(photo: Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)
Eleven goals. There were eleven total goals in the San Jose Sharks and Boston Bruins matchup Thursday night. More importantly, San Jose’s seven goals were the perfect morale boost for the club that could not have come at a more ideal time.
The night started off pretty dreary, though – hardly a morale boost at first. Only three minutes into the game and the Sharks were already in the hole by two. This was a “here we go again” scenario and was especially horrible for defenseman Justin Braun, as he was partly the reason for those first two. Both he and Marc-Edouard Vlasic were covering Patrice Burgeron, which allowed an uncovered Reilly Smith to get the first goal only 29 seconds into the game. Then, just over two minutes later, a clearing attempt whizzed by Braun on the blue line and Gregory Campbell was able to get past Antti Niemi.
The Sharks did not heat up until the second period, when, 27 seconds into the period, Tommy Wingels tipped one in from Vlasic, which boosted the team and woke up the crowd. They scored another goal from Tyler Kennedy at 3:00. The Sharks continued their scoring streak with a go-ahead goal from Wingels, the first power play goal on the night. Their lead was short-lived though, as Smith netted his second at 8:13. Less than five minutes later, Torey Krug wristed one in. The scoring fun continued on the other side when Joe Pavelski made it an even game again on a power play.
Thus began the scoring-spree by the Sharks – Kennedy’s second, Pavelski’s second, and one for Tomas Hertl. Did you get all that?
In fact, this was a 2-goal game for three Sharks: Pavelski (plus an assist), Wingels, and Kennedy. For Wingels, that second goal was his third power play goal of the season. Additionally, it was a two-point game for both Hertl (1 goal, 1 assist) and Burns (2 assists). This was Hertl’s second multi-point game of the season and Burns’ second two-assist night of the season. Plus, Brenden Dillon earned his first point as a Shark, an assist on Pavelski’s second goal. Points abound!
When the Sharks perform well, the fans will make sure they are heard loud and clear. Popularly known around the league as one of the hardest to play in, “The Tank” has not lived up to its legacy, due to the Sharks’ performance. When the fans are in it, the Sharks feed off that energy, and vice versa. Pavelski later commented that
“Third period we heard the ‘Lets go Sharks,’ and that’s probably the first time we heard it all year. That’s on us as players that we haven’t created that kind of atmosphere.”
The team showed the kind of character the fans (and coaches) love to see – contributions from everyone. Contributions from multiple different players, instead of just depending on a select few, are what make a team complete and resilient.
There’s no question that the Sharks needed this win badly. Three wins in a row, after three losses and a less than stellar home record prior to these past few games, are exactly what the Sharks ordered. With much speculation about if the coach should go, line juggling, big guys not getting the numbers they need, and the captaincy still a big question mark, it’s no wonder the guys on the ice, and the fans, looked confused. Something happened in this game where it all seemed to click, though. This was, by far, their best performance of the season.
So it’s back on the road for the boys, and with it, they will bring this confidence and momentum. Coach Todd McLellan reflected on the game and what needs to happen: “We got better. We made some strides, Now we need to take it on the road, but with our group we’re going to have to keep our foot on the gas pedal and find smaller increments of improvement day after day, and hopefully they build and eventually we get to where we want to go.”