The Sharks took some time tonight to find there stride and they didn’t illustrate their best sixty minutes, but they came away with two points against a division rival who has gone 3-1 against team teal this year.
Team captain Joe Thornton described the win with enthusiasm.
“Huge huge win, divisional points. You don’t want to lose two in a row right now and all the guys played well I thought.” said Joe “We were down two to nothing but we have a lot of confidence in this group of guys and after last night’s disappointing loss we knew we were going to come back.”
San Jose came into tonight’s game after a dreadful 6-3 loss in Chicago last night and the host team the Dallas Stars were coming off of a heart breaking last minute loss to the L.A Kings on Sunday. Something had to give. It was not pretty but not all wins are, and when the dust settled in Dallas, the scoreboard read the Sharks 6 and the Stars 3. A great win for the organization and its fans considering they trailed 2-0 five minutes into the second period.
Tonight’s first contender is Joe Pavelski. He tallied a career high four assists in one game and broke his career high assists total for a season which was previously thirty-five. What was impressive was that Pavelski was the driving force behind the engine tonight creating scoring chances all night long. When the third line scores two goals, that takes pressure off the top two lines and usually creates some more space for the skilled players to maneuver. Pavs did everything tonight. He won key draws, he was a dominate presence in his own zone but most important he was a momentum changer. Hockey is all about momentum and tonight Joe returned to the form that earned him the nickname “The Big Pavelski.”
A man who has been on the cusp of earning the title contender in recent games has been Torrey Mitchell and tonight he was a standout contender. He demonstrated that his elevated play as of late has been not been a fluke. Mitchell’s consistency has been a breath of fresh air for all Shark fans. I believe now we are seeing the player that management figured he would be when they signed him to his last contract extension. Mitchell’s goal tonight, which turned out to be the game winner was a result of his break away, speed. His game is all about his wheels and lately he has been rewarded for using them.
Douglas Murray was a contender tonight throwing his big body around and dropping the gloves with Sharks nemesis Steve Ott.
Stars forward Loui Erikkson did not return after he was on the receiving end of an open ice Douglas Murray body check minutes into the second period.
“Well, when it comes to Eriksson, it's a 50-50 puck," Murray said. "If he pokes it by me, he's getting a breakaway, so as far as I remember the situation, I went to play the puck in the body at the same time and I hit him. You never try to hurt a guy but it's unfortunate."
One thing Murray never gets enough credit for is his ability to move the puck in tight situations while taking a hit. Tonight the big Swede called Crankshaft made some great break out passes while sacrificing his body.
Being the nature of the position, the goaltenders often end up the list one way or another. Tonight Antti Niemi earned the title of contender for coming back in after being shellacked last night in Chicago and making the big saves when he had to.
For the Dallas Stars their contender was Jamie Benn. Next time the Sharks play against Dallas the strategy will simply be stop Benn. He has been a Sharks killer lately scoring shorthanded goals in back-to-back games against the Sharks and had his hand in on every Stars goal tonight.
The most obvious pretenders of the night were the officials for not calling a hit from behind that sent Niclas Wallin into the boards. Jamie Langenbrunner delivered the hit and even turned around afterwards looking at the refs to see if the call was made. Wallin showed great toughness to get up and finish his shift but that would be his last of the game.
Dany Heatley finished the night scoring two goals, the latter was on an empty net. From a statistics standpoint, he had a good night but when your team is protecting a one goal lead with less than five minutes to play you cannot take stupid penalties. Heatley put his team in a difficult situation and was fortunate that with an empty net and a two skater advantage for the Stars that they did not score to tie the game. For that the Heater earned the title of a pretender tonight.
Overall it was a great character win for the San Jose Sharks who did not play their best sixty minutes but found a way to win. After the beat down this team took the night before in Chicago it showed a lot of guts to come back the way they did. It was also important to win in regulation time and prevent the Stars from earning a point.
Statistically special teams will not look too bad but it still should be an area of concern for this team going forward. The last couple of power play goals they have scored have both come with a two-man advantage and the power play was scored on tonight. The penalty kill operated at 75% and although they will be credited with two shorthanded goals they were both empty net tallies.
All hockey fans love this time of year because the playoffs are about to begin every game has meaning. On Thursday night, the desperate Minnesota Wild comes to San Jose looking to earn two points. This team is currently on the outside looking in at a playoff position and their compete level should be at an all time high.
Keep your stick on the ice,