SAN JOSE – Just in time for the holiday season, the Sharks threw it back to the 1970s on Friday night, donning new Reverse Retro jerseys that were inspired by the 1974-75 California Golden Seals.
To refresh, those Golden Seals had a record of 19-48-13 and missed the playoffs for what was then a sixth straight year.
The 2022-23 Sharks certainly look like they’re headed in that same direction, as goalie James Reimer had another off night in what became a 5-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings before an announced sellout crowd of 17,562 at SAP Center.
Sharks winger Alexander Barabanov scored a gift of a goal with 37 seconds left in the second period, as he intercepted a Sean Durzi pass in front of the Kings net and beat goalie Jonathan Quick to cut Los Angeles’ lead to 3-2.
But 2:51 into the third period, a Rasmus Kupari shot from near the top of the circle squeezed through Reimer and gave the Kings a 4-2 lead, and the Sharks went on to lose for the fourth time in five games.
Reimer allowed a similar goal to Viktor Arvidsson in the second period that gave the Kings a 3-1 lead. The Kings’ first four goals came on 22 shots.
Reimer was making his first start since Nov. 19, as he had been bothered by a lower-body injury earlier in the week. He’s been consistent throughout the season but had a .878 save percentage in his last eight periods before Saturday’s final 20 minutes.
Kevin Labanc also scored for the Sharks (7-12-3), who host the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday.
Labanc’s goal, his fourth of the season, came in the first period off assists from Timo Meier and Tomas Hertl, but the Sharks trailed 2-1 after they allowed goals to Jaret Anderson-Dolan and Phillip Danault in the first 20 minutes.
The Sharks have been a much better offensive team of late. After scoring more than two goals just twice in their first nine games, the Sharks have scored fewer than three goals just once in their last 13 games.
But the Sharks’ biggest problem, and the main reason they haven’t climbed the Western Conference standings more than they have, was the penchant for making huge mistakes at the most inopportune times.
The Sharks lost 7-4 to the Detroit Red Wings on Nov. 17 and 8-5 to the Seattle Kraken on Wednesday.
Since Nov. 11 when they began a three-game win streak with a 5-4 victory over the Dallas Stars, the Sharks had scored an average of 3.86 goals in the last seven games, fourth-most in the NHL. But in that time they’ve also allowed 3.71 goals per night, sixth-worst, as they collected just eight of a possible 14 points.
Per Natural Stat Trick, the Sharks have created 71 high-danger scoring chances in the last seven games before Friday and allowed 56.
The Sharks entered Friday 15th out of 16 Western Conference teams with a .386 points percentage.
“Our problem is we have good stretches in games, even (against Seattle). We battled back, we showed some resolve,” Sharks coach David Quinn said Friday morning. “But it’s just individual mistakes, just literally gifts that cost as goals, and it’s why you lose hockey games.”
Quinn said part of his message to the players Friday was not to force plays that just aren’t there, especially against a Kings team that traps in the neutral zone and feasts on turnovers.
“Sometimes when you try too hard or you’re trying to force an issue because you want to do so much for your group, you make a bad decision,” Quinn said. “We have to understand it’s a 60-minute game and every time the puck’s on your stick, you don’t have to do something miraculous. You have to play the play in front of you.”