Poetic justice, or celestial cruelty?
Any way you slice it, the first period and 1/2 seemed to feel like a greater power rubbing salt in the wound.
The Sharks, as they did just two days ago, would score just about a minute after the first drop of the puck. Logan Couture, all alone gliding in the slot, roofed a puck past Andrew Raycroft only 1:07 in for his fourth goal in four games. Still, even though it was the early lead that every team craves, the fan base must have been a bit on edge after the Sharks were held scoreless for the remaining 59 minutes of the Minnesota game. Despite the early goal, Sharks fans craved more.
That craving was satiated only fifteen seconds later, as Jamie McGinn and Michal Handzus beat up Raycroft in the crease; strong puck pursuit would find Handzus bear tackle the Stars netminder, and McGinn scored from an event horizon like angle to put San Jose ahead by two.
Two goals, less than two minutes in. Enough to win the game?
Nope. The Sharks would have trouble holding a lead again, just as they did when they played the Wild, as Dallas clawed their way back into the game. Mike Ribero, a player only a notch above Steve Ott on the Sharks' hate scale, drove to the net and got the benefit of a pin-balling puck that bounced off Niemi, then Ribero, and into the net.
The first period would end with the Sharks maintaining their 2-1 lead, and they would get a huge opportunity to expand on that as Nicklas Grossman and Sheldon Souray would take stick penalties within ten seconds of each other. However, the Sharks' struggles on the power play continued, as they were unable to get a single shot on net during the almost two minute span of five on three time.
A few minutes later, Brendan Morrow would score on a Dallas power play, and the quick lead that the Sharks worked for crumbled before their eyes. After seeing the same thing happen against Minnesota, it wouldn't have been a surprise if the Sharks lost confidence and withered away.
Not the case. Ryane Clowe, Brad Winchester and Torrey Mitchell would answer in successive fashion, all scoring even strength to catapult the Sharks back into the commanding lead. Clowe's goal would come from a wrister, and was the most orthodox of the three. Brad Winchester's goal was the result of a multiple tip after a strong shot from Brent Burns. Mitchell's goal may have well been credited to Marleau, who entered the zone one on three and muscled a puck into the slot for Mitchell to tee up. He didn't miss.
The Stars would give up on Raycroft at intermission, and Richard Bachman would start the third period in nets for Dallas. He would hold the fort and keep San Jose off the scoreboard in the third, but the game was decided long before Bachman came in.
At the end, the Sharks got a huge 5-2 win against arguably their most heated rival. It wasn't a perfect game, but the Sharks converted when they had to and that's all that matters when the lights of HP turn off.
Side notes - Jamie McGinn continues to tear up the season, as he scored his third goal in the last four games. He also added an assist enroute to becoming the game's second star. Logan Couture scored a goal as well, and for a second, you might have thought you were watching an Ottawa 67's game.
Dan Boyle also improved, as did the defense as a whole. If the Sharks want to continue their winning ways going forward, that will have to continue as well. A back to back on Saturday and Sunday gives the Sharks a chance to do just that.