When Jamie McGinn scored in the third period, it broke a 46 game regular season goalless drought for the young forward.
"I knew it was gonna come, I just didn't know when," laughed a relieved McGinn, who was pranked by his teammates who gave him the silent treatment after he scored. It's a testament to how well liked McGinn has become on this team, a direct result of his hardworking nature. That blue-collar attitude led to the goal, according to McGinn. "Just go hard, and eventually it will come."
The goal had a little extra significance, as it represented the Sharks fourth goal in the game and a needed insurance tally against the St. Louis Blues, who the Sharks defeated 4-2 on the night. It was the first time that the Sharks have scored four goals in a game since last year, a big factor in the Sharks slump-breaking game against St. Louis on Saturday.
"Scoring four [was the difference] tonight," stated Sharks' captain Joe Thornton, who scored a goal of his own in the second on the man advantage. "We're starting to feel like we can score again, and that's a good sign."
Aside from the scoring, the Sharks were decidedly better in the defensive end as a unit. They only allowed two goals against during the contest, both of which were admittedly soft tallies let in by Antti Niemi. Niemi did, however, make some significant stops throughout the game. He's kept his team in most of the games he's played lately, even if they haven't been scoring for him.
Possibly the most encouraging sign of the night was the play of Dany Heatley, who was the suspected target of Ryane Clowe's stinging comments earlier in the week. Heatley has had issues lately; he's had trouble justifying his $7.5 MM cap hit and $8.0MM salary with seven straight goalless games. Tonight, Heatley worked hard to earn his markers, scoring twice at or near the goal mouth.
"Kinda got back to the basics," said Heatley. "It was good to get that win tonight."
He was just one of the leaders to step up to the plate tonight; the aforementioned Joe Thornton had two points while Dan Boyle and Joe Pavelski each added an assist. Patrick Marleau also had a strong game; this writer reveled at the speed he displayed on almost every shift of the night. Logan Couture agreed.
"Tonight the leaders of this team stepped up and played very well," surmised Couture, who also notched an assist in his first game back from injury. "Going forward, this little [losing] streak we went on will help us."
Needless to say, the game was a relief for not just the players, but also the sensitive fan base. Still, one win against a team currently below San Jose in the standings shouldn't be seen as the end all be all cure for the teams woes.
Yes, they played more cohesively tonight as a unit. They also showed the effort that their coach has been calling for since well before the losing streak started. But unless the Sharks apply this win and use it to build their game going forward, these two points could have little significance in the long run.
The defensive corps remains a point of conern, as Wallin and Huskins both had games to forget. With Boyle still playing almost 25 minutes in a resounding win with seven defensemen dressed, the troubling matter of minute allocation is ever present. It will have to be addressed eventually.
Tonight, though, the Sharks and those who follow them should be able to sleep soundly, knowing that their team left everything on the ice. The win should be cathartic, at least until the puck drops Monday afternoon in Phoenix.