The San Jose Sharks did exactly what was expected of them during Game 2 of the NHL Western Conference Final on Tuesday night. After dropping Game 1 with a 2-1 loss in St. Louis on Sunday night, the Sharks looked to even the score.
“Getting the first goal was big,” said Sharks Head Coach DeBoer. “I knew our power play would bounce back. It always has all year. But, you know, I liked our five-on-five game. We got contributions from everyone.”
The first of those contributions came from 28-year-old Sharks center, Tommy Wingels just over 2 minutes (2:07), into the first period. The goal was the second of the playoffs for Wingels, who tallied a mere 7 goals during the regular season. While many might perceive the first and second line at a higher importance, it is imperative, especially down the playoff stretch for all lines to equally contribute. The Sharks fourth line, and Wingels in particular, did just that.
“It’s very important. We talk as a line and as a team, you know, how as a fourth line can we be effective. Maybe most nights it’s creating energy. It’s punishing the defensemen in the offensive zone. It’s forechecking hard, winning battles, playing well defensively,” lamented Wingels postgame. “That all being said, we have the confidence as a line that we can score. We can wear their ‘D’ down. We can play in the offensive zone. Tonight I thought we did a great job of that. Yeah, the goal is great. Aside from that, I thought we followed it up with numerous shifts after that playing in their zone. As a line, you just got to gain confidence game after game and try to build on it. As a line, we’re going to try to do that in Game 3.”
Already having contributed 5 goals in the playoffs alone, Sharks defensemen Brent Burns found his way to the net on a power play at 7:04 of the second period. But the goal in the second period wasn’t the last that Sharks fan would see from their grizzly hero. Following his second period goal, Burns continued his scoring at 11:58 of the third period, giving his team a 3-0 lead over the Blues.
Dainius Zubrus put the final goal of the game on the board at 19:41 of the third period, giving his team a final 4-0 win, and tying the series in the west at 1-1.
While their was an offensive rush throughout the night, it wasn’t simply goals that lead the team to victory, but the play between the pipes from goaltender Martin Jones. Jones stopped 26 shots in the win and proved himself as an asset for the Sharks organization. It’s hard to believe that the goaltender is still a rookie in the ranks.
“I don’t really think of him as a rookie, I guess,” said Burns when discussing goaltender Martin Jones postgame. “He’s won a Cup. He’s been through a lot. Won a gold medal last summer. I think he’s shown that he can play in stressful situations. I mean, I know everybody’s been talking about how calm he is. I think he’s got experience. I don’t really think of him as a rookie really.”
This is the time to shine. Jones, acquired by San Jose from the Boston Bruins back on June 30, 2015, filled a void for the team. With a cool demeanor, he is no stranger to the pressures of a Stanley Cup run, and won the Cup with the LA Kings. Will the rookie goaltender be the key to finally bringing the San Jose Sharks to a Stanley Cup Final? Fans will know soon enough.
With a tied series, both teams find themselves fighting to take the lead, as the quest for hockey’s holy grail becomes more intense. Game 3 faces off Thursday evening on Sharks home ice at the SAP Center in San Jose, California.