For the ninth time this season, the San Jose Sharks won a game despite allowing the opposition to score first. If you have a particularly sharp memory, you'll remember San Jose did that for the eighth time the last time the Sharks played the Canucks. It's not a pattern the Sharks want to make a habit of (the team is 9-19 when the opposition scores first) but it's nice to see the resilience.
Okay, full disclosure: There's not really anything to scoring first. We've talked about smarter people talking about this many times. So yeah, scoring first is nice...but scoring second, third, fourth...well, just scoring in general is a pretty nice thing to have. Thankfully this is a San Jose team that can really pile up the offense. Besides boasting the fourth-best power-play percentage in the league, the Sharks (Thursday night perhaps notwithstanding) have the ability to ice four competent lines.
San Jose averages 2.3 goals per game at even strength, good enough for sixth in the league. While the power play has always been a strength for the Sharks, that even strength scoring needs to be reliable when referees start swallowing their whistles in the playoffs. Include all strengths and the Sharks score the fourth-most goals per 60 minutes in the NHL (2.9) while allowing 2.6 a game, which is about average.
While we've yet to see new Sharks goalie James Reimer in teal, we have at least a pretty good idea of what to expect from Martin Jones. He's shown to be about average, even with an enormous workload and playing in both halves of too many back-to-backs. San Jose's defense is improving, but it's not spectacular and is prone to mistakes; that all means the Sharks' offense is going to be what carries them through the rest of the season and the playoffs.
And boy did it do that on Thursday. After starting off excruciatingly slowly (outshot 10-1 by the Canucks is pretty bad), the Sharks rebounded. By the end of the second period shots were even at 23 (thanks score effects!) and midway through the third San Jose had found its legs and was taking the game over. It helps that Vancouver is just not a good hockey team.
What's the plan here defensively? I'm not keen on getting in front of a shot from Brent Burns either, but he is given acres of space and loads of time — two things you just can't give our favorite Wookiee. The comeback win puts the Sharks 16 points clear of the Canucks, who are falling quicker than Marco Rubio's shot at the Republican nomination. San Jose is all but locked into the playoffs, now it's just a matter of trying to grab the Pacific Division crown.