San Jose Sharks coach David Quinn saw some improvement from his team Tuesday after they began their road trip against Eastern Conference teams with two disappointing losses.
Unfortunately for Quinn and the Sharks, the end result was all too familiar.
Andrew Copp’s goal 25 seconds into overtime, lifting the Detroit Red Wings to a 3-2 win over the Sharks at Little Caesars Arena on Tuesday.
The Sharks won a faceoff deep in their own but lost possession, but Michael Rasmussen collected the puck just behind the faceoff dot and took it to the net. The puck remained loose in front of the Sharks’ crease as goalie James Reimer stretched to stop Rasmussen, but Copp, trailing the play, was able collect it and fire it into the open net to end the game.
The Sharks have now lost six straight overtime games and are now 3-10 in games that have gone past regulation.
“I thought we were OK. Wasn’t our best, wasn’t our worst,” Couture said. “Getting to overtime on the road is always good in this league, but we’ve got to win games. It’s getting repetitive here. Losing (stinks).”
The Sharks started Tuesday’s overtime with forwards Nico Sturm and Matt Nieto, who came off in favor of Couture and Alexander Barabanov just before the faceoff as Tomas Hertl and Timo Meier were left on the bench.
Erik Karlsson remained on the ice during the entire short overtime.
“We haven’t been good in overtime for … ever, so we tried something different,” Quinn said. “Three-on-three and 4-on-4 is all about how hard you defend because if you force a turnover, you get the puck back in a hurry and that’s where your offense is created.
“We’re way too much offensive-minded in our 3-on-3 and 4-on-4 approach and even in that faceoff we’re thinking offense instead of being in good defensive positioning.”
Reimer made 27 saves in regulation time and three more in overtime before Copp’s goal, as the Sharks fell to 0-2-1 on their five-game road trip that concludes with games against Carolina on Friday and Pittsburgh on Saturday.
The Sharks (14-25-10) began the trip with regulation-time losses to Columbus and Boston on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
The Sharks and Red Wings were tied 2-2 after the first two periods as Karlsson assisted on even-strength goals by Timo Meier and Couture.
Meier scored his 28th of the season at the 7:58 mark of the second period. His first shot after he received a pass from Karlsson was stopped by Detroit goalie Ville Husso, but he collected the rebound, skated around the Red Wings’ net, and scored on a wraparound try, giving him his fourth goal in five games.
The Sharks were down 2-1 late in the second period before they sent a flurry of pucks toward Husso. After a Karlsson shot attempt was blocked, Couture, stationed to the left of the net, batted the rebound past Husso with 6.9 seconds left in the period for his 17th goal of the season.
Karlsson now has 49 assists and 64 points in 49 games this season.
Reimer, making his fourth start in the last five games, had 17 saves in the first two periods.
In five starts this month, Reimer before Tuesday had a 1-3-1 record in five games this month. But in those five games, Reimer had a .891 save percentage, a slight improvement from last season when he had a .879 save percentage in six games.
Sharks winger Kevin Labanc had seven shot attempts in the first two periods Tuesday as he played his first game since Jan. 13, when the Sharks were blasted 7-1 by Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers.
After that loss, Labanc, 27, sat out the Sharks’ next game against the New Jersey Devils three days later, as he was replaced on the second line by Mikey Eyssimont.
Labanc was also scratched for games against Dallas, Columbus, and Boston, and the Sharks went 1-2-1 in his absence – outscored 16-11 in those four games and going a combined 2-for-9 with the man advantage.
It was the most consecutive healthy scratches Labanc has had in the NHL since his pro career began in 2016.
“I’m still part of the team,” Labanc said last week. “I know that I can put the puck in the net and I know I can help the team win. So it’s just a matter of time.”
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Labanc, who has 10 goals and 25 points in 43 games this season, started Tuesday’s game with familiar linemates Tomas Hertl and Meier.
After their 4-0 loss to Bruins on Sunday, the Sharks also had wingers Eyssimont and Barabanov with Couture, and Steven Lorentz on a line with Noah Gregor and Oskar Lindblom. Nico Sturm was with Nick Bonino and Matt Nieto.
The Sharks scratched forwards Jonah Gadjovich and Evgeny Svechnikov and defenseman Scott Harrington. Defenseman Matt Benning, who was under the weather Sunday and did not play against the Bruins, re-entered the lineup and was paired with Marc-Edouard Vlasic.
The Red Wings (20-18-8) had won just one of their last five games before Tuesday.