(photo: Josie Lepe/Bay Area News Group)
In their third meeting this year, all in this month, the San Jose Sharks and the Edmonton Oilers had a close call game Thursday night. With the Sharks on the brink of finally solidifying their identity, it was the perfect evening to show off what they’ve accomplished in their search for their character. It’s really an exciting time to be a part of the Sharks lineup, and to be a fan, as things are melding together nicely.
The young ones really shined in this matchup, plus the Sharks were well disciplined and took only one trip to the sin bin. A notable absence on the blue line, though, was the young and talented Mirco Mueller, who will be representing Switzerland in the World Junior Championship. The 19-year-old has been quite a presence in his 24 games with the Sharks, leading all rookies in the NHL in blocked shots (38) and fourth overall in teal. This was his first game out of the Sharks lineup until after the Championship.
The Sharks shot out of the cannon with quick, solid play in the first ten minutes. Then the energy was zapped out of them after Edmonton got on the board by Boyd Gordon. It was a mess in the neutral zone after that goal, and even with a power play opportunity to end the first period, the Sharks were all out of sorts and almost gave up a shorthanded goal. I’ve talked about resilience in past games, and this game was no exception. The Sharks would have to show their new-found identity and resilience to come out on top of this one.
Most of the scoring happened in the second period when the Sharks finally got on the score sheet. James Sheppard scored his fourth goal of the season. In fact, Sheppard’s line of Melker Karlsson and Barclay Goodrow attributed for five of the Sharks 11 points on the night. Shortly thereafter, Logan Couture, who had an incredible 7 shots, netted his 13th.
“Our line was buzzing there in the early going. [Patrick Marleau and Tommy Wingels] were looking for me a lot so I was touching the puck and shooting the puck. You always feel good when you’re shooting the puck early, the puck seems to follow you around. I kind of had a feeling I was going to get one tonight, but it was just good to win,” noted Couture on all those looks.
Brenden Dillon got the assist on that goal and has quickly made his home in San Jose – he even earned second star of the game.
However, the Sharks were able to tie things up in the third with Matt Tennyson’s first career NHL goal, one of three Sharks to net their firsts this season. Tennyson played as a Junior Shark so this was an extra special goal for the organization, as original owner George Gund III, who passed away last year, would have liked to have seen this finally happen. Coach Todd McLellan commented:
“I know when Mr. Gund was still alive, one of his dreams was to have a San Jose bred player, someone who played in the Junior Sharks system, actually play for the Sharks and score a goal. Hopefully he is looking down and is really proud of bringing the team here and it finally happened after twenty-three, twenty-four years.”
Wingels, another solid player who is a crucial part of the team’s identity, continued his point streak with an assist on Tennyson’s goal – his 13th point in the last 11 games.
Twenty-five seconds later, the amazing happened and Goodrow scored on a breakaway from Brent Burns. “I didn’t have any speed when I got the puck so I figured one guy would end up catching me. I tried to fend him off as best I could, and [Ben Scrivens] slid over a bit so I thought I’d have a bit of room on the far side. It was a great vision [from Burns]. It was a great pass,” reflected Goodrow after the game. That goal put the Sharks ahead one and it was a nail-biter after that, as the Oilers really put on the pressure to try and tie it up. In the end, Goodrow’s goal would be the game-winner, 4-3, and his first multi-point game in his career.
The word “resilient” keeps coming up game after game, and came up again in a post-game interview with Wingels: “Resilient game. When we got down, we had confidence enough to come back. Like I said, there is a reason we play sixty minutes here. If we don’t get it done in the first, we will try the second. If we don’t get it done in the second, we try in the third. Our team fought back pretty good.”
Resilience is a part of their identity, which was showcased in this game. And with so much budding, youthful talent, mixed in with seasoned veterans and constant producers such as Wingels, the Sharks hope to continue their winning streak to eight on Saturday at home against the St. Louis Blues.