(photos: Josie Lepe / Bay Area News Group)
The last time there were two quick goals in a San Jose Sharks game was last week against the Boston Bruins. The Sharks came back from two in the hole to register a win. On Tuesday night, the Sharks battled the Edmonton Oilers at home and were on top of the world early with two quick goals in less than six minutes into the game – one by Joe Pavelski and one by Barclay Goodrow. Accompanying Goodrow was rookie Melker Karlsson, recalled from the Worcester Sharks to replace Tyler Kennedy, who was put on IR (shoulder). Karlsson was signed as a free agent earlier this year and has mostly played in the Swedish Hockey League.
The first goal came at about four minutes and some change in the game, a sweet pass from Joe Thornton to Pavelski, who backhanded it in. Then, about a minute later, Goodrow scored his first NHL goal. That goal was also a first for newcomer Karlsson, registering his first NHL point.
“We had a good cycle going. Honestly, I can’t even really remember exactly what happened, the puck just came out front and Melky made a good play. I had a pretty full net to put it home,” Goodrow commented in a post-game interview.
By that second goal, the Sharks already had five shots on goal, and two of those shots went in, to Oilers’ zero shots. It was a very exciting start with nice energy.
Change in Momentum
The energy began to shift at about the halfway point in the first. McLellan commented after the game “We played two [different] first periods, the first ten minutes and the second ten minutes. In the first ten, we did what we wanted to do. In the second ten, we started to bring pucks back, we started to pass through the opposition instead of around them or by them, so that ends up in your net.”
Jordan Eberle got past a wide open Alex Stalock, who got his second consecutive start. Thus the Oilers began its pressure in the San Jose zone, with special effort from Eberle who showed great individual skill in a spin-o-rama shot that hit the post. Then, four minutes later, David Perron got on the board and tied it up. Change in momentum has continued to be a huge thorn in the Sharks’ side – when they are ahead, they let off the gas and allow the other team to catch up. And at this point in the game, the Sharks’ D looked non-existent and raised a major red flag, as it was clear that there is so much more work to do to fix all the problems.
But more problems for the Sharks’ blue line persisted when Marc-Edouard Vlasic suffered a hit into the boards and left the ice near the end of the first period and never returned. This caused coach Todd McLellan to shuffle the D pairings quite a bit for the missing Vlasic in order to keep legs as fresh as possible.
Big Guys Step Up
The Sharks took the momentum back when Scott Hannan blasted one from the blue line to Logan Couture, who tipped it in behind his back. The team depends on quality, skillful plays like that one from their top men. The Sharks went on a power play shortly after Couture’s goal. Talk about quality play – this play was the epitome of what you’d expect from the Sharks top line. It all started with a faceoff win by Patrick Marleau, to Thornton, and then to Brent Burns on the blue line. He passed it back to Thornton, skating up the wing, and Marleau tipped it to a waiting Pavelski in front of the crease. That’s solid communication and play, and it all started with the all-important faceoff win. That goal put the Sharks ahead, once again, by two. Also, this was Pavelski’s second on the night. Pavelski has a two-goal curse. This was the fourth time this season that he has had a two-goal game. Pavelski will continue to search for the ever elusive hat trick. Additionally, that power play goal puts Pavs (with two others – Evgeni Malkin and Brock Nelson) in the lead for power play goals this season (8).
To seal the deal, Burns netted his eighth goal on the season, to make it 5-2 in the third period. Burns contributes offensively as a defenseman, and currently ranks second in the league in goals scored by a defenseman. He is a solid player, but it leaves one to wonder if he’s better off as a forward in the long run. This question is added to the long list of questions that surround this club.
Resilience Wins Despite Mounting Injuries
I’ve talked about the San Jose Sharks and their relationship with resilience before, and this game was a great example of that. Sure, there are many problems to be dealt with and questions to be answered, but they got the win and for now, that’s what matters. McLellan finished the night by recognizing that resilience he saw in his team tonight. “The positive thing is, the guys accepted those facts between periods [the fact that the momentum shifted and Oilers got those two goals] and we went back to playing the way we need to play.” Also, the Sharks started off with a very injured roster – another notable injury coming into this game was Matt Nieto (ankle) – and ended the night with even more damage. Karlsson left to the locker room and Mike Brown limped off as well. However, the team was still able to get the W. That’s resilience in a nut shell… or an ice rink.