Before flying out to Chicago, Pete DeBoer talked about how this year’s San Jose Sharks could develop the kind of fortitude that characterized his best teams.
“Winning games in different ways,” offered DeBoer, speaking of the 2016 Sharks and 2012 New Jersey Devils. “With special teams. 2-1 games. 5-4 games. Finding ways to close teams out. Coming from behind. You need all those things.”
Last night, for just the second time this season, San Jose roared back from a two-goal deficit, spiking the Chicago Blackhawks 7-3. It’s been a while. On October 23rd, the Sharks turned the tables on the Nashville Predators, winning 5-4 after being down 4-2.
DeBoer acknowledged, of this Windy City victory, “That’s one that could have gone off the rails pretty easy. I thought we had a lot of composure on the bench. The guys, there was a confidence to it.”
This confidence was bolstered by the work of Barclay Goodrow, Melker Karlsson and Lukas Radil. Trailing 2-0 after just 3:21, Karlsson got San Jose on the board midway through the first period.
Then, tied up 3-3 in the middle frame, Goodrow tipped home the game-winner.
“Great shift. All-around,” exclaimed Sharks color commentator Jamie Baker. “Great cycle, motion, soft picks, puck retrievals, short passes, puck support, traffic in front of the net.”
Besides resulting in Goodrow’s goal, this was a key shift because it was representative of classic Sharks cycle and forecheck hockey.
Let’s break down the details.
Radil (52) won the neutral zone draw clean; Goodrow (23) carried in.
Brent Seabrook (7) tried to cut off Goodrow along the wall, but Goodrow held up, spun and made a short pass down low to Radil. Dylan Strome (17) batted away this bid, but Goodrow and Radil pursued the puck, out-battling Strome and Patrick Kane (88) to retrieve it. Radil feinted one way, then another, putting Seabrook off, taking the puck down into the corner.
Radil rolled out from the corner; Goodrow set a soft pick on Seabrook to give his teammate more time and space. Karlsson engaged Erik Gustafsson (56) in front, as Radil drove the net. A recovering Seabrook popped up Radil’s backhand.
Multiple sticks reached for the puck in the air, but it appeared that Radil kicked it back out to Marc-Edouard Vlasic (44). Vlasic tossed it into the corner to Karlsson.
Karlsson backhanded a short pass to a cycling Radil. Seabrook chased Radil; Karlsson tried to set a soft pick on Seabrook. Radil returned the puck to Karlsson, now chased by Strome.
Karlsson feinted toward the blueline, then cut back; Strome overpursued slightly, which gave Karlsson important inside position along the goal line.
Karlsson — simultaneously setting a soft pick on Strome — handed the puck off to a cycling Goodrow. Strome chased. Goodrow also feinted toward the blueline; Radil set a soft pick on Strome, discouraging pursuit. Goodrow reversed the puck to a cycling Radil.
Radil headed behind the net, drawing Gustafsson; he dropped it off to Karlsson, standing off to the side of the net. Strome blanketed Karlsson.
“All three of us were cycling down low, coming to the puck, supporting each other,” said Goodrow.
Karlsson spun away from Strome, threading a seam pass to Justin Braun (61) at the far point.
“Melker made a great pass to the weak side dman,” indicated Goodrow.
Braun moved toward the middle of the ice to fire his shot. Meanwhile, Radil and Goodrow parked in front of Cam Ward.
DeBoer noted, of the Sharks’ sixth win in seven games, “Our attention to detail everywhere on the ice is better.”
This was a demonstration of it, from a trio of unheralded forwards who just happened to dominate last night. Per Natural Stat Trick, the fourth line owned flawless 5-on-5 Scoring Chances For and High-Danger Corsi For differentials — for example, Radil boasted a 10-0 5-on-5 SCF and 4-0 HDCF.
DeBoer talked about winning games in different ways. Having your lunchpail guys dummy Blackhawks stars like Kane and DeBrincat certainly qualifies.