from the broadcast booth to focus on some personal health issues. And although the hockey-player mentality in me always wants to 'play through the injuries', I have decided to take a step back from broadcasting for a while to focus my complete energy on my personal wellness."

Baker initially took a leave of absence from his duties as the Sharks' color analyst for NBC Sports California on Nov. 11, but returned to be the color analyst on radio for four games in mid-January. He then resumed his duties on NBCSCA for six games later in the month. In Baker's absence, Bret Hedican will continue to handle color commentating duties for NBCSCA. David Maley will be the color analyst for radio broadcasts.

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