Though the San Jose Sharks have earned a point in all but two games this season, some collective frustration has grown during their current rough stretch.
Winless in four straight contests, the Sharks hope to turn things around in the opener of a five-game road trip Sunday night against the Winnipeg Jets.
San Jose (10-2-4) got off to a strong start, but there is concern with the club mired in an 0-1-3 stretch. The Sharks earned at least one point in five straight before falling 4-2 to Vancouver on Thursday.
Joe Thornton opened the scoring, but the Canucks would take a 3-2 lead by the end of the first period and outshot San Jose 34-24.
"We were clearly outworked," coach Todd McLellan said. "In the real world you work for eight hours and in the hockey world you work for 60 minutes. And we didn't even come close to that.
"When you have a bus load that didn't show up to play it's pretty hard."
That performance came two days after a 5-4 shootout loss to Buffalo in which San Jose also scored the first goal but later had to overcome a two-goal deficit to force overtime.
"It's been twice we've stunk up the joint in the first and second and try to come back in the third," Thornton said. "(Thursday), we just couldn't catch up. We have to be better in the first two - it starts there."
McLellan also needs to see improvement from Antti Niemi, who was pulled in the second period Thursday and has a 3.87 goals-against average in the last four contests. He's yielded four goals in three games during that span after not giving up more than three in his first 11 starts.
"Nemo hasn't been sharp," McLellan told the NHL's official website. "He was like the rest of the team (Thursday). He has to be better."
Niemi allowed four goals in each of his first two starts against the Jets' franchise before making 24 saves during a 2-0 victory in the teams' most recent meeting Jan. 12, 2012.
Teammate Logan Couture had a goal in that contest, but he's been held without a point in three straight after recording three goals and two assists in the previous three.
The Sharks have won six of seven in this series and are 10-1-1 with two ties all-time against the Jets' franchise.
Winnipeg (7-9-2), however, won for the second time in three games after Ondrej Pavelec made 41 saves in Friday's 5-0 victory over Nashville. Bryan Little scored twice, and Olli Jokinen had a goal and an assist during the Jets' four-goal first period.
Though the Jets bounced back from a 4-1 loss at Chicago two nights earlier, they failed to convert on three power-play chances and are 1 for 42 over the last 13 games.
"It's good we scored four goals in the first period, but it was far from a complete game," said Jokinen, who snapped a nine-game goal drought. "The last 40 minutes was not the way we should play. We take two points and we can be happy, but there's no reason to plan the parade on Portage Avenue (outside the MTS Centre)."
Little has scored half of his team-leading 10 goals in the last six contests.
Ex-Shark Devin Setoguchi has a goal in two straight games and four points in the last three.
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