Apparently the NHL's new collective bargaining agreement doesn't include a stipulation that every game played at HP Pavilion must end in a shootout after all.
For the first time since January 27th, the Sharks won in regulation on home ice. Also for the first time since that contest against the Vancouver Canucks, they scored multiple power play goals in a game. The reminiscent quality of San Jose's 2-1 victory over the Predators didn't end there; this was a vintage Sharks win. They dominated their opponent in possession and on the shot clock, were repeatedly foiled by an elite goaltender at even-strength but managed to get the requisite offense from their power play to emerge victorious.
And, as has often been the case over the past five seasons, Joe Pavelski was at the center of it all, scoring one of the power play goals and expertly screening Pekka Rinne on the other, a Dan Boyle blast from the point. Pavelski's line with Patrick Marleau and Tim Kennedy was easily the Sharks' best at 5-on-5, controlling the neutral zone and generating chance after chance, especially during a second period in which San Jose pasted the Preds from start to finish.
While much will be made of the Sharks' lackadaisical third period effort, it's only concerning in that the Sharks have been playing particularly poorly with a lead relative to the rest of the NHL all season. Every team turns on conservative mode when they're ahead going into the final frame; at least the Sharks had something of an excuse tonight as Martin Havlat left the game during the second period with an unknown ailment. San Jose's issues in the third period stemmed more from a reticence to push play than any type of defensive lapse as the Sharks remained strong in standing up Predators at their own blueline. Overall, this was one of the team's best efforts in 2013 and they'll win far more often than they'll lose following this recipe.
- As we mentioned in the pre-game post, it was really only a matter of time before the power play broke out like this. They had been operating at their traditional caliber of dominance for over a week heading into tonight; expect the power play to be much more productive over the remainder of the season.
- We barely got to see them play together thanks to the Havlat injury but Ryane Clowe, Scott Gomez and James Sheppard didn't impress in their brief stint as a line. At least the resultant fourth line of Desjardins, Handzus and Burish was surprisingly effective for stretches.
- I wish the mandate to shoot early and often (which, really, has been the mandate forever; I'm not sure how people can be shocked that the Sharks are capable of this) had been accompanied by a "not you, Douglas" disclaimer.
- He finished +1 thanks to that Gabriel Bourque shorthanded goal, but that might have been the worst game I've ever seen Shea Weber play. It's entirely premature but, considering how they've performed separately so far, I wonder if the Suter/Weber pairing was the NHL's Voltron; dominant when together, sort of shitty-looking vehicles when apart.
- Also formed in the aftermath of the Havlat injury: a Couture/Thornton/Clowe line which actually produced more than their share of opportunities.
- Speaking of Thornton, him repeatedly trying to get a linesman's attention to recover his 1100th-point puck was hilarious. Congrats to Jumbo, who's now third among active players in career points.
FTF Three Stars
1st Star: Joe Pavelski
2nd Star: Pekka Rinne
3rd Star: Joe Thornton
Huge game coming up against the Vancouver Canucks who are still really, really good at hockey even without Ryan Kesler in the lineup. If San Jose can replicate their performance from tonight, I like their chances. Go Sharks.