General manager Doug Wilson promised in the offseason that the Sharks would be undergoing a youth movement this year, with younger players and prospects having a chance to grab larger roles on the team and unseat veterans in the process. So far, he's lived up to his word and there has perhaps been no game that better encapsulates the organization's increased focus on youth than tonight's 4-3 comeback victory over Edmonton.
Rookie Matt Tennyson scored his first NHL goal to tie the game in the third period while fellow first-year player and former hedge fund manager Barclay Goodrow scored his second professional goal on a breakaway to give the Sharks a lead they wouldn't relinquish. Goodrow added an assist on a James Sheppard goal that opened the scoring for San Jose, rookie Melker Karlsson added two assists and young defenseman Brenden Dillon had a helper of his own as the Sharks' six youngest players combined for six points on the team's four goals.
The win was the Sharks' seventh in a row, and eighth in their last nine overall, as they've now moved into sole possession of second place in the Pacific Division. A lot has gone right for the Sharks over this streak but getting essential contributions from young players like Goodrow, Tennyson and Karlsson who were largely unheralded going into this season is an unquestionably good sign for a franchise directly benefiting from one of its most well-stocked cupboards in years.
- Brenden Dillon continues to be a really valuable addition to this team. He's helped stabilize the second pairing with Brent Burns and did some really nice work in the neutral zone tonight in playing off Logan Couture to create controlled entries. The second one, courtesy some vintage Oilers defending, led to a goal.
- Andrew Desjardins showed off some unexpectedly fancy stickhandling at times in this game and drew a penalty, reminding everyone of how effective he can be when he isn't expected to drag two anchors around on either wing. Granted, John Scott was still on that line which prevented some of Desjardins' possessions from really going anywhere but he should be a useful fourth-line center when everyone is healthy.
- Antti Niemi didn't have the greatest showing in the first two periods of this game but neither did the rest of the Sharks for the most part. Even the Boyd Gordon goal, which Niemi should have stopped, was the result of the Oilers center being left alone in the slot after Sheppard crept down low to help Vlasic double-team David Perron.
- Congrats to Matt Tennyson on his first NHL goal and becoming the first Jr. Shark to score for the San Jose Sharks, although that honor should technically belong to Alec Martinez.
- Sharks are now tied with the Ducks in goal differential (they're actually one better if you remove shootout goals) but have nine fewer points. Gotta love those one-goal wins.
FTF Three Stars
1st Star: Barclay Goodrow
2nd Star: Brent Burns
3rd Star: Matt Tennyson