Coming into last night’s game, the Sharks had not scored more than 3 goals in a game yet this season. But things had been turning around for them. After the first 14 games of the season, they were just 5-8-1 and had not yet been over the .500 mark. The goaltending was definitely making an improvement, as starting goalie Harri Sateri seemed to settling into season form. But, it was still a struggle to put the puck in the back of the other team’s net. Despite that, the Sharks were on a 3 game winning streak. That would all change though, as they put up 8 goals for their fourth straight win.
In the Sharks previous 3 wins, they had also totaled 8 goals. It was the most goals scored my the Sharks at home since the team moved to Worcester. This is also the first time that the Sharks have won four straight in almost two years. So what changed? It seems to be the lines of forwards that are really making all the difference right now.
The game started off with the ice immediately tilted in the Sharks favor. But it looked like it might be another game where the Sharks put up a lot of shots but could not capitalize. There were a few great chances missed early. But that was when the Sharks newly assembled line struck for the first time (of five). Rookie forward Matt Nieto, who recently returned to Worcester from San Jose, passed across the ice to Freddie Hamilton. Pirates goalie Mark Visentin looked like he might have had the shot but it took a weird bounce behind him and crossed the line. Just a minute later, the Sharks got another strange goal. Marek Viedensky skated in, doing most of the work and showing a lot of skill, and took an initial shot. Eriah Hayes crashed the net and ended up putting the puck in off some part of his body. The goal was under review since the net came off, but it was ruled a good goal.
After the first period, the Sharks had an unusual 2 goal lead and had kept Portland off the board. Just in the first, the Sharks put up 16 shots to the Pirates 5. The line of Hamilton, Nieto, and Daniil Tarasov took just over a minute into the second to put their second goal of the night up. This time it was Nieto with the goal. Not to be left out, Tarasov added a goal of his own two minutes later to put the Sharks up 4-0. That was all for Visentin. At 3:10 into the second, the Pirates yanked their goalie and replaced him with Mike Lee.
There was no break for Lee either, though. At 5:25 into the second, the Sharks took the 5-0 lead. Travis Oleksuk added his second of the season. Halfway through the second, the Pirates looked like they might get a small break. Sharks defenseman and captain Rob Davison pulled Brendan Shinimin down while he was headed in to take a shot on Harri Sateri. The referee awarded Shinimin the penalty shot. Sateri stood tall and held the Pirates off the board. Within the last minute of the period, the Pirates managed to get on the board for the first time. Gilbert Brule capitalized on the power play with Sharks defenseman Taylor Doherty in the box.
During the middle frame, the shots were much more even with Worcester taking 15 and Portland taking 14. When the Sharks came back for the final frame, they found themselves on the power play just 16 seconds in. At the :49 mark, Nieto capitalized for his second of the game and his second in the AHL this season. He had two goals through 19 games with San Jose so far this season. Later that period, Hamilton added his second of the night as well giving that line their fifth of the night. Hamilton (2g, 1a), Tarasov (1g, 2a), and Nieto (2g, 3a) all finished +4 on the night.
Less than a minute after Hamilton’s goal put the Sharks up 7-1, Shinimin put one past Sateri. He had not been able to capitalize on his penalty shot but still got on the board. Towards the end of the game, the Sharks added a final goal. Viedensky had been doing a lot of right things during the game and was finally rewarded with the goal that made the game 8-2.
It was the second straight game for the Sharks against the Pirates and the second straight win. The Sharks had a rare Saturday and Sunday off from games last weekend. This weekend, they have two more division rivals to face off against. They host the Providence Bruins tonight. Last night, the Bruins beat Manchester 7-2. On Sunday, they will travel up to Manchester to face off against the Monarchs.
Photo Credit: Worcester Sharks