The San Jose Sharks dropped their final two regular-season games, both on the road, and they will have to quickly figure out how to remedy that if they are going to advance in the playoffs.
The Sharks, who earned the sixth seed in the Western Conference playoffs, will open their series against third-seeded Vancouver on Wednesday as the NHL unveiled postseason schedules on Sunday.
San Jose went 17-2-5 at home in the strike-shortened regular season, but only 8-13-2 on the road. However, one of those road wins came in Vancouver and the Sharks finished a perfect 3-0 against the Canucks on the season.
The Sharks, who have been to the playoffs nine straight seasons, lost in the first round of last year’s playoffs after consecutive trips to the Western Conference finals the previous two years.
Logan Couture led the team with 21 goals in 48 games, only 11 goals fewer than his career best of 32 in 79 games of the 2010-11 season. Joe Thornton was limited to seven goals, but he topped the team in scoring thanks to his 33 assists. Patrick Marleau (17 goals) and Joe Pavelski (16) will be needed to produce if San Jose hopes to advance.
The rest will be left up to workhorse goalie Antti Niemi, who played in 43 of the Sharks’ 48 games and tied for the NHL lead with 24 wins.
The Canucks enter the playoffs as the Northwest Division champion for the fifth time in six seasons. Vancouver derailed the Sharks in five games in 2011 in the Western Conference finals before falling in the Stanley Cup finals to Boston.