Three lines and two defensemen had goals last night at SAP Center for the Sharks in their 5-2 victory over the Florida Panthers. Maybe more importantly, San Jose scored the first goal of the game for the first time in 4 games.
"We talked about it this morning," Alex Stalock said. "We know what it's like to play back-to-back, on the road, and the home team pounces on you early. It makes for a long night, and we stayed on them." The Sharks scored the first two goals in the first ten minutes of the game.
Joe Thornton credited the strong start to Micheal Haley for his fight less than three minutes in. "He stepped up for us and I know our line fed off the fight with Shawn (Thornton) over there," Joe Thornton said. "That energy he brought early on kinda gave us all a kick in the butt to go, and we responded off that, but he started that all himself."
Thornton gave Haley a ton of credit, and head coach Peter DeBoer seemed to think the depth players for the Sharks played a little better than last night as well. "We spent more time in the other teams end with all four lines, so we're getting there," Peter DeBoer said. "It's not where I want it to be yet."
It is totally plausible that Haley's fight got the rest of the team going. But the rest of his game left a little to be desired - the whole fourth line left a lot to be desired. The percentage of shot attempts taken while Haley, Lerg, and Nieto were on the ice were 21%, 20% and 26% respectively. All three of those numbers are very bad.
If you're going to have a line get shelled, you'd probably want it to be the line that got under nine minutes of ice time. The bottom pairing struggled in that department as well, but Matt Tennyson had under 10 minutes of ice time at 5 on 5.
The good news is, the rest of the lineup at least did fine. Overall, the team's 5 on 5 play looked strong, and that's been a key for DeBoer since training camp. All of the Sharks goals came at even strength last night. And that strong even strength play kept the Sharks resilient throughout the game. "I liked our push-back," DeBoer said. "Every time they got one, we didn't sag, we pushed right back, and that's how we have to play in this building."
The top three lines and the top two pairings had goals. A passable third line can do wonders in tight games. They were on for the first goal against, but would get it back later in the game. Nikolay Goldobin was able to add some much needed elements to that third line. "I thought Goldobin gave us a real good game tonight for a kid coming up," DeBoer said. Goldobin's passing skills set up the Vlasic goal late in the second period, as did his speed through the neutral zone and his hands.
But if we're going to talk about a players speed and hands, we need to talk about Patrick Marleau's eventual game winner.
What a beauty. pic.twitter.com/Ap1QWdDc96— San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) November 6, 2015
Before he got to that finishing point though, he made a great play to poke loose a puck and set up the rush. "There was a little scrum in the neutral zone, so everyone was standing still a little bit," Marleau said. "So I was able to pick up some speed and get around the D." The defender, Alex Petrovic, probably should have tried a little harder to play the body, but Marleau took advantage for the beautiful goal. "That's just vintage Patty Marleau," Joe Thornton said.
For the second straight game, the "Joenas Brothers" line of Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski and Joonas Donskoi was easily the best line for either team. All three had a Corsi at or above 65%... again. And nearly had three goals - two counted. They were unstoppable. They destroyed the competition. Decimated them. I had to look up more synonyms on Thesaurus.com for what they did to the Panthers. Here are my favorites:
The top line was moving the puck so well, and were on the ice for the first goal of the game by Brent Burns. They had one goal waved off, but Joonas Donskoi ended up with a goal on a mad scramble against the team that originally drafted him. "I wanted to wait until I think I'm ready to come here," Donskoi said. He said that he changed his style on and off the ice before deciding to come to the NHL. "I have to thank my coaches in Finland who kind of woke me up at that time," Donskoi said. "I was a bad athlete, so I kind of changed my routines, how I work, how I train, how I eat."
Whatever Donskoi changed, it seems to be working. He looks like a bona fide top six player, maybe even a legitimate top line forward regardless of who his linemates are. "The last two games he's really fit in to the way we play," Thornton said. "Just creating stuff off loose pucks and just coming towards pucks. The last two games, he's been unreal." The play off the puck was possibly the most impressive aspect of that line. At least three or four times, the top line forced a turnover before the Panthers could leave the zone and created another opportunity for themselves.
The line is so much fun to watch, I can't wait to see them take a crack at the Ducks on Saturday. Get your thesaurus ready.