In Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals against the Vancouver Canucks, the San Jose Sharks blew a third-period lead and lost.
It was the third time in their last four playoff games they've done this; in Game 7 against the Detroit Red Wings, they gained and lost a 2-goal lead in 1:46 of the third period, but hung to eliminate Detroit.
So in the small sample size of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, this is what qualifies as a trend. San Jose Sharks Coach Todd McLellan was asked about it after Monday's off-day practice in Vancouver and … well, it doesn't seem like he's sounding any alarms:
"You know, I guess we're talking about giving up leads. But when you look back throughout our playoff run, now 14 games in, we have given up some leads, but we've also had to come back from behind in 4-0 scenarios, 3-0 scenarios on the road where we showed a ton of resiliency.
"We can look at the negative or bad, which we obviously have to improve. I thought last night they were flat out better than we were in the third period. They scored the goals, earned the power-plays. In the other series where we were able to come back, we did the exact same thing against our opponent.
"A lot of times it's managing the puck, putting it in the right area, so you feel good about your game, and not all your energy is wasted in the defensive zone. We did that last night. In past games when we've been able to come back, we've done that to our opponent."
So he's taking away some positives from last night. What about the players? Logan Couture addressed the third-period problems and whether they're becoming an issue:
"I don't think so. Someone said it last night, that we've blown a couple of third-period leads. I hadn't even thought of that until that was said. I mean, I don't even think we changed the style of play. We just turned pucks over. We looked at some video this morning. We had so many turnovers in the third period. Can't do that against that type of team. They're too good."
The Sharks have given up 15 goals in the third period and have scored 11. They are 4-2 when leading after two periods; Tampa Bay is 7-0 while the Vancouver Canucks are 6-1, for comparison's sake.
Maybe it's about puck possession. Maybe it's about turnovers. Maybe the Sharks are lumbering where they should be quick in the third period. Whatever the case, the Canucks are too good to let back in games during the final 20 minutes as the Sharks continue to allow opponents to do so.