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San Jose struggling to stay ahead in the game

  • San Jose Sharks' Brad Stuart, second from right, celebrates his overtimes goal with teammates, left to right, Joe Thornton, Justin Braun, and Tomas Hertl, from the Czech Republic, against the Calgary Flames in an NHL hockey game in Calgary, Alberta, Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013. The Sharks won 3-2. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jeff McIntosh)

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — The Sharks might have ended their five-game winless streak with that 3-2 overtime victory in Calgary, but one pattern from their losing ways continued.

San Jose had at least one lead in each of its past six games, only to have the opposition come back and tie. Three times the Sharks held a one-goal lead over the Los Angeles Kings before losing in overtime. Against the Winnipeg Jets, San Jose led 2-0 before losing in a shootout. One-goal leads didn't last against the Vancouver Canucks, Buffalo Sabres and Phoenix Coyotes.

And whether all that is a serious concern depended on whom you asked Wednesday after the Sharks prepared for tonight's game against Vancouver.

When you haven't won a lot, you get a little tighter," coach Todd McLellan said of the response when a two-goal lead gets cut in half. But we're a confident group. We think we can play through that.”

Protecting a lead is not something on a to-do list that can be addressed in practice, McLellan added, but teams can focus on cleaning up the small mistakes that enable opponents to come from behind.

The to-do list is winning a faceoff on a penalty kill and going to the right spot,” McLellan said, alluding to the mistake Joe Thornton made that led to Calgary's second goal Tuesday night. And if you do that, then you protect the lead.”

Against the Flames, the Sharks led 2-0 until the third period, then came back to win in overtime.

So was there a here-we-go-again factor after the Sharks gave up the first goal to Calgary?

“You can't think like that,” Dan Boyle said. “We're all competitive guys. You've got to go out there and be confident and change the outcome of the game.”

The Sharks had beaten the Canucks nine consecutive regular-season and playoff games before that 4-2 loss in San Jose one week ago in what was easily San Jose's poorest performance of the season.

So does McLellan want his players to remember that game as a motivational tool tonight?

“I think they should, yes,” the coach said.

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