Sharks captain Joe Pavelski could not have summed it up any better than after the Sharks' 3-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday.
"There is always another level that this team can reach," he told reporters in Edmonton.
Sure, the Sharks did some good things in Thursday's victory. Heck, enter the winning column absolutely after the race they've been in, it's progress. But when there's only one more game left before the Stanley Cup playoffs begin, the team still has things to work on before they're considered ready for the playoffs.
"I still think there is room for improvement," Pavelski said. "Moving forward, as atmospheres increase in remote buildings and teams are pushing, we have to stay in attack and be aggressive."
The Sharks lost 1-0 just 2:03 in the game, but recovered to take a 2-1 lead in the first intermission. When the Oilers tied the game early in the second period, San Jose found the answer that proved elusive in Tuesday's loss to the Vancouver Canucks.
"Win or lose, I think we wanted to do the right thing," said Logan Couture after the game. "I think we did good things, but there are still things we have to work on."
Haute couture even suggested that entering the victory column was secondary to restoring good habits.
"At this time of year, in these games, you take away the gain-loss and want to play the game you want to play in a week," he explained. "For a lot of that game, I thought we did a good job."
Without a doubt, San Jose did a much better job of playing a defensive game, blocking 16 shots compared to Edmonton's seven. The Sharks also played a good physical game, something they will need against the Golden Knights of Las Vegas once the playoffs begin, beating the Oilers 24-15. The backups also have to go to netminder Aaron Dell, who recovered well by allowing a goal in the first shot he faced. Without some of Dell's seven rescues in the third period, the Sharks may not have won.
But Dell's big stops also revealed an area where the Sharks still need to improve, and that's expanding opportunities as opponents shut down. When San Jose was at its best this season, the relentless goal scoring and stinging defense were the hallmarks.
In the last two road games of the regular season, the Sharks could not expand their chances of a goal. That did not bite them against Edmonton as it did against Vancouver, but the conclusion is the same: the Sharks can not let opponents go around. The Golden Knights can be a hbadle to beat if they are given too much extra room to operate, especially in the playoffs.
"I would still like to see us take the teams away and get some protection there," said Sharks coach Peter DeBoer.
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With an advantage of one goal in the third period, the Sharks did not put the pedal to the metal in an offensive manner. The Oilers enjoyed a 7-5 advantage on shots on goal in the final draw, and four of Edmonton's shots came from first-line threats Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.
"I think we could have done a better job of attacking the third period, I thought we were sitting on our heels too," he said. "I wish they had seen us attack a bit more, instead of sitting down and giving them open ice, which that top line loves to have, that would have changed."
But overall, the good things the Sharks did on Thursday will bring them one step closer to being ready for the playoffs next week. However, they still have some folds to fix, and a more regular season game to solve them.
"We are working on our way there," said DeBoer. "It has not arrived yet, but I'm confident that next week it will be."