Sharks need to draw first blood

The Sharks' inability to get off to good starts have them on the brink of elimination in the Western Conference finals.

Updated: May 19, 2004, 1:31 PM ET
By By Jim Wilkie | NHL Insider
Starting strong has been a major reason for the success of the San Jose Sharks this season, and their inability to get off to good starts has contributed to their three losses that have them on the brink of elimination in the Western Conference finals.

If the trend continues Wednesday night at Calgary in Game 6, it could very well be the end of the Sharks' best season in the franchise's history. But if they can get back to the formulas they used to get this far, then they should force a Game 7 back home Friday.

The Sharks had the best first-period goal differential in the league (79 goals for and 44 against) during the regular season, using their speed and tight-checking team defense to dictate the tempo of games and hold onto most leads. But San Jose hasn't scored a first-period goal against Calgary. The Sharks have gone six games without scoring in the first, with Vincent Damphousse netting the last one at 19:52 of Game 5 against Colorado in the second round. Damphousse's power-play goal was San Jose's only first-period goal in its past 10 games.


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