It seems like every time I get to write about our beloved Los Tiburones, I’m recapping a great Aaron Dell start, singing his praises, spouting off about how he continues to impress when nobody expected anything from him at the onset of this 2016-’17 campaign.
But tonight Dell put an exclamation point on his success this season, reminding Sharks fans across the land how privileged they are to enjoy the goalie depth that they do, as they watched the Stars use both of their goalies in a game for the 12th time this season in San Jose’s 5-1 victory.
The Sharks (41-20-7) welcomed their old pre-realignment rival Dallas Stars (27-31-10) into the SAP Center tonight after taking a disappointing loss to the middling Nashville Predators yesterday afternoon. While Dallas has been an overall disappointment in the Western Conference this year, Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn remain one of the most exciting offensive shows in the NHL. Both of them, far and away, leading their club in points with 67 and 63 points respectively.
The Sharks pounced on Dallas early when Justin Braun made a solid play to keep a puck in along the boards and decided to skate it up before dropping it off to Logan Couture. What should have been a simple defensive switch during the dump-off from Braun to Couture, led to a miscommunication and that pulled two Stars defenders onto Braun which left Patrick Marleau all alone in front of the net. Marleau roofed an uncontested pass from Couture past Kari Lehtonen top pad-side corner to put the Sharks up 1-0.
Patty pickin' the corner. pic.twitter.com/i7Z5MgF4cd— San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) March 13, 2017
The Stars, playing with nothing to lose, buttoned up on defense and knotted the contest up later in the period when rookie Remi Elie took advantage of a Sharks collision of their own. Brent Burns and Joonas Donskoi got tangled up exiting the zone which resulted in Elie taking two uncontested whacks at a bouncing puck and eventually beat Dell.
After going over 10 minutes without recording a shot on goal and allowing the game tying goal, the Sharks snatched back the lead with some masterful neutral zone puck movement. Paul Martin hit a streaking Joe Pavelski who, partnered with new line mate Jannik Hansen, led a two-on-one into the Stars zone and after seeing a closed passing lane, ripped laser right through Kari Lehtonen to put the Sharks up 2-1 heading into the first intermission.
That perfect Pavelski shot. pic.twitter.com/RpbUTEvk8Y— San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) March 13, 2017
The Sharks struck early in the period once again when the Dallas defense lost someone in front of the net for a second time after two defenders collapsed on Logan Couture who dropped a pass off to Joel Ward who netted an uncontested goal of his own.
Big shot from the Big Cheese. pic.twitter.com/juSRI3QENI— San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) March 13, 2017
Dallas bench boss Lindy Ruff had apparently seen enough of Lehtonen who allowed three goals on just eight shots. Lehtonen gave way to former San Jose fan favorite, Antti Niemi, who was welcomed back into the Tank with a warm round of applause.
Despite the warm and fuzzy feelings that came with welcoming back the old Shark, Joe Pavelski went to work against his former netminder and buried a short handed breakaway opportunity with Esa Lindell draped all over his back to build the Sharks lead to 4-1 before the second period came to a close.
The Sharks continued their early period dominance as Chris Tierney added a fifth goal to the San Jose tally, netting a Dylan DeMelo rebound past Niemi and giving the Sharks a goal within the first five minutes of every period in the game.
The Sharks graciously took their foot off the gas after building up the four goal lead and let the Stars recede into the San Jose night sending them on their way to Edmonton. The Sharks are back in action again on Tuesday at home against the dreaded Buffalo Sabres. The Sharks will have to shake that pesky monkey off their back if they want to start building a new win streak.
- The Sharks only have four regulation losses since mid-January, good for best in the NHL.
- With the win tonight, Aaron Dell moves to a perfect 6-0 home record inside the SAP Center.
- Dallas has played both Antti Niemi and Kari Lehtonen 12 times this season.
- Brent Burns leads the league with 262 shots on goal this season.
Fear the Fin’s 3 Stars
- Joe Pavelski: 2G
- Aaron Dell: 29 SVS
- Paul Martin: 2A