San Jose Sharks' PK reaches a breaking point as road trip ends with a thud

Curtis Pashelka, The Mercury News on

Published in Hockey

Even the NHL’s best penalty kill units have a breaking point, and the Sharks reached it on their four-game road trip that ended Sunday night in Buffalo.

The Sharks were shorthanded four more times Sunday and allowed two power-play goals — each after delay of game, puck-over-glass infractions — in a 6-3 loss to the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center.

Nick Bonino and Oskar Lindblom both scored their first goals of the season and Kevin Labanc added a power-play goal for his fifth of the year. But the Sabres scored three unanswered goals in the second period, including a power play goal by Jack Quinn at the 13:45 mark, as they took a 4-2 lead.

Quinn added a second goal at the 11:23 mark of the third period and Alex Tuch scored an empty netter with 3:23 to play as the Sabres improved to 20-3-1 at home against the Sharks all-time.

Goalie Aaron Dell, making his second start in five days, allowed four goals in 28 shots in the first two periods as the Sharks ended the road trip against Atlantic Division teams with a 1-3-0 record.

The Sharks’ now losers of six of their last seven games, next play the Vancouver Canucks at home on Wednesday.

When the Sharks began their road trip last Tuesday in Montreal, they had the NHL’s top-ranked penalty kill at 90.3 percent, as they erased 56 of 62 penalties through 24 games.

But just on the road trip, the Sharks were shorthanded 18 times and allowed five goals, as they went 2-for-5 on the kill in Saturday’s 5-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators.

The Sharks took a 2-1 lead into the first intermission.


Just 4:21 after Tage Thompson’s power-play goal gave the Sabres a 1-0 lead, Bonino took a pass from Luke Kunin in the slot area and beat Sabres goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen at the 13:40 mark of the first period.

After Dylan Cozens was called for boarding Evgeny Svechnikov – a rather generous interpretation of the rule in favor of the visitors – the Sharks took the lead at the 16:19 mark on Labanc’s power-play goal, as he took a pass from Matt Benning and snapped a shot past Luukkonen for his fifth goal of the year and first with the man advantage.

The Sharks’ road trip was their third this season of four games. In October, they closed out the sojourn with a 3-0 win over the Philadelphia Flyers to go 2-2-0 on the trip, and last month closed out a six-day trip with a 5-2 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights.

The Sharks beat the Montreal Canadiens 4-0 on Tuesday but followed that with a 3-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs the next night and a three-goal loss to the Senators on Saturday.

Dell, recalled from the AHL last weekend after James Reimer’s injury was making his second start in five days after he stopped 29 of 31 shots in the Sharks’ 3-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Nov. 30.

Dell played in the Sabres organization last season after he signed a one-year deal with the team in July 2021. He had a forgettable 1-8-1 record in 12 games as a Sabre, sporting a .893 save percentage to go with 4.03 goals-against average. He also played 22 games with Rochester, Buffalo’s AHL affiliate, last season and had a .909 save percentage.

Dell signed as a free agent with the Sharks in July and in seven games with the Barracuda had a .904 save percentage.

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