A little over two and a half minutes into tonight's game against the Boston Bruins, the Sharks were reeling. Two miscues by Justin Braun along with an unexpectedly beautiful passing play by Daniel Paille had them down 2-0 to a notoriously suffocating defensive team, albeit one missing its top defender, backed by one of the best goalies in the NHL.
But given how bizarrely this Sharks season has transpired, with the team routinely trouncing contenders while struggling against bottom-feeders, perhaps it shouldn't have been all that surprising that they mounted an incredible comeback thanks in large part to a second period that ranks among the most entertaining twenty-minute stretches of Sharks hockey in recent memory.
Two goals apiece from Tommy Wingels and Tyler Kennedy, all of which came via deflections, along with an additional pair by Joe Pavelski led San Jose to a cathartic 7-4 win and their first three-game regulation winning streak of the season. It allowed them to finish their six-game homestand taking eight of a possible twelve points and, maybe, will end up being the turning point of an up-and-down season to date.
- Tomas Hertl scored the other Sharks goal and, man, has his game done a complete 180 from where it was even two weeks ago. Prior to last Wednesday's game against Calgary, Hertl had registered three shots in a game just three times all season. He's recorded three or more shots in each of the four games since, including a five-shot game tonight that gives him 17 total over that four-game span.
- I've obviously been very critical of Brent Burns' play on defense but credit where it's due: he was excellent tonight, not only torching the Bruins in the offensive zone as per usual but also being a much greater asset on the breakout. He had one stretch pass in particular that set up a partial breakaway for Hertl that we haven't seen Burns connect on too often this year.
- Sharks' seven goals tonight are the most that have ever been scored on Tuukka Rask in his NHL career. Strangely the Sharks also hold the record for most goals scored against Dominik Hasek in a single game. For a team that gets routinely stoned by no-name backups, the Sharks have inexplicably given two of the greatest goalies in recent league history the worst nights of their careers.
- Tyler Kennedy is everything people like to pretend Mike Brown is. He uses his speed effectively, he's aces on the forecheck, he goes to the dirty areas and he gets pucks on net. He also happens to be exponentially more skilled than Brown, although that admittedly doesn't always translate into finish. Nice to see him get rewarded with two goals tonight. When the Sharks have Raffi Torres healthy and are able to drop Kennedy down to the fourth line, they should have a very deep attack.
- Milan Lucic kicking the puck into his own net, forever:
- Next up: a woefully dysfunctional and league-worst Edmonton Oilers team. Watching the Sharks win was fun while it lasted.
FTF Three Stars
1st Star: Joe Pavelski
2nd Star: Tommy Wingels
3rd Star: Tyler Kennedy